Rising in Beauty

Rising in Beauty
Sky over North Park

Just Learning

Just Learning
Kitchen Studio

Friday, December 21, 2007


At the start of my happy visit with relatives this month, I stumbled and fell down. As in many California homes, the floor level changed a few inches at a doorway. The floor tiling at one level was a rich, dark earth color, and the wood floor in the next room blended well. I just didn't see that there was a difference in depth. I fell through a dizzy world of deep browns and reds and then I was on the floor of a beautiful room. My family was aghast, but I recovered in a few minutes.

Just two years ago, I might have stumbled, but I would not have fallen. I would have caught myself, shifted weight, possibly twisted my ankle. Lately, my left leg gives way at times. The muscles are sore. I try not to limp, but my gait has changed. I walk more stiffly, more gingerly, less fluidly. Maybe gentle balancing exercises will help.

It turned out that other members of my family fall down. One exquisite woman has been tripping over her own feet most of her life, and usually has the bruises to prove it. An older relative melts to the floor now, and just finds herself there. It gives us something unexpected in common.

Wouldn't you know, the next day I had forgotten all about it, and fell at the same spot, twisting onto my knees and clutching a chair. I'm grateful I sustained only a big bruise.

I want to be the tree that bends and springs back, not the one that's stiff and gets blown down by a big wind.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Idea of Alaska

My Dad always said he was going to retire to Alaska. It symbolized freedom, outdoors, nature, renewal. My townbred stepmother wasn't enthusiastic.

By the time Dad retired, he needed heat. He enjoyed soaking up Florida sun, albeit in a cap and long-sleeved shirt and slacks. Dad grew up in Redding, Connecticut when it was rural, with some summer homes of literary people from New York. He worked in a brickyard in New Hampshire as a teenager, and shipped out very young with the US Navy.

Jon King's linking of integrity with the ideal of Alaska interests me. It links up with the idea that we aren't here forever, that our time is short, in some ways, that what we acquire or nest in serves temporary needs, that one day we will be free indeed, free from things, free from our bodies, free from Earth.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Autumn in New York

"Autumn in New York, It's good to live it again."

Thanksgiving in New York meant going home, spending lots of time with my son and my future daughter-in-law, enjoying my new in-laws, breathing cool, damp air, walking beside the East River, riding buses past familiar cityscapes. I had a massage at the Om Yoga Center, near the Strand book store. That gave me the opportunity to retrace the steps of a pilgrimage that was part of my childhood. My mother would pay the electric bill at the Con Edison building on 14th Street. We would go around the corner to Horn & Hardat's for chicken pot pie. Then we would walk along Irving Place to 17th Street, stand in front of the Washington Irving High School and look across the street at the two small buildings that were boarding houses in the 1930's. There my mother met my father. Like the other residents, they were attending the Night School after work, with the intent to gain their high school diplomas. Instead, they married. Later things went wrong, but once there was a love story among hopeful people. That matters to me.

Monday, December 3, 2007


The movie of Beowulf is worth seeing.