Thursday, July 31, 2014

If You Don't Laugh....Day 3/200

Walk: Union Square, Mindful Body
Distance: 2.6 miles and teach yoga class

A friend (Ciwt won't necessarily say classmate) of Ciwt's had a pretty huge birthday today.  We were born a week apart; and have at least talked to each other on our respective days since childhood.  Ciwt was supposed to have been the older one, but she was smart enough to wait a couple of weeks so her friend is always the oldest. (Oh well, all right, we were classmates).

Our birthday greetings go along the lines of "This is your Very Young friend, Ciwt, hoping you can still hear my message."  Or she'll say something like "I'm sure you're spryly bounding to the phone..."  Same idea every year and we always get a kick out of it.

Of course, the jokes are a bit more like gallows humor with each year.  But today she reports she's still walking, hearing, remembering, so guess I'll be doing the same next week and we'll be laughing all over again.  If you don't laugh....

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It Just Showed Up --- Day 3/199

Walk: Cantor Museum, Stanford Campus
Distance: 8 blocks

Does your doorstep look like this?  More and more Ciwt's does.  She started small and guiltily as a former small bookstore owner with an occasional used book. Then it became the occasional new book as well.  Now,'s haul includes hair spray, earrings, several used books; she hasn't opened all the boxes yet so there may be even more types of items. It's amazingly easy, usually cost effective, free shipping returns and fast with most things arriving in two days if not sooner.

Without realizing it, Ciwt wondered how things could get to her doorstep so quickly.  Then one day one of her yoga students told her his business is developing software for the many local stores and warehouses that fill Amazon orders.  Ciwt's (non-techie) sense is that there are stations of products, and when an order comes in, it goes to the nearest warehouse, lights flash at the various stations or on specially rigged shelves in participating stores and baskets are filled with the ordered items.  So the 'exotic' items on your doorstep might actually have come from just down the street or across town. Or something like that...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tighter Limits --- Day 3/198

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 1+ mile and teach yoga class

Ciwt was reading that the Minneapolis area is in the process of putting tighter limits on the size of new single family houses so the new houses don't dwarf the old ones.  Sounds like a very good (and overdue in the many McMansion areas) idea and it made Ciwt wonder how the Newport, RI 'cottages' were received by locals in their day.  She is not a complete stranger to splendor, but these mansions, oops cottages, never fail to drop Ciwt's jaw.

Carey Mansion, originally called Seaview Terrace, completed in 1925 is the fifth! largest Newport mansion (or 'cottage')

Rough Point is fourth largest.
This is the Belcourt Castle; the third largest Newport mansion.

Ochre Court is number two.

And the Grandest Mansion, the Largest of all in Newport is The Breakers:
The Breakers Newport.jpg 
   Rear Elevation                                                      Front Drive

                                 The breakers themselves.

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's a (Going) Concern --- Day 3/197

Walk: Presidio, Laurel Village, JCCSF, Trader Joe's, Sacramento Street
Distance: 5 miles and take yoga class

Crowds in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre

It's a concern.

A few decades ago museums worldwide began to brain storm about how to lose their (largely deserved) elitist images. The impetus was, let's face it, economic survival.

So they began training docents to make tours more accessible and fun, more children (many!) were invited through outreach programs to schools, there were more user friendly wine and music 'happenings,' a lot more publicity, restaurants were upgraded or added and (very lucrative!) gift shops were added. (These tactics were based largely on the 'gunslinger innovations of Thomas Hoving, the larger-than-life director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1967 to 1977).  Oh, my dear, this was so painful to old time patrons and museum personnel - until the money, ooops, people started coming and buying those lunches and gifts and the institutions were on firmer financial footing.

The growth broadened and expanded slowly and surely.  Everyone adjusted.

Then came the internet hyping blockbuster or just meet up shows.  Then came cell phones and ipads with cameras. Then came selfies.  Travel and leisure exploded at the same time.

And now there's a new concern: crowds.  How to manage them? How to protect the art from their humid body heat, and unwieldiness? How to offer an intimate - or at least relaxed and enjoyable - art viewing experience? What to do besides timed tickets, limited viewing times, larger security staffing, listening devices?

There are suggestions: buy catalogues instead of actually attending (then you can spend quality time with the work as well as be educated), go to lesser known venues (if there are alternatives in the area), go in the off-season (if you can, you know, get time off), and the very doable spend months in Paris, London, Rome, Florence, St. Petersburg, etc.  Clearly not long-range, broad-based solutions.

Ciwt is lucky because she has odd hours and access to two local museums so she can go often and at off-times to the art shows in San Francisco.  But, leave the Bay Area, and she's in the same crowded boat as everyone else.  It's a concern that has altered the art communing experiences of many dedicated art-goers like Ciwt who go to be with the art.

(See Day 3/6 for crowds at Hockney show; sounds like they would be even larger now - just a few months later)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Trespassers Beware --- Day 3/196

Walk: No
Distance: Not much and home yoga practice  

What Ciwt often prefers is being alone.  With Callie - or her current animal - of course.

It's a hard won preference probably.  Most likely acquired and hard-wired during an infancy of being ignored and unwanted.  This isn't said critically or pathetically but factually: Ciwt's parents had other concerns and skills besides parenting, and, luckily, there was help for the children.

Even attained, and even alone, her preferred state of solitude - the one where she can hear the rhythms of her life and the sounds of her companions: Callie, wild parrots and crows sometimes, the wind of course in San Francisco - isn't easily arrived at.  There's the call of personal questions: should she maybe go to to some open houses today? Why would she do that? Well, what should (Capital S) she do if she doesn't do that? Read? Movie? Surf? Then, if she's lucky - sometimes with the unintentional aid of some at home yoga - all these mental agitations melt away and open into stillness, solitude, quiet, aloneness.  At that point Ciwt's world becomes Huge, vast, wondrous.

She could write so much about this, about her encounters with aloneness, and maybe she will.  But enough for today.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Man Most Wanting --- Day 3/195

Walk: Sundance Kabuki (A Most Wanted Man)
Distance: 2 miles

Here is a man who is existing - for very rational reasons - beyond trust, mostly beyond idealism, beyond hope really.  Poorly shaven, covered in ill-fitting rumpled clothes, his body too is shot -  over weight, and weighted down with an array of deeply ingrained, non-stop fatal habits. He is existing killing himself slowly and probably knowing the full range of death is upon him.

The movie is A Most Wanted Man, the role is John Le Carre's Gunther Bachmann, a German intelligence officier. But the viewer  watches with the very real sense that Gunther is also the real life actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman (PSH) .  And - this is difficult to write - seeing Gunther/him on the screen for two hours so beaten down by life's circumstances, not truly fighting any more made it easier for Ciwt to comprehend his actual death.  PSH played a lot of roles, but Ciwt doesn't remember any where his life force wasn't palpable - screwed up, lonely and left out, evil, manipulative, a host of other things, but always there was that inner shine, that vibrancy, that deep down PSH energy.

Not here; not in A Most Wanted Man.  There is the cynical isolation of persisting in a singular world view. But that's doggedness, not will to live.  And, as she said, seeing PSH/Gunther in this different, existing-without-really-living way, it became more possible for Ciwt to comprehend that this force of nature could actually be gone.

It also made slightly more comprehensible the concept of whether his genius for inhabiting roles actually contributed to his death. Ciwt hasn't entirely understood that thinking before this movie.  But maybe inhabiting completely a man who, in the end, has been utterly defeated, whose will has sat at the table with fate and capitulated truly was too much for this supreme and vulnerable actor's being to endure.

We all know A Man Most Wanted is PSH's last movie.  For that at least you go; but it is also a good movie. And you aren't distracted by plot complications so PSH can receive your full attention for the last time you get to see him first run.

His last words in the movie are "Fuck!"  "Fuck!!!"


Friday, July 25, 2014

Relevant Birds - Cont' --- Day 3/194

Walk: Union Square, Fillmore Street, Mindful Body
Distance: 3 miles and take yoga class

70. POEM IN THANKS - Thomas Lux

Lord Whoever, thank you for this air
I'm about to in- and exhale, this hutch
in the woods, the wood for fire,
the light–––both lamp and the natural stuff
of leaf-black fern, and wing.
For the piano, the shovel
for ashes, the moth-gnawed
blankets, the stone-cold water
stone-cold: thank you.
Thank you, Lord, coming for
to carry me here–––where I'll gnash
it out, Lord, where I'll calm
and work, Lord, thank you
for the goddamn birds singing!

Ciwt was startled by a new to her poet named Thomas Lux.  Maybe you've heard of him.  He has taught at several colleges - particularly Sarah Lawrence for 20 over years - and has been the recipient of a slew of awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship.

The Poetry Foundation tells us this of him:  Lux has been praised for his poetry, but as he told Elizabeth Mehren in the Los Angeles Times, "This is not something one chooses to do…It is something I was drawn to. I do it because I love to do it, and because I don't have any choice. If I don't write, I feel empty and lost." He added, "Poetry exists because there is no other way to say the things that get said in good poems except in poems. There is something about the right combination of metaphor or image connected to the business of being alive that only poems can do. To me, it makes me feel more alive, reading good poetry."

To that last Ciwt sings out a g--d---- YeSS!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ties That Bind --- Day 3/193

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 10 blocks and teach yoga class

So one thing Ciwt noticed when she went downtown for dinner for the first time in ages is how ubiquitous the suit without tie is among the youngish professional men.  She's been seeing this for a long time in pictures, thinking it was just that particular man relaxing at photo time, and not really realizing this is The Look.

To Ciwt the restaurant looked odd, all these men with open neck shirts but full suit jackets and trousers. To Ciwt it looks kind of affected or studied- like loafers without socks on nattily dressed men.

Call her old-fashioned (duh), but she's a suit with tie girl herself.

Oh dear, then there's this:   

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hope to aime Ame --- Day 3/192

Walk: Union Square (dentist)
Distance: 6 blocks and v. small home yoga practice

Off to Ame (restaurant) - if I can balance on my highish heels. A friend got a gift for dinner for two so Ciwt lucked out.  She's not sure what to order as she doesn't exactly recognize any of the dishes above from their site.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Taking It Lying Down --- Day 3/191

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 10 blocks, teach yoga class, have 1 hour massage

Even though the studio where Ciwt teaches offers excellent, well-priced massages, Ciwt has an unfortunate old habit of equating massages with frivolous, expensive spas. Today she took advantage of a gift certificate and reminded herself it is called massage therapy for a reason.  Lots of reasons actually including: relief of muscle tension (which contributes to injury prevention and is why elite athletes flock to massage tables), increased circulation, enhancement of immune system and nervous system functioning.  Then there's management of chronic pain, alleviation of anxiety and depression, as well as calming antidote for stress.

The list goes on.  Maybe Ciwt will now file 'massage' in the proper category: Necessary for Health.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cheerful, Relevant Birds --- Day 3/190

Walk: JCCSF, Trader Joe's, Big O Tires, Books, Inc.
Distance: 3 miles and take yoga class

trans: The voice I hear
          Of the cheerful birds
          In the drunken Night
Tags: Tankas and Haikus.  Link: Nusquama Friday, April 22, 2011
This weekend the - increasingly disappointing to Ciwt - NY Times ran another of its self-initiated discussion forums.  Their topic was Does Poetry Matter? Is it Relevant?

A poet friend I forwarded the whole thing to wrote back in part: ..While I felt that some of the writing was lovely, I found the premise of the debate silly and offensive.  It's obvious that poetry is relevant today.  There are more people writing and publicly reading poetry today than at anytime in america's history, and if you count Rap in poetry, which I do, it's essentially taken over the music business.  When media organs post debates like this about the arts--the viability of theater is another such topic--the underlying intention is to subordinate arts and the artists to other agendas.  It's to make the arts safe by making them weak.  When artists participate in these debates, whichever side they take, they acquire greater visibility at the price of their own art.  I feel strongly that art thrives best when it defines and follows its own terms.

Ciwt liked this response; hers was to go to a local bookstore and buy three volumes of poetry.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Just a Little More Time --- Day 3/189

Walk:  Mindful Body
Distance: 10 blocks and Restorative Yoga Workshop

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Must You Always Ask Why? --- Day 3/188

Walk: Pets Unlimited
Distance: 10 blocks and fluff up deck

Richard Linklater (in vest) during Sundance Kabuki Boyhood Q&A

Boyhood, yes, it is a filming masterpiece and Ciwt thinks it should be seen, period.

Seen more than once? is a question on her mind.  For all its evocative, tender, melancholic, magical capturing of boyhood, there is an absence of psychological depth.  There is an absence of "Why?s" and therefore no attempts to answer.  Everything wondrous, touching, difficult is at face value then gone.  Life keeps moving as life does.

As life does for children through their late teens is maybe what Linklater is communicating.  But are all children unpsychological?  Do they never ask why - just observe, complain a bit, then go along with the circumstances adults put them into at the same time being formed by those circumstances?

Nobody in this movie ever deals with the why, never really deals period - which makes for a loving, lovely, 'pure,' eternal now theater experience, but......?

Or, maybe this all goes to Ciwt being one of the (few?) kids who drove everyone crazy with her constant "Why this?" "Why That?"

Friday, July 18, 2014

So, What Did You Think of Your Movie? --- Day 3/187

Walk: Mindful Body, Sundance Kabuki (Boyhood)
Distance: 3 miles and take yoga class

With Richard Linklater q&a  coming up tonight.

Stay tuned for Ciwt's thoughts.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

You've Come a Long Way; Thanks --- Day 3/186

Walk: Corte Madera, San Rafael, Mindful Body
Distance: 1.5 miles and teach yoga class

Ciwt's new yoga class is building slowly - very slowly.  But in each class an old student who was so happy to see she was teaching at this available hour has traveled quite a distance to take her class. This is so heartwarming for Ciwt.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chez de Dentiste --- Day 3/185

Walk: Union Square
Distance: 2.5 miles

Chez le dentiste; extrait de Theodore Rombouts (1597-1637) 

After a brisk walk there, Ciwt spent the afternoon tipped back and motionless -except for 'open,' 'turn toward me,' 'close.' - in her dentist's chair. (Apologies for this painting to those with dentistphobia;..... Theodore Rombouts was a Flemish Baroque painter who specialized in Caravaggesque genre scenes depicting lively dramatic gatherings).

Changing Patterns --- Day 3/184

Walk: Mindful Body, Osteria Tuscana
Distance: 18 blocks and teach yoga class

Edouard Vuillard (Fr.), Le Corsage Reye, 1895, 65x58 cm, oil on canvas

Ciwt is trying to changing some patterns and finding it interferes a bit with her daily writing.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The World Turned Turquoise Blue --- Day 3/183

Walk: JCCSF, Trader Joe's, Laurel Village, Hi-Tech Nails
Distance: 2 miles and take yoga class

Today Ciwt put on her new tee and scarf

then her sandals and went to have her toenails painted.

Passing this house  on her way home 
she thought "Maybe I should live here."

But then on her threshold  she realized she'd
actually prefer to live here  or here .

*here =Turquoise tiles on the facade of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
**or here = The portal of the St. Petersburg mosque.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Creative Stretch --- Day 3/182

Walk: No
Distance: Around home and home yoga practice

Lacking much in fine motor skills and patience, Ciwt is stunned by this artist's work.  Click on his name to see more of his works.  And, Most Important, click on the 'Paper' link.

Li HongboBust of David, 2012
Paper, 27 1/2 x 19 5/8 x 19 5/8 inches (70 x 50 x 50 cm)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Once - Again, almost --- Day 3/181

Walk: Sundance Kabuki (Begin Again)
Distance: 2 miles

Image result for begin again movie

Ciwt was still feeling low on words (see previous), so she took herself to the movie Begin Again.
Charming, easy on the eyes and ears, a small, pleasant get away.  Nice enough music but nothing to make you want to sing along.   But you sort of knew all that didn't you.....?

Ciwt keeps calling it Once Again which turns out to be a Freudian slip of sorts.  It is written and directed by the the man who made Once, has many of the same elements, but they are over-blown, and it just isn't the delicately pure and original Once with its underdog Academy Award winning song.

Official Trailer

And Then the Words Ran Out... --- Day 3/180

Walk: Mindful Body, Legion of Honor, de Young, Union Square
Distance: 1.5 miles and teach yoga class

Too Many People experiences for Ciwt yesterday. Ran out of words and had to recover with Callie instead of writing.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Retiree Decisions, Part 1 --- Day 3/179

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 10 blocks and teach yoga class

Semi-retiree Ciwt has a big decision coming up:  What color should her yoga toes be this time?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Keeping the Faith --- Day 3/178

Walk: Petaluma, Union Square
Distance: 1 mile

A very talented poet I worked with as a creativity consultant several years back had a dream of a "Champion" who would publish a volume(s) of his poems.  At the time it seemed an almost impossible dream but he persisted in holding on to it.  I just received an email from him thanking me and including a copy of a letter he'd received from a publisher saying he would be honored to open a discussion about publishing a collection of your work if you are willing.

Still taking it in, but this is huge!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hibernation Equipment --- Day 3/177

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 10 blocks

Ciwt's new pillow has arrived - from Exceptional through Amazon.

Her neck had been feeling stiff and she began to think it was her pillow.  It took a while because Ciwt is pretty confused by pillows ever since they apparently stopped making the really wonderful soft completely squishy ones she grew up with.  On her quest for such a pillow and wanting to support her 'hood, she stepped into a local Duxiana and described what she had in mind.  They knew exactly, took her right over to it, and told her to lie down, take her time and try it.

But by then Ciwt had seen the price tag: $542!!  She left the store as gracefully as possible with them practically following her out onto the street.  Then went home to her computer and found Exceptional Sheets For almost $500 less.

Tonight will be the test.  The pillow is returnable. But it was well-reviewed, came with a big, personally signed thank you letter, and the company is 'American Veteran-owned and operated,' - so Ciwt will probably gracefully keep it even if her neck continues to be stiff.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Feet Up --- Day 3/176

Walk: JCCSF, Laurel Village, Trader Joe's, Target, B&B Pet Supplies, Mollie Stone's
Distance: 3 miles and take yoga class

Ciwt loves that Monday feeling of completing errands and coming home to rest.  It would be nice to be able to do it as Wendell Berry does, among the wild things.  But home with Ciwt's deck door open is just fine for her today.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day Well Spent After All --- Day 3/174

Walk and Distance: Nada

Ciwt couldn't get the Wimbledon finals on her TV, couldn't go to her main hood due to annual street fair, couldn't part with a pair of purplish pants.  So she grabbed them out of the donation pile, grabbed a book and and hung out reading -

                 with Callie, of course .

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Bravi Opera Workers! --- Day 3/173

Walk: Mindful Body, Opera House, Trader Joe's
Distance: 6 miles and teach yoga class

San Francisco Opera House (opened 1932; performances since 1921)
Main Lobby
3,000 lbs of gorgeous gold silk curtain

Ciwt treated herself to a tour of the San Francisco Opera House this afternoon.  What an incredibly complex operation they have going on there!  Just the wig department is jaw dropping in all its aspects: acquiring the needed hair (Asian for straight, European for wavy, some animal (goat? ___? help Ciwt can't remember) for blond and grey), styling it, attaching netting, taking patterns of each person's head, making up the entire finished wig accordingly, tagging it, placing it on the head, removing it, cleaning, repairing, storing.  Just this area of the opera is so exacting, requires so many talented, dedicated professionals.  Then there is the building maintenance itself, the sets (OMG Sooo complex), lighting, the many aspects of the music, the costumes, on and on and on it goes. Ciwt will never again be surprised by the cost of opera tickets.  It is truly a wonder that such a lavish spectacle could endure - unsupported by public funds - in the few worldwide venues where it exists, with San Francisco Opera House being the third largest seating in the world.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Let it Ring. Ooops, maybe not. --- Day 3/172

Walk: Mindful Body
Distance: 8 Blocks

Ciwt isn't that great a fan of the Liberty Bell.  It is still cracked after three re-castings, and sounds awful apparently. Contrary to legend it wasn't actually rung on July 4, 1776.  And much of its imagery as a relic of the proclamation of American independence came from a 1847 fictional short story by George Lippard that appeared in Saturday Review magazine.  But, like it or not, it is one of our country's earliest icons of freedom.  So, let Freedom ring!

She also wishes this was our National Anthem.