Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer Reading

Being laid up for a couple of weeks with an injured back has had its advantages, mainly the chance to read for hours on end. Happily, I had just ordered a pile of books from Amazon and they've been steadily trickling in. Here are a few of my favorites.

"No Place for a Puritan" is an anthology of desert writing, both poetry and prose. There are heavy hitters like John Steinbeck and Sylvia Plath (!), the usual suspects like Mary Austin and Edward Abbey, and a host of others you've never heard of but will be glad you did. Editor Ruth Nolan has done a superb job of bringing together diverse voices. I devoured this book!

Last night I actually made it to an author reading at the Red Arrow Gallery that featured Ruth Nolan along with Deanne Stillman, author of "Joshua Tree: Desolation Tango" as well as a definitive book on wild mustangs and an expose about a 1991 murder in 29 Palms. Another desert writer worth checking out.

For pure escapism, I've been reveling in M.F.K. Fisher's "As They Were." This book contains my favorite story of hers, "I Was Really Very Hungry." She writes exquisitely about food and the intricacies of human nature. I also replaced my lost copy of "Invisible Cities," a classic by Italo Calvino that features Marco Polo weaving tales to Kublai Khan about the magical cities of his vast empire.

On the poetry side of things, I've been immersed in "Nine Gates," essays about poetry by Jane Hirschfield that mainly come from a spiritual perspective. Her anthology "Women in Praise of the Sacred" has some captivating work by obscure poetesses. "If Not, Winter," contains evocative translations of Sappho by Canadian poet Anne Carson.

I can't wait to get into this one, "Memory Wall" by Anthony Doerr. He is a master of the short story and his previous collection, "The Shell Collector," has what to me is an unforgettable story, "The Hunter's Wife."

If you're reading something you especially like this summer, please post a comment or send me an email--I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


We are happy to report that Bill made his first sales at the 29 Palms Gallery a few weeks ago. He has two images up in the members' summer show, and they sold as a pair, to someone in the movie business in Hollywood.

Both of the images were taken at Shoreline Park Beach in Santa Barbara. We used to walk almost every week down at the shore. Winter weather would scour away the sand and expose all kinds of interesting rocks. Bill had a knack for finding images in the eroding layers. I wrote some poems to accompany his photographs--the two that sold and the poems that go with them appear below.

Pupperoo (in memory of our dog, Rainbear)

The last thing I remember,
I was running and couldn’t stop.
The birds flew up all around me.
I loved the way everything smelled.
I rolled on a dead seal.

It’s good here. I still feel
the sand under my paws.
You always carried me home
when I got tired. Now,
I can stay here forever.

The Bull

The struggle is over.
He lies down and sleeps
the long, peaceful sleep
of the dead. Sky mingles
with bone, clouds cover
his eyes, softening
the last blow,
the crowd’s roar.
In the spirit world,
coyote takes over
and surveys the landscape—
strangely solemn,
no trickster in sight.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Oasis Date Gardens

This blog post is a few days late because I injured my back. Now that I can sit for a few minutes, I'll try to dash this one out!

Last week we were out of dates, so off we went to the Oasis Date Gardens in Thermal--our favorite place to stock up. They have many exotic varieties that you can't find anywhere else, and that you can sample for free. We like to buy 8-10 pounds worth and freeze them--they keep really well.

The dates are usually harvested in the early fall, so the dates we were buying were from last year's crop (but no less delicious for that). We saw something we'd never seen before, the irrigation in progress.

Right now the date palms are all hung with clusters of green dates. Bill confirmed that they are hard as rocks. Before they're harvested, the clusters will be covered with bags to keep the birds from getting them.

Bill always gets a date shake as part of the experience. A little slurp of heaven!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Joshua Tree Gay Pride Day

Last weekend, the Art Queen in Joshua Tree was ground zero for Gay Pride Day. We ended up there after taking part in the "gallery crawl," where we visited four galleries in downtown JT along Hwy. 62. At Andy Woods' new gallery we bought a tiny sculpture by John Greenfield. We love it!

At the Art Queen courtyard, we pulled some chairs into the shade and waited for the dove release. Here are two of them winging their way skyward--and homeward. (Their owner said they would fly straight home.)

The speakers included Her Most Imperial Majesty, Czarina of Riverside & Imperial Counties Elizabeth (Liz) Loren Maria Romanov.

Local singer/songwriter Shari Elf was the first musician to take the stage. She is the proprietess of the world-famous Crochet Museum, see below.

We wrapped up the evening with Indian food at Sam's and an art happening at a desert hideaway on Shangri-la Road. (There are some great street names out in the middle of nowhere. My favorite is Memory Lane!)