Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Crazy Making

Garrison Bay 2

Moving is crazy making, especially when we bring it on ourselves. Anyone who knows me or has been reading me, knows how fond I am of Seattle. But in all our excursions to the San Juan Islands, we found something. So I am leaving the city I love for a little home in the woods on a bay. In a perfect world I’d have a pied- à -terre in the city too.

Preparing a home to go on the market, on one hand, and remodeling another house with the other, I lost my stride of a weekly post in blogging. Other bloggers are running circles around me, and because I must jump back in, here it goes:

I have to try this. My romance of living on the water and writing in a hut down by the water’s edge. The wind in the pines and water over rock. The fresh smell of cedar. The smile of a rope hammock hanging between trees. The quietude of kayaks. The grilling of fish, and the taste of the ocean in each raw oyster and boiled crab. Growing our own everything, and what we don’t grow, purchasing from people who do. Adirondack chairs circling a stone fire pit. Watching the fire and watching the stars at night.

This is not going to come by staying put.

It is important to note whether one is moving-towards or moving-away. This is a moving-towards. Only a couple times in my life have I felt the need to move away. Once was from St. Thomas U.S.V.I., and had nothing to do with St. Thomas or The Virgin Islands. The other was from Los Angeles, and had everything to do with LA.

Long ago I set off on a journey with my little neighbor, Tony, into the woods behind our homes. We couldn’t have been more than five or six. I was sure it would lead to somewhere. That we’d come to some place magical like Oz, if we just persevered. Tony, however, turned around and headed home.

This girl kept going. And before long the woods did come out somewhere, but it was just another nice neighborhood in Connecticut. One that looked much like mine, but wasn’t. I was lost. So I did what Dorothy did and knocked on a front door.

It was the age of women at home, and so I was in luck. A kindly lady invited me in, seated me at her kitchen table and fed me milk and cookies. I didn’t notice, but she must have slipped out of the room to call the police and report a lost child. For it wasn’t long before an officer arrived at her house too. How cool was that? I got to come home in a cruiser! 

Look at all Tony missed by turning around.

 

I recently wrote my daughter:

I am sixty-two years old and live, as you know, on one of the “hills” in Seattle in a lovely little English Tudor home where a chandelier is reflected in a Venetian mirror. And I just bought a waterfront house in the islands that’s a total rehab with a trailer dumped on the lot. And all I want to do is go out there and clear brush! Am I nuts?

And she answered:

The best kind of nuts! You’ve lived in plenty of lovely neighborhoods, but you’ve never lived by the sea on a remotish-island. I am so excited for you.

 

 

 

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Why We Need Artists

dh-david-hockney-pop-art-paintings

Because I grew up on the East Coast, I still get a kick out of towns, hills, creeks, rivers, and roads with Western names. Raised on enough Westerns for it to be a part of my television DNA,  I don’t think a born Westerner would derive the same pleasure, as I made note on an impossibly long drive the names: Sweet Briar, Tom Cat Hill, Lost Man Creek, Rogue River, Wonder Stump Road, and dozens more. As a writer, I may use them someday.

“It sometimes takes a foreigner to come and see a place and paint it,” David Hockney once explained. We did not know then, on our drive to San Francisco, that we would be attending Hockney’s “A Bigger Exhibition” at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. But that’s just what we did. And it made sense. It made sense of everything.

Having studied at the Royal Academy of Art in London, Hockney moved to Los Angeles in the 1960’s. There, the extraordinarily talented British artist immersed himself in swimming pools, mid-century architecture, palm trees, portraiture, and the Southern Californian sun-drenched light for twenty-five years. Returning to his native Yorkshire, England in 1996, “A Bigger Exhibition” covers the years since his return to England. Hockney’s 21st century art, one might say. More than ever now his subject is light, from the bleakness of winter to the excitement of its return in spring and summer, and throughout the hours in a day.

“People don’t look very hard,” notes Hockey. “I do, and I do something with it.” 300+ works make up this monumental and expansive exhibition in oil, watercolor, charcoal drawings, digital films, and  iPad paintings. A seventy-six year old man today, Hockney is running circles around us and calling our attention to the world.

Stepping out into the park, every which way I turned was a “Hockney.” The sunlight through trees, the trees bereft of leaves, and this sensation continued all the ride up the coast toward home. The Tuscan hillsides of Napa and Sonoma, the cathedral-like presence of redwood forests, the Big Sur experience with rocks, the Pacific as a sheet of mica, and gleaming white towns along its edge. We took the long coastal route back, following the contours of hills and river beds on roads that switched and turned south, then north again. The Old Coast Highway. And I saw it all through David Hockney’s eyes.

This is why we need artists in this world.

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Everything Matters

This week the world has been shocked to witness what in chaos theory is called The Butterfly Effect, whereby “when a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world.” Or in other words, when an amateur filmmaker in Los Angeles makes a hateful anti-Muslim film, it can cause riots, death, and destruction throughout The Middle East. We witnessed this too with the Qur’an-burning pastor in Florida.

Personally I’d like to see the film maker behind bars as well as the pastor, but the problem is bigger than that. Free speech, for one thing. Democracy demands it. Civility, however, has its own demands. To put it simply, we must respect others.

Civilization is eroding and evolving at once, and perhaps this has always been the case. We know how fast things can erode, as a mere snowball turned into an avalanche while we sat frozen in our seats.  But let’s remind ourselves that The Butterfly Effect works both ways, toward healing, understanding, and enlightenment as well.

Robert F. Kennedy expressed it elegantly, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

What we say and do matters. What we write matters. It all matters.

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