Sunday, October 31, 2010

Unlikely Scenario

Last night several friends and I rallied, dressed up in costume, and went to a roadhouse bar in the high desert for a Halloween party.  Waiting to the last minute to commit to our alter egos, we spent several gleeful, mid-day hours sifting through racks at a local thrift store in search of the perfect accessories.  Make up was applied and masks were adorned before we drove to our destination.  Conversation in the car inevitably lead to the what-if-no-one-else-is-dressed-in-costume scenario which was highly unlikely since the party was advertised.  But as we peeked through the windows on our way to the door the improbable situation came to fruition.  Our entrance garnered stares from the jean and sweater wearing crowd as if we were an unwelcome reminder that it was indeed the Saturday night before Halloween.  We had instantly become those people, the ones who love to dress up for Halloween, when in truth we fall much more into the gray category.   During the next few hours two dozen or so other costumed revelers wandered into the bar for a drink and shelter from the frigid night air.  Across the packed barroom all it took was a smile and thumbs up to bond us with our brethren.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I've experienced fourteen years of quarterly seasonal changes from my perch in the hills, but it's the annual autumnal sky which makes my heart swell.  I'm certain it's because it is this very late afternoon light that greeted me when I first walked through the front door as a potential buyer.  Having received a call from my real estate agent about a vacant house that had yet to be listed, a must see, I heeded his advice and rushed to the property after work.  The air was stale and the rooms suffered from being a recent rental.  The fading sun made it difficult to fully assess the environment, but after years of living in cramped, sunless New York city apartments the possibility of sun drenched rooms with access to multiple patios and decks offering a distant ocean view was intoxicating.  The sunset seduced me like an exceedingly handsome man on a blind date.  After a restless night, I returned to the site first thing in the morning to make sure the house was still as charming sans the magic hour glow.  And it was.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


At dinner tonight a friend mentioned her quest for community, and her heightened awareness that it was missing in her life.  I could relate, for in this city of suburbs, as I like to call Los Angeles, it's easy to feel untethered and disconnected.  So many of my actions directly correlate to fulfilling this same desire especially in the absence of a current professional tie in this one industry town.   It's the precise reason I've been driving twenty minutes to attend yoga classes at a small neighborhood studio in the valley.  I pass a dozen studios en route, but it is at this particular establishment I feel a kinship.   Although I derive oodles of pleasure from taking photographs I get equal amounts of joy from spending time with those whose share my passion whom I've met in classes, online groups or in the pages of blogs heralding the topic.  This very blog is another community I've created albeit an oblique one.  I could just as easily pull out my journal and jot down my thoughts for only my eyes to read, something I've done on and off for thirty some odd years, but instead I've chosen to make my thoughts public.  The occasional comment reminds me that others read my ponderous notions.  The invisible lines that bind me to an unseen community are like a spider's thread caught in the afternoon sunlight. We may enter and exit this world alone, but the journey is sweeter when shared.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Muse Monday - Stephen Tomasko

Ohio photographer Stephen Tomasko's series WINTER WAS HARD reminds me not to take nature for granted and reduce it to a treacle subject matter.  Regardless of the time of year mother nature always offers an inspiring bounty of beauty.  Stephen's photos evoke the optimism and hope of spring, a season several cycles away, but alive in my memory and heart.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two Roads

Personal growth isn't for cowards, just ask Don Draper who came precipitously close to confronting his demons this season. His dark journey could have served him well if he only had the guts to choose the alternative path, but when two roads diverged in a wood he took the familiar one.  His relationship with Faye represented a break from his self destructive patterns, a chance to be an average guy, an opportunity to get closer to his authentic self. Faye encountered a man whose interior life was much messier than his appearances would suggest. Yet, his panic attacks, benders and sullen moods didn't push her away, and for that she paid a price. When Don had the opportunity to restore his mythological image with Megan who seamlessly slipped into his perfect family snapshot he leaped at it with the fervor of boy cannonballing into a crowded pool.  Taking the easy road is anything but, as Don will most likely glean next season when the demons he pruned, but didn't uproot, propagate like weeds in his path.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Muse Monday - Lisa Swerling

Lisa Swerling's project Glass Cathedrals has inspired me to keep on my yard sale/ thrift store hunt for the perfect diminutive figures to photograph.  Lisa studied philosophy and politics at Oxford, but seems to have found her calling in art.  Her series of small figures in manicured, glitteringGlass Cathedrals boxes was inspired by "the collision between the seriousness in which we take our lives, and the limitations of our understanding.  The heroes are the miniature figures, my boxes the cathedrals where they struggle, aspire, think."

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Some nights I fall asleep immediately, but awake prematurely an hour or two later. Other nights I crawl into bed with a book assuming heavy eyelids will shortly follow, but the clock rhythmically ticks towards dawn, sleep never befriending me.   I open a window to stir the stale air and see my reflection.  On the way to the kitchen my outline moves across the French door.  Not fully awake, not completely clear.  I start to document my image as a way to pass the time, and perhaps find a clue hidden behind my eyes.  Soon I'm drawn to the shadows in my house, the altered shapes of chairs and lamps in the inky night.  My attention wanders further into the stillness outside my door.  I find myself veiled in magnificent indigo.  Whatever worry was nestled in my mind dissipates under the endless sky.  I’m lost in the camera, calmly taking photographs. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

To Mine

The earth gave birth to the narrow metal capsule thirty three times, each one garnering cheers.  After seventy days trapped more than 2000 miles underground the Chilean miners were rescued.  Apparently, many conversations were had in the mine, including how the men would handle the media frenzy awaiting them.  Like the cast of FRIENDS, they agreed to only negotiate as a group.  No individual book, movie or US Weekly deals.  If Oprah is interested in interviewing one miner, she will have to arrange thirty three chairs on her stage.  A psychiatrist interviewed on a cable news program last night recommended the men return to their "normal" lives as quickly as possible.  After the parade, he cautioned,  they should go home to their families and sift through the trauma of this catastrophic event.  I'm most certain normal no longer exists for these men.  Their lives will be forever viewed through  the lens of before and after the accident.  However, I do hope after they get familiar with their new ipads and deposit the checks that have been rewarded to them, they resist the lavish trips and invitations to presidential palaces, and tether themselves to something stable.  As Dorothy knows,  there's no place like home.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Muse Monday - Hendrik Kerstens

Hendrik Kerstens,  an award winning Dutch photographer, is influenced by his ancestors, the master painters of the seventeenth century whose portraits captured everyday life.  One is reminded of Vermeer in a series of portraits Kerstens photographed of his daughter, Paula.  Interestingly, Kerstens' whimsical use of head gear, modern household objects such as toilet paper, a garbage bag, a lampshade, does not detract from the regal quality of the images.  Conversely, the result is a unique contemporary perspective on a classic art form.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Lords a leaping.  A movie with Bo Derek.  October.  The commandments.  Downing Street.  Base of the decimal numeral system.  A freeway that runs from California to Florida.  A perfect score.  Capricorn.  Pearl Jam's debut album.  A direction used in musical notation.  Fingers and toes.  North-south thoroughfare on the west side of Manhattan.  Signifies completeness of order.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Rhythm

Saturdays have a rhythm all their own.  With sweat still clinging to my body from an early morning spin class I went to the farmers market in Silverlake.  Although an eighth of the size of the one in Hollywood tomorrow I was out of produce and couldn't hold off.  I sipped on a coconut, papaya, kale and greens smoothie as I stuck a toothpick into a ripe, juicy peach.  Summer is still on my taste buds.  When my bag was too heavy on my shoulder I made my way home.  My house smells of roasted shallots, rosemary, zucchini and squash which will be blended with crushed tomatoes into a puree of vegetable soup.  The afternoon will continue to unfold leisurely, an errand or two will get accomplished, a new book may get opened, and the daily self portrait will get snapped.  Ah Saturdays.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


For the past month I have endured a dreadful bout of sleeplessness.  I'd lie in bed exhausted, inhaling, exhaling, sheep fluttering above my brow, yet my mind wouldn't drift off into peaceful slumber.  I'd read, fill in the white squares of crossword puzzles, and stare at the black night sky.  Sometimes around 3am I'd fall into a shallow sleep, but within an hour I'd be up again, leafing through the book on my nightstand or checking the status updates on facebook.  Some nights I'd step outside into the cool air with my camera.   On other occasions I'd unload the dishwasher or fold laundry that had stopped spinning in the dryer hours ago.  Several days ago the insomnia subsided, and  I can barely stay awake past 10 o'clock. My eyes are heavy as they open to the first morning light.   The armature of insomnia has left my body leaving my spine limp and limbs lethargic.  An early morning yoga class is unfathomable.  Sleep beckons and I don't have the inclination to resist.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Last week when the thermostat in my house registered a sweltering 92 degrees I found refuge in my air conditioned bedroom.  Shades drawn, cat by my side I read, worked, and chatted on the phone from the cool comfort of my bed.  Today the mercury is struggling to reach 65 degrees.  My sheets are chilled from the damp air as I crawl into bed once again seeking shelter, but this time from gray storm clouds outside my window.  The weather, like the traffic, is no longer predictable.  Relied upon patterns are useless.  Yesterday in Palm Springs it was 17 degrees below the average temperature.   At the top of the tramway the overnight low was 32 degrees.   Besides the glaring concerns about global warming, I like Mother Nature's unpredictability.  She constantly reminds me to let go of the expected, embrace life's surprises, and don't get too attached because like a storm front this too will pass.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Pioneers and the west go together like Uggs and a crisp winter morning.  Thus, when filmmakers staked claim to Southern California it was only a matter of time before the western would be a staple genre.  In 1946, a group of investors broke ground in Pioneertown, a living set which would serve as the backdrop for over 50 movies and television series.  Requisite structures --a jail, bank and saloon -- were erected, but behind the facades were actual interiors where ice cream was served, bowling was played and rooms were rented.  By the 1970s the popularity of westerns was waning and the properties were parceled and sold to the public.  The cantina was originally purchased and turned into a biker, burrito bar.  Today it is the site of the renown Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, an outpost for the eclectic.  Commingling at the bar are cowboys, marines, local artists and intrepid city dwellers all in search of mouth watering BBQ and top-shelf musicians.  A stroll down faded Mane Street provides a glimpse of the evolving storefronts, some abandoned, others turned into cozy homes adorned with prayer flags and signs advertising farm fresh eggs.  Tinsel town sits over the horizon a mere 150 miles away, yet these residents, all 350 of them, have chosen to live in the extreme conditions of the high desert.  They have traded in the hustle and bustle of the city for well water and small town gossip.  I admire their pioneering spirit.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Muse Monday - Elizabeth Flemming

Last week in photography class the topic was domestic landscapes and one of the artists reviewed was Elizabeth Flemming.  I instantly fell in love with the simplicity of her project, Life is a Series of Small Moments.  Elizabeth effortlessly captures the beauty of everyday domestic living -- intimate, whimsical, chaotic moments filtered through the lens of motherhood.  Her career in photography intersected with her role as wife and mother when she moved to the suburbs several years ago to start her family.  Elizabeth's work reminds me I don't have to go far to find arresting images.  I just need to open my eyes and shoot.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Vacation Home

A vacation house turns into a home when it is teeming with friends who escape the city in need of emotional unwinding.  Meeting for coffee or a late afternoon BBQ  can't compete with the hours shared  in a communal living situation reminiscent of college.  Formalities are shed like layers of clothes before diving into the pool.  Meals are glorious, collaborative efforts.  Clean up, divided by eight, is an unrehearsed dance in the kitchen set to the weekend's soundtrack, an amalgam of various ipods.  Over Sunday brunch, the previous day is rehashed in shorthand, mere words setting off a domino effect of belly laughs.  The group is forever bonded.  As the weekend draws to a close piles of sheets and towels trade places with the contents that spilled out from unzipped bags and suitcases.  The arteries leading back to the city call to them.  Vacant of life, the home is once more a house.  Thanks to Craig for documenting the weekend with his iphone.