Thursday, December 27, 2018


 I am digging back into the studio after the holidays, 
as seen with the pile of garden cuttings 
impulsively spray-painted 
silver, for a decorative "arrangement" now languishing 
while I ponder being safely rid of the leavings...
T'won't compost & probably ought not to be burned. 
I did not think that one out very well...
Solstice has long been the heart-fully factual event for us. 
This year we attended a lively party with a large group of
 good friends... Enjoying much fine conversation! 

On our way home we walked the path around a large pond 
where one Islander gifted the night's magic... 
a millennia of flames... luminaria 
flickering harmony with misty light of full moon! 
Then home to our own lamps for a long recuperative sleep!
Thus Christmas was happily celebrated quietly. Just the two of us at home here at Soundcliff... a very rare thing! The first time in many years that we have not been traveling, either to spend time with family... or seeking to avoid any additional rush of festivities after the period when the Island's Studio Tour absorbs so much of the calendar with the hard work of cleaning & preparing for two intense weekends of "showtime"... ringing in, ringing out & ringing up the bells' business!

We've tried escaping to various parts of the Orient, only to discover the universality of Santa & various versions of decorated trees, even if oftentimes they are more entertaining than in this country. So it is probably easiest to just sit tight & ignore the fuss where we have the most control! 

Our weather, while quite wet, has been mild, so the garden has continued to produce & bloom. I picked greens & salads for the meals to which we treated ourselves. Stephen made a big batch of his specialty crab cakes. There was fresh salmon & ahi for the succession of nights... sweet times!
The reliable gift of produce in this season is Mashua, the starch crop I've grown since learning about it at the Mother Garden in Sonoma County, when I lived in northern California 25 years ago. The abundant foliage climbs high all summer, giving its spicy nasturtium zip as addition to salads, but in late autumn it develops happy blossoms, signaling that its roots are making the tubers for which it is generally raised by the Peruvian gardeners who more famously gave us potatoes.
These beautiful organic packages of intense flavor can be eaten raw... I like them thin sliced like winter "radishes" to make toothsome crispy zippity-do-da salad nibbles... 
but are more usually served as a cooked vegetable. Sauteed or better roasted, 
both the flavor & texture soften & sweeten rather ephemerally.

 The hexagonal raised bed produced Trout's Back lettuces & Baby Bok Choy...
The Wasabi Arugula blossoms went in the salad to accompany the Ahi well!
Pineapple Sage blossoms color holiday salads festive...
The small Camellia started blooming to add more red to our view.
One stalwart patch of pansies held-on!
 I brought the Abutalon into the studio to protect 
& display its bell-inspiration during the show...
But this fuchsia made a lovely small show 
spiting difficulties from lack of light & temperature.
I've been celebrating the small mountain of cedar sawdust which covers the new hugelkulture Tom helped build during a week of Indian summer... an experiment in re-sculpting the contour of one large section of the garden from "sagging swale" into a more visually sturdy "rib". A long term project!
Reminding the sweet welcome in/out my plane window as we came home from Thanksgiving in Florida. Tahoma is our beautiful mother mountain... we watch her from Soundcliff's windows every day she isn't hiding in the clouds with which she dresses for her constantly evolving fashion!
These Ibis & Pelicans joined us for lunch at a dockside restaurant one afternoon down there...
Reminding me of the sculpture hiding silhouetted behind the mylar sheet we use as a sun shade in our bedroom window... not needed often during this dark time, but useful when we are journaling & reading on rare enough mornings desiring celebration of any such intrusions of light returning!
Early Bird Blessings For this New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2018


Sunrise at Soundcliff on the morning after the longest night...
Greetings on the Winter Solstice of 2018…

Solstice is THE holiday for me. A day as “HOLY” as I can easily accept… being quite real. The physical manifestation of whatever genuine magic keeps the world from tilting totally out of control.

A moment in the rhythmic continuity of everything 
we can really know marks this seasonal symbolic loss of light & of its return. 
All the other festivities of culture begin with this. I could too easily whisper “amen” & be done with the rest. 
But, no, I realize that I can choose better... 

Working inside the wider study & understanding I’ve long practiced I appreciate again that I am not always the same curmudgeon I have sometimes seemed this year. 
I have my moments, teetering on this cusp, of both snarl & smile.

I have been remembering a story which reveals part of the origins of that curmudgeon, from the year of my graduating from college [being summer1967… 50 & more years ago], when I accepted a job to help set-up the first-ever year-round Christmas Shoppe in Denver’s newly developing Larimer Square. 

I was one of a cadre of creatives [read: mostly gay boys] who naturally collected around this project of wrangling Denver’s version of retail rehabilitation by bringing gifts of talent which were essential & appreciated while being un-affordable & thus ultimately under-rewarded in the longer term… An economic fable commonly called “gentrification”…

We began in August, as I recall, to unpack hundreds of cartons containing dozens of artificial trees, upon which we carefully strung hundreds of strings of lights & then hung with thousands of ornaments. 

For some trees there were obvious “themes” or color scenes to follow with some logic, but others invited the invention at which we could excel when given opportunity to play creatively as a fair-or-not part of the pay package. It was, after all, the summer of love... 

The initial Ho-Ho-Ho enthusiasm we brought to work at this new adventure, wearing cut-offs to cope with summer heat in an old historic brick building with no AC, began to drag. Soon enough, the plastic icicles were being hung with matching drips of sweat. The fake snow couldn’t cool anything except one’s sagging ardor. The scent of the holidays became the rank smell of hot glittery paint on cheap wood, hide glue & ageing papier-mâché. What would later seem festive to eager customers had become too early rather icky. 

I thus lost most any love of Christmas as it was becoming, even then, to be celebrated & it took some years until I could think of the holidays without noticing that stink… which, at least symbolically, still returns to my nostrils some years.

So, I have done several versions of these holidays backstage, so to speak, in retail since the small-town department store I worked during high school, through the Ma-and-Pa jewelry store so important to me during college… into the folly of Christmas-in-July.

I deserve my status as part time curmudgeon! 

The anodyne to what I’ve come to see mostly as a madness is this simply magical re-occurrence of a long night of adjustment into proof of sanity. Balance. All has righted itself. Life continues anew. 

I can now rather more easily let all the ancillary feasts carry-on as they might & need. I play with them as I will… or not. I know what is real to me.

Solstice Blessings, 
With Bells... or without even those such trappings…