the glistening paper-like synthetic slowly peeling off
to reveal the transience of her gift,
adhesive and plastic,
glued onto a shiny metal base,
the cheapest of alloys,
releasing prisms into the air
upon the land.
Elusive, no two the same
never again seen
yet continuous in places
South America, the Caribbean,
Asia, Eastern Europe,
and now, today
this Arabic spring.
***** ***** *****
Yesterday I came across the old video in the link below. Although it presents some of my ideas of what travel and tourism ought to be about – grassroots, local and community-based – it caused me to re-examine the idea, taken so lightly in the video: “Once these wheels were turned by slaves.”
Enjoy the people and the place as you watch the video. Make a toast to great rum everywhere. Most importantly, pay homage to the genesis and evolution of rum in Jamaica and the rest of the “New World.” My doing so resulted in the poem, Ye Olde Arab Fling.
Since I got here/I’ve been chasing/the elusive/some say unattainable/bacon and egg/on a roll./Saturday morning at Davenport’s Cash Store/breakfast burritos/but no bacon and egg sandwiches/none whatsoever.
Bay Area, I love you, but why can’t you just do this one thing for me? Why can’t you serve me a simple bacon egg (and cheese) on a roll? I’m willing to take any old roll. I will forgo the ubiquitous sesame seed rolls of my New York years. I will. Davenport Cash Store, your house coffee is excellent but why couldn’t you make me a bacon and egg sandwich? You offered me breakfast burritos instead. If breakfast is over, how come you are still serving breakfast burritos, huh? HUH?
This Friday at Ano Nuevo was amazing. There were some great big elephant seal bulls along the paths. Oh they were corpulent, rotund, big. Such fat blubbery beauties! There were also many newborns nursing down by the beach. As of Friday (1/18/13), the count of elephant seals at Ano Nuevo was 1,086 females, plus 575 pups and 258 males. Oh what squeals and yips and bellowing took place. It was a veritable wildlife adventure.
Saturday I went exploring around Davenport, a small town near Ano Nuevo. Its Cash Store is a great place for coffee and it has the best pico de gallo I’ve had in the Bay Area. If you are passing through town on a Saturday night, stop in and see one of their shows. Last Saturday night a local group, Esoteric Collective, was the highlight of the evening.
Around the corner from The Cash Store is the Davenport Jail Museum. Although its Web site stated that it was open weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., it was padlocked when I showed up around 1:00 p.m. It never opened that day.
Some things to do in Davenport are:
Hike the beach and cliff trails along Highway One
Check out the art in the Davenport Gallery (address 450 Highway One) which is next door to The Cash Store
Walk around the town (this takes all of ten minutes!) and visit the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, at the end of Davenport Avenue. It and the old jail/museum are Spanish/Mexican-styled architecture and are the two oldest structures in the town. The church was built in 1915, the jail, in 1914.
The Davenport Cement Plant (Cemex) sits at the edge of town. Just like the cement factory in Jamaica, it is located near the water; that cannot be good for the environment.
A friend sent me NASA’s earth art book and immediately, I started scribbling down place names for no other reasons than these: They are arresting names; and I wonder what goes on there. What do these places look like up close? Who lives there and how do they live in and treat these places and spaces? Are there open spaces for me to go wandering about in and exploring?
Ever since I arrived in the Bay Area, I have a renewed appreciation for open spaces that I have not felt since my childhood and my later adult sojurn in Jamaica. Just as importantly, this appreciation informs and colors my art. When I looked at the NASA pictures I thought once again, how cheeky, trying to create something, anything, when nature has already done it and done it so well. Here I am, getting ready to re-work my “the vees in picasso” sketches that I did last spring. I know not where the inspiration came from nor why it came from those particular sketches. All I know is I have a clear vision and I am going to move it from inside my head and out onto my canvas. But damned if one of the NASA shots isn’t an almost exact replica of what is in my mind’s eye! Even the coloration and texture (hence the use of modeling clay on the canvas) are the same as what I envisioned.
I just got through experimenting with a light modeling clay and a golden bronze acrylic paint that I have been reluctant to use. The experiment was tedious and it took me a long time to master that paint. I tried working with this bronze before and it hadn’t been tactile. In fact, the wretched thing was and still is, a very heavy paint. It does not rest easily on the canvas. This is the same paint that I worked with in the “David at Yosemite” painting. Turns out this paint is truly a bitch to work with and not simply because the David painting was a difficult subject.
I finally finished this new experiment in bronze painting. It has turned into a painting called, Little Fairy Castles in the Cow Pasture (or Childhood at Belvedere Estate). When I finished it I thought, “That was really difficult but I’m ready to work on my “vee” painting. Now along comes NASA with its “Earth-observing environmental satellites in orbit around the planet”, to show me that it has already been done! They have all conspired to outdo me, NASA, Earth, Nature and those dim-witted satellites that never did anything except spin about in the skies. They never lifted paintbrushes nor tried to coax heavy bronze paint onto canvas! Adding to my chagrin, the NASA picture, shown at the top of this post, is of the desert outside of the United States that I have my eyes on. Yes, it is of the Namib area that I wrote about in an earlier article, the same Namib desert that I invited my Yosemite painting man to visit with me so we could photograph, paint and sand-board there. Sand-boarding and sand-sledding in Swakopmund, Namibia, was another of our Urban Daddy Magazine discoveries. But that is another story.
Here now are some of the place names from NASA’s earth as art book that stirred my imagination:
Painted Desert, USA
Desolation Canyon, USA
Lake Disappointment, Australia (childhood fairy tales and river myths come to mind)
Parana River Delta, Argentina (this conjures up images of piranha fish)
Anti-Atlas Mountains, Morocco (what does it even mean to be “anti” in a place name?)
Carbonate Sand Dunes, Atlantic Ocean (how do you even have dunes in the ocean??)
Ribbon Lakes, Russia
The following are not place names but oh, the conjuring up my mind does just thinking of these titles: gravity waves, ice waves, phytoplankton bloom, and Wadi Branches, Jordan (is this a geographical feature or a place-name?).
All done! Now that the Christmas cakes have been baked, it’s time to start another batch of fruits for next year’s cakes. These fruits, soaked in white rum and port wine, consist of equal parts currants and raisins, and to a lesser degree, diced prunes. The suggested ratio is 1:1:1/4 of raisins, currants and prunes.
Douse the fruits in Jamaican overproof white rum and a good port wine. Put enough rum and wine to saturate the fruits and seal in an airtight glass jar. Keep in a dark area, away from sunlight.
A quicker method is to infuse the fruits in alcohol and warm in a covered pot over a very low heat a day or so before baking your cakes. I let my fruits soak for a year because that reinforces the tradition of baking these cakes at Christmas time. If they’re not soaking, I’m probably not baking.
The recipe below makes approximately 4 pounds of cake. I usually make 4 cakes: 2 six-inch and 2 approximately 3-4 inch cakes in round cake tins.
1/2 lb. butter (softened at room temperature)
1/2 lb. dark brown sugar
2 tsps. vanilla
1 tsp. of almond flavouring
2 tsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp. lime or orange rind
6 medium eggs
4 cups mixed fruits (raisins, currants, prunes, citron, cherries, dates)
6 ozs. plain bread crumbs
6 ozs. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground allspice
1 cup white rum (I prefer Wray & Nephew, Jamaican white overproof rum)
1 pt. port wine/brandy
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Prepare tins by lining the bottom of each tin with 2 circular sheets of brown paper (brown wrapping paper is good) cut to the size of the pan. Next, line the entire pan with parchment paper, placing it over the brown paper circles at the bottom of the pan.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix browning, vanilla and almond flavors, lime juice and rind.
Add eggs, beating in one at a time, until completely blended into mixture.
Mix in breadcrumbs, flour, baking powder, salt and Jamaican all-spice (or other all-spice).
Add alternately with rum and port wine.
Add drunken fruits and add cherries (remove cherries from juice) and mix in thoroughly.
Pour into prepared baking tins 3/4 full.
Cover and bake, approximately [1 hour].
Baking time varies according to the size of the container. If you use 9-inch round containers, you probably need about one-and-a-half hours for baking. The thicker the cake, the more baking time is needed. You know your cake is done if you stick a fork or toothpick in the middle and it comes away with a slightly moist, not extremely wet mixture.
You can moisten your cake with more port wine after it has cooled. Enjoy!
In honor of the season, I’ve included two wonderful short stories about Christmas, one of which is centered around the ritual of baking Christmas cakes:
The zaniest, craziest story I’ve ever heard about Christmas has got to be David Sedaris’, Six to Eight Black Men. It is the story of Christmas in Holland and it involves Santa Claus and you guessed it, six to eight black men.
I will be out working with the seals all this weekend so I’m getting this week’s post in early. Sorry to throw you off with my early schedule.
So, back in May I stumbled across those crazy lost and found emails, remember? Thanks to them, I started thinking about my creative side and how that part of my life was being lost or shelved. In those emails I found I had done all this writing and photography and paintings – I created much more than I realized! What’s more, if I could do all that while having fun, how much more could I do if I set goals and got serious about my writing and my art?
So, here then, is the list of goals I set to help me focus on my creative side/work. If you are wondering about the inclusion of trips to national and state parks, don’t! Some (okay, maybe all) of my earlier posts relate in one way or another to nature and the outdoors. They feed my creative side and make me happy too. No wonder I’m so creative here in the Bay Area. It turns out that I have a new old muse. Hello Nature girl.
*Write a short play (done)
Submit said play to x competition (done and done)
*Work on poetry (done)
Submit poems to program xx (done)
Submit poems to program y (still working on it!)
Await outcome (I won’t have the results until April; am crossing my fingers and my toes!)
*Start a blog (done)
Maintain said blog and complete one post each week (done and done!)
Visual Arts: paint, paint paint!
Take a painting class or workshop (done!)
Create at least three pieces I am totally happy with (done!)
Buy a good digital camera (done)
Learn to use and master said camera (still working on it!)
Blend writing and visual arts into creative pieces (done and done!)
Visit and overnight at one state or national park (done and done)
*Sequoia (done and done)
AND in 2013:
*Enter at least one art piece (a painting) into a local and a national competition
*Try to stop destroying writing and artwork that I’m not totally satisfied with (this is a work in progress)
*Enroll in a workshop at the Crucible or take a drawing class (hope I have enough money for this!)
*Visit and overnight at a state or national park outside of California (Yellowstone or Grand Canyon) and/or visit Picasso’s, Guernica, in Madrid museum (hope I have enough money for this too!)
Thank you for hanging with me. Next week I’ll give you my Jamaican Christmas cake recipe. I’ve been busy these past few nights making cakes for family, friends and co-workers. Let the festivities begin!
From the East Bay, to the peninsula, to the foothills and into the Santa Cruz Mountains, it has been a glorious year. Winter is now just around the corner. Let’s hope there will be lots of rain from now on in.
The Bay Area had its first significant end of year rains, a small storm, in October. This ended our normal six-month dry spell. Fire season, typically over by October, November, is but a distant memory, or at least so one hopes.
The second set of rains came along this weekend, causing M. to cancel our hike across the Monte Bello ridge. I guess she knows best. She, after all, looks into a foggy mountainside while I enjoy a sunny, no-fog drip in my corner of the Bay Area. A walk in the mist and fog would have been muddy but fun. Oh well, soap-making and a walk around the farm were equally fun and muddy.
The above photograph of a persimmon tree laden with fruit was taken today at Hidden Villa. The tree stands like a lone sentinel across from an outdoor kitchen. It is now mid-November, and it is a misty, alternately sunny and cloudy, slightly chilly, wonderfully wet day here in the Los Altos Hills. Little squirrels, why so lazy? The persimmons are beginning to rot on the tree. Why don’t you get to work and eat them up or is it that you are waiting for the interns to harvest and feed the fruits to the farm animals? Hmmm, I wonder if persimmon would be a good addition to the next batch of soap?