Friday, December 31, 2010
On New Year's Eve day, my mind goes to the image of a drop of water splashing into a pond. It's a classic picture, the kind you would find in a New Age calendar or in an ad for the environment. This image best conveys the way I feel about New Year's Eve.
Two thousand and eleven is standing on our doorstep, and whether we choose to invite it in or not, it will cross the threshold in less than a day.
There are times when I tell myself, "What's all the ruckus? It's just a day! Just another day. If we didn't make such a big deal about it, no one would even notice."
But it's also true, that when I turn on CNN and watch the countdown in Time Square, and the crystal ball begins its descent, something quite extraordinary is set in motion. And when the ball finally touches down at the exact point of midnight, and the crowd cheers, and a blizzard of confetti swirls around the skyscrapers of New York City, and then, Frank Sinatra's inimitable voice begins to sing, "Start spreading the news..." I feel as though I'm standing on a precipace at the edge of time.
My past flutters behind me like maple leaves in the wind, and my future spreads before me like a wide, clear slate. And all at once, it seems the entire world has merged into that one drop of water, splashing.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
It's not as if every house in Santa Barbara, right now, is glowing with Christmas lights. Most are not. But if you comb the streets, particularly on the Lower East Side, you will find flickering lights and shiny ornaments dangling from eaves, and likely, on a side-street, a saguaro cactus trimmed with blue and green. You might also see letters that spell the word, Noel.
But now and then, you'll come across a standout, a labor of love, where the owner, or maybe even a renter, has transformed a humble home into a light-filled fantasy. And you have to be pretty hard-hearted to look at these creations and not recall the kind of awe you used to feel as a child.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The Members Only barber shop in downtown Santa Barbara, is the tiny box of a store. How surprised I was to discover this whimsical sight on its roof: a gigantic polar bear flopped on his belly, with an artful collection of fuzzy friends.
If you look closely, you can see icicles dangling from the eaves. Translucent wrapping paper of pink and green, attached to the building's facade, and the presence of the old barber's pole, enhance the visual treat.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Three nights ago, it rained. The next morning, I noticed that the succulents in the yard had responded. With leaves washed clean, and after a deep, nutritious drink, their colors glowed with iridescent intensity.
And to my surprise, one bud on the kalanchoe plant had opened to reveal a perfect blossom in the shape of a star.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
If you drive down the coast from Santa Barbara, along Highway One, to your right, the vast and ever-changing Pacific accompanies you for thirty miles.
Fifteen miles further, you'll reach the steep grade of the Conejo Pass. Once scaled, you then, begin your descent into L.A. -- or as we call it, "The belly of the beast."
On my recent trip, I found clear skies, and, to the east, rare views of the San Bernardino Mountains. This reminded me that in some respects, and especially when clear, Los Angeles has its own beauty.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
As one of my favorite holidays approaches, words and phrases rise to the surface of my mind. One is, having an attitude of gratitude. Not seeing the glass as half-empty, but rather, as half-full, is another. And also, where your focus goes, your energy flows: the belief that what we think about and focus on expands.
For Thanksgiving, I will drive to L.A. to spend it with my Dear, daughter, Erin. And as another word, abundance, comes to mind -- so do the residual images from my outing last Tuesday, when I sat on a bench, under a palm tree, beside a pond.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
It's not difficult to paint Santa Barbara as idyllic. But the truth is, every place has its problems; and when things get especially chaotic, like the construction that's been going on in my neighborhood for months, I can feel overwhelmed by the noise, chemicals and dust. That's when I need to spend a day away.
I'm no fan of traffic jams, or the hustle and bustle of city streets, and given a choice, I would almost always rather stay home. But when I'm forced to spend the day away, I've come up with a game. I turn the tables on myself and pretend to be a tourist. It's great to shed the blinders -- that tend to thciken over 30 years -- and to look at this dear city anew.
When I play tourist, I bring a cooler full of food, a writing pad, my camera, and I wander.
Now, last Tuesday was a Santa Barbara day designed for wandering. It was unseasonably balmy and warm -- a languid 82 degrees. The edges of the Santa Ynez mountains were etched sharp and clear. And while the workers on my street drilled, bulldozed, and revved their jackhammers to beat the band, I took myself to the majestic, Santa Barbara Courthouse, rode the elevator up to the top of the tower and looked out at the 360 degree view.
Later, I went to Alice Keck Park, sat on a bench in the shade, and to my surprise, beyond the typical droves of turtles basking on rocks in the sun, the pond was full of mallards. I watched the marvelous creatures, floating, circling and true to their name, ducking under the water.
The blue sky fell liquid on the pond, and reflections of sunlight -- mixed with the green leaves of trees -- co-mingled into patterns. And as I followed the ducks and watched the patterns on the water ripple and spiral into gold, I felt suffused with peace, and I noticed that my face had settled into the natural, soft expression of a smile.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I loved modeling.
It was a joyful art, part dance, part painting, part archery. I strengthened my body with exercise to become more agile and to be able to adapt to the difficult poses that often needed to be held for hours. I always did my own make-up, blending and shading and coloring my face. And freelancing, in a highly competitive career, with usually ten interviews per each job won, job hunting became for me a kind of sport. I aimed at the mark, and when I got the job, it was exhilarating. When I missed, I went back to the drawing board, questioned what went wrong and tried to do better next time.
As a model and an actress, I was a chameleon.
And as we become what we do, the hours, days and years I spent looking and acting a part, left little time for deeper contemplation. At some point, and maybe it wasn't even conscious, a part of me began to long for something more authentic.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
And so, it's here, the light of a new day. This one is gray with the subtle sound effects of rain. It taps on my roof in soft percussive rhythms and falls from the awning of my west window in large, light-filled drops.
And this morning I'm thinking, I wish I could bottle these early hours, encapsulate them and enter them at will, these hours of peace and quiet that linger in suspension before the active day begins. Before saws, hammers, leaf blowers and dust overwhelm them, and the regular, fevered pitch of construction, reconstruction and maintenance--that's become the norm in this neighborhood--kicks in.
I'd like to stay in the spaciousness of early morning, when my mind is open and fresh from the night's journey and newly hatched. I'd like to bask in the unfettered surprise that is arising -- the dynamic quiet of the bud.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I try to make it a rule to only post to my blog once every week or two. But recently, we've received a spate of wild and exotic weather. Perhaps it's a reward, or an apology for the months of fog we've endured.
Over the past few days, we've had waves of rain showers and lightning storms mixed with intervals of sunshine and clearing.
The changing patterns of the clouds and the rain-laden foliage, have kept me sprinting in circles with my camera.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Clear is not what we have, nor sunny. Today not only brought more fog (our trend now for a record six months,) but the mist has thickened into something close to rain. The saturated sidewalks are dark with moisture, and the hills obliterated, as if rubbed with chalk.
The thing is, gray weather rewards photographers. It enriches color and obscures the bleaching effects of the sun. And so this kind of dark day -- and I guess it's true for every day, really -- when explored more closely, delivers jewels.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
A visit to La Sumida Nursery, or anyplace where plants and flowers bloom, slows me down and allows me to look more closely at the small things. To see the miraculous faces in the microcosm of nature.
Above: A monarch caterpillar munches on the only thing it eats, milkweed.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
In the years I spent as a model, especially in the 60's, posing for stills, I was the shape in the photographs. My arms, my legs, made up the composition and balanced with the scenery. I think those years of posing and then, studying the photographs afterwards and always asking the same question: "Why does this work and not that?" has added to my delight in finding images and patterns in nature.
Coming across these gnarled branches and twisted shadows, caused me to look twice. Mainly because something in my subconscious picked up the image hiding there: the fence lizard, frozen in her upside down ballet arch. She had become the scenery. How did she learn to be a shadow and a branch?
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The fog, only absent for three days, continues to sneak back at every turn. In the distance, one can hear the drone of the foghorn muffled and diffused -- much like the fog itself. It harps in the back of your mind like a subtle thought, some chore written on your list of things to do and then stashed in your back pocket to be considered another time.