Saturday, July 31, 2010


Planted out a new geranium in a new pot, glazed deep blue. Also two seedling hollyhocks against the back fence. Went with friends to one of the big nurseries on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, where we parked in the shade of the trees below. Acquired several new things for the East Bay garden where my daughter's roses grow.

Most of the sweet pea vines have withered into brittle brown stalks, but a few have extended themselves around the corner of the garage and survived longer, out of direct sun.

This is the corner yellow rose, famous problem child. It delayed bloom this year long past all the others, but is putting on a wonderful show here at the end of July.

Friday, July 30, 2010


I took a picture of this wall on Valencia in the Mission. I was walking in the San Francisco afternoon fog on my way to the dentist, where I thought there might be a problem, but where everything turned out to be fine.

In the morning over coffee, and at lunchtime, and in the waiting room at the dentist's office on Mission Street I was reading my way into Rachel Cusk's new novel, The Bradshaw Variations. In my opinion, Rachel Cusk is the best young novelist on the planet.

The following chunks of text (jackhammered out of the novel's smooth pavement) are from chapter VIII:

What is art?

It is the opposite of waste, of redundancy. Thomas goes through his cupboards and finds box after box of obsolete junk. Cables, computer parts, a whole case of grey plastic cartridges still sealed in their airtight transparent wrappers. The printer they were designed to fit no longer exists, and there is no other printer compatible with them. Yet they will last forever.

He finds three tiny pairs of headsets, unopened, coiled in their little plastic sacks like embryos. They came with a mobile phone that has since been upgraded. The headsets don't fit the new phone. Yet they will last forever.

He finds a whole file full of instruction manuals for things that are broken or that he no longer owns. It is called progress, the replacing of one thing by another, the making of one thing meaningless by another. The meaningless things do not live, and nor do they die. Most of the people he knows think that progress is good.

Art, he thinks, is not progress.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Baby Glows

There is nothing else about the baby that one might call unusual, nothing uncharacteristic of other babies. The baby does not skip rope. The baby does not levitate. The baby cannot line up dominoes across the kitchen counter with his mind. The baby just glows.

The baby is not bright like a fire or a star. His light is soft as a glow stick's, the kind you buy at a carnival and snap to make shine.

"Luminescent Baby Shocks World!" one headline reads. Another: "Fire Baby Hot to Mother's Touch!"

The baby's body temperature is 98.6 degrees.

It startles the mother to open the nursery door to a radiant cloud over the crib. Then, she remembers, takes him in her arms, and holds him the way any mother would hold any baby.

The baby does not glow
sometimes. The baby is always glowing.

– from The Baby Glows by David James Poissant, published in the Summer 2010 issue of The Southern Review

Image source is here

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Prehistoric Leaf

Noble volunteers plant and care for the garden plots outside Castro-Mission Health Center on 17th Street between Noe and Sanchez in San Francisco. This afternoon I observed this frightening creature rising from the earth there.

[Evenutally, I would discover that this marvel is called Gunnera tinctoria.]


Details of colonnade at Cathedrale St-Sauveur in Aix-en-Provence. Image source is here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Just watched the trailer for Coco & Igor, a film starring that reliable Karl Lagerfeld muse, Anna Mouglalis, playing the woman into whose shoes Karl Lagerfeld himself has so ably stepped.

As with Michelle Pfeiffer's glamor-vehicle version of Chéri last year, I will probably be satisfied in this case too by publicity stills and the bande-annonce, never working up enough motivation actually to see the movie.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Excellent Numerals

Fog overhead and thickening steadily through the late afternoon as I wandered up and own Mission Street in San Francisco.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Sunset

By sunset, the fog has moved in securely over San Francisco. The Mission is quiet. Hipsters are vacationing elsewhere. Tourists wander through, obviously wondering "... and what is the point of this place? ..."

Bright Monotony

Every year I have mixed feelings about these guys when the time rolls around for them to make their midsummer garden splash. Tall and showy, the plants are of such vigor that one is obliged through the earlier part of the season to keep hacking them back. Otherwise they would swamp the roses. But then eventually there is this explosion of blossom against dark foliage, and who would dare to say it is not attractive? It is attractive. Of course it is. But more so from a distance. Up close, the smell is unpleasant, even corpse-like. Flies are attracted, not bees.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Surreal Sweetpeas

Mixed fog and sun in the garden today.

My daughter's roses sometimes also seemed to be trying out a certain midsummer extravagance of gesture.