Monday, September 17, 2012

Sun Goes Down

I was driving to the supermarket the other night, south down US 1, glanced to my right, and had to pull off the road to take this shot with my iPhone 4S.  This light lasts for only a few minutes, so to be able to capture it takes a bit of ruthlessness.  Fortunately, the traffic was light.  Exquisite, no?

What a lovely morning yesterday at Saint Augustine Beach with J.  The surf was roiling, but the water was warm.  We waded out up to our knees, and held hands as the waves crashed around us.  Then spent some time just sitting in the shallow water and talking.  So beautiful, so perfect.  We are both happy in the moment, and we call our Sunday mornings "church."  One cannot be closer to God than in nature.  And the sea?  She is the mother.

Came home, and T. and I walked around their property looking at the plants and landscapes.  T. is a green thumb extraordinaire, can get any cutting to root, and they have the perfect dappled sunlight that caresses the plants, rather than burning the hell out of them.  I have either deep shade or blazing sun on my property, so it's a challenge to figure out what goes where.  T. has a long deep border of  baby's breath, that delicate sweet flower that often ends up in bridal bouquets.  It dies back in the winter, and comes back in the spring.  Told him to secure me a clump.

Went to the pool this morning to swim.  It was the first session of the water aerobics class, which I did not participate in but experienced vicariously while I was swimming laps.  So many older women with hats and sunglasses jogging, cross country skiing, and strengthing core in the chlorine.  70s and 80s dance music blasting from the boom box.  I overhear a woman saying, "That man over there asked me if he could swim naked.  I said sure.  I'll hold your swimsuit!"  Everyone cracked up.

I talked with the instuctor after the class, since I had heard her say she had double knee replacement, like I.  She talked about her surgeon, a local guy recommended by many, and criticized by some.  He seems to be the best local doc around for knees, and I need someone who will follow up on my replacement surgery.  Wanda is the instructor's name, and I'm not sure yet, but I think she might be the woman in the Cadillac, with her husband, who J. and I see at the beach each Sunday.  Will follow up on that.

I so enjoy watching Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations."  I normally hate "reality" shows, but his is so well done, so full of cultural information and wonderful photography.  And he is brutally honest about himself.  One of the few reasons to watch television.  Tonight, he visited "The Integratron," in the Mojave desert.

I have not yet experienced the American southwest up close, only from the economy seat of an airplane.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Went out this evening after dark to pick some parsley, basil, and peppers from my garden.  Brought the bunch inside, and as I was washing it, a small anole lizard crawled out, went to the side of the sink, and opened its dear little mouth.  I picked it up, the first time I have done so, and it did not resist, perhaps knowing I was going to carry it to the back porch and let it out.  These small profound moments of affirming life are what happiness is all about.  I had never picked up one of these tiny creatures; it was incredibly easy.

Got up early and went to a couple of yard sales.  The second one was the most organized and efficient estate sale I have ever attended.  Everything in the house was carefully laid out, marked with a price, and there were several staff there to help.  I purchased a couple of garden tools and a lovely turquoise basket that will become a dog/cat bed once I put a blanket in it.

My old friend Judith Butler is the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Adorno prize, in Germany.  She is getting a great deal of flak/flack for her criticism of Israeli foreign policy.  She is one of the most intense, intelligent, attentive, caring, and funny people I've ever known.  That combination is incredibly rare.

And finally, featured on the front page of the Saint Augustine Record, the magnificent Ankole-Watusi cattle in Hastings.  I have passed these exquisite beasts many times on my way to Palatka for art classes, and have some great photos of them myself.  This photo is by Daron Dean.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Spalding Gray

Do you know the work of Spalding Gray?  He was an incisive and humorous monologist.  One of his most popular pieces was "Swimming to Cambodia," about the making of the film, "The Killing Fields."  His mother committed suicide at age 52, and he did the same at age 60, after surviving a devastating car crash in Ireland.  His last monologue, about that incident, was published a few years ago.  I miss him, as I miss so many artists.  So many beautiful spirits die too young.

I read to the kids this morning, and they were unusually well-behaved.  I'm working harder at learning their names.  It's easy when someone like Madeline raises her hand and says, "Miss Linda, I love you."  What's better than that?  Eric can't stop talking.  Phoebe is SO tiny, with huge blue eyes, and smart as a whip.  Angel, Anthony, Tia, Paisley, Mackinzie, Hayden, Aiden, Darien, Jordan, Shawn.  Xavier had a black eye and when he came to hug me, which they all want to do after I read, I asked him what happened.  He said he fell on something, and looked down.  Of course my mind defaults to "what parent/caretaker did this to him?"  I do think Miss Abby and Miss Erin and Miss Danielle are good teachers and would know, but still I worry.  Mr. Don, the director, came in and gave me a hug saying, "I thought you had taken off and moved to Alaska!"  Ha!  I wish.

After reading, I went to Saint Augustine Library south and spent a long time looking at arts and crafts books, and then checking out several childrens' books for next week.  I love libraries.  What a wonderful wonderful resource.  The ones around here show movies, teach pine needle basket weaving, and invite you to a raindrop therapy workshop.  Who says CA has it all?!  Ah, I miss California.  As Spalding Gray said, I love new age therapies, all the alternative healing cultures.  I think I was meant to live there.  I am sending out to the universe my desire to become a snowbird; a home in Florida for the winter, a home in the Bay area for the summer.

Ducks feeding in the pond outside the library.  With wierd knobby root thingies.
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I have a friend on Facebook who posts several messages a day about the well-being of animals around the world.  She is a huge animal rights activist, and director of the Foundation for Antarctic Research, even tho she lives near Saint Augustine.  She keeps me up to date on the killing of seals for fur in Namibia, the slaughter of dolphins for meat in Taiji, Japan, and the destruction of the rainforests for palm oil, which ends in orangutans beings decimated.  Orangutans share 97% of our DNA.  They are our brothers and sisters.

Did you know Johnny Depp had a small role in "Platoon?

Was supposed to go to an LGBT Elders Task Force meeting in Jacksonville, but only realized it around 5pm, and the meeting was at 6.  I had settled in for the night and did not want to get dressed and drive 45 miles to sit in a "meeting."  I've got to check my iPhone calendar more often!!!  Wrote the email contact and said I wasn't feeling well.  Well, I wasn't!  I didn't feel like getting there!

Stopped at ACE hardware and bought some dahlia bulbs.  Don't know if they will grow in this climate, but, hey, they were selling them.  I miss some flowers from the north:  lilacs, tulips, peonies.  There is incredible flora down here, and I like learning about what is native and drought/humidity tolerant.  Still . . .

Have to take care of the hornet's nest under my mailbox tomorrow.  Spray the hell out of it with nasty insecticide.  Then I can pick up today's mail.

Hey, send me snail mail, ok?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Had a wonderful massage this morning by the very talented Jennifer Jacobsen.
When you work with a massage therapist a long time, as I have with Jennifer, she gets to know your body, and your mind, so it becomes easy to say what you need, and say what you need to say.

Stopped in an eyeglass shoppe after, still looking for interesting frames.  What do you think of these?

Went swimming at the pool again yesterday.  Decided to swim more gently, and the water felt like silk.  I realize I get into a kind of meditation when I'm swimming laps, as my mind can wander even while I am focused on breathing and the strokes.  Saw the chiropractor yesterday, who said that the results of my last evaluative tests showed great stress on my nervous system.  Duh.

Got my mail today, and as I opened the box, a hornet flew up and stung me on the hand.  Really hurt, and my hand is swollen, stiff, itchy, and sore.  Turns out there is a nest between the bottom of the box and the stake it is on.

Watched some specials on the survivors of 9/11 last night.  What horrific trauma.  The receptionist at the chiropractor's office said they have several patients who are survivors.

Monday, September 10, 2012


T. came over to cut my lawn this morning, grown lush and long from all the recent rain.  I used his working as an inspiration to get myself to the Solomon Calhoun public pool, about a mile from my house.  The humidity had broken, and the day was warm and crisp.  I swam laps for longer than I had in a while, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Took myself after to The Groove cafe for lunch, in St. Augustine Beach, on my way to the hardware store.  Had seen it advertised often and passed it many times.  Turned out it was just kind of average food-wise, although the atmosphere was quite nice.  Way too expensive for lunch, though.

Little Bindi has been lackadaisical, perhaps even a bit depressed.  I took her for walks every day when we were in northern California, but since we've gotten back it has just been too hot and humid for me to do that.  And she doesn't even want to stay outside that long by herself.  It only occurred to me today that I could have hired T. to walk her for 30 minutes a day.  I did that when I was still in CT and had my knee surgeries and cancer treatments.  I wish I could do more of the day to day maintenance of my life myself, but alas, I cannot.  I am blessed to have some financial resources to hire people to help me.  As the weather begins to cool down, I hope to be able to walk Bindi myself each day.  Good for both of us.

Talked with my neighbor, over the fence of course, who had wondered where I disappeared to.  He thought I had packed up and moved.  I said, no, I was away, then I was sick, then I was holed up in my house avoiding the heat.  He said, put in a pool!  He said, I don't know how anyone lives in Florida without a pool!  And now I will consider this.  If I thought I was going to stay in this house, I might invest in an in-ground pool; but that would be way expensive, even if it was a narrow, 3-4 foot deep design.  But perhaps a round above ground thing, that I can jump into at will, just to cool off.  That would not be very expensive.  I think they are ugly, but I have to entertain the idea.  He has a fairly large round pool, that  he partially sunk into the ground.  Of course, I would have to hire someone to maintain it . . .

On the subject of heat, I received in the mail today two cotton gauze tank dresses that I ordered online.  It is the perfect garment -- unstructured, lightweight, easy on and off -- for this climate.

Anniversay of 9/11 tomorrow.  I remember where I was and what I was doing on that day in 2001.

Sunday, September 09, 2012


Paintings by Alice Miller, trauma specialist extraordinaire.

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An illuminating conversation yesterday with a good friend about motivation.  He understood my complaints about not getting myself to do the things I want to.  He had the same problem.  He asked if I would get on my case about my inactivity.  I said, "Are you kidding?!?  I think I'm the biggest piece of shit on the earth!"  We talked and talked and eventually circled around to sharing stories of our childhoods, including each of us having near-death experiences at the hands of an abusive parent.  Part of his humiliation was being told that he was never wanted, and that he would amount to nothing.  Mine: being called weak and lazy, and accused of not being able to stand anything.

We both admitted that in various ways we had come "to terms" with what happened.  But what I do know is that the body remembers, even if the rational mind survives and in many ways thrives.  The cells, the muscles remember the paralysis, the tension, the contraction brought about by abject fear.  I still must monitor what I expose myself to.  I am triggered adversely by those sounds, sights, behaviors which at a subconscious level alert my nervous system that what is occuring is dangerous, or brings about the memory of danger.

He has severe IBS, which started at 15.  He was told by a family doctor at that time when taken for examination that he needed to get away because his father was killing him.  I was told by a social worker in my 20s that the best thing I could do was to get as far away from my mother as possible.  My friend is now close with his father; but I don't believe he has ever had psychotherapy.  My mother has passed, and I've had decades of all types of therapy, and currently am on several prescription drugs for anxiety, depression, sleep.  He did have some protectors: his mother, and then his step-mother.  I had no protectors.  Both of our abusive parents denied any recollection of what they did.

It was Andrew Solomon who said, "The opposite of depression is not happiness.  The opposite of depression is vitality."  That's what trauma takes away.  A vitality for living.  My friend and I both acknowledged that whenever we make plans to do something, there is always a dread before the event.  We don't want to go.  It seems too much work.  Once we are there, we have a good time, but the default setting is to stay isolated, unengaged, and, on some deep level, protected.

I watched the movie "The Hurt Locker" again yesterday.  It's brilliant, engrossing, disturbing.  A woman directed it.  A woman edited the footage.  A male journalist embedded with US troops in Iraq wrote the screenplay.  The opening screen states that "War is a drug."  Violence is a way of life.
I've often thought that if everyone had a shoulder rub the first thing in the morning, there would be no war.  Or violence.  It is embedded in most world cultures that corporal punishment of children is the norm, that it is natural and desirable to hit them to get them to submit.  This is horribly horribly wrong.  It is criminal.

Alice Miller's work on childhood abuse and trauma is some of the very best.  I used to read her during my worst times because she valildated how I felt.  It would, oddly, calm me.

My favorite aunt once wrote me that she thought as I child I did not get enough attention.  She said, you were so sweet.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Moving to France

Ack.  Not a good day.  Could not get myself to do any of the things I wanted to/should have done.  The big secret I keep is that it's hard for me to get and stay motivated, and always has been.  In an ideal world, I would have gotten up early, gone to the senior center with my painting supplies for the "open studio" session; then I would have gone to the pool for a swim.  Then I would have come home to rest, maybe changed the sheets on my bed.  Then I would have gone to the First Friday Art Walk downtown, where all the galleries put on a new exhibit, serve food and wine, and the people schmooze.

As it was, I did almost nothing except run to Target, pick up prescriptions, make a couple of business calls, watch "House" reruns, surf the net, and stop at the liquor store.  The woman behind the counter was complaining about politicians and bemoaning how sad life in the U.S. has become, and how she was gonna consolidate her assets when she retires next year and move to France.  Sounded good to me.

I was so tired this morning.  Then I had trouble breathing, couldn't take a deep breath.  Don't know if it's anxiety, allergies, my intermittent asthma.  Since I've been here in Florida, I've developed recurring mucous in the back of my throat, something I've never had before.  Doc says that often when people move from one region of the country to another, they can develop allergies to the new pollens and spores that exist.  Also, I cannot stand this heat month after month.  I was so vitalized when I was in California for two weeks in August; the cool coastal temps suited me.  In the north folks get cabin fever from avoiding going out in the cold; down here we get cabin fever from avoiding the heat.  I am so looking forward to winter here.

If I had gone to the Art Walk, I could have attended Thomas Glover W.'s memorial exhibit.  He tragically died at 63 of a brain tumor that was diagnosed last January.  He was a brilliant stone sculptor.  One of the hidden treasures of this area is the Saint Augustine Beach Sculpture Garden behind the police station.  Several of Glover's works are there.  These are photos I took there last year.

I can still see all of the exhibits that were inaugurated this day.  Just without the crowds, which will be better anyway.

Picked up a copy of Steve Martin's "An Object of Beauty," about the 1990s New York City art scene, at a supermarket bargain bin, for five bucks.  Surprisingly, it is holding my interest.  Turns out Martin, a Renaisassance man himself, like Thomas Glover W., is an avid art collector.  And writer.  And comedian.  And musician.

One of things I like about the book is that often when the narrator speaks about a particular work of art, a copy of that art work is printed on the page, giving the novel a kind of authenticity that is pleasing to the eye.

I'm breathing a bit easier now, after my vodka and tonic.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Screaming and Kicking

"Pop Up Bugs" was a wild hit with the 3-4 year olds this morning.  Out of the pages came a huge tarantula, wasp, beetle, praying mantis, mosquito, and scorpion.  As I read the script and turned the pages and the gigantic 3-D colorful critters emerged, the kids yelled their heads off, lay on their backs and  kicked their legs in the air, and hugged one another in mock fear.  Even the teachers were impressed by their thrilled reactions.  Feels good when I find a book they really love!

Drove after to the pool, but sat in the car checking my iPhone in procrastination.  Was hungry, and didn't want to swim, but it was so hot.  Found in the car a stale fortune cookie still in its wrapper; scarfed it down, read my generic fortune, changed, and got into the pool.  Was fine once I got in; the cool water felt so nice, and the place was nearly deserted.  Swam a few laps, showered, picked up some things from the supermarket, and came home.

Odd dreams last night.  One, my friend R. was showing me the beautiful needlework he had created.  Two, I had a dorm room that was situated in an abandoned elevator.  Three, the refrigerator door broke off, and as I was preparing to call the landlord, I realized I didn't have a landlord and I had to fix the thing myself!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Crystal Blue Persuasion

Such a lovely morning at the beach with J, T, and S.  The water was warm, calm, clear, and we played for hours.  A big swell would come along and J would yell, "Peter Pan moment!"  We would bend down in the water, then propel ourselves up above the wave.  Such good fun.  We didn't want to leave, but we were waterlogged, pruned, and sunburned.  We all ended up taking naps this afternoon.  Kitten cuddled up with me.

J invited me for dinner; broiled swordfish, asparagus, yellow rice.  So good.  Mango sorbet and ginger snaps for dessert.  We watched "The School of Rock," which is one of my very fave movies. The kids are awesome.  "Stick it to the man!"

T said his night blooming cereus was about to blossom.  It only opens its flowers at night, and his plant was covered with them.  I don't know how the blooms are witnessed.  It only opens for a few hours, and then gone.  I have the plant but not one as healthy as T's.  He says it needs the shade, so I will move my specimen.

Oil painting by B.F. Postel.

S. called later to ask if I wanted to host an Obama intern from another state who would be coming to Florida to work for the campaign.  I'll call her tomorrow to see what the details are.  I had said I was spending too much time alone, that I was lonely.  This might be a good thing to do.  I cannot do phone banking, as I cannot have conversations with people who support the GOP.  These interns are young college kids who need places to stay for just a few days. That could work.

The moon rose big and orange this evening. A nice day, all in all.

Came home and watched the most recent episode of "Breaking Bad."  I had wondered when Hank was going to suspect Walt; this was the episode.  I am so taken with Aaron Paul.  the acting, the cinemaphotography is so good, even tho the content is, well, depraved.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Low Energy Day

Low energy day.  Finally made it out and cruised the neighborhood for yard sales.  Found one, and bought an older RCA 5-disc changer, radio, tape deck with decent speakers for $20.  For my art studio.  I still haven't made it into the 21st century with an iPod and deck.  And I've kept so many tapes that I haven't thrown out, and have a few cd's.  Stopped to pick up some prescription drugs but doctor had not called in the order yet even tho I ordered the refill days ago.  Ack.

Went to the pool for a swim, but when I got into the water it was unrefreshingly warm.  The lifeguard said the heat index today was 105 degrees F.  They even had some cooling system that was pumping less warm water into the pool, but it didn't make a difference.  Oh well; tomorrow is Sunday morning at the beach, and the ocean water will be cooler.


The above photo on the left, one of mine, was published in the new Present Moment Cafe cookbook.
The restaurant, in my neighborhood, serves gourmet raw vegan meals, of exquisite taste and quality.
The worn door is on the side of the building, and I was pleased to have its photo included in the book.

Listened to some material by Mike Birbiglia on NPR today; so funny.  About his sleep disorder.  Apparently he has made a film about it, with the help of Ira Glass, host of "This American Life."