Tag Archives: books

In honor of all of you who have recently downsized

Perhaps it was the hiking in fresh air yesterday, but today’s the day! I’m sorting the bookshelves in the bedroom.

I so like the trendy style of sorting books by color (as they are at the backroom bar/library at Petworth Citizen) and that’s fine for browsing, but not for retrieving. At home I make my own categories:

‘read and liked it’
‘read it but can’t remember — might try again’
‘meant to read’
‘should have read’

and then the purely esthetic traits — beautiful spine and ‘just the right size for this shelf.’



William’s helping, like this.


Alas, there are more shelves on the first floor and in the basement.


the larder fills and empties, the to-do list grows

3 January 2015 (out of range for a few days)

Haiku for today:

The sky is leaden,
Rain falls liquid and solid.
Best stay warm in bed.

Well, William did, deservedly, until about 10. I favor inclement weather, so got up earlier at the sound of rain on a metal roof, to make coffee, build a fire, write some words, and enjoy this transforming place.

Those tasks planned for the first day of the new year are accomplished, and more. I also baked bread, turned dry beans into a soup, made a list of what’s needed and procured supplies for the “larder.” (Listening to Bill Bryson’s At Home as an audio book, we learned the origin of that term is not really lard, but rather the word for “bacon,” and thus referred to the room where meats and food were stored.) I have spent some time with poetry books and with pottery magazines, where I did not look at just the pictures, but also read the stories, learning about glazes and kilns, what I should know but do not.

The accomplishments of these first days lead to new ideas for more projects — domestic, artistic and linguistic.

to-do list undone


My first disappointment today: the siding I was to paint for the Berkeley Springs house – the non-construction kind of thing I can do — had not been delivered.

My second disappointment, leaking over from yesterday, when I found out that no DC bookstore has the Edna O’Brien book needed for my book group meeting next weekend. I cross fingers that it’s at the Berkeley Springs library, but find it closed on Thursdays…

My dinner is corn and tomatoes from the farmers’ market stop, the third event of the day here and the first successful one, after the two failures mentioned above. Some tomatoes I immediately sliced to oven-dry them, in this oven here, a fancy convection one with hot air circulation, as opposed to the one at home with heat only, and that from light bulbs, applied quickly, the opposite of what you want to desiccate food. The tomatoes have been in there on very low heat and circulating air for a few hours and I think they look good. This too was on my project list for the weekend. Perhaps successful.

The fourth event was finally connecting with the Warm Springs Watershed Society, eight people who met to battle – real combat, my first time ever using herbicide – in the attempt to eradicate the beautiful but unwelcome purple loosestrife, which actually thrives without strife in wet zones here. It was fun. We split up in teams, gloved and armed with sprayers, seeking and spritzing the offender when we spotted it. And we did come upon some of it, not a lot, but individual plants here and there. Very satisfying. I liked all the people doing this. We were all about the same age, probably mostly just-retired, people who get excited about nature; one who confessed to being a birder, for example. A couple I had met before, but the others were new. I hope they will be new friends up here.

The sun is setting now as I sit on the new porch, though sunset may not be the proper astrological term for when the sun just goes out of view behind a landform, here an Appalachian ridge, not the true horizon, as in Boulder, coincidentally. I’ll try to look that up.

The near neighbors Melvin and Marion are away. I remember that they go to the beach in South Carolina each summer. Good for them, though in the short time we have known them, and even then, only on infrequent and irregular weekends, I can see them aging and physically slowing down. I’ll miss seeing them, but feel comfortable sitting on the porch with the music a bit loud, as it cannot bother them.

So a nice evening after all. We don’t have wi-fi here at the house anymore, so I have come to the lovely dinner spot, Tari’s,  for a dessert and to send some mail or post to a site. All that’s missing is a Scrabble partner. . .

Native dress takes a road trip

There’s a lot of eye-popping stuff here, lots in the textile category.

A few days ago the zocalo was jammed with activity, including a demonstration by indigenous people at the state capitol, many in traditional dress.  The colors are vibrant and may be from natural sources (the red below may be from cochineal, an insect*); they can be hand-spun fibers, hand-woven cloth, hand-stitched panels, and then hand-embroidered with age-old symbols of rivers, eagles, cactus flowers.** Besides the color and style telegraphing where these women are from (the state, but not the city, of Oaxaca), the colors of the ribbons on these garments indicate whether the wearer is married or single, and I’m sure there is much more meaning to the learned eye.  The menfolk are wearing a uniform as well, of jeans, collared shirts, boots and natural-fiber hats; but with a muted palette, and showing off no handiwork.

ImageZocalo, at a demonstration at the state government building

Later, the same day, I spotted this, and found myself equally fascinated about what this native dress could mean. In this case, the male character is all gussied up while the female is a little plainer, as is the case with so many birds in the wild. (They moved about together, like a mated pair.)

ImageSanto Domingo Plaza

Tribal origin and subtle meaning of this combination are unknown to me. My apologies if you know these people, or if you are these people, since I didn’t ask permission.

Though I have augmented by earlier two-skirt, two-blouse wardrobe with some Mexican shirts that do little to disguise me, I have to realize that I cannot for an instant think that my dress is neutral and doesn’t peg me as the age, sex, nationality, and economic groups of which I am a member.


* A great book on this valuable commodity is The Perfect Red, by Amy Butler Greenfield.

** Maybe I could think of these as ‘logos.’