volume 28 of in america: 2014 march-august  work & days: a lifetime journal project  

















Films, photos, sound, book design, 3-d atchitectural modeling. Part 1 69th birthday in Palm Springs, still working on Pale hill. Part 2 working on In English and the Mind and land photo book. A long passage about being in the hospital as a child, During this time I continue to post on Here2014, a tumblr site about living in the desert.

Notes: Ackroyd Dickens, Henry The life of George Eliot, Athill After a funeral, the potter Tim Rowan, Ken Burns Frank Lloyd Wright, BBC The hollow crown, Henry V directed by Thea Sharrock, The Fellowship: the untold story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship, New Age guy on plant perception, Lynn Margulis, Kabir, Pennebaker The secret life of pronouns, Haneke Amour, Mirabai, Barks Rumi: the book of love, Bly Kabir: ecstatic poems, Tom Cheetham, Michael Ventura, The duchess of Duke Street, superfluidity, Bella Ferraro singing Skinny love by Bon Iver in For Emma, forever ago, Alice Munro "Corrie" in Dear life, The selected letters of John Keats, Govinda The way of the white clouds, The boxcar children, McPhee The control of nature, Gordimer The conservationist, Daphne Phelps A house in Sicily, DH Lawrence short stories, Lark Rise to Candleford, Song Dynasty painter Zhang Zeduan Along the river during the Qing Ming festival,

Mentioned: Louie, Luke, Rowen, Tom Fendler, Jerry Reznick, Olivia Howell, Greg Morrison, Don Carmichael, Frank Harris, Ben Vanden Berg, Ray Jennings, Martyn Estall, Paul Epp, Judie Epp, Jody Frey, Zack Katz, Joyce Frazee, Providencio and Ottilia, Cheryl S, Jacob Korczynski, Babette Mangolte, Martha Haslanger, Lauderic Caton, Katrin Zaugg, Roy Chisholm, John Toews, Logan Burns, Michael Deragon, Per Christan, Sara (Chisholm) Ray, Emilee, Sonja, Favor, Lauren, Judy Rodriguez, David Beach, Tony Nesbit, Leslie D, Louise G and Rick Peters, Jody Stoddard, Jody Golick, Graham Passmore, Sylvia and Jorge, Paul Sylvestre, Paul Epp, Tia, Katrin Zaugg, Sabine Schneider, Peter von T, Jam, Janet Peters, Lillian Konrad, Annie Pauls, Bernard Konrad, Herman Konrad, Louise Konrad, Peter Konrad, Luise Konrad, Susan M, Julie Friesen, Mafalda Reis Moore, Val S, Paul K,

Lyons English Grille, Moortens Gardens, Caliente Tropicale Motel in Palm Springs, 760 Weather Vane Drive, Borrego Springs, Glorietta Canyon, Russell Square, a bridge in Isphahan, 4 St Albans Rd, La Quinta, Grande Prairie, Beaverlodge, Nyingma in Berkeley, Eastend Saskatchewan, Publab at SFU, Denton Avenue in Crouch End, Pacific Beach Starbucks, 3663 Georgia St in San Diego, Mary and Gary West Senior Center, new City Hall park, the Esplanade, Coronado Bridge, new San Diego library, Barrio Star Restaurant, Davis Marketing, Balboa Park, Robert's Automotive, Mission Bay, Pacific Highway, Friar's Road, Charles Street in Point Loma, 5571 Bellevue Street in Bird Rock, Tourmaline Beach, the Cove in La Jolla, Mesa Grande, Don Bravo Restaurant in Bird Rock, 5th Ave Starbucks, William Heise Park, Hong Kong Harbour, Hoodoo Ranch, 824 E Pender, Sexsmith, U-haul yard on Highway 111 in Indio, Frugal Coyote, Red Ocotillo Restaurant, Buena Creek Gardens, Mission Hills, Whole Foods and Bread & Cie in Hillcrest, Pannikins, Walter Andersons', Christmas Circle, I-10, Leo's Automotive in Morongo Valley on State 62, Circle C Motel in 29 Palms, Needles, North Las Vegas, Alamo Inn in Alamo NV, State 93, State 95, I-84 west, Pahranagat, Wells NV, Oregon Trail Motel in Buhl Idaho, the Blue Mountains, Baker City Oregon, Oregon Motel in the Dalles OR, Anchor Motel in Blaine WA, Starbucks on Fraser in Vancouver, VanCity on Terminal, Maple Leaf Storage, Calabria Caffe,3361 W 3rd,

Deborah Butterfield, Ant Bear Press, Tom Hiddleston, botany course, Jane Fulton Alt's photos of sheets blowing, Performance in Residency Program If I can't dance at the Het Veem Theatre in Amsterdam, Obama's race speech, The analog-digital distinction in the philosophy of mind, Being about, Here2012, Tumblr,, Norman Rockwell, Dwell, Feed America, World of Interiors, Vogue, Art in America, Coleridge, Mien Ruys, Krasner, Bontecou, Riley, Agnes Martin, O'Keeffe, Mary Pratt, Joan Mitchell, Emily Carr, I vow to thee my country, apophysis fractal flame-generating software, Constable, Emerson, Harlan Ellison, Lessing, Gordimer, Le Guin, LM Montgomery, Dorothy Richardson, Updike, Sketchup, V-ray, The Sibley guide to birds, Facebook, Youtube, Skype, iPage, Mountain men, Delibes on CBC, O'Sullivan 20 years a-growing, Learning to be old, the Cup Song, Denis Johnson Train dreams.

7 March 2014

I was driving home after the museum - it was dark, there was slow traffic because of the street fair. I suddenly wanted cake, chocolate cake for my birthday. I drove back up Indian Canyon looking for somewhere that might have it, then south again on Palm Canyon Drive. I was almost home. There was a last restaurant before the motel, a Lyons English Grille behind a large parking lot just where Palm Canyon makes an elbow. I don't like that sort of tacky baronial barn but I'll try it. Walked in, man behind the bar chatting up a tourist couple. "Can I help you?" "Maybe." He had to go call the waitress to tell me what they had for dessert. She was a small thin elderly person with a harried look. I said I'd have the crème brulée and vanilla ice cream. She hesitated when I asked could I have them outside, but yes. I said I'd be no trouble.

On one side of the door there had been two women at a table with drinks. On the other was a brown man with headphones on, singing quietly by an empty glass on a pink table cloth. He had a quiet potato face, was maybe in his late fifties? Sixties? I stood deciding where I'd sit, at the one empty table by the middle-aged women or on the right side of the door at the one empty pink-tablecloth table beyond the singing man. I liked something about him and went to sit by him.

When he began to look up a bit later I said hello. I'm still carrying the look he gave me then. So soft a face.

The parking lot was not pretty, old asphalt to the edge of the street, where lights were passing intermittently, but I liked sitting there gazing into a pool of warm peaceful dark air.

That was when I opened the journal and wrote the beginning of a sentence. The man said isn't it a beautiful evening. I said it was. Asked who he was listening to. Nat King Cole.

Then how did it go. The waitress brought my two desserts. I had been telling everyone it was my birthday and told her too. The man looked up. Asked, If it's your birthday, where are your friends? All over the world, and my kids too. He said it was like that for him as well. He has six kids. He said marriages don't work out when people aren't in synch with their higher purpose. Then a story about a vision that came to him when he was in his twenties, a being that had instructed him.

The waitress came back to bring me my check. She stood for a moment looking out at the night with us. She was feeling its charm. I asked had it been colder. She said yes, this night was the first warm night. A spring night, I suggested. Yes, a spring night.

The man got up and stood in front of me, said he would sing me a song for my birthday, the one he had been given by the being of light. He was looking into space above my head so I could watch his face.

There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy

He sang earnestly. He was singing me his story, I thought. A boy in British Guyana, Dutch grandfather, Ethiopian African mother, father Carib Indian and something else. He has a 6-month contract at Lyons this year, is friends with the owner. It's where Nat King Cole used to sing. Sometimes it's Vegas. He's thinking Atlantic City next. What's hard is going back to his studio apartment alone after he has been singing all evening, making people happy, he said.

When he had sung for me I said sit down with me. He said he would for a moment, he had to go in and sing at seven. I asked about his vision. He was in a Greyhound bus traveling to Venezuela. A light entered the bus at the door and came down the aisle to him, and then resolved into a being in front of him. He couldn't tell what color the being was, because of the amber light, and he thought that was part of the message. The being told him how to live. He talks to it still, and it leads him.

He stood up to go in, said he wished I'd come hear him sing. I said I already had and it had been perfect. I held out my hand. His was quite soft, a fine narrow-fingered long hand. He walked away beautifully, taller than I thought, in his evening clothes, lightly straight-backed.

When I was driving away I saw that above Lyons on the lighted panel it says established since 1945, when I was born.

And then came back here and saw the pool lit up like turquoise glass and got into my bathing suit to go lie under Orion in the black sky with high tiki torch flames reflected on the water.

Yesterday there was Moortens too, twisty tangles of snake cactus and a fossil tree in chunks on the ground, and Thai for lunch, and Deborah Butterfield's horse in the art gallery, and Terry Masters' gallery with good desert paintings, and Terry himself coming after me on the street to give me an invitation to his event on Saturday.

They say he wandered very far, very far, over land and sea.
A little shy, and sad of eye, but very wise was he.
And then one day he passed my way,
And while we spoke of many things, fools and kings,
This he said to me:
The greatest thing you ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved in return.

So yes it has been a happy day, since such things can still happen.


Sunday morning. Do I want to say more about Palm Springs. The motel room was just right - I chose it online for the color of the beds - morning light on the mountain - at night the pool transilluminated like an uncut aquamarine, something about that light-holding color, so I felt stepping into it had high powers of restoration.

Friday morning driving the streets looking at houses, stepping out with my camera. The moment I looked up from the camera and saw across the intersection a palo verde in full bloom surrounded by open space and plastered walls. The perfect shape of it and its perfect flourishing where it was standing alone after its buildings had been hauled away. An arched doorway behind it leading to more vacant land. Three arched doorways in three directions but the northern wall gone so its plaza could seem a stage where the tree was making its solo appearance. Two empty bottles lying on their sides where homeless drinkers had been. Old bare concrete. This in the midst of prosperous streets where the street name plates say The movie colony.


There I post a whole Palm Springs tumblr page.

I think it's correct, as a page, the ruby-steeped palms, then the brilliant white house with palms too. Then the blazing tree called a solo performer, far and close, then the title Being of light. It has the relation of tree and angel-man I felt. The beyondness of the doorway too. Is it as good as I can make it? Don't know yet.


I looked out the back door at the sky and there was a black kite soaring and swerving above the house next door. I walked out onto the road and found its string tied to a creosote stem just off the verge. The Mexican next door was standing on his wall watching it. I went back and sat on the wall next to him, Providencio, who came from, I think he said Guanajuato in 1980 and works as a landscaper for the county. Cometa.

April 9

Yesterday I was thinking I should write what I remember of the hospital when I was a child. When I recall it I start with a particular room that I must have been in at least twice because I remember myself in two of the four beds.

I was coming from such a crude little house. What's strongest in my memory is the building itself, its large strong coherent finished institutional quality, which seemed magnificence and intelligence to me. I loved those qualities without knowing I loved them.

There were tall windows reaching up to high ceilings, wide corridors, large heavy doors that sighed shut on brass springs. There was electric light and the room I was in had a bathroom with running water. The floors were made of a smooth speckled material I didn't know the name of, that curved up onto the walls at its edges, a beige terrazzo. Window sills were broad clean ledges in pale varnished wood.

My room had two windows facing east over a parking lot, that is, a large open space on the far side of which was a street where trolleys ran and in winter sometimes gave off blue sparks. Above the windows or between them was a big stencil of Mickey Mouse. I would lie in my bed in the dark listening through those windows to a distant train whistle somewhere toward the northeast in a city I didn't know. The distance I could hear in the train's voice was my way then of feeling the distance to my home far away somewhere else. Is that what I mean? I think hearing it was the only time in a day I thought of home or my family. I was interested by where I was. The hospital itself was like a town, with many unknown spaces and functions in parts I hadn't seen yet. I'll come back to them -

[Mewburn Pavilion of University Hospital of Alberta] [University Hospital and trolley lines in the '50s or '60s]

The room I was in had two sets of two high beds, each set with a divider glassed above the level of the beds. Each bed had a bedside cabinet with a drawer above and a small cupboard below, which would contain a stainless steel wash bowl and kidney basin. There would be a bedside lamp wired to the wall and a push button bell to call a nurse. On the cabinet there'd be a water jug and glass.

I don't remember any of the children I was with in that room, only the space itself.

Further north in the corridor outside the room I think there was a larger girls' ward with six or eight beds - but that may have been a room I saw in a dream. I do know that the last room before the tall heavy glassed doors into an atrium where corridors crossed and a rank of elevators clanged open and shut was a premie nursery. I would stand gazing through a window at nurses wearing masks and holding tiny babies.

I don't remember what was across the corridor on its west side [I do now - it was a room with toddlers in high cribs] but I do remember that where it turned west at its far, south end was a windowless utility closet that had boxes of crossword puzzles and some children's books.

The east-west leg of the corridor first had the nursing station and then what was called the sunroom. Across from the nursing station were the boys' wards. In the center of that wide corridor was a long low table with children's chairs, where we'd eat together off our trays that had been lifted out of tall aluminum food carts that had been pushed in rattling and would have columns of shelves for the brown [bakelite?] trays.

[University of Alberta pediatric wing of the era]

Mid-morning and mid-afternoon a nurses' aide would push a little two-shelf cart rattling through the corridors with juice - orange, apple, pineapple, tomato and grapefruit. Juice was a marvel; we never bought juice at home. In the evenings - I've just remembered this - there would be cocoa and graham crackers.

I only remember a few things about the meals. One was that when there was a chunk of head lettuce with a dressing poured over it I took it to the sink and washed off the dressing. It was an unfamiliar thing that tasted too strong. At home we ate lettuce with sugar and cream. The other thing I remember is a lemon dessert that had cake and pudding layers somehow sorted in the baking process. I didn't understand how that could happen.

There'd always be a slice of white bakery bread with a little rectangle of butter, and a glass of milk.

The food would have struck me as civilized in a way our food at home was not, the way the building and even the city people in it were civilized.

The sunroom was in fact very sunny, with a rank of high windows facing south over another parking lot. There were large stuffed armchairs, leatherette I think. During afternoon and evening visiting hours visitors might sit there with the child they were visiting, but in the mornings I would push one of the armchairs nearer the window and pull the ends of the long heavy cretonne drapes over its back to make a little tent behind it, where I'd play on the floor.

There was also a beautiful ceremoniousness about the nurses' uniforms. Beginning nursing students would wear a pink blouse with their white aprons. Further along they'd wear blue, and when they were graduate RNs they'd wear all white. When I saw them on the street they'd be wearing a dark blue cape. I knew they'd have to earn their white caps. Graduate nurses would have a black stripe on their caps. There were name tags too, on the front of their left shoulder. The young nurses were often pretty, and some of them would be personally nice. An older nurse who was a supervisor would sometimes appear; she'd have an unusual and daunting quality of authority I would think of as ugly. Doctors would wear an open white coat over their suit pants and white shirts and ties and they'd smell of cigarettes. They carried themselves casually, would appear briefly in mid morning, in small groups, often, have a few friendly words and disappear for the rest of the day.

Nurses who had graduated in other hospitals would wear the caps or uniforms they'd earned where they trained, so there would be a piquancy of foreignness about them.

There were nurses' aides too, the lowest rank above housekeeping staff, who I think wore grey blouses.

When was I in the hospital. At three, at five?, at seven just before grade two, at ten?, at fourteen.

The first two times I was in an earlier children's wing, that had a long narrow wire-mesh-enclosed outside play area a couple of storeys off the ground, like a balcony or verandah. The room I was in then had windows onto this play area where I'd hear children running and shrieking. This wasn't a big room, four beds I think, two high enclosed cribs and opposite them two lower beds for older girls. I was in the crib nearest the door. There are just a couple of things I remember. One is a morning when I urgently needed to pee and couldn't get out of bed to go to the toilet. I think I tried to pee in my water glass and dropped it on the floor. Another is some kind of hostile exchange with the older girl in the bed kitty-corner from me, who I watched having visitors who brought her presents, I remember a radio and probably fruit. Another moment I have remembered before and don't quite remember now is when a visitor came through the door for me, a man I didn't know well, a relative of my mother's who'd been going to the city and had been sent by her to see how I was.

[children's polio ward of the era]

The second time I was in that wing, when I was five?, I was in a long ward near the first room, in a bed (not a crib) halfway along the east wall. What I remember from that room is that there were Brownie meetings for which a large papier mâché mushroom was brought from a cupboard. I think we held onto the ends of crepe paper streamers attached to it and jiggled them chanting to-whit, to-whit, to-whoo. The other moment I remember is an evening when my dad suddenly appeared to take me home. There suddenly were my outside clothes. I was anxious to make sure to take some salted peanuts and raisins I had been hoarding in my bedside drawer. I remember him carrying me through an exit foyer, not the one I knew later but a narrow room with dim orange light. Then maybe a hotel room? Then nothing until a night stop in a long bus ride. He took me to the door of an outhouse but didn't come in with me and I accidentally dropped my mitten down the outhouse hole in the dark.

I wasn't glad to see him, I wasn't glad to go home. There's a neutrality of feeling about all of these scenes, a stoicism, I was just where I was (except for distress about spilling the pee and losing the mitten). It's interesting that architecture was so strong an experience in this.

It's a good thing I'm writing these down now because I'm likely going to start forgetting them. The hospital was my completely private experience, no one I knew had been there; when I was there I was nothing but myself.

The fifth time was in a small room at the end of a long corridor on a high floor - just under the roof - in an old wing. There was a long adult women's ward at 90 degrees to my corridor so I could look across into its windows from my bed against a west-facing window. One night I saw a woman's naked breasts in lamplight when she was being examined by a doctor with curtains closed around her bed.

It was winter. From that bed I looked down onto the hospital's laundry, where columns of white steam would rise as I was eating early breakfast off my tray. I liked those breakfasts. I'd cut open a fresh crusty roll, butter it and fill it with my mashed up hard-boiled egg. By this time I was old enough to order off the menu.

I remember more about this time. I remember two of the other girls, Helen in the center bed that stood out into the room from the window wall and Dorothy in the bed near the door kitty-corner from mine. Neither of those older girls could get out of bed. Dorothy would sleep with a respirator strapped onto her chest. I had a cast on my right leg below the knee but I bopped around in a wheel chair or on crutches. I'd go to a linen closet up the hall in a nightie tied with strings behind my back and pick out clean panties and an ironed dress from a small pile. The dresses would often be too short or too tight. I'd rip them when I jumped along on crutches. No matter.

I would sometimes entertain my roommates by roaring out songs after lights were out - I knew all the words to This old house. Remember someone coming in to tell me to pipe down.

Up a few steps at the nearest end of the corridor was a small room, I think windowless, that was used by staff on breaks. Med students maybe. Near it was a locked gate onto the roof. I would sit there and read the magazines. Below it in the room just past ours was a teaching room that had a John Doe dummy on a stretcher. The room sometimes wasn't locked so I could go in and look at the seeming corpse.

I had bits of money visitors gave me and would take the creaking elevator down into the basement where a tuck shop had chocolate bars and comic books. Ice cream drumsticks in paper cones. If I were in a wheelchair I'd have to struggle with the criss-crossed folding elevator gate. The elevator didn't always stop level with the floor.

Down on the tuck shop level were labs with white mice in cages. A strong chemical smell.

Further down our corridor, past the entrance to the long womens' ward, was a newer wing with private or semiprivate rooms. At the end of that corridor was a sunroom that most of the time was empty. I was always interested in its late-50s American magazines - Life, Look, The Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping. A washroom in the corridor of that newer wing is where I found interesting bandages in the waste paper basket, some with blood on them. When I was going home I wanted to take some of them to play nurse with, along with empty penicillin bottles still rubber-sealed, their seals held on by silver metal rings. Uncle Walter was at the dental college then and would visit me once in a while, handsome and urbane. When I was due to go home and he was fetching me I showed him the the bag with what I didn't know were menstrual pads in it and he was unaccountably flustered.

That wing had sleek new elevators I could take down to the 4th floor, which was Maternity, with new babies in their bassinets beyond a window. The elevator opened onto grand foyers on every floor - I found them grand, with patterns inlaid in the terrazzo. The sleek heavy sound of elevators opening was grand too.

Our trays came with a sheet of white newsprint on them to make a clean surface for our plates. I would ask the immigrant woman who worked in the little kitchen next to our room for sheets of the paper to draw on. I'd draw horses and ball gowns for paper dolls, like those in Katy Keene comics.

I was in that ward over Christmas. We had a tree in our room with presents under it. A parcel arrived for me in the mail, brown paper tied with string, and was put under the tree. I opened one end of it surreptitiously and felt into a cardboard box that had a doll in it. Did I pull it out or just feel it, I don't remember. It turned out to be a walking doll with brown hair, large blue eyes that closed, a pale blue dress and red Mary Jane shoes. The card said it was from my classmates, who used money raised in their Junior Red Cross activities. I didn't assume it was their idea to send it to me but I loved the doll as if she were my child self. It was obscurely significant that she was a walking doll.

I remember myself as cheerful, even boisterous, in this time, excited by the complexity of the place, interested especially in the immigrant working people rather than the professionals - the janitor, the tuck shop man, the housekeepers.

In all of these memories I have a confident sense of the orientation of rooms and corridors. I always knew where I was in the layout of the place. It might have been a country kid's native awareness of the morning, mid-day and evening sun. It was also that I was always interested in buildings. I'm seeing now how this is related to the way when I invented stories with Judy I would always begin by describing houses and furnishings.

- Is that it? I haven't said anything about the surgeries I was there for. I'd be prepped the afternoon before, my leg would be shaved by a nurse with soapy water in a kidney basin. In the morning an orderly with a stretcher would come for me. I'd be strapped in and trundled into an elevator and along unknown corridors to the operating room. I remember once being taken through a sloping concrete-sided tunnel with large wrapped steam pipes running along them near the ceiling. I'd be interested to see the operating room but never had time to look around because the anesthetist would set an ether mask over my nose and mouth and tell me to count. I'd be out almost instantly and then wake on a stretcher in a recovery area. My ankle would be hurting and there'd be the weight of a plaster cast holding me down. It would still be drying, there'd be a smell of damp plaster. Or sometimes I'd wake in my bed in what I remember as a darkness of red pain. It would be extreme pain but I don't think I cried. It was just more of being where I was. For the first hours I'd be nauseated by the anaesthetic - I'd forgotten that. There'd be a couple of days of that red pain. They'd give me penicillin shots to prevent infection and they must have given me painkillers too.

Then I'd be better and allowed up in the wheelchair and then later on crutches. I'd always be held to recover for quite a long time, a couple of months I think, until the day I'd be sent down to a basement room where a man with an electric saw would cut a line first down one side of the cast and then the other, so its two halves could be lifted off my leg one at a time. The saw was worrying, would it cut too deep? I'd feel the line of the cut as a hot little tickle. Then there would be my poor thin leg thinner than ever, painted red with mercurochrome, with dark sloppily-made stitches still present and large flakes of dead skin peeling. Smell of scorched plaster. The cast would be put back on, a little sarcophagus, and buckled in place with beige canvas straps. The cast would be quite grimy by now.

After the stitches had been plucked out I could take the cast off to get into a bath again, which was wonderful, but I'd have to put it back on again afterward for a while. My leg would have to get stronger again.

One time, out of the 4-bed room, a nurse prepped me with a different sort of anaesthetic, a creamy fluid she injected into my bum hole with a large hypodermic that had a rubber tube. I was interested in the way I was already beginning to fade out as I was being wheeled through the wide door. I was trying to stay awake to see where they were taking me but I couldn't.

Something else I'm noticing in this story is how trained in passivity I was by these events and probably before them. Though I was intelligent, curious and lively I accepted everything done to me without protest or question. I was sent away and sent home, I was inspected by strangers and cut open by them, I was separated from everything I knew and given great pain. I don't remember being affronted or distressed by any of it. In a subliminal way I was greatly interested by it. There was a scope for my brightness in it, that my narrow steady life at home didn't have. My brightness coped with it. None of it happened in language, none of it was contaminated by language. I was not instructed in it. It was true adventure.

Back in my family I was never only at home; I had another life that was only my own. I had been away living in a city, in a vast complex wealthy institutional order, secular, clean, more modern, more rational, run by more educated more intelligent people, a community on a much wider scale. When I went away to university it was a return to the hospital. I loved it in the same way.

From the windows of the 4-bed room I could look down toward the front entrance, that I had only passed through a couple of times. Entering, there were several concrete steps and then big double doors, then a small foyer with radiators on both sides and more shallow steps, and then the main double doors into the reception area with its desk for visitor enquiries. That small anteroom or foyer impressed me so that I've often remembered it. What was it about it. I think it seemed beautiful to me, with its tall glass-paned doors on both sides and terrazzo steps probably brass-edged. It was a bright room that had no function but passage between entries on two levels. Is that it? I think the floor was green.

When I was passing through Edmonton with Louie in 1992 that wing with its lovely front entrance had just been demolished, was lying behind wire hoardings a rubble of broken bricks and plaster and even some smashed furnishings no one had thought worth saving.


Wrote those five pages fast yesterday, slopped them down. As I typed them just now was seeing the simplicity of my child mind in the way I was writing it and yet my spatial-sensory take on where I was was completely clear and solid. I was it not I. What was unremarkable then seems remarkable now. Not just how I saw it but the seeing built into how it was made. It seems better architecture. Its era was late '40s?


It reached 102 degrees a couple of afternoons ago. Warm enough to sit outside at night but there were little biters. Have had to put away even the lighter duvet though it's cool in the early morning.


I give whole days to Sketchup. Yesterday it was a version of the old Point Loma studio I used for the doc. Today it was seeing what I could do with a 44x16x9 house. It's the best of my small narrow houses, I solved how to have an open plan and a central fireplace and my bed in the main room and still have a bathroom by putting kitchen, bathroom and work room up a couple of wide low steps. That plan even gives me a guest room. 704 square feet.

[journal] [breakfast] [back door at noon] [back strip] [Rowen visiting on my birthday]


Eclipse of the moon from my bed in Glorietta Canyon last night. Blue Spica leading it and that was Mars running ahead. Jupiter below the Twins as they sank behind a ridge in the northwest, following Orion the butterfly.

Bright moonlight on the rocks above me to the north. I held my palm up into it thinking whether to call it colorless. Fell asleep and woke when the shadow was a quarter across. It moved fast but then totality went on and on. It was pretty through the binocs, a soft effulgent pink. I was thinking the cone of earth's shadow must be much wider than the moon.

When the moon's light was fading it felt like the world was dying a little.

I had dragged my bed to a platform the flood left last summer, a 3' layer of sand with a straight edge down, wide as a stage and angled just right to face due south. As usual had made a very cozy camping bed deeply padded underneath with lots of covers and a hot water bottle at the foot end. Was in it by eight. Lay feeling the soft air on my face. A perfect temperature. Very still. Once a bat zipped past overhead, just once a far-away cry, just once a faint ticking that might have been a distant cricket. Continuous faint hiss in my left ear.

I tried to watch the faint black and white smudges of optical cortex noise. Sometimes they would jump into focus as if a photo of a sharply faceted rock face, but I'd jump into attention and it would be instantly gone. What had I realized about that - oh, that I've been trying to look at them with my eyes. Maybe I'll be able to hold them steady if I feel it more as seeing with my brain.


Paul sent two scans this morning, One must have been taken by Uncle John Toews when Luke and I went down to Russell Square to see him and Aunt Lill in April of 1973. The two of us are side by side in deck chairs, an astonishingly beautiful young woman in a purple peasant blouse, long dark skirt and leather jacket is sitting straight-backed gazing with love at a little creature in duffle coat and striped pullover who is holding the sole of one shoe and looking tickled to be so adored.


Have finished laying out In English far enough to send for proofreading - posted a call for proofers and layout crit on FB, see whether anyone's willing. Jpg takes of cover layout too - now what? It turns out to have been nearly ready before.


When I lie down and feel into myself I find panic dread of publishing In English. I will do it, and I will have to experience indifference and dislike. I experience them all the time anyway, how is this different? I'm making what I feel is a large claim. It will be denied.


There's weather. When I went to bed a racket of wind so strong I got up in the dark to look at it. At 3 definitely the sound of water falling off the eaves.

May 4

Two days all day on Sketchup. I sit down I expect briefly at 7 in the morning after I've made tea, made my bed, swept, assembled orange juice and put it in the freezer for later. Sometime in the afternoon I notice blasts of oven air from the open door. Don't want to stop to eat - will go get a little bowl of peanuts to stave my wolf. Forget to drink. By evening my crotch has been sweating all day and I begin to notice the smell. I may hear birds 8' away at the feeder hung on the porch rail. Three times a large squirrel came trying to get into its small hatches. I jumped up each time to bang the screen door and scare it away. Doves crooned. There was a small seismic jolt. It was Sunday, the monitor said. Judy walked past in a hat though it was five in the afternoon. There were blasts of wind. The screen door jittered. Once the side window's venetians flew out and crashed back. * came with a chainsaw to trim back the broken lemon trunk. Sometimes there were voices. Providencio's roosters crowed in the afternoon. I didn't get tired. It's constant action and decision. Sometimes I reconsider and back up 20 steps or more. I'm working on the Point Loma house and garden. It was partly remembering and partly inventing. Such a fluid tool. Where to put the staircase has been the hardest decision. One thing will suggest another so I'll try it. My very lovely 16x44 house fits in the SW corner of that garden. I'm getting better technically, got the first floor / ceiling / 2nd floor / roof layers relation almost right this time. Am remembering wall allowances mostly. Know to zoom in and check line origins when the tape measure won't work or when wall surfaces disappear. Realized the tool is always right. Have figured out how to use push-pull to make window glass. It's a way of learning architecture - I mean learning what decisions to look for.

[library early] [upstairs bathroom]

I'm always wanting symmetry but there are questions about how to integrate symmetrical elements with non-symmetrical elements. I was trying out an 8' grid, though there were bits I winged that have ended up off grid.

A really long pool. [tulips and olives]

A citrus orchard. A public entrance and a private. A very big studio but not as big as it was. [studio January noon] [studio with cat and olives]

The long E-W corridor is the most important structure in this design. [corridor midday]

It's as if the studio is an extension of the R hand.

Along with the studio the space that has been most important to me in my years with this house has been the little winter sun spot that juts forward a bit in front of the fireplace room, ie the spine room, which makes it the chest or heart space. [heartnook and cat] [heartnook and Krasner and flowers]

So there's the grid and there are symmetries, and there's its psychology, and there are things I like in a garden, for instance a pool a bit raised with an edge for sitting, and long wide shallow steps, and platforms overlooking, and rampart corridors [cat bridge and late breakfast], and trees on sight lines as well as here and there, and trees in colonnades, and high walls with shadows thrown, and a kitchen garden separately. I have the kitchen and manager's office as mirror images on either side of the library. [kitchen] [kitchen June early] [kettle corner]

I like a big bathroom with space for beautiful color. [bathroom flowers]

Drawing these models and maybe especially this one there's a strong sensation of actually making something and making it I suppose with magical speed.


The wind. Comes blasting from the west. It's inconstant, comes in bursts that strike the house hard. For the last couple of days there was a time around noon with hard wind for an hour. Often it's late afternoon. This morning unusually before dawn, rattling the windows and making the roof creak. It's stringy not a broad front, I could see it on a farther tree but not in the near palm. Listening to it I feel the house unsheltered on an open plain with large forces bearing down.

It's a dark morning, clouds moving fast toward the east.

14 May San Diego

Tom's place in the early morning light. Soft venetian shadows on the wall. Sweet air through the screen. Tom in the kitchen ironing a teeshirt. All the years.

He's gone predictably into sweet talk and I like it. My gloom lifts. I look younger. I liked his strong hands on my spine. I liked hearing his sleeping breath. I fell asleep instantly last night and slept well. I liked his haircut - the right haircut again finally. His place looked nice when I arrived alone after the freeway miles.

"I can't believe you don't love me." "I do love you but I want to love somebody who loves me more." "Good luck with that."


Driving the city feeling how comfortable I am in it, how well I know its ways and byways, the tracks I've made down 4th, up 5th, along Mission Bay to Robert's, up Washington from Pacific Highway, along Robinson to the right turn after Park Ave, even up 163 to Friar's Road and then west to the mall with the Apple store, along past the airport and across the bridge on the way to Charles Street in Point Loma.

Anguish about leaving Tom gone because I'm with him now and it's natural as if it will never end. [Tom in May 2014]

"If the reward comes randomly - sometimes after 50 presses and sometimes after 150 - the pigeon will press with much more vigor, even after the rewards are removed entirely." Skinner random reinforcement.


1. how to focus sand
2. how to stabilize
3. edge with slight wave
4. overcast so no glitter
5. how to frame accurately
6. what distance?

It's a drama of pattern then sudden wipeout then pattern slowly forming then wipeout then slow forming that may be suddenly interrupted then slow forming, as if we are seeing lifetimes coming into existence and demolished again and again. We wait in suspense for the pattern to clear. [from OB pier]

1st June

o illimitable sea
pushing, pushing


The pier zones. At the far end it's deep slow silent green.

Seaweed zone near the café.

Rolling surface constantly changing its angle to the light.

As if a heavy roller is advancing under the wrinkling skin.

In my head I'm talking to Tom about how to think of being left. It will scare up his mom. All these years (he says) he hasn't believed we're finally separated. When he has me he holds back. When he thinks he might be losing me he tries hard. For both of us loss is the ineluctable structure. It just goes on. [Tom at 16] [Tom in the Mission Beach house]

Another way to see it is bands of pale gold shimmer advancing, advancing, advancing directly toward me.

A sea of metaphor.

June 7, Borrego

He praised Last light wonderfully. Watching it with him I felt it more than I had. He remembered Bede's bird, which I then remembered him telling me about in the tent.

In our last morning in his flat he was sitting next to me on the bed with a look on his face. I said, Are you having solemn thoughts? He cried for a moment. I liked that he minded.

We drove here peacefully on Wednesday after his old-person class. Cesar, Rosa, Fanny, Tom being an enthusiastic host gazing into people's rooms. Thursday we read separately and together and after it cooled sat talking on the front porch ledge with our bare feet on the sand. There was a high half moon. I said, Where's the sun? He understood for the first time that it's always full moon somewhere.

The last night at his house standing outside looking at his mass of plants against his lit wide window. He had been grateful for two things I'd done for him, repotted his tree and got him started on his family history tumblr. He always feels me in his house. Yes I've loved him in action though not sentimentally. He has loved me too, in persistence and touch and in more emotional watchfulness than I have credited.

The book keeps saying we'll never see each other again after I leave.


My beautiful Sketchup bathroom has white marble, a skylight, a banana tree, orchids, a Turkish carpet, a cayenne-colored loveseat. The guestroom across the corridor has two doors out and a tea tray on the floor next to an armchair. And now a blue suitcase.

Then I acquired paintings, for the guestroom a Krasner and a Bontecou, for the upstairs bedroom a Riley and an Agnes Martin. An O'Keeffe for the upstairs bathroom.

I put an apple on a plate. There's a thrilling gift economy of models. Someone made a white plate. Someone else made a red apple. Someone else made the table. I copied a red cushion from a loveseat and put it on a white plaster ledge. There was a white teapot I colored red and set next to the red cushion.

Is the moon up?


Refining the 16x44 house, shadows, textures. Setting longitude and latitude, trying the sun on different dates, framing photos, lot of time placing little things: bar of soap in a white dish, bread on a plate, Peter's painting in the guestroom, glass of rosé on the guestroom bedside table, journal on the dining table, pot on the cooktop, toaster and bowls on the counter, Buddha with a plant in his lap facing the entry door, teacup with tea in it on the terrace floor next to a chair, sandals at the front door, towels on the tub's edge, Turkish carpet in the bathroom, blue suitcase at the foot of the guestroom steps, small white cream jug and red teapot, a thrilling effect when I hung venetians in the workroom.

Last night in bed I was seeing a lot of blue lines, bright indigo selection edges.

It's hot. Sitting at the computer all day when it's 95 inside and 105 out. I swelter but don't mind, ignore it. Am not hungry, don't want to cook. Wake from the night, or in the afternoon too, with the pillow soaked. White salt stains on the waistband of the pyjama pants I wear all day. Rinse my day clothes before I sleep, hang them on the porch rail, they're dry in the morning. Once a day hose down the porch plants. Store all my drinking glasses in the freezer. Usually don't turn on the AC or even the fan; they're loud.

In the last few days have learned to make and copy components, apply downloaded surface textures, set location and time, cut temporary sections, locate tiny misalignments and repair them, drag from R or L to select more than one thing, paste components almost where I want them, rotate accurately - is that it? V-ray dongle has arrived but I haven't loaded it yet.

- All of this with guilty avidity.

It's like dollhouses, it goes back to the moment of the birdhouse and the afternoon of playing store with the Kroeker girls. Tireless focus yesterday from 7am to 9pm. I love the way there's constant consideration and action. I figure out how to do things. Offside there's a vast treasure ground of components and whole models to learn from.


Tom had a plan, he'd give notice and move up with me and live in Bellingham. "There's just one thing I'd want. I'd like you to be a little more into me." At the same time he was all sails set in plans at the Seniors' Center. He counts on me to say no? Or invents plans to keep from feeling bad.

We had a just-right visit. Sat on the concrete edge eating in the dark. He liked the wind. The stars came on strong. In the morning he kissed my arm all up and down. Sometimes he seems actually to be thinking about what would be good for me to the end of my life. "We're family."

These nights before I go to sleep I lie on the concrete in front of the house feeling the new warp in my back, cooling, in company with the Milky Way which is arching almost at apex, showing the broad dust lanes of Scorpio's tail. Its head looks to me like a posy, Antares where its stems join.

3 July

Working on Mac's house. Found a rock someone had made and stretched and rotated versions of it to mush together to make the ridge it's on, planted cottonwoods in crevices and pushed some of their trunks down into the rock to make shrubs. Then saw I could cantilever the bathhouse out over its edge. Most of the day yesterday refining that little white building winged with many casements. It's not all the way right yet.

It's hottest in the house toward the end of the afternoon. Surfaces are surprisingly hot, walls, even the glass on the desk. I swelter - that word I like - and don't mind, but then turn on the AC about 7 to cool the house down to 85 for sleeping, now that the night air is still into the 90s. Now, at 6:30am, it's perfect, bright, fresh, Providencio's rooster crowing, cold tea. I'll go on with the Sketchup book from the library. I've figured out enough on my own so I can glom onto new bits with energy. I guess I won't argue with this drivenness though nothing can come of it but interest and pleasure.


What I meant to look at was not the incidents so much, though I got into them, as why I remembered them. What a child registers, why a snapshot is taken rather than not, even those that seem general are actually moments, though I mixed in some knowledge from later. They are moments of whole take, scenes that would be better written as such, unpacked.

Yesterday I learned the fog tool, took photos of Mac's washhouse on its rocks in sunlit white mist. At night after hours trying again to gut the wrong internal structure of the 824 house, meticulous tiny work mending edges, I wandered into video taken from game worlds, where young men have taken what I'm doing to technological extremes in the service of zooming around killing things or watching women with big breasts run. What would be better. For instance drawing and animating one of those memory moments, just the length and breadth it is, not a plot or even a character, just an accurate moment of being.

I've realized that I'm drawing.


Reading McPhee The control of nature on the hydrology of Mississippi containment in Louisiana. I so like men in their physical expertise: that they've cared to understand how a river moves, the forces on its banks at various points, and McPhee's love for those kinds of guys and their intelligent skill. And oh his own skill that holds me in fond admiration page after page. - That kind of writing, documentary writing about how things work, perceptual precision, spatial visualization that projects sideways into apt metaphor, so formed an intelligence working comprehensively. I love the way he lives. He gives himself access to these people who do and know things, and then he goes off by himself and focuses and sorts and forms.

I love that he uses techical words I've never seen and doesn't explain them. "To hope to see an ivorybill, to hear a prothonotary warbler." "This swamp of the anhinga, swamp of the nocturnal bear." He contradicts what I used to say about writing, that it has to be fresh off immediate consciousness and that the work is to make that consciousness worth writing from. McPhee confects from notes, reworks, and his confection makes a reading consciousness worth making. I believed what I did because it seemed to support the best kind of ambition I could have for myself. When I went back to school I did what McPhee does, compiled and sorted - tho', no, I didn't revise much once I'd written - a work of time - which I suppose is the way quality of consciousness is actually built in a body, across and across and across.

I like the word distributory which balances tributary.

The fish alone can average a thousand pounds an acre.

If he doesn't know them, he knows where they live, because each town has its accent.

tupelo and cypress rising from the water, and pollen on the water like pale green silk.

Bourque called it a gros bec. Soileau called it a yellow-crowned night heron.

Storyteller vividness:

As lava moves under the air, it develops a skin of glass that is broken and rebroken by the motion of the liquid below, so that it clinks and tinkles, and crackles like a campfire .... They found that a crust as thin as two inches was enough to support a person ... just a couple of inches of hard rock resting like pond ice upon the molten fathoms.

The land just calls them and they go into geophysics.

There simply are no women in McPhee.

The town seemed covered by deep black snow. Many houses were discernible only as dunes in the [?]. If they burned, they left kettle-shaped pits. Eventually some of the ash-covered houses filled with steam and were cooked until their frames came loose like bones of stewing chickens.

They were like touches of pallesthesia, nothing more: little shivers in the bones.

Dora looked down into the water. She saw red lava there. Salt water fell on their heads, and fine fragments of dark-brown glass. In daylight, sailors who have fallen overboard have been found by shipmates who steered toward hovering birds.

The gas came over the lip of the crater, flowed downhill, and went through the town like a river. It suffocated cats. It stalled cars. People's heads were generally above it ... a sailor who tried to loot a pharmacy died in a pool of carbon dioxide.


I love about California that it is so written-about.

As the two sides of the San Andreas slide by each other, they compress the landscape at the kink. The San Andreas has folded its flanking country, much as a moving boat crossing calm waters will send off lateral waves. The great compression at the kink is withal the most intense. The Coast Ranges and the Peninsular Ranges are generally smaller than the Transverse Ranges. The San Gabriels are being compressed about a tenth of an inch a year, .... Between the Geology-Department roof and the San Gabriels, the city gradually rose. A very long, ramplike, and remarkably consistent incline ended in the sheerness of the mountain wall. This broad uniform slope is where the seven tons an acre had emerged from the mountains, year upon year for a number of millions of years .... Broad at the bottom, narrow at the top, the fans were like spilled grain piling up at the edge of a bin. There were so many of them, coming down from stream after stream, that they had long since coalesced, forming a tilted platform, which the Spaniards called a bajada.

I once came across a solid block of citrus trees surrounded by residential streets. In all directions from this dark-green stamp sprawled the vast groves of houses .... From the block of citrus the houses continued west unremittingly, east and south indefinitely, and north about eight hundred yards, where they were stopped by the mountain front.

- He interlards, when I copy passages I see how he keeps switching from this sort of spatial description to talk with persons. "We're living on a floodplain. To look at it, you'd think it was flat, but there's nine hundred feet of difference from Glendora to the ocean. The alluvial fans are that deep. The types of flows that built them go on trying to build them, where we are trying to live."

Before the citrus, there were ranches, before the ranches, Indians, before the Indians, the primal scene: huge unencumbered alluvial fans leaning into the fast-rising mountains beside the hazy plain. In the eighteen seventies, to connect agricultural towns, local railways had begun to climb the bajada. Long straight avenues are there now, steadily rising three and four miles.

Big slow trucks went around full of oranges.


Homemaking. A lot of time today making a feast at Mac's house. I wanted him to make curry. Big bowl of green salad. Had to make and remake plates and bowls. Set things out on the white marble surface. Find a ladle for the curry. Couple of bottles of wine, white and a red. 6 glasses. Then I thought we should have a cake and made one myself with the circle tool, the edge smoother, and a cropped photo of coconut frosting. Silver platter to put it on. Flowers for on top of it, make them red. A knife to cut it with rested on a pile of smaller plates. Line up the sun for a photo. - Need a better sink, go find one and find a faucet for it. In the end there's my screengrab, that I dote on the way I've doted on photos and paragraphs on Here.

It was 100 degrees in the house this afternoon. I didn't turn on the AC, it was surprisingly alright - needed it when the humidity was higher. Maybe the way to tell how hot it is, is if the pillows are hot to the touch. I like it when they are but if I fall asleep briefly I wake looking hollow-eyed. The desk glass gets hot. The other day when I drove to the store three quarters that had been lying on the seat next to me were too hot to hold.


It can take all day doing small things in a model. I was fixing the underside of the boat-shaped roof, sorting things onto separate layers so I could vanish them to work on other things. Last night I was hours combing bed and lamp models, pulling some of them into my files. The happy thing I did today was devise Mac's outside bed. I'd thought a bed on rails that can slide forward onto the decking, but yesterday after I'd shut down the computer I realized I could make a nook off the end of the deck for a permanent outside bed. I liked the bed itself because I'd found a rumpled one with a blanket I could turn dark green. It was a nice bed, and I set it down three shallow steps between boulders. There it was fitted into a little platform its size with just enough of a rim next to it to keep from rolling onto the rocks. Up on the ridge it's next to the Milky Way, open sky pivoting on the polar star. I made a breakfast tray too, with French bread and butter and red jam - sour cherry jam. Telescope is parked with the bed on its sky-hung balcony.


Mac's study square that I invented years ago, here fitted out in detail with long library table, red sofa, computer table, massive screen, Turkish carpet in front of the fire, a Constable, a big Riley, a lot of storage, one lamp over the sofa at night, he reads till late, walks across to look things up online, stops at the long table to lay out printed sheets and images, turns off all but the smallest of step lighting, walks out to the washhouse, showers in the dark, goes naked to his outside bed, lies looking up, feeling the air. Wakes early, down to the washhouse to pee and put on jeans. The kitchen is streaked with sidelight. Cats at his ankles, makes tea, sits with it at the outside table for phone calls overseas.

[bedroom evening shadow] [night washhouse lights] [summer morning] [two cats in the yard]

I wrote to Tom: Is it dishonorable I wonder to take so much pleasure in imaginary circumstances. He replied: My [seniors' centre business] emails give me the same pleasure as your realization of imaginary circumstances and I think I come from the same mindset with a soupcon of putting on the dog class-consciously ... they are from an imaginary Tom, a courtly kinda guy, maybe a last-of-the-'20s generation executive writing at the end of the mid-'50s pragmatic luminosity.

I sent one of the images of the outside bed with Milky Way and he wrote "If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore: and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown? But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile." Turned out to be Emerson remembered from probably Harlan Ellison.

Okay Thomas - if you're capable of giving me this why have you mostly given worse? Long puzzle. Is it parsimony? It says circumstance, his stars are lined up at the moment.


I've loved working all day long with driven focus. Want to say I'd like to be doing that with something that matters, except that if I have driven focus for it, it matters. What is it it doesn't matter toward, that something else might. - The interest and pleasure of the best, it's always that. Being in the company of the best, adding to the life of the best, making the moments of pained joy that have been made for me by the best.


Gordimer died yesterday. 1923-2014.


Spider hanging shin-height just inside the bathroom door. Black, biggish, long-legged. I was suspicious, got the flashlight. Yes, red hourglass.

Small bird on the porch rail yesterday at noon with its beak open panting in the heat. It got to 117.

I like having the screen door open before it's hot enough to mobilize flies, to be able to see the birds directly. Whole dozen doves suddenly flapping up and landing on the wires across the road, where they sit facing this way to keep an eye on their feeding station.


DH Lawrence 1885-1930.

He's so visual. His characters are aware of other's bodies the way I am and most characters in novels are not, and other real people may or may not be, usually I don't know which.

He describes the flux of feeling with someone and alien to them I think as no one else does, the watchfulness in that pain and relief. A lot of social pain in his people. The way I am with Tom, now it's like this, now like this.

On the phone this morning when I'd told him I'm leaving early so we won't see each other again, the moment after we'd said goodbye, when I could still hear his voice, the hard pang of loss.

I said Friday August 15. He said it's the day of the assumption of the Virgin.

2 August

Days making and placing the windows and doors for the studio house - meticulous labour - finally today I could turn on shadows and take photos - it's a house of art - Bontecou in the guestroom, Mary Pratt in the downstairs bathroom, Riley in the stairwell, O'Keeffe in the upstairs bathroom, an Emily Carr watercolor in the library, Krasner and Joan Mitchell in the corridor, Agnes Martin in the upstairs bedroom.

I love the Buddha of the stairwell and the little Emily Carr over a bookcase next to a casement window, with April midmorning sun coming in sideways through windows 10' high. The upstairs bedroom took my breath, a well of light. Windows on all four sides.

The flooring isn't pink - I had a good pink terrazzo but there was too much of it. Oatmeal coloured now. Good carpets in the bathrooms. The studio's like a gym. Empty. Maybe a string quartet could rehearse there.

- It wasn't hot today, few big drops of rain from a sky completely lidded. I was at the monitor most of the day - lot of chores looming but - it's a form of drawing assisted in ways so I can spend many days carefully running lines and erasing them - months later I'm so better at it. I had to patiently remake the Point Loma house, which now is the studio house - this house has always been mine, it was Being about's house. The studio is laid out differently now, though, because I didn't like the way it loomed so far forward into the rest of the house's southwest. This one has more north and an arm straight across to the eastern door. - My nook in the sun is the heart space. It has an armchair. I could put a cat in it.

- But nothing is happening in the studio. First it was for the diss and then it was going to put the journal online. After that there wasn't a plan. Book making at the table by the fireplace, small screenings in the northwest corner, music. [studio reading corner]

- What I started to say was that it wasn't hot and I was happy working, after the windows and doors were in, satisfied, pleased with it.


It rained. Water was sheeting off Judy's roof, sluicing down the road 8 inches deep, cascading over the brick walks in the front yard, coursing past the jeep on the back yard track. There was a faint scent of mustard. I didn't want it to stop.


[Notes on routes and mileage]

Will I think of all I'm leaving - Buena Creek Gardens, Mission Hills, daily California, the green sea, Mexican men like Jose Luis and Mario, the chocolate croissants and eucalyptus trees at UCSD, Nora and Eliz and their houses, jacaranda trees, honeysuckle, Santa Ana dawns, wildfires, mockingbirds, palms, doves, flowering pears, Whole Foods expensive salads, Bread & Cie slices, the tea twins at Pannikins, the farmers' market, Pacific Highway, Walter Andersons'. I'm not thinking of Mesa Grande now, or Borrego, it's San Diego on the sea, my city. The beautiful library, the beautiful post office. Orange trees.

As if teaching has vanished, and Tom has vanished maybe too, and what remains is the steady loving interest I had in where I lived. The scent in the air when I'd come back from [the college] in February. The easy confidence of Americans. The postal service. Having it all to learn, like a young person. My sick neighbour who held so excellent a wake for himself before he died. The homeless man under the next door porch, Michael. Direct sun onto my couch in the afternoon. - San Diego is already three years since but it has the glamour of background, is that it? Dependable like mother love. A fresh fine pretty mother.


Full moon last night. I was done for the day at nine and lay quietly on the hot cement feeling gentle air from the east as it climbed unseen behind Judy's palm. The heat on my back was nice and as I was drifting contented I thought of the man in Palm Springs, his innocent dignity, his realness in the moment, his being led, and I felt this parting could take me back to being that, what my birthday adventure asked for and was given.


Vanessa the hitch-wiring girl

Bin to Indio, had the hitch finished, got the 5x8 because the 4x8 was missing, had a lovely moment sitting on the U-haul company cement yard with Vanessa on her back soldering a clip to hold the wires and a young man hanging with her asking me questions like where were you in the '70s and what's the best place you've been. They calmed me down.

Vanessa was a moon-faced maybe 20-year-old, plump, forthright, who said yes jeeps have a lot of torque and called up on her phone footage of a Wrangler climbing a rock nearly 90 degrees up to show me. I told the young man my first car was a Studebaker Lark and he googled a picture of it. I told him every young person should live in a foreign country for a while. Meanwhile another young woman was having her 23rd birthday and came to say goodbye because she was going off shift. They were all Latino there, the manager too.

The trailer is a stiff thing yanking at the jeep's back end. I'll get used to it, am more used to it already.

Drove through date farms on a back-road detour. At this season the trees are hung with weighted sacks like old nylon stockings. The air was thick everywhere, mountains whited out.

[monsoon sky] [jeep and trailer]


Thursday 7:30, last day of doves on the wire and powder hill beyond. Last day of my bed - and my desk - this absolutely peaceful work room.


[route map]

Morongo Valley on 62 - Leo's Automotive - I pressed, was pressed, on 10, waiting for the turnoff - it was hot, lots of trucks, and when the turnoff came, after the Valley of monster wind turbines, I saw the left corner warning light was on - being startled by it made me miss a red light just on its turn - the guy at the intersection just starting up saw me coming. I jumped on the brakes. The trailer fishtailed a bit, not a lot. Then I had to stop and read the manual, first, what is that light? And then what to do. Yes it's an overheating warning. I shouldn't have stopped the engine - should have put it in park and revved the engine a bit.

I sit in the hot jeep confusedly deciding. I'll drive on slowly. The red light's off, but then goes on again. There's a hill. I'll climb it slowly, don't think this will be a long climb. Morongo Valley, valley means downhill soon. The red light flickers off, that's a good sign isn't it. Then a climb, not a hard climb. The light comes on. Gas station man, East Indian, says ask at the Chevron station. Woman at Chevron says there's a little town mechanic, half a mile. Steady-looking Mexican man comes out of the back. I think he's okay. If rad cap, water pump and thermostat don't do it, he says, maybe the head gasket got smoked.

What's this place, flat and dry.

I remembered a trip with Ed - maybe more than one - where he had to handle an engine overheating on the climb across the Rockies, his stress in that responsibility, frantic, frothing.

Tom and I this morning sat on the concrete edge and saw the day come in. I'll say more when I'm not frightened.

I got into his bed at 5. Last night had been honest but lonely. I wanted him to be fond and he was reciting the places he'd seen since he's known me. This morning I reminded him of the first time I left, when I kissed him all up and down front and back and he sobbed for an hour. "Your sins were all washed away" I said. I hadn't exactly known it until I said it, but that was it. He said "I didn't know my sins were forgiven." He had forgotten the crying, that surprised me, wasn't it the deep heart of our whole time.

He was careful and rational, didn't promise wildly, asked me things, looked beautiful.

This morning I said "In the early days you used to say 'I'm your man.' I was scandalized by that, scandalized." "Why?" "It's so blatantly seductive, it goes straight to the unconcious." And then he said what I was going to say, "But as it happened - ."

I'm in the acre of cacti next to the autoshop, there are chickens wandering and scratching with fluffy legs. Scent of trees in breezy shade. Swing bench under a tamarisk big as a pine.

Pink began on the mountains. We were drinking tea I made yesterday and kept in the fridge, thick subtle delicious tea in our blue cups. Birds began to arrive, doves on the ground where Judy had scattered seed, hummingbirds. The doves lined up on the wire in sun that hadn't touched the ground yet, we saw it pink on the tops of the palms. It was time to pack up fast to get to Tom's bus at 7:46. He swept and carried. I rushed around.

I haven't the energy to walk around looking at all the plants in the heat.

He had two gifts. One was my London espresso coffee pot brassoed to perfect cleanness. The other was silver too. He'd had the inspiration and rooted through his boxes to find his mother's jewellry box. It's a pin of two horses gallopping together. They're short-legged horses, Irish ponies maybe. We'll never know the story of how they came to be where they were. They'll ride in the little notch in my console. Well done, Fengler, I said.

[email to Tom Fri, Aug 15, 2014 at 6:10 PM
only made it to 29 palms tonight
engine overheat light came on just as i was turning off 10 onto 62.
dodgy mechanic in morango valley. stress.
hours waiting in a dirty office.
don't have the energy to tell it but tonight i'm in a motel i like a
lot - oldstyle - mr and mrs from a novel about colonial india -
turquoise pool in an enclosed patio surrounded by pink units -
enormous pine at either end - wasp-things zipping around on the
surface of the water - frank sent me - he was the second mechanic i
found after the first didn't fix it - i phoned bob at robert's
automotive and said there's a mechanic here who's young and smart, are
you willing to talk to him? they conferred. they decided i just have
to gear down uphill and stop and let it cool when the red light comes
on and don't run the AC. maybe not drive when it's over 100. the two
of them were birds of a feather i could tell. sweet-hearted about
vehicles. so then i asked the young 29 palms man if he knew of a cheap
motel. interesting, i added. interesting, he said: go right after the
pizza hut. tell them frank sent you. the circle c.
i'll try to get an early start while it's cool.
it was a nice visit. i liked you this morning.
happy you made your bus.
happy for the help. and the friend. and the whole dawn.


Saturday morning, Circle C Motel. 4:15. Was it enough of a night? I think so. I'll drive while it's cool. My travel stuff is better organized now. That'll help.

Write this down: 119, 670. That was Christmas Circle approximately.

Responsibility for two bodies. Life or death decisions.

How far do I need to go today.

Jeep body, I have to watch the red light - should start even earlier, 2am?

Me - teeth, eyes, right leg weakness, jitter, bad sleep constantly broken up with the fiery pain esp in hands and arms but forehead, etc, too.

I'm in a MacDonald's letting the jeep cool, red light flickering on just as I got to this Nevada gambling oasis.


Truck stop where 93 branches off 15.

Place called Alamo - Strawberry Hill - some state parks - mountains - then Ely - more mountains.

I saw the odometer turn over from 119,999.9 to 120,000.0 like a shelf lifting.

[FB: alamo inn motel, alamo NV
93 and 95 up through eastern nevada and sometime around 2 am tomorrow connecting with the I-84 west across the corner of oregon to the columbia gorge]
[email to Tom Sat, Aug 16, 2014 at 4:25 PM
alamo, NV
very hot.
going slow.
starting in the dark.
watching for the red light on all hills.
turning on the heater full blast when it threatens.
manual 3rd whenever the road rises.
today has made it seem doable if strenuous.
good thing i'm going north.
eating ice cream in a $49 motel, not the good kind of motel, but look,
it does have wifi.
lot of scars on the wood paneling, imagining midnight brawls.
the AC vibrates the whole room. the carpet is dog fur brown.
don't care tho, so glad to stop for the day.
it's near that waterfowl park we saw online. surprised how delightful
it was to see green trees. pahranagat.
only about 470 miles out at the end of two days, lost a lot of time yesterday.
you likely won't see these till monday but reporting helps me.in the
ordeal of it.]


Wells NV. It's 9am and I have already been on the road almost 8 hours.

Wide black sky, waning half moon, meteor shower of insects zooming to meet me in the headlights. Sometimes a scent like damp hay.

First light showed mountains.

Daylight showed juniper sagebrush country, later on another scent that was probably rabbitbush blooming on the verge.

My left foot thinks 55 is too slow. 65. Long straight roads. Wide flat valleys, basin and range, ranges pulling apart. Mountains far away, barbwire fencing for miles.

I keep gassing up.

Yesterday 6 men in front of my unit drinking beer after their work in BLM archeology did not find me interesting.

[FB: oregon trail motel, buhl idaho]

I did get my 400 miles today, just. 870 left.


Slept 6:30-10:30 and at 5:30 am in Baker City, truck stop, something like 260 miles down the road. Boise was a little nightmare of glaring lights and roadwork, westbound squeezed into one of the eastbound lanes, gravel truck on my tail for many miles.

Daylight coming up, ridge of mountains pastel blue.

[In Buhl] Watched hours of Mountain men.


The Dalles - 470 miles since midnight.

4am, motel room with the door open. What was I dreaming, something I liked, first a sort of broadsheet? The old copied typewritten page? Like Io pages, that sort of riff, a good riff, fluent, abundant, then drawings in fine black pen, a travel notebook. I was thinking, feeling, that would be good to do, to touch into a place more.

Tom did not reply tho' yesterday was a computer room day. Now I'm annoyed, master of gesture followup none. I'm berating him. Maybe I'll mail back the horses. Was he just wanting a last win. Etc.

Meantime Cheryl and Mafalda following the journey commenting, filling in where he should have been.

I slept! Woke at 3:30. Right! Just right. Microwave tea. I'll get through Portland before the rush.

Thinking that I should do flood writing to get my voice back, I'm such a pondered teacher now, I know it's a dull considered voice.

[FB: oregon motel in the dalles OR
woke at midnight near twin falls ID and drove 470 miles by noon. boise at 2 am was a little hell of glaring lights and freeway lanes funneled down into one tight chute for miles on account of roadwork. then dawn and breakfast in a truckstop in such a pretty american town, baker city.]


Attributed to Song Dynasty painter Zhang Zeduan 1085-1145. Along the river during the Qing Ming festival.

Anchor Motel Blaine. Was I in this one?

Almost 400 by about noon, left the Dalles about 4:30.

[FB: anchor motel in blaine WA.
it's only 30 miles to vancouver but want to get there clean and frisky.
maybe wasn't a good idea to run the last of the columbia gorge in the dark, it's very curvy.
missed rush hour in portland but crept through seattle.
look at all this monotonous green.]


21470 - 19670 = 1800 miles, 5 days.

7:30 Starbucks on Fraser.

Waiting for Rowen to be awake at 9.

Is it the first time in a year needing to wear socks and a sweater? Overcast, dark. Not used to that.

So here it is 20 years since I migrated. That very pretty customs officer, Mr Liu, was a baby. I had to declare the value of my goods. "Returning resident. Why are you returning?" "I retired." "What did you do?" "I was a professor."

5 in the dark, alone in the customs lane. I got to keep my plants. He said I couldn't bring in the soil but I kept finding new things to say. He wore down, was a reasonable man. I was offering to go into a bathroom and wash soil off the roots. "Forget about it."

It was a labour of peril and attention. Massive trucks blasting past my flanks, hours threading narrowly between reflectors curving, rising, falling in the dark. The trailer a burden of awareness always, rough roads, abrupt edges, tight lanes, and o the hills both up and down.

I didn't see much. I put in time. I didn't stop in places I could like. I pressed on and rested and pressed on. Monitored. Sampled radio stupidity everywhere, young men whining and wailing horrible unskilled tunes, or fatuous Christians. The first best thing on the radio was someone singing Delibes. It was CBC. - Oh and somewhere a British architect on NPR talking about his garden bridge project for London. It was on a desert road going east on 95 toward Needles out of 29 Palms I think.

In Baker City, truck stop parking lot, standing in the dawn looking at a puddle under my jeep. I put up the hood. A man drove up in a pickup and parked. "Can I ask you a question?" Suspenders and jeans, a friendly look. It turned out he was a mechanic.

Kindness of strangers. Three people in a North Las Vegas service station helping me figure out how to get onto 93 after I missed my exit. Yesterday the lovely woman in the Chinese restaurant next to the motel who wrote down the name of the painting on the back of a check. She had a smooth smart roundness that comforted me. The archeologists who offered me a beer.

I liked the pale dawn after the Blue Mountains - that's their name. Saw a mountain goat on a ledge above the eastbound lane looking down on the road. There was a high altitude passage I think that same morning where the air had a scent of noble firs.

Yesterday was the first I could relax about the red warning light.

I was about to post the last of my motel names on FB yesterday aft when Tom showed up onscreen liking the last two motel entries so I knew he was there. Blaine! He said. Good timing like he sometimes has.

Circle C in 29 Palms

Alamo Inn in NV

Oregon Trail Motel in Buhl near Twin Falls ID

Oregon Motel in the Dalles OR

Anchor Motel in Blaine WA

- 5 states.

Should I add up the gas: $481. Motels $346. Trailer $473. Evil mechanic $418. Total $1718.

[email to Tom Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 6:48 PM
wondering whether now the hard part begins
parked at canadian customs by 5 in the dark, lot of paperwork with
officer liu, only one there, about importing the jeep. he let me get
away with the two plants.
then starbucks waiting for rowen to be awake.
then there he was, more manly, almost burly.
wonderful help unloading and stowing. nervous with me but affectionate.
his girl's a cuddlebunny. he dotes.
then returning the u-haul.
then more driving to new westminster to get keys for david's basement hole.
then the inner key doesn't work. no electricity. no water. oh well.
suddenly hits me i'm homeless. living out of a car. without a plan.
old friend paul is leaving me his flat near granville island while
he's out of town for a couple of days.
meantime, library computer.
bed made on the cement floor.
one foot after the other. stay between the lines.

Vancouver 3 September

3:05am. I was driving somewhere at night. Up ahead a red light was blinking by the lit-up façade of a colonnaded white house. When I parked nearby I saw my old father by the front door talking to a police officer. I looked away for a moment. When I looked back my father was turned away from the officer collapsing against the door frame. I was turning off the key in the ignition wondering whether to lock the car door, thinking I should go to him. He looked felled by grief. I said "Mary has died" and woke. Found my hert cloven by unsourced personal fear. Not of Mary's death, I don't think.


662: [sketch]. Two windows like good eyes. Casements, deep white sills.

Dinesh said "You can have it." He'd seen my bank statement.


Calabria, grey morning, at the window seeing replacement people, people who look like people I used to see, but the new crop of them, many years later.

Formating In America - which it has become in retrospect - American years - in what way, particularly - Tom and Tom's story, I lived in Tom's life, made my own inside his - belonged to an American union, paid American taxes, had a social security number and a California driver's license, was a para-citizen, and at the same time was looking about me with traveler's interest in foreign ways. Was nation as such more real to me than at home? Maybe yes, in the way it is more real to Americans, who are so avowed to themselves as that. And the sense of consequence about US politics, naturally. The elections. The mad right wing, a concentrated extreme of elaborated stupidity. More of them, a more developed subculture.


I haven't wanted to say anything here, these weeks, haven't seemed worth keeping. Haven't wanted to be frightened, as I am now, thinking of money and aloneness. Blanked out instead, whacked through so-far 21 vols of In America reformatting, renaming students, eliding mentions of [the college], catching typos, being comforted by past pleasures, waiting to move into my little expensive room and have my desk again.


It's raining the worst kind of rain, dull seep from a low sky.

I'm back but I'm not really back - I'm as if stuck onto the surface - reluctantly - miserably -