Saturday Morning

She is making a pot of tea and I am clearing plates from the table. We both step around the room, around the dog, around the circular table, around each other, by instinct. I could navigate this space with my eyes closed, if called upon to do so. From down the corridor, the voices of my children, playing with the array of toys my mother keeps in her cupboards, can be heard, rising and falling, exclaiming and negotiating. Tea-making is a sacred, circumscribed ritual in this house. I would never presume to undertake it, would never encroach on this most delicate of tasks. There are several steps that must be followed, one leading mysteriously from the next: I can never quite remember the sequence, have always been too impatient to learn, unlike my sisters, who enact the same ritual in the same way in their own kitchens. The correct pot must be selected, as should the most suitable cosy. Warming must take place, for a prescribed amount of time, and this water must absolutely be discarded, with a quick, derisive flick into the sink. Only then may the tannin-dark pot be filled, first with tea leaves, measured out with a specially appointed pewter spoon, then boiling water. On goes the cosy—knitted or quilted, mostly embroidered—then steeping occurs. On the draining board, cups (bone china, always) and milk at the ready.

Maggie O’FarrellI Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death (Feb 6, 2018)

Notes: Photo – Antique Passion. Related Posts: Maggie O’Farrell

From this Papa too. Yes. Me too.

My favorite space is the living room, by the fireplace. It’s warm and serene, and covered in adobe tiles made by an artist friend of mine when he was in his 90s. I practice there when I’m not on tour.

Perhaps my most beloved possession is a framed note on the wall that my father wrote to me in his 90s. He didn’t communicate well with his kids. In the note, he wrote, “Dearest Joanie, I love it when you visit me. From your Papa, with love.” It pleases me that he finally wrote me something nice.

~ Joan Baez, from  How Joan Baez Found Her Voice (, Feb 27, 2018)


part of the painting’s magic is that it brings together its time and yours, its place and yours

If you have ever stood in a room in front of a painting by Munch, or Van Gogh or Rembrandt for that matter, you will know that part of the painting’s magic is that it brings together its time and yours, its place and yours, and there is comfort in that, because even the distance that is inherent in loneliness is suspended in that moment.

– Karl Ove Knausgård, in a preface for a catalog for: Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed – an exhibition at the Met Breuer, New York City, November 15, 2017–February 4, 2018. (The New York Review of Books, Dec 7 2017)


  1. Post Inspiration. Rainer Maria Rilke from The Poetry of RilkeNothing is too small: against a gold background / I paint it large and lovingly / and hold it high, and I will never know / whose soul it may release.
  2. Art: Edvard Munch, “The Sick Child” (1907) via San Francisco Chronicle
  3. Quote Source – ekphora.

It’s Thanksgiving. Come On Home.

I would be spending Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, a thousand miles from home…“I don’t think I can stand it here,” I said during the weekly call to my parents that Sunday. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

“Just come home,” my father said. I was crying by then. “It’s too late,” I said. “It’s way too late.”

“You can always come home, Sweet,” he said…

Those were words of loving reassurance from a parent to his child, a reminder that as long as he and my mother were alive, there would always be a place in the world for me, a place where I would always belong, even if I didn’t always believe I belonged there.

But I wonder now, three decades later, whether my father’s words were more than a reminder of my everlasting place in the family. I wonder now whether they were also an expression of his own longing for the days when all his chicks were still in the nest, when the circle was still closed and the family he and my mother had made was complete. We were an uncommonly close family, and I was the first child to leave home. But I gave no thought to my parents’ own loneliness as they pulled away from the curb in front of my apartment in Philadelphia, an empty U-Haul rattling behind Dad’s ancient panel van, for the drive back to Alabama without me.

I gave no thought to it then, but I think of it all the time now. My youngest child left for college in August, and this house has never seemed so empty. It’s not actually empty. My husband is still here, and my father-in-law still comes over for supper most nights. Because we have a big extended family and friends often passing through on their way somewhere else, hardly a week goes by without guests in our guest room. Last summer, anticipating my own sadness once our sons were at school, I put out the word in our neighborhood that I was happy to be a backup car pool driver or homework wrangler, but the presence of borrowed children in this house, though joyful, is also an aching reminder of the years gone by with my own.

No matter how full my life is with marriage and work and relatives and friends and the cares of citizenship in a struggling world, I miss my children. Every day, I miss my children, and as I wait for them to come home for Thanksgiving, I think of my father’s words across a bad landline connection in 1984 that reached my homesick heart in cold Philadelphia. I remember the 26-hour bus ride into the heart of Greyhound darkness that followed, a desperate journey that got me home in time for the squash casserole and the cranberry relish, and I hope my sons know now as surely as I knew it then, as surely as I have known it my entire life: Whatever happens, they can always come home. They can always, always come on home.

~ , excerpts from “It’s Thanksgiving. Come On Home.” (The New York Times, Nov 22, 2017)

Notes: Essay – Thank you Rachel. Illustration – Pinterest

a happy time when you can escape this world, you know, and lose yourself in food

DAVIES: (Laughter) OK. We’re speaking with Anthony Bourdain. He has a new cookbook called “Appetites.” This is an interesting cookbook to look at and to read. You write in it there’s nothing remotely innovative in the recipes. You’re lifting them from imperfect memories of childhood favorites. Why this kind of book?

BOURDAIN: Well, I wanted it to be useful, approachable, reflective of the life I’ve lived over the past eight or nine years as a father, as opposed to a professional trying to dazzle with, you know, pretty pictures and food that’s different than everybody else’s. No, I wanted to make a beautiful cookbook, creative-looking one spoken in honest, straightforward, casual terms that gives the reader reasonable expectations, that encourages them to organize themselves in the way that I’ve found to be useful as a professional.

But as far as the recipes, you know, when I cook at home, it’s with a 9-year-old girl in mind. I mean, she’s who I need to please. And if she’s not happy, I’m not happy. The whole house revolves around her and her friends, so it’s reflective of that. It’s also reflective of, I think, age and all those years in the restaurant business.

Most chefs I know after work do not want to go out to dinner and be forced to think about what they’re eating in a critical or analytical way. They want to experience food as they did as children, in an emotional way, the pure pleasure of that bowl of spicy noodles or even a – you know, a bowl of soup that their mom gave them on a rainy day when they’d been bullied in school. I mean, that’s a happy time when you can escape this world, you know, and lose yourself in food. So these are recipes that hopefully – where I try to evoke those kinds of feelings and emotions.

~ Anthony Bourdain, from an interview in 2016 titled  On ‘Appetites,’ Washing Dishes And The Food He Still Won’t Eat (, “Fresh Air“, October 20, 2017)

Bourdain’s cookbook can be found here: Appetites: A Cookbook


Miracle. All of it.

I sat down next to her. The midwife pulled up Linda’s sweater and bared her belly, then put some transparent jelly on it, moved the little probe over the skin, and on the screen across the room your body emerged, surrounded by dark liquids and close walls. The image, with all its grainy zones and shadowy, almost dreamlike movements, looked as though it was being transmitted from a place far, far away, in outer space or down in the depths of the ocean, and it was impossible to connect the image with either the humdrum room we were sitting in or with Linda’s faintly bulging stomach, even though I knew that that was where it came from. In a sense the feeling I had of enormous distance was accurate, for the prenatal state, the body growing inside a hollow filled with liquids within the mother’s body, and there apparently repeating every developmental stage that the human being has undergone, is connected to the primordial, and is separated from us by an abyss, not in space but in time. And yet modern technology is what makes this image possible. And then the being we were watching was you. It was you moving your limbs so slowly, not a lizard or a turtle. We saw your heart, it was beating fast the way it was supposed to and had all the chambers it should have. We saw your face, the little nose, and we saw the brain, small but complete. We saw the spine, the hands, the fingers, the shin bone, the thigh bone. You lay with your legs pulled up to your chest, and you kept moving one of your hands, which seemed to float off on its own, opening, closing. They told us that in all probability you are a girl.

So you are Anne.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, from “Letter to an Unborn Daughter” in “Autumn


Miracle. All of it.

28 August. Now, as I write this, you know nothing about anything, about what awaits you, the kind of world you will be born into. And I know nothing about you. I have seen an ultrasound image and have laid my hand on the belly in which you are lying, that is all. Six months remain until you will be born, and anything at all can happen during that time, but I believe that life is strong and indomitable, I think you will be fine, and that you will be born sound and healthy and strong. See the light of day, the expression goes. It was night outside when your eldest sister, Vanja, was born, the darkness filled with swirling snow. Just before she came out, one of the midwives tugged at me, You catch, she said, and so I did, a tiny child slipped out into my hands, slippery as a seal. I was so happy I cried. When Heidi was born one and a half years later, it was autumn and overcast, cold and damp as October can be, she came out during the morning, labour was rapid, and when her head had emerged but not yet the rest of her body, she made a little sound with her lips, it was such a joyous moment. John, as your big brother is called, came out in a cascade of water and blood, the room had no windows, it felt like we were inside a bunker, and when I went out afterwards to call his two grandparents, I was surprised to see the light outside, and that life flowed on as if nothing in particular had happened. It was 15 August 2007, it may have been five or six o’clock in the afternoon, in Malmö, where we had moved the previous summer. Later that evening we drove to a patient hotel, and the day after I went to pick up your sisters, who amused themselves greatly by placing a green rubber lizard on top of John’s head. They were three and a half and nearly two years old at the time. I took photos, one day I’ll show them to you.

That’s how they saw the light of day. Now they are big, now they are used to the world, and the strange thing is that they are so unalike, each of them has a personality entirely their own, and they always did, right from the start. I assume that’s how it will be with you too, that you already are the person you will become.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Letter to an Unborn Daughter, August 28.” Excerpt from opening story in his new book titled “Autumn” (Penguin Press, August 22, 2017)


Flying Over I-40 S. With Repose.

Cut me some slack. It was a long day. Too long to even share a "It's been a long day" post. Ok, so I didn't know what "repose" meant.  I turned it in my head: Pose…Portrait…Re-pose…Repeat…Poster…Model posing…Model posing? Wow.

“Please repeat the word.”

“And now the origin of the root please.”

A nine year old would have nailed this in a Spelling Bee.

Like it makes a bloody difference. Long day or short day, I don't have a clue what it means. Google it Dummy.

It's 10:15 p.m. and I'm flying over I-40 heading South – reflecting on last night.  It was 8:30 pm.  The house is empty, the TV is spewing white background noise and I’m sprawled out on the couch.

I'm flipping through my RSS feeds and stop. I can't seem to untangle myself from a passage written by Sadegh Hedayat:  “Henceforth I lived like a soul in torment. All my waiting, watching and seeking were in vain.[…] Repose was utterly denied me. How could I have found repose?”

Like a rock skipping over water, the mind ignores words that don’t fit and locks on words that seem to have a mysterious grip. [Read more…]

Have I?

This coming Sunday, in homes across the nation, millions of American men will awake to the arrival of breakfast in bed. Prepared and served by their children, these Father’s Day repasts convey appreciation as well as contributing to the general bonhomie of the day to come. But as he sips his coffee from his “World’s Greatest Dad” mug, even the most obtuse father has to ask himself: Have I been the man my children deserve?

~ William McGurn, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Father’s Day,, June 12, 2017

Photo by Julien Stenger

That was what he said. This was what I heard

One day, alone in the kitchen with my father, I let drop a few whines about the job. I gave him details, examples of what troubled me, yet although he listened intently, I saw no sympathy in his eyes. No “Oh, you poor little thing.” Perhaps he understood that what I wanted was a solution to the job, not an escape from it. In any case, he put down his cup of coffee and said, “Listen. You don’t live there. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home.”

That was what he said. This was what I heard:

1. Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself.

2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you.

3. Your real life is with us, your family.

4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.

I have worked for all sorts of people since then, geniuses and morons, quick-witted and dull, bighearted and narrow. I’ve had many kinds of jobs, but since that conversation with my father I have never considered the level of labor to be the measure of myself, and I have never placed the security of a job above the value of home.

~ Toni Morrison, excerpt from “The Work You Do, The Person You Are” (The New Yorker, June 5, 2017)

Photo of Toni Morrison:

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