The first happenstance is an as-is texture "pile-up" from the fireplace mantel in Evan's living room: a terra cotta lantern framed by the inside of a December Christmas card and the satin lines of wood window blinds.
The second photo captures a neighbor's home as filtered through the blurred veil of the front door curtain.
So here Evan sits, mostly immobilized in his recliner, healing from one hip surgery, facing the next. His vistas compressed, confined. Curtained windows, bamboo blinds above one sofa. His crutches leaning against the small stone fireplace, its grinning robot cover Evan’s dad made. A stack of ethnic pillows on the other sofa where his treasured camera bag also sits. A little Christmas tree, family photos, games, CDS, DVDs, TV screen on the mantel, his laptop, earphones. Homework files, craft projects organized in the rolling carts. Medicine. His Shady tee shirt, leopard-spotted fleece throw. The texture of his life reduced, yet still varied. Of a certain richness.
Pardon the lower quality and the smaller size of the pictures – I took them on my Film SLR, got the photos developed at Walgreens, then scanned them on to the computer. It's just so amazing to feel the film being wound within the camera between each picture, the satisfying "Ca-Chick" of the shutter opening and closing, faster than the blink of an eye. The weight of the analogue technology, previously owned by my Mom. Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful...
I've been staring at this optical illusion for days. The thin wooden rods that make up the blinds are doubled up, making an intriguing pattern as you look through the two layers and out the window. I didn't have to go to far to find texture – My camera case is a perfect example of how beautiful texture is all around us, calling out to us. All we have to do is look at the world in a new way to notice.
I didn't miss the deadline! Technically, it's still Wednesday...
I realized that you can find absurdity and disorder in the simplest of things, like cookies, for example. I mean the individual cookies are messy, but a large amount of time, effort, and efficiency was put into them.
...And before several were eaten, they were scattered all over the plate, stacking on top of each other, icing and sprinkles melting together and quickly becoming a confusing mass of calorie-coated, slightly over-baked mysterious shapes.
But at the end of the day, it's just a plate of cookies.
Six months into channeling Spirit, I asked what He'd been when He was a man. Spirit said, "I was never a man. I am the Holy Spirit."
Spirit offers useful operating instructions for Awakening. Since Divine laws are upside-down and backwards relative to what passes for reason on earth, I thought these sound bites—taken out of context, of course—would be perfect for this absurd assignment.
The following is Spirit's response to my fretting over the old window blinds in the apartment I moved into in August:
Spirit interprets "help":
What hate is, and what it's for:
Spirit's elucidation—one of His favorite words—re my journey to "Heaven":
Here we are, the family at Christmas, some of us secular, some religious, poised to celebrate its lovely pagan roots, the winter solstice, the evergreen-ness and penetrating fragrance of the tree, the wreath; the candlelight.
Is it absurd to celebrate this holiday when we are surrounded by social devastation, a house of cards foreclosed, collapsed, some of us unsheltered, unnourished?
Has Christmas been an absurdity all along? Or has it always been our oasis, our respite from society’s ills, from our personal sorrows and trials, this gleaming, warming day of diversion, reconciliation, pleasure, a personal expression of humanity, of our hopes for peace, of our joy?
And now it's my turn again to propose a new theme for us three bloggers. Here's a quote I spotted on a signboard in the Tenderloin last week, while driving home from Evan's place in Berkeley. It read: "Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible." Guess who said this? Why Albert Einstein, of course! So I propose that our new theme is "Absurd." Have fun! Love, ama
Paper, paper everywhere. Can’t donate that to the Salvation Army. I’d better take a look at each and every page before I throw it away. Might be something I need to keep. That special recipe. A letter from dear somebody. News of Mars, a lunar eclipse, a meteor shower. The pyramids.
FreeCell, Klondike. Computer Solitaire. Just one game, then back to paper cleanup. Lost this round, I’ll play one more game. Or two. Time for another cup of coffee.
When it started to rain and hail today, I knew it was time to heave myself up from my chair and take some pictures. I love hail - the sound it makes when you step on it. Also, I'm still amazed that something that solid and heavy can form and fall from the sky.
A few days ago we got a Christmas tree (just a small one) and decorated it with lights and ornaments. Looking at it really reminds me of the fact that it's Christmas again. (Below: Christmas ornament, viewed from beneath) (Above: Camera directed at our Christmas tree and jostled around while the picture was taken)
I had thought I might find a sun-tanned jogger or two today—and there was a woman in shorts who looked uneasy in the blue cold blanketing the streets before the sun rose this morning. She ran across my path as I pumped my bike on the way to Chavez Park. The park sits on a former city dump, and every year surveyors come to measure how low and quickly the island is settling in the bay. That is, if it is. I haven't asked. How do you measure a California winter? How do you know it's come?
By the color and crowding of leaves on the ground, the drift of silver weeds that wait for sun, the color of the air at a particular time of day. That's how you tell.
Don't exhaust yourselves shopping, photo fans. Be well. -Laurie
O wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? - Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind
Two weeks until Christmas. Today in New York, in deep cold a violent ice storm threatens. Today in San Francisco, a light chill and the promise of weekend rain for relief from our persistent drought. It has been years since I have missed Long Island winters, the snow, the ice, sleet, the harsh cold. Now I’m attuned to milder Northern California winters, hummingbirds sipping from the brilliant yellow spikes of our tall mahonias, their leaves as prickly as Christmas holly. Punctuated by the sprightly white and yellow bells of abutilons, dangling like Christmas tree ornaments. And I’m rejoicing that our dear grandson Evan will be able to travel across the Bay Bridge to our house in San Francisco on Christmas Day. What a wonderful celebration this will be!
Today I was feeling good enough to go out in the wheelchair and roll around the neighborhood. I saw it as a chance to capture the pictures I had been meaning to take.
I love the one below. It's sort of like the tree is growing up into the sky, but it mirrors how the roots grow into the ground. No matter how many cycles go by, where the leaves fall off and the branches are bare, they will always grow back. Every year there is a sense of recovery; with every tree that regains it's leaves, and the ability to sway in the wind, a boy regains his ability to walk...
I loved this as well. Two lone yellow flowers had survived, while every other flower around them were hardened and gray. We are all able to survive, no, to thrive; all we have to do is try.
Take our almost-100-year-old, Late-Craftsman-Revival home, over the years rewired, replumbed, foundation bolted, painted and decorated, reshingled, reroofed, garden redesigned, replanted. Is this not a recovery, this beauty-of-a-house restored, refreshed?
And healing, mending, getting well. That’s what Evan is doing. Every day his body strengthens, his pain diminishes. He’s on the way to RECOVERY!
Ev is recovering from hip arthroscopy. I'm not going to go into detail about this, but the situation, at its most superficial--or so I think--requires the hovering round and general assistance of various family members; much TV-watching--including Food Challenge, Prototype This, Seinfeld, School of Rock, 30 Rock, Fringe, House, Time Warp, and Everybody Hates Chris; andcard game, gameboard, and computer activities.
The second most popular entertainment concerns food. What Evan and everyone else are going to eat three times a day. Then there's the pain pill issue: staying on top of them...wondering when the last time was he took one.
Evan's doing well; the incisions look good and are healing well. There's just the problem of getting the feeling back in his left foot; a consequence of wearing tight "boots" during surgery to facilitate traction and create a space between the joints big enough to slip the arthroscope through.
Evan is pictured here in his power recliner, with remote controls at hand, and crutches in the background. We try to keep the photo composition interesting: Recovery is an art.
Thanksgiving was a magical time of family connection and food eating. While we were all talking and munching, I was looking around the table for something interesting (and well lit) to take a picture of. Then I noticed the light from one of the candles shining through a glass and casting a beautiful light onto the table. When I held a glass up the candle, the refracted light was so nice - I knew what I was going to take my photos of. I think the pictures really represent that warmth and wonder one feels during the holidays.
You'll never find an answer in the bottom of a glass, but you might find some good shots.
Thanksgiving Festivities: The Antidote of Gratitude
“Gratitude is the antidote. It is useful in combating a variety of diseases, from something as vague as the discontents of civilization to something as specific as personal grief. Thanksgiving is the holiday of gratitude, and I am always willing to celebrate it. Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle, 11-27-2008
Antidote: something that relieves, prevents, or counteracts, says my dictionary. Right now I could use an antidote for anxiety. Seeing my grandson, Evan, sitting with his laptop in the recliner, counting the days (six), until the first corrective hip surgery that will relieve his immobility and his pain. After it heals some, then the second hip surgery. And then he will be able to resume his interrupted old life. For which I will be everlastingly grateful.
It makes me happy to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and to be with Evan.
“I like food,” says Evan. Me too. The six of us have made significant inroads into the gigantic Costco pumpkin pie. As well as the divine pumpkin-ginger-cheese-pie that Laurie brought. A festival of pumpkin. A festival of family.
Thanksgiving Festivities: Thanksgiving Dinner with Yellow Flashlight
My ex, Larry, insisted on closing the curtains that screen his dining room from the neighbor's house. The house where Spider and Diamond live. Cats. This meant that the light in the dining room was "atmospheric"--meaning, dark--requiring candles to dine by (which, for Larry, was the idea); a flashlight to provide light to make pictures by; and a miniature tripod to enable the Kodak to shoot pictures in focus. All because of the light.
I am full. Full, full, full. Too full. I hadn't planned on being so full. I don't know what happened. Larry was concerned about his belly being as exposed as it was for the picture. I said, "But, Larry...that's Thanksgiving!"
Used to be that a package you mailed had to be wrapped in layers of heavy brown paper and tied securely with twine, a coarse, 2- or 3-ply string. Now you can’t use string. You have to tape your packages, because Post Office regulations say that string can cause problems, catch on edges of things, and isn’t secure. Oh.
Birds, however, continue to find string quite useful for building nests. Not every species does, but the Tufted Titmouse, Pygmy Nuthatch, Purple Martin and European Starling use string for nest construction, as well as tufts of stray cat fur, cigarette butts, cellophane and molted snakeskin.
A House Finch does not use string. It often nests in wreaths on doors.