Monday, November 27, 2006

Since Our Separation

I notice that since our separation, whenever I am with Jean, our moments are pleasant, cordial and caring. I love her and pray for her each day, but do not want to move back into the house. If I try and argue with myself out of guilt and duty, resistance ensues—with anxiety. I realize I must wait for more clarity.
Sarah came home from college in Chicago for Thanksgiving. We all cooked together and shared a lovely candlelit meal. Later, we went to a movie, and two days later, celebrated Sarah’s twentieth birthday with another beautiful meal, cake with candles, and a few gifts. Jean and I drove her to the airport on Sunday to send her back to school.
After I dropped Jean off at home, it was a bit difficult leaving, but that is our arrangement now. I don’t know if it will change. I am beginning to make plans to live in Sicily this spring. I often find myself thinking “God bless Jean, and have mercy on my soul.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Driving Gypsy

Wow! I made it home after driving nine hours straight, from Phoenix, Arizona. It felt good returning to Santa Fe, but included a tinge of remorse at ending my gypsy lifestyle.
I can see why California is the seventh biggest world economical entity. It is big, dynamic, rich in resources, and bustling with growth. When I came to Los Angeles, ten lane freeways stretched for miles in every direction, and they were crowded with traffic. A brown haze of smog hung over the city and my eyes stung.
I spent the night in Palm Springs, where Adagio Gallery shows my paintings. The next day, after painting in the desert, I drove to Phoenix where Heritage Gallery exhibits my art. I stayed with my long time friend John Dugas, who took me to a cowboy dance hall after dinner. I can hang out almost anywhere and be happy.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bohemians in the Woods

Big Sur is located approximately 150 miles south of San Francisco and 300 miles north of Los Angeles. It refers to a 90-mile stretch of rugged and awesomely beautiful coastline where there is a dramatic meeting of land and sea.
My artist friend Ken and I meet at Fernwood, a rustic enclave situated along a stream among the redwood trees. We rent a tent built on a platform in the woods. There is no electricity but it has beds with mattress. In the afternoon we paint together, at a roadside outcropping with a view of the spectacular coastline. The light is pristine, temperature balmy, and there is barely any wind. Soon after that sublime outing, rain falls through the night and all the next day, thwarting our plans for art making. Nonetheless, we are happy bohemians, together in the forest, walking in the mist, talking, philosophizing, laughing, and hanging out at the lodge with an odd array of characters that look to be remnants of hippies from long ago.
Two days later, leaving Big Sur, I drive through miles of twisting coastal roadway, hearing the surf but not able to see the ocean because of dense fog. I stop in San Luis Obispo where Ken lives, and we paint together by Morro Bay. Arriving in Santa Barbara around nightfall, it seems my parent’s house has not changed a bit in the two years since I last visited. It is good sitting with them for dinner at the familiar table, with my mother’s old fashion cooking to fill my belly.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Dancing Wind

The moments in San Francisco seemed to swirl like a dancing wind and be gone too quickly. My dying daughter Naomi and I spent the last three months of her earthly existence in the city before she passed away in 1999. Each year since then, I have returned, staying in the same hotel, traveling the familiar boulevards, strolling in hallowed Golden Gate Park, and driving across the Golden Gate Bridge to visit the Redwood trees and Muir Beach. The Japanese Tea Garden, with its shrines, ponds, bridges and shaded paths through Zen gardens, always brings out the poet in me. While I was browsing in the gift shop, a beautiful, smiling young woman, dressed in a silk Kimono came in, joked and laughed with a young man behind the register and then left. I wrote:

You appear, blushing like spring—
Dressed in a silk kimono
Butterfly laughter, light in my heart,
You leave too quickly.

Now, my house feels empty
Wind blows rain in the window
A bird flies past
Overhead, a rainbow appears.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas, I enjoy driving west across the desert with the window part way down and the dry air blowing in my face. By the time I am approaching Bakersfield, California, evening is near. On the hillsides are hundreds of windmills churning electricity with the sun setting behind them. From Bakersfield, the morning drive is bleary with haze. I drive up the central valley of California, which is mile after mile of orchards, vineyards and cropland. At one point I pass an orange grove, lemon grove and nectarine orchard all in succession with their unique fragrance.
Driving across the Oakland Bay Bridge, the dramatic San Francisco skyline is straight ahead, and with fragrant bay air streaming in the window, I give a rebel yell, being once again in the city I love.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Arriving in Fantasyland

I have begun a long drive westward to San Francisco, California. Stopping in Las Vegas, I am amazed to find a fantasyland of theme resorts, with names like Excalibur, Tropicana, New York New York, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Treasure Island and Circus Circus. These are buildings meant to draw crowds, and they are packed with fun-seeking people. New York New York has replicated the skyscrapers, and Paris Las Vegas has the Eiffel Tower. The Las Vegas strip teems with people, including poor Mexicans who are hired to pass out cards with pictures of naked call-girls. The sidewalks are littered with trashy cards that have been tossed. This is a city that thrives on hotels, booze, entertainment and gambling.

Cirque Du Soleil has several different acts playing in Vegas. I went to see “O” at Bellagio. I was surprised that my ticket cost 250.00, but it is an elaborate production in a state-of-the-art theater. The set is built around a deep pool of water (1.5 million gallons) that sometimes vanishes. The performers are actors and acrobats in almost constant motion—in the water, on stage and in the air. The music is live. Pure theater.