It was a chilly afternoon in the fall. I was about seven years old, and my grandmother had invited me and some of my church friends to her house to start a group for girls of my age that would meet once a month. We were to have some fun, some snacks, and do a little project as a contribution to the community. The one I remember was using old Christmas cards to make gift cards.
Some people finish their holiday shopping in August, or even on December 26 for the next year! It works well for them. It would not work well for me because I have to confess that I love the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and yes, even the chaos.
I don't mind the last-minute wrapping, or even the hunt for that present I know I bought but can't find because I put it somewhere "safe."
If you research the phrase "old chestnut" you will see that there is a literary explanation that an "old chestnut" is a tale that has been told so many times that it is no longer funny or interesting. If you research how long chestnuts stay fresh, you will find that they must be stored under very precise temperatures, and even then will not keep long.
Sometimes I feel like climbing into my linen closet and curling up by the ironed pillow cases and the bar of scented soap. It is probably the only place in all of my living spaces that is, at the moment, quiet and serene.
Today I have been trying to capture our one-hundred-plus-year-old tree with my two-year-old camera. I can't do it. And I realize as I try one angle and another, one frame and another, it isn't the camera's fault.
The tree was here long before we were here, long before this house was built, and there are so many dreams and hopes caught in its branches and feeding those green, green leaves, that no one lens, no matter how technologically adept, can catch it.
It's February 1973 and we have been in our new-old house in the San Fernando Valley for two and a half months. I don't know it yet, but I am pregnant with our first child. I am a transplant from the Westside of Los Angeles, and the valley is a little rural, a little unfamiliar compared to the more cosmopolitan (if you could call it that in 1973) Westwood, Hollywood, and Santa Monica of my previous world.
I still work at UCLA, so every weekday I make a roundtrip over the Sepulveda pass or the 405 freeway.
Whenever I see old family photographs, they often look as if the whole gestalt of that moment were peaceful, tranquil. If by some magic you could go back there now, maybe you could wander out of the frame and enjoy the picnic, the party, the holiday, that was the occasion for the photo. People seem to be enjoying themselves because after all they are all smiling, right? You don't get what went on before the moment caught on film, or after. All you have is a person with a smile, or maybe a funny face.
I recently took a road trip to Sacramento, driving alone up the I-5. This is a trip I made many, many times when I was working, and although the I-5 has never been known as a picturesque drive, I always loved it. The California landscape is never boring to me. The mountains are lovely, even sensuous with their undulating contours and changing colors. Wild radish and mustard, lush California lilacs, line the roadside.