Friday, October 31, 2003


I popped into a bookstore today and came upon a small calendar, Women of the Old Testament, with woodcut drawings by Meinrad Craighead. Both the subjects and the drawings are wonderful. This is not your Thomas Kincaid style of religious art. In three of the twelve images, the women are holding the instruments with which they killed their male opponents—a millstone, a tent peg and mallet, and a dagger.

Then in The Lutheran magazine that arrived today, there is a calendar advertised based on the Christian liturgical year, that is, it begins November 30 or the first Sunday in Advent: The Christian Seasons Calendar. The press release from last year describes how the calendar is constructed—some pages have only twelve days on them; the season after Pentecost is five months long. I was intrigued by the description of the church that publishes the calendar. It is located in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia.
The weather report

It is raining. This is most excellent news. Yesterday, it sprinkled a slight amount—barely enough to puddle the ash and dirt on my car. Today, the cars driving by are making that swishing, hissing sound of driving on wet roads.

Monday, October 27, 2003


It's strange to be in the midst of the So Cal fires—they're about 30 miles to the east and west of where I live—yet not be directly affected by them.

To get to work, I used to drive over one of the passes the fire fighters are guarding. Some of our corporate offices have been evacuated, either because of fire danger or because the parking lots have been turned into staging areas for fire and helicopter crews. Redundancy systems and contingency plans have kicked in, so business continues in spite of everything.

My favorite LA Times columnist, Mary McNamara, writes in tomorrow's column:
Here in California, we spend much time and money trying to perfect our relationship with nature, to find balance between conservation and development. Being the arrogant creatures we are, we portray ourselves as caretakers of the wilderness, stewards of the land, protecting it from our own imperfect selves.

And so we are astonished when the roles reverse, when we are faced with forces beyond our control. A century after the Industrial Revolution and still there are larger things than other humans with their germs and evil intentions that threaten us. Still there are dragons in the mountains, and when they are truly wakened, it is hard not to believe that the end is near. . . .

How difficult it is for us, citizens of the city of the 21st century with the world wired to our fingertips, to be humbled. How difficult not to see it as a sign of the end of civilization. Through the smoke and the heat, not only the landscape is changed, the entire world looks different, incomprehensible, uncontrollable. . . .

Fire season in Los Angeles. It is a staple of noir, a literary incantation used to call up dangerous nights and brooding days. In most years, there is something sexy about fire season; it is proof that we have chosen a life less safe, that this is a city not quite civilized, where coyotes sit like German Shepherds in million-dollar driveways and the San Andreas fault shivers out there in the desert.

But in days like these, anything edgy and cool is lost in the smoke.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Chronicle of a Saturday

Some days you end up doing things you wouldn't have chosen to do, but it ends up being OK.

First, a Farmer's Market run. There is a new stall, the Lindners, who come on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month and who sell bison meat. (The website talks about a mixture of bison and turkey, but what they were selling today was 100% bison.) They are one of the suppliers listed on the eat wild site I linked to some time ago. [Edit later: April 4 and 1; I really must get a search function on here soon. Going through two plus years of entries to find an older post is not very efficient.] So I bought a pound of grass-fed, naturally raised bison ground meat.

Then I made a few calls about the music for tomorrow. It is Reformation Day, a big day in the Lutheran church. The temporary, substitute musician (who took over the position from me) doesn't feel comfortable with the organ, so I will be playing for the liturgy and hymns in the English service. I'm trying to remember the lessons I've been learning from The Artist's Way group. What I have to offer will be fine, even if J. S. Bach is the archetypal Lutheran musician.

Got my hair trimmed—$10 for wash and cut. (With the warm weather there is no need to have it blow-dried.) I love being able to walk into the shop on a Saturday morning and be out of there again in fifteen minutes.

Then I went to another church that was having a fall craft festival thing. Our tiny church had been invited to participate, as well as provide some entertainment. So, while I would not have chosen to spend my Saturday afternoon there, it turned out to be a right thing to do. I even got some knitting done. Our humble little group sang a silly song about a Swedish wedding, which I accompanied on the accordion (and which won't stop running through my head).

On to the church to practice for tomorrow. It will be just fine.

Came home, tired. Now to relax for the rest of the evening. Then enjoy the extra hour tomorrow and seize the day!

Thursday, October 23, 2003


A long quote from the beginning of Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation:
Contemplation is the highest expression of [a person's] intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source. It knows the Source, obscurely, inexplicably, but with a certitude that goes both beyond reason and beyond simple faith. . . . It is a more profound depth of faith, a knowledge too deep to be grasped in images, in words or even in clear concepts. It can be suggested by words, by symbols, but in the very moment of trying to indicate what it knows the contemplative mind takes back what it has said, and denies what it has affirmed. For in contemplation. . . . we know beyond all knowing or "unknowing." (pp. 1-2)

Saturday, October 18, 2003


Beautiful day today. In the 90s. Began by writing three morning pages. Then gathered up a huge basket of laundry. Washed it in the front-loading machines at the laundromat and hauled it home. Filled all the clotheslines and drying rack. Had wet laundry left over. Hung it in the bathroom. Still had wet laundry. Went to the libraries and when I came home a couple hours later, the dish towels, tablecloth, and door curtain were dry, so hung out the rest of the clothes in the freed-up space.

Saturday mornings are the best time to go to the library. Over the past few months I've been mulling how to make my duplex into a place I enjoy living. Some deep cleaning and organizing began a few months ago (kitchen cupboards and garage). So today the books I was drawn to had to do with that quest.A fascinating book brimming with black and white drawings, illustrations and photographs. I'm intrigued by the cover of the hardback edition I have. (It's different from the version I linked to; I'll try scan it sometime.)

I've also been thinking specifically of the idea of altars or shrines in the home, prompted by the article by my pastor I linked to last month in which she describes creating a sacred space—for her, a dresser top with objects placed on it to remind her of her of the "sacred space within." (By the way, in the article Pr Peg mentions writing morning pages, a reference I didn't understand when I linked to the article last month.) Pr Peg doesn't use the words "altar" or "shrine," probably in deference to her Lutheran audience. Pushing aside the objection (goblin?) that such things are "for heathens" or "too Catholic" or "too New Age," I checked out these three books today:Lots of inspiration and ideas for creating my own space(s).

Many of the ideas aren't specifically religious. For example, in Denise Linn's book, there is a picture of an altar with art supplies and kitchen implements arranged on it to "symbolize integrating art and creativity into ordinary life." And as is often pointed out, a few pictures and objects selected and arranged on a window sill or on top of a piano are a significant expression of our inner spirit, even if we don't label such an arrangement an "altar" or "shrine."

Finally, I picked up this book:I don't quilt, but I've been eyeing the curtains in my bedroom thinking they would make a wonderful quilt background. I bought the batik-inspired material in Martinique for windows in a different house. The curtains are a little short for the windows where I live now and only cover two of the three bedroom windows. We'll see.

All part of "working to allow my outer fantasy life to manifest."

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Great Fire review

Thomas Mallon's review of Shirley Hazzard's new novel is now online at The Atlantic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

A place in which to work

I pulled out May Sarton's At Seventy: A Journal. After stumbling across a notation that it was she who introduced me to Shirley Hazzard (duly corrected in my Oct. 10 entry), I found another place I had marked. Sarton quotes from a letter she received:
Your description of how throughout your life you have created environments for yourself and how these environments have influenced your work caused me to look at my world and the role physical setting has had in my life. . . . This fall I cleaned out a spare room. . . and set out to create a private place for myself. I culled photos from closed drawers, books from scattered shelves. From the corners of the house I gathered together the parts of me that I had hidden away. I hung the pictures, shelved the books, unpacked my cello, and sat and waited for the fusing to begin. (quoted on p. 263; emphasis mine)
Sarton observes "how closely bound up one's identity can be with the frame in which one lives." (p. 263) Even when she was young and lived in ugly rented rooms, she writes,
[B]y arranging books on the desk, buying a few daffodils from a cart on the street, putting up postcard reproductions of paintings I loved and a photograph or two, by leaving a brilliant scarf on the bureau, the room became my room and I began to live in it, to live my real life there, to know who May Sarton was and hoped to become. (p. 265)

Monday, October 13, 2003

Corporate groceries

Megan at upsaid/oolong has put together a summary with links regarding the grocery store employees' strike that just started here in So Cal. She lists the stores in other areas that are affiliated with the So Cal chains if people want to support the strike by boycotting those stores.

I realized I rarely go into the stores that are affected by the strikes. Instead, I buy produce from the Path to Freedom family and the Farmer's Market; other groceries at Trader Joe's and a family-owned Armenian grocery store; and milk from a drive-through dairy, also family-owned. I go to Food 4 Less to buy cat food only.

A while ago I read about the non-unionized contractors who clean the floors and perform other tasks for the major chains. The conditions reported were quite appalling. Since then, I've avoided the chains as much as possible. Besides, so much of the "food" is way over-manufactured and processed for my taste. And the produce does not even begin to compete with the fruit and vegetables I'm fortunate to have access to and enjoy.

Pasadena has restrictions against mega-stores in the city. Other than Target, which moved into an old two-story department store in downtown, you have to go to other towns to shop at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc. Again, for me, the box stores (except Target) are not even a temptation.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Another Saturday comes and goes

First thing, wrote three "morning pages." I'm dancing around the idea of joining Pioneer Melissa's Artist's Way group. About a week before the topic came up (and never having looked at the book before), I was really tied up and frustrated about something. I wrote it all out in the morning and ended up having a great day. I realized that evening that writing everything out had left me free during the day not to respond out of fear and frustration to what had been bothering me. So, regardless whether or not I join the group, I shall at least try to do the daily writing.

Then I went to the women's Bible study at church. Afterward we finished assembling our first batch of layettes (a dozen) to mail.

This afternoon I was intending to clear off my desk and pick up the living room, but first I wanted to stop by and see Larry at Skein. [Larry happened to leave a comment at PM's site a couple days ago, and I clicked on the link to his site only to find out I knew him from the knitting shop!] I've been wanting to make something from the Baby Knits from Dale of Norway book, so I bought some pink Baby Ull wool to make the Rose sweater, hat, and booties. I knitted my swatch on 2.5 mm (size 1½?) needles, and Larry verified it came out perfectly. But I still need to get 2.5 mm (and 2.0 mm/size 0) 24" circular needles, and the kind I want aren't available at Skein. So I feel a trip to Velona coming up. Meanwhile, I couldn't wait to get started, so I knit as far as I could on a bootie using 5" and 7" double-pointed needles. I really like the look and feel of the wool on the small needles.

I really do not like the look (and feel, when I trip over something) of my living room/study. It has gotten quite out of hand (again).

Friday, October 10, 2003

First editions

I rarely (read never) buy first edition hardback copies of fiction books. I usually wait for the paperback version, find a copy in the library, or buy it in a used bookstore. However, last night I picked up Shirley Hazzard's new novel, Great Fire. I rationalized the expenditure by figuring it's an investment of some sort (like when I found Alice Starmore's out of print Aran Knitting in a local yarn store last Christmas and snatched it up for $40. Used copies are now selling for $159.99 at Amazon. Not that I have any intention of selling the book, but, if I needed to, I could get a nice return on that $40.)

The real reason I bought the book is because I loved Hazzard's novel The Transit of Venus, one of those happy finds in a used bookstore I picked up knowing nothing about the author or book. [Edit 10/14/03: Uh, that's not quite how it happened. I first read about the book in May Sarton's journal At Seventy. "She reminded me of Shirley Hazzard's The Transit of Venus, which is about the best modern novel I have read in years. . . . (p. 300)] Her characters are described with incredible "emotional microscopy," in reviewer Thomas Mallon's words.

The Atlantic has a review of Hazzard's new book in their November issue, which is not yet online. I shall post the link here as soon as it is. [Edit 10/15/03: The review may be read here.]

[Edit 7:45 PM: Whilst searching Abebooks for something else, just for fun I looked up Aran Knitting. One copy is going for $275 at Marion Meyer Rare Books in NY, and another copy is selling for $312.50 at Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle.]

Friday, October 03, 2003


Today was overcast and cool, with the slightest mist this morning.
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns.
- George Eliot
(Via Mercy Street.)

I especially like the colors of autumn—greens, browns, golds.

[Edit: 9:30 p.m. I really like Mercy Street. I came across the site this evening and have gone back to the beginning to start reading through it. I had to figure out the syntax for the archives as there is no link to them on website that I could see: Swap out the year and month to access other months' entries.]