Monday, January 24, 2011


My vision is poor. I am severly nearsighted and, without lenses, see the world as a cottony mass of color and smudged patterns. Perhaps this is why mosaics appeal to me. When I see an image that has been broken into pieces, I have a physical, joyful, reaction. These broken images work in reverse - the closer you are, the harder it is to see the whole image. As you back away, the image forms and looks more and more like reality.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hokitika, New Zealand

I once spent an afternoon in Hokitika, New Zealand, and I can't seem to get this place out of my head. It's a little community of about 3,000 people, located on the west coast of the south island. The Tasman Sea stretches bluely into the distance from the wide beach. A large meandering river forms its southern boundary, and there is farm land to the north. A tiny airstrip is on the rise just outside of town. The town itself is made up of a grid of 5 blocks by 12 blocks.

To my mind, this little town is the place where I would live in as if in a fairy tale. I would be an artist, making iconic pieces using drift wood and home-spun yarn. I would stop for tea everyday and would collect string and colored ribbon. I'd be the old lady in boots and overalls who'd give the kids penny candy and never miss a political meeting, where I'd rant about ecology and water. I'd have a lot of cats and an old dog.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Yesterday was Martin Luther King's birthday, and I saw many references here and there to the famous "I Have A Dream" speech. It made me think about dreaming, and what how dreams hold such power for inspiration and for motivation.

I wonder if Dr. King ever really had a dream, during his sleep, about a world where former slaves and former slave owners sat down at the same table, where black and white children were holding hands in Alabama? If he had that dream, did he wake up smiling and groggy, and then tell Coretta about it? Did he mention it to others at the breakfast table? Did the images from his dream keep tugging at his conscious mind as he sat down to write the speech?

This eloquent speech is so beautiful to read. Look at this part:
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.
 This advice was directed toward those struggling against racial injustice in the 60s. However, don't you wish someone today was warning people to keep their protest from turning violent? We could use some of that rhetoric as tempers flair on both sides of the political spectrum, after the shootings in Arizona.

I can dream.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Citrus season

We have a navel orange tree and a lemon tree in our backyard. The lemons are "Portugese Lemons", or so we've been told. They are thick-skinned and quite sweet, as lemons go. They look a bit like Meyer lemons but they taste different. Every year, I pick bags and bags of lemons to give to friends. Many drop off the tree and rot. Some stay there on the branches (just out of reach) for a year or more, getting big as grapefruit. When a recipe calls for lemon, I gleefully pick one or two .. but trying to use them up is a futile exercise. They just grow like crazy.

The orange tree is further back in the yard and I have ignored it for nearly a decade. The oranges are large and juicy but not very sweet. This year, the peach tree that used to hog the sunlight from the orange tree has diminished a bit, and the orange tree is booming. New fruit, hard and green, is ripening fast. The older oranges pull the branches down with their golden weight.

I don't want to pick all the fruit off the trees, because I want to be able to pick a lemon or orange whenever I need one, but I want the fruit to be sweet and I don't want to overburden the tree with excess baggage. We have been picking, and picking, and picking. We pile them into the wheelbarrow and put them in front of the house, with a sign that says, "Free Lemons and Oranges - Help Yourself!". People stop their cars and send their kids out to gather a bunch. Many neighbors have been thanking us, including the postal carrier, who loves the lemons.