Greetings from the porch where I sit at the table looking down into the garden and yard of trees. Typing out this letter on the laptop. Cup of coffee beside me. Mint geranium leaves the size of my hands in a jar of water
I started to write inside, but had to come out here to my outdoor living room. I wanted to be with the unmuffled musical sounds of nature and city. A chorus of birds, wind in the trees. A dog is barking, my neighbor just roller-skated up the steep lane wearing a blue mask, someone just shut their car door, gardener sounds from down the hill, more wind moving the leaves. Down the hill there are faint sounds of traffic. Wyatt is sitting in front of me staring, commanding me with his mind.
Here is what I will be doing when I finish sending off this missive to you:
Repotting some succulents that need my attention in the back patio. I started the copper spoons (plant in pot above) from leaves a few years ago. How amazing that from discarded leaves can grow entire new plants. I have one planted in the front garden that is the size of a small tree. They will get big in the ground and produce fantastic chartreuse flower spikes this time of year.
Scenes from this morning’s walk:
The camelias are blooming. Brought so long ago from Japan by nurserymen, they thrive in the warm climate of Southern California. Thirsty plants, they require water year round and more care than I can provide, but every winter I love seeing their pink, red, and white blossoms opening around the city.
I just finished Ann Patchet’s Bel Canto. It’s a beautiful story. A group of people, including an opera singer are taken hostage in a South American country by a rag-tag group of rebels with a long list of unrealistic demands. They live together in a mansion. Held captive, but not mistreated. After awhile they become so immersed in their present lives that they almost don’t care if they’re ever released. The opera singer sings daily and everyone listening is held in a state of blissful wonder. The fact of their imprisonment becomes almost irrelevant and they sink deeply into their days, more present than they have ever been.
(By the way if you care to share your thoughts on the very end of the book, I’d love to hear them)
The entire time I listened to the story (audio book on loan from library) I drew parallels with how rich this pandemic time has been for some of us. How much I have treasured all of these hours spent on the porch in the company of trees and wind and birds.
Oh, the deep pleasure of being alive. To sit in wonder and observe every living thing. I am grateful for the climate I live in that allows me to live my life out of doors.
Teachers are being vaccinated. I received my first dose and my 2nd is scheduled. I felt a surge of love for every young soldier from Ft. Carson, Colorado who were administering vaccines and helping people at Cal State LA on the day I went. What an efficient system they’ve set up there. From the parking to waiting in line, it was easy and relatively quick. 40 minutes or less from start to finish. A marvelous use of military.
This probably means virtual school is coming to an end soon. So be it. In a few days it will be exactly one year since the schools closed across the district and school went online. I’ll keep you posted on reentry.
I found this sketch of dear Mama Moss while rustling through some of my paper piles. It reminds me of what I love about drawing from life. Even though one hand looks like a table leg, , and her feet resemble…something, I captured her perfect essence. Her brow knitted in nap concentration. She is getting ready to wake and drink a half a cup of lukewarm coffee. She will laugh and ask what I’ve been doing “over there.”
Nothing. Just watching you doze.
I recreated a Duncan Grant painting in my sketchbook and added a few of the objects from my table.
I’m still resting in a still life cocoon. Wanting to draw and paint everything around me.
I found the wooden side table above on my street at night. I lugged it up the hill to my house. It’s the perfect table to hold my sketchbooks.
The settee Wyatt is resting on was collected from my driveway where I left it with a “free” sign last week. I did a bit of rearranging in the back patio and decided I didn’t need it anymore. How nice it is to live in a place where I can recycle other people’s leftovers and they can recycle mine. Usually they only have to sit out for a night or two before just the right person comes along to claim your discards for themselves.
As you can see the little table I found is very lightweight and I can carry it wherever I need it.
Back patio, front porch and garden – these are the spaces where I spend most of my time.
I sat on the couch one cold evening and drew what I could see through the big window. It was the puffy yellow cloud that caught my eye.
on my bookshelf
I’m thoroughly engrossed in Vanessa Bell’s letters. I used to be quite a letter writer myself, but alas all of that was lost to the digital age in which we live. It’s good to remember times when phone calls were expensive and letters were our chief mode of communication to the people we loved who lived far from us.
If you’re an artist reading this, I won’t need to explain the Bloomsbury books. They’re a natural choice for anyone captivated by the still life as it relates to art history.
As for me, I have turned into a court reporter in my own house. It’s all I want to do. Someone notify the school district that I shan’t be reporting for duty when live teaching resumes. I’m busy!
I feel confident that one of these evenings I will come across an old leather Samsonite on the streets stuffed with cash which will make my working stiff life a distant memory. Naturally you’ll be the first to know when that happens!
I hope you’re well in your own still life. Absorbed in the tasks of the day. Ever present to the changing seasons. Looking forward to future travels, but for now enjoying good books, good coffee, and maybe the occasional real letter. Chime in if you wish with some bit of news from your faraway life. I’m all ears.