Baby Steps

Michael and I were treating ourselves to cafe au lait and chocolate croissants at the French Cafe in Cobano. The added treat was meeting up with our friend, Trudy, for chats which often meandered into the existential – magic and its manifestation.

Trudy lived up in the hills above Montezuma, an incline, arduous and lengthy. Like us, she had no car, and trudged up and down probably at least once a day, if not twice, if not three times.  We were quite familiar with it for we had spent a month slogging up and down the hill for supplies, to go to lunch or even to go to the beach.  One of the whippersnapper staff at our hotel, not only young, but robustly muscled, assured us that she had never got used to the climb, not even after 3 months of the daily abuse.  Sometimes on very hot days, Michael and I broke up the formidable ascent by sitting in the beach chairs on the side of the road.  The locals thought that to be quite amusing. Trudy laughed at the image, and then commented that she would not need a chair, because she never stopped.
“How is this possible,” I marveled.
“Because I take very baby steps,” Trudy explained and then added, “just like in life. Baby Steps”.  Then Trudy laughed, quite pleased at her analogy with its grand truth.

The next day, my early morning exercise was to walk up the very steep and very long incline behind our bungalows.  As I started out, and my breath grew shorter and shorter, threatening to an insistence on a pit stop on the pretense of water.  I remembered Trudy’s story about ‘baby steps’ and shortened my stride to the most miniscule of steps.  Almost immediately, my breath evened out.  I did not feel like each respiration to be my last gasp of life, and was able to continue my climb. And climb. And climb. Still difficult, yes, but very different.

As I walked, my ego began chiding my now very slow progress, with contempt and ridicule.  At some level, I had to agree, but refused to lengthen my steps.  I found consolation — the word is progress, perhaps slow, but still I am progressing nonetheless. And what an opportunity to marvel at the exotica around me: the foliage, the flowers, the scents.  In that freshness of morning air, with the surge of strength in my body, to marvel at the sweetness of white cows seemingly draped in velvet with their serene and wise faces.

Of course, I will need to remind myself when going at life’s obstacles and challenges to not get out the bulldozer, not to leap onto center stage in one big stride. No, baby steps to maintain my balance and my momentum; steady and unfaltering; balanced and aware!  Hmmmm.

Thank you Trudy’s Sweet Surrender. May you always walk with baby steps in the light!

trudys sweet surrender cropped


Costa Rica Diaries: The Guava Tree

A tree fell on our house.

It was amid a furor of thunderclaps and lightening bursts to startle the eternal black they call ‘los nochos’ here at the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica. Certainly we were startled by the deafening death of a tree collapsing onto our roof….

The rain was tropical, but benign compared to the tempests we had already experienced, only wily in its squalls from alien directions to confuse the tree’s spirit guardians.  This tree, an immense guava, was no neophyte to such trickery, but seemingly unable to withstand this gust from the unknown and the unfamiliar and toppled with an explosion of protest onto our roof.

We had no idea of what had occurred, and ran outside in the storming. It was as if the jungle had leapt next to the house, evoking spells like in a fairy tale.  Great limbs with branches and leaves blocked our access; it was too dark to learn much.  The lightening bursts just added to the confusion. Unnerved, we sought refuge in the house.  Fortunately, there seemed to be no holes in the roof…or in the walls.  We had lived here for all of two weeks.

About the house….it is an unusual edifice, probably erected by a sorceress. When we purchased it, we understood its beauty, for it is very beautiful….but we had no concept of its magic until we became enveloped within it.  Its synthesis of marvel derives from three improbable psyches.

Firstly, it is a tree house, an aerie aloft and on par with its surroundings: grand trees of the jungle.  Here we survey the dawn and twilight, traveling howler monkey troops, birds and bats.  There are no glass windows in our tree house,  just immense rectangular apertures carved within the ironwood walls, lined with screening. Secondly, our house is a cathedral from which to worship the natural world.  The day’s dawning commences at 4:30 am when the light excites all its creatures to awakening. In the tropical world, every being is loud and exuberant about the glory of existence. They celebrate the freshness of their lives beginning anew. They are here for this day, and announce it triumphantly. The pheasants are the loudest, and seemingly all of the other animals attempt earnestly to out-boister them.  And much of the time the green parrots are successful only by clustering into large flocks and yelling at one another in a constant stream of information and chatter. Thirdly, our house is an ark, a vessel of refuge and shelter. Clearly there is a prow and a stern, the wooden ribs of its belly quite articulated.  The house is a stunner and a place of integration: for the senses, the heart and the soul.

In the morning, after a restless sleep, it was determined by our knowledgeable neighbor, Simon, that a local man, Octavio, would be called upon to try to save our house.  We were told we would have to supply the ladder, no small task since our tree house-cathedral is twenty eight feet high.  I am a Newbie to Costa Rica; I am from urban centers close to a Home Depot — the lack of a ladder by a tree man, a man who made his living dealing with trees, did not ease my anxiety about Octavio and his professionalism.  And this was before Octavio arrived,  on a muddy old bicycle, his dismantled chainsaw in a plastic milk carton bungee-corded onto the back fender.  My judgments howled their disapproval of him, and I, unable to disguise any emotion, am sure my eyes said plenty.

Octavio’s dark eyes tangoed with mischief and perception, encased in a face that proudly settled into that of a handsome rogue…obviously a devastating combo for the women in the area.  As a woman, I knew that he knew it.  His long grey hair was pulled back in a pony tail, and he smiled broadly his confidence and warmth.  But Octavio was not only a woman’s man, he was one of those rare creatures — he was also a man’s man. And perhaps more importantly in this case, he was a man who loved all natural beings, especially trees.

Octavio regarded the guava tree and quickly realized it was impossible to just cut the tree off the house.  Once the top was cut, of its own accord, the tree would crash into the side of the house and severely damage it.  The tree would have to be cradled as it was cut.  Luis, our incredible gardener, macheted long canes of giant bamboo for this purpose.

I stared at the tree, mourning its dying as machetes hacked away great limbs and branches. The chainsaw is a terrible instrument of killing. The tree still clung to our small river with its roots.  It had just keeled over.  This was the tree that the white-faced monkey scampered on,  a platform on which the more daring would approach our compost area for their treats of bananas and papaya.  Poor monkeys, especially the mother capuchin with its tiny newborn.  Poor tree. And still the chopping, the sawing, the destruction.  Poor, poor tree.

Octavio stopped his work and regarded what was left of the tree, a stump, wedged with props of red trunk at an ungainly, coarse angle. A small swish of green leaves still clung hopefully to the base.  It was quickly explained that if he continued to cut, the tree would fall and harm the pipes that ran close to the river.  Octavio also explained that if he stopped now, the tree would not only survive, but flourish.  I stared unhappily at the unattractive stump, prominent next to our small patio.

Luis chimed in to explain that the guava tree was a special tree in scent as well as fruit,  and it would grow to be very beautiful with time, not one tree, but many.  Also by its sacrifice, the area was now cleared, granting enough light for a ylang-ylang, as well as other flowering trees and bushes. Up to now, most of the two acres of our jungle property was too dark for such light requisite opulence.

So what happened here this night? Supposedly a tragedy — a tree fell on our house, but the house emerged uninjured. Light was created in jungle shadows. The tree will survive, with its roots bathed by the river.  Octavio did not have to kill the tree. We did not have to kill the tree. Only the monkeys are temporarily out of luck. But we have moved the compost area close to the bamboo upon which they prefer to scamper and antic.

Michael and I went to Cobano the other day. Octavio was there on the corner with many of the gathered townsmen. In greeting, he tried to kiss me on the mouth, which I adapted to a European kiss, turning my face quickly to the side.  Once a rogue, always a rogue. But I will always be inspired by Octavio’s true nature: the man who had the intelligence, the strength and the heart to save a grand guava tree.

That guava tree has strong guardian spirits. And so does Octavio. And so does Luis. And so does Michael. And so do I. And certainly so does the house.

We have truly arrived in a place of powerful magic that binds us in its mist.



Costa Rica’s Take on Dinner and a Show

Michael and I enter the dusty bus, the door, usually clacking to and fro, tied down to opened obedience.  We are in luck, two seats next to an open window, a welcome breeze in the tropical torpor, but more importantly,  a clean view of jungle foliage framing the sea in passing, verdancy upon azured sapphires.

Rafi, our infamous driver, always alert, stops for a young girl, though she stands on the wrong side of the street.  Rafi talks nonstop to the passengers around him, and if there are none, he will stop the bus for a conversation with a friend on the street. He once stopped to ask after the status of my day on a road not even on his route.  Rafi is our squire and our protector here in Costa Rica.  Often tired from our exertions, with no hope of the bus, too late, much too late, miraculously, Rafi appears to save us. This is a bus of no stops, with no schedule. Tico tiempo, it is called — Tico time.

“Super Daveed”, Michael calls for our stop, and Rafi bellows back, “Super Daveed” and stops right in front.  We are actually going to dinner across the street at La Castenita, but, good enough.  It is twilight, and the waning light of pastels lures us on a short walk toward the reserve, the tip of our peninsula.  It is also deeper into Cabuya, a Costa Rican hold out, not so frequented by tourists.  Cabuya is also reputedly the place for witchcraft and healing represented by curanderas. I search the houses for a sign like for fortunetellers, but see none.  The light is very low; we have walked long enough, and turn back to our restaurant.

Perhaps we are still too early. A waitress appears, with a smile. This is a family restaurant.  Marvin, the patriarch, is watering the road in front of the restaurant to keep his guests and food from being covered with dust in the paltry flurry of activity in Cabuya known as rush hour.  I suss immediately that it is actually his excuse to welcome his neighbors and friends back home from work.   Smiles abound, warming the atmosphere.  A memory flips out of when it was like that in my neighborhood in Venice Beach, many, many years ago.  A sad sentimentality.

Our meal is delicious. A perfect and generous guacamole with hot chips.  A casada for me, the best of three towns in my gastronomical survey of five months.  Michael has a topa, a black bean soup.  It is time to leave; we are off for the show, on foot for perhaps a kilometer.

We find the hotel…Hotel Celaje. We have passed it often and now turn in, and are directed past the lagoon pool to the beach. It is now dark, and Tiki torches line our path in clumping Korea grasses.  It is charming and welcoming. There is Bruce, our host, hard at it setting up the screen and the projector.  Mismatched chairs and air mattresses designate places to sit for the screening. Behind the screen, the surf tickles the lava rock beach, while the stars peep into the encroaching dark. This is to be our movie theatre.  A woman offers us free popcorn. We are full from dinner and decline, but I know I will save room when I come back next week.  This is akin to the drive in movies of my childhood, but much better, since I was always made to go to sleep when the interesting movie came on.

The area fills up with expats, chattering away. Bruce explains this has always been his dream, to show art films on a beach in an exotic country. The woman next to me, eyes glowing, says to me, “I love Costa Rica”.  I know what she means. Either you stretch here into your dreams, or you end up drinking too much.  Or, of course, you leave, bored, and still in search of yourself.   While waiting for more people, Bruce shows some of Samsara, a filmmaker’s spiritual quest. The already impressive space is further exalted with shots of Himalayan temples, monks and prayer wheels.  Then a short by Guy Maddin, a filmmaker enamored with the silents of the early 20th century. Our guide for the night, Bruce, is obviously a film buff, eager to share his discoveries with us. I selfishly hope this will truly be his success and continue on forever. Then on to what we have come for- Night of the Iguana.  Bruce puts in the disc, and it will not work. Again. Nope. Again. Nope. The expats are happy with their beers and their popcorn, and wait with patience peppered with commentary and laughter. I have to agree with my neighbor. I am loving Costa Rica.

Bruce asks if anyone has seen The Passenger.  Michael and I are the only ones.  Bruce offers another film, but the audience votes for Jack Nicholson and Antonioni’s The Passenger.  Here is one of the Barcelona locations  Michaelangelo Antonioni supplied as background for one of his sequences…spectacular!

passenger gaudi

Roof of La Pedrera in Barcelona, as seen in 2005. Gaudi

We watch on a screen flanked by infinities: the ocean and stars. Dogs wander about. People smoke cigarettes and lounge on mattresses drinking their beers.  The wind off the ocean increases to a gale, and I worry about the big screen, but it holds without a wrinkle.  The Passenger is a triumph, at least to us.  At the film’s finale, astonishingly, most of the audience has disappeared.  We gush our enthusiasms to Bruce who is already beginning to pack up.  We are promised Night of the Iguana next week. We will be there, with bells. It will be our last week here in Costa Rica.

It is time to go home, a walk of 2 miles on the dirt road. It is 10:00, too late for traffic.  A black dog greets us after a sniff.  Tree branches reach for the stars. The moon is half full, but in the total dark, the trees moonshadows into thick black boas in the dust, immense in a road unlit by street lights. Next week, the moon will be fuller, probably light enough to see small pebbles.  When we hide the moon and its illumination behind trees, the stars emerge fully within their constellations.  The ocean provides a rhythm for dancing.

We turn in to our road to Luna, our bungalow in the jungle at the base of the mountain.  A tiger heron crouches low in a zag, hunting, in the neighboring cow pasture.  I will sleep, wrapped in dreams to continue my recounting and wonder at all we have seen this night….


Quitting Smoking…My Tribute to my Mother

A very special day today. I have not smoked for 24 years.  I smoked for 23 years. I have passed the line by one year where I now am not smoking as long as I did smoke.

I was really quite uninterested in stopping smoking.  From age 30 on, I would have fleeting ideas that I would quit on my birthday, or on New Year’s Day.  The word here is fleeting.  I would forget it almost as soon as I would think of it….

So how did this happen?

I watched my beautiful mother die of lung cancer. My mother, the strongest woman I knew, completely annihilated by cancer, but more than that, by the pain.  In relation to her, I am a baby, completely incapable of bearing pain.  Could be one reason I never had children, but that is another story, another blog.

The doctors did not tell us that she was dying.  They did not tell her that she was dying.  Under the mushroom cloud of denial, perhaps my soul and my heart knew differently.  Anyhow, I had switched from films to commercials as a script supervisor, and really quite unknown, thus in reality, the jobs should have been scarce.  They were not. I would work on one commercial, make enough money to fly back to the east coast to see Mom.  I made sure that my clothes looked good; my suitcases were new. A part of me knew this mattered.  How could a mother leave children still floundering in their lives?

She could not, she did not eat. Her slenderness decreased to gaunt.  I am my Mother’s first daughter. Consequently, I knew how to fix her tuna fish with lots of Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise–and most importantly, how much sweet relish. And what kind of bread. And what kind of chocolate syrup and how much. And what kind of potato chips. I knew she secretly loved ham sandwiches and bought an expensive spiral ham. Her husband, my stepfather, watched my purchasing at the grocery store with astonishment.

“Who’s going to eat all that,” he asked me.

He just shook his head, but paid for it all anyway.

Let’s agree on this” a daughter knows just how to prepare her mother’s food to perfection.  Innocently, I would offer to make her a sandwich, and Mom declined like always.  I made myself a sandwich, prepared really for her, with the perfect amount of Gulden’s mustard and eat it, sort of humming with its deliciousness. Mom would watch me eat, and then say, “maybe I could eat just that other half”.  My heart leaping with delight, I would give it to her, and get up to make me another sandwich, eyes brimming with tears.  Invariably, Mom would eat another half, and I would make her a chocolate milk made with Hershey’s just the way she loved it. I also managed to get a few potato chips on the plate.

These moments are some of my most prized moments in my life.  They will remain so forever as my cherishment and my gratitude.

The last time I visited, as my stepfather turned out of the driveway, I looked at my mother, and I said, “I hope this is not the last time I will see her”.  It turned out it was.

I got the call from my brother.  He said that the doctor said that if we wanted to see Mom, we better come fast.  My sister flew in from Ft. Lauderdale; I flew in from L.A. We met in  Newark and we rented a car.  I drove very fast.  It was the middle of the night on the Jersey Turnpike.  It was a long way.  At dawn, as we approached the hospital–I could see it, the radio station played, It’s Too Late to Say Goodbye.

“I hope it’s not too late to say goodbye,” I said to my sister.  It was. Mom died almost to the moment my sister and I crossed over the threshold.  She died alone.  I called my crone wisewoman with my anguish.  She said, “your mother knew her daughters were there.  She knew that if she didn’t get out, she would stay, and live in that pain.  She had to go.  But she knew that you were there.  They begin circling, you know.”

I did not know, but I believed her.

My Mother and me cropped

My mother holding me as an infant




When She Has that Look in Her Eye

This is so much how I feel at the moment working on my next book, Angel’s Flight, the next book in the Destiny’s Consent series.  Of course, in her genius, Clarissa Pinkola Estes has captured it perfectly: a simple matter of spit and crystalline bones and balancing acts on fingertips..

“When she has that look in her eye, she is balancing a big cardhouse of ideas on a single fingertip, and she is carefully connecting all of the cards using tiny crystalline bones, and a little spit, and if she can just get it to the table without it falling down, or flying apart,  she can bring an image from the unseen world into being. To speak to her in that moment is to create a Harpy moment that blows the entire structure to tatters. To speak to her in that moment will break her heart.”
                                           Clarissa Pinkola Estes   Women Who Run with the Wolves

Currently I feel I am in the midst of casting a spell to summon muses, goddesses, and all cosmic helpers to assist me with my quest to bring those images from the unseen world into being.  I am a witch goddess crone….I stand at the end of the world to watch doors open and close, to watch the flight of flocks of birds, and to watch the magic of the world unfurl….I truly believe that reality is completely dependent on magical worlds.

woman with tree becoming birds

I just finished rereading my first two books and am so in awe of them…this knowledge pushes me to aspire to the same level, to return to the same place in which I dwelt when I wrote them.

No easy task…those eight years spent writing the first two books, were days of miracles and more miracles and then even more miracles to guide and to inspire me…golden light shimmering each of my footsteps so as to bring my words shiny and bright, garnished with the wisdom of destiny’s consent spit-fired with grand adventures.


Storytelling II

I was seventeen, madly in love with Bobby, a Hotchkiss Prep School hunk. When he invited me to accompany him to see Mourning Becomes Electra in Stratford, Connecticut, I immediately accepted.  I had never heard of the play, but was enthralled that I would be next to (gasp!) Bobby, my true love, for many hours.  Well, Bobby has long since come and gone, but not the impact of Mourning Becomes Electra

I sat through the performance, riveted, in complete identification with the contempt of the children for their parents.  That is, until the play’s final scene….I watched its entirety, aghast, with mouth wide open, feeling as if I had been bludgeoned by a sledgehammer.  Though utterly incomprehensible to me, I recognized that something mind-altering had been delivered, but I was unable to use it at that time in my young, self-involved psychology. 

Not so my soul, which knew it to be the key to a lock I needed to open within my psyche.  Fortunately, this priceless key was encapsulated in story form, like a secret code, until I happened upon the tools necessary to unlock the lock.  What I experienced in Stratford has been succinctly stated in an Alice Walker interview about her work:

         “Storytelling, you know, has a real function.  The process of the storytelling is itself a healing process, partly because you have someone there who is taking the time to tell you a story that has great meaning to them.  They’re taking the time to do this because your life could use some help, but they don’t want to come over and just give advice.  They want to give it to you in a form that becomes inseparable from your whole self.  That’s what stories do.  Stories differ from advice in that, once you get them, they become a fabric of your whole soul.  That is why they heal you.”

 Mourning Becomes Electra’s story had been woven into the very fabric of my soul, until I would be and could be healed —

Now that’s truly a work in progress….


Story Telling

As a young girl, it was my grandfather, an artist-adventurer, barrel-chested like a grizzly, who escalated my story telling bar to skyward. 

 Summers, cousins and siblings, five of us in all, were shipped off to fifty acres of Eden for a month.  Each night, Grammy would hear our prayers in a bedroom wallpapered with jaunty yellow tulips with real lips before bidding us a cheery “good night” in a voice that rang like bells. 

 Now it was Grampy’s turn.  He would settle himself comfortably on one of our beds and begin.  He never told us the same story twice.  One of my favorites might have been titled, “How I Lost my Eye in the Beer Bottling Factory in Munich”.  When pressed as to why they didn’t just put the eye back into his socket, he slyly confided, “because they never found it”. 

 I always wondered how that bottle of beer tasted.


My Horse in Costa Rica

Recently, we were in Costa Rica for three months, splitting our stay among three houses. Our second bundalow was in Solyluna, midway between Montezuma and Cabuya, a verdancy of cashew trees and bamboo to support an exotica of creatures.  Howler monkeys along with the white-faced monkeys demanded attention with their vocalizations, but there were  sweet coatis, iguanas, and raccoons running about the grounds. Blue butterflies darted, like pieces of sky falling to the earth. Flowers bloomed everywhere.  I could lie in a hammock and meditate upon it all. It was beyond lovely.

One day, walking to the beach, I spotted a white horse, solitary in a field that was growing drier by the day. I saw him again the next day. He was very thin and very alone. I began to worry about him. Howler monkeys along with the white-faced monkeys demanded attention with their vocalizations, but there were  sweet coatis, iguanas, and raccoons running about the grounds. Blue butterflies darted, like pieces of sky falling to the earth. Flowers bloomed everywhere.  I could lie in a hammock and meditate upon it all. It was beyond lovely.

That Saturday, MT and I went to the organic market in Montezuma, a happening of local artists in the very small community.  I spotted a bag of carrots.  “For my horse,” I thought, and hoped they were sweet.  When checking out, I said to the man, “these are for my horse”.

“Organic carrots for a horse,” he chided me.  My difficult nature caused me to add, “the apples, too.”  He shook his head, baffled at the extravagance for a horse.

“Here, they eat bananas,” he said.

“Not my horse,” I did not have the nerve to say it aloud for I never owned a horse.  I said it to my self.

Now began the coaxing of the horse to come for my treats.  I don’t whistle well. No, that’s an understatement. I do not whistle at all.  I clucked, I clapped. No response, of course.  I was discouraged, and crunched on one of the apples to solace the disappointment in my soul.

That night, after a sunset stroll to loll about the sky’s warmth, I saw the horse again, quite close to the fence. HURRAH! I raced and returned with my carrots and apples, standing in powdery dust, scrapeded by barbed wire, clucking and clapping like a mad woman.  The horse raised his head at the ruckus, decided I was no threat, and then buried his head and snout in what looked to be thistles. I took a bite of the apple, and crunched on it noisily.

When my mother was dying of cancer, and she would not eat anything, I would sit close almost on top of her, eating a sandwich made with honeyed ham, condimented perfectly for her palate and “mmmmmed” happily. Mom would watch me, and then decide to try “just one bite”.  How my heart brimmed when she would eat the entire half, and then ask for another. I hoped the same trick would work for the horse.

He raised his head again to look at me.  His nostrils tightened and then flared.  He had smelled the apple.  He approached me tentatively. He got bigger. His teeth got larger. I did not know this horse. I tried not to be afraid.  After all, I had started all this. I extended my hand with a piece of apple. I hoped he would not bite me. With great gentility, he nibbled it up. Triumph!

So for my next month, twice a day, I went and fed my horse.

me bending down to horse
It was not easy to find him in his large field, and he was not used to my routine.  But he got fed at least once a day.  Finally he knew I would come, and I would catch him watching for me, and at first,  just for my carrots.  But as the days passed, I felt his heart unite with mine. He still was tentative about my petting him, and I wondered what traumas his sweet spirit had suffered.

When we moved to our next house, about a mile away, I would rise with the dawn and half-trot, half walk in the early coolness on the dusty road, marveling at my incredible life, my knapsack heavily loaded with carrots and apples.  Now, the horse not only looked for me, he would gallop with glad at my approach.  I worried about what would happen to him when we would leave and return to the U.S.  I began to talk  to everyone about ‘my’ horse and what to do about him.

Vampire bats had found him and fed on him at night. I was appalled to see lines of blood running down his body and flanks; ticks were thirty rounded monstrosities of distended tissue in his ears.  I talked to more people about my horse. My new landlady, Claudia, horse lover, promised to speak to the owner and get him moved close to another horse for company.  And to get those ticks out of his ears.

As a last resort, I even urged the local ruffian to kidnap the horse. Though a ruffian, he had a heart of gold, and in his keeping, I knew the horse would be in better hands than just abandoned in the field with no love, no care, no food. As a homeless person, he knew about all of that.

It was time for me to go, and I left, with an inconsolable heart of worry. I emailed everyone for a report on my horse. Patricia and Simon, the owners of Solyluna, reported that whenever the gate opened, my horse would rush toward the passerby. Of course, they had to buy huge bags of carrots to feed the horse.  they assured me that it was only in self-defense, but this is what many people do when they live in that part of the world. They become its caretakers. To one of my emails, they told me my horse had vanished. They knew not where. No one else did either.

In two weeks, I am returning for Costa Rica. I have been waking up thinking of my horse.  I am going to find him. And I am going to feed him lots of organic carrots!

I have decided to call him Pegasus.interesting light


Isn’t he a beauty???






Drought Strategies

Drought strategies are a necessary fact of life in Southern California gardens.

I like spreading manure around the garden for fertilizing my garden, and had bought three bags to spread around my fruit trees, roses and plants before ( I am keeping my fingers crossed)  the rains came soon this winter.  (Also mulch, manures and top soils will as well assist in retaining moisture.)

This morning I had had a phone call that inspired my artistic soul to bursting and knew I was too revved up to just sit down and write.  What to do? Ride my bike for a few miles?  I spotted my three bags of manure piled in my wheelbarrow, ready for distribution. What a great opportunity — to use my hyped up energy — do some work out in the garden, and be amongst its splendor.  A triple winner!

Glyndon House shed garden

After all, it had to be done soon since our departure for Costa Rica for much of the winter is now less than three weeks away.


Drought strategies can be fun, believe it or not.  I needed to ensure the manure didn’t inadvertently burn the foliage, and was reluctant to douse with water since that would defeat my efforts to preserve water.   I remembered my sweet little watering can hanging on  a hook as a decoration, inscribed with — “Thank you for being a blessing in my life”  and embellished with pictures of birds.  A mockingbird trilledits joy, and I embraced my life and its blessings wholeheartedly.

My watering can now in service, I watered, thusly, patiently, as if a small rainstorm had arrived to tend each and every plant.  It calmed my heart; my soul gladdened. Butterflies flitted, a lizard scurried….I was once again grounded in beauty.

watering can

And here is the final LOL!!!  Because of the lack of rain, so many of the big leaves of plants were dusty and cobweb ridden.  Usually I would rinse them with water, but to continue my conservation efforts to preserve our most precious water, I began dusting my big leaves with my feather duster.  Who would have ever thought that drought strategies would evoke dusters!!!

feather duster and leaves


The Return To L.A.: A Short Story and Show Biz

And so, the Jacarandas are in bloom to greet me with their impossible bursts of  purple sketch against the unwavering blue of Los Angeles sky.  This spring, unlike last, heralds a great profusion of blooms, boasting.

jacaranda clipped

I am familiar with the Magnolias and their greatness of sanctity against dark waxen leaves, for they were also flowering in Texas, where I just left. My garden pots celebrate my return with varied blooms and color.  The bougainvillea draping our Spanish bungalow is flowering; the other on the fence is barely green. Perhaps the bougainvillea, like myself, is undecided about my return.

I am overwhelmed by the L.A. traffic. But who wouldn’t be? Even my Angels are mystified by the congestion and subsequent edginess seething to anger so hot, words like ‘white skank’ are flung out easily through open windows. For such a present-tense Masai creature like myself, the jolt of re-entry into Los Angeles reminds me once again that I dwell immersed in immensities of desert wastelands of culture pressured by levels of entitlement and self-importance. 

I am adrift; Galveston’s humidity, dank moistness framed by oil refineries as well as the Circus that always accompanies movie-making has knocked me askew.

And where did everybody go? For weeks, I have lived among a film-making tribe, focused on achieving the same results.  How is it that I miss them so?  As a woman, the loss of a tribe culture is a great cause for mourning.  We are fortunate in possessions here — we each have our own refrigerator and our own air conditioner.  OK when times are good, but terrifying when times are difficult….bad health, advanced aging, bad divorces, child-rearing, even cooking dinner with a full time job.

I search every inch of the squares of concrete for beauty to inspire my soul and heart to beat once again in harmony.  And it shall.  In spite of personal tempests that rage within.  I chant to myself and sing.  No response as yet, but I know the path to healing. The word, gratitude, is the significant one – and also the word mourning for what is lost to the past.

My Angels, though confused, will not abandon me in my quest for peaceful sanity.