Thursday, July 31, 2008

Roadside Life

Point Reyes in fog. Scarce water this summer, but these guys all know how to make the most of their otherworldly environment.

Green here is silver-green. Brown is silver-brown.

(The distant silver-blue lagoon at top pretty much refuses to reveal itself unless clicked up to full size.)

Magnolia Petal

Bootprint, on San Francisco sidewalk.

Discovered in the Castro.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Two chinoiserie canvases (in the archaic, blithely colonialist style of the 18th century) painted by Jean-Baptiste Le Prince (1734-1781).

Office Scenery III

Two contributions offered by my daughter toward the workplace decor.

1) The wallpaper on the monitor has magical blue light mixed with rain coming in through partly frosted-glass windows.

2) A couple of the succulents received in honor of Father's Day, in individualistic pots, on the wide 50s blond-wood ledge under the vast plate-glass 50s window. With a view into the treetops.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Point Reyes in fog

North Beach at mid-afternoon in July.

North Beach & South Beach connect to form The Great Beach which stretches uninterrupted for more than ten miles.

San Francisco in fog

This is an entrance to Golden Gate Park, and I have stood and looked at it thousands of times, because this is also the corner where I catch the bus to go home from work five afternoons out of seven. Below the picture of the park entrance is the picture of the piece of the park wall that I lean against while I wait for the bus. The stones have stood here for about a century. Each block was carved to resemble the natural surface of weathered rocks, they called this type of carved stone "rusticated" and this style of carving was much in fashion a century ago.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


View from the kitchen here at Spencer Alley, facing west. The evening fog has made it (after struggling) over Twin Peaks and is creeping down into Eureka Valley. From there it will engulf the Mission too, before long. And its cool winds precede it. The lumber on the left is the back stairs of a neighboring building. Large yellow peak at center is the backside of the newly built Holy Family Day Home. But the little peaked roof at the top of the picture belongs to another building altogether, a building on the far side of Dolores Blvd, the beautifully restored synagogue that houses Congregation Sha'ar Zahav. The ocean is out of sight here, but feels close because of this freshness of fog she sends across San Francisco every night, almost.

Ford Street

Early walk for coffee on Saturday morning. Took a shortcut down Ford Street (which is only one block long). Nobody was out so early, not in this part of San Francisco anyway. And the light was spectacular. So coffee got slightly postponed in favor of picture-taking.

Friday, July 25, 2008


I get to work early, after riding the 33 bus-line across the middle-part of San Francisco. This is the view from the front door of the library I am about to unlock. Facing south toward Twin Peaks, here still blanketed in fog  with the lovely-ugly Sutro Tower (for signal transmission) along the horizon, marking the spot where Twin Peaks will indeed be visible later in the day. At right, St Ignatius Church.

Stick-on Numbers

Am ashamed to say that I never truly appreciated diagonal-cut numerals before I saw them here. All my life they have been prominently displayed in hardware stores, but I could never visualize their potential.

Thursday, July 24, 2008



What the average sensual man cannot forgive
Or triumph over, slowly he forgets;
By thirty-five or so begins to live
With the faint metal taste of choked regret
Flavoring every swallow. For romance
He'll never find with girls he'll never meet,
And plutocratic ease in the south of France,
And the shouted homage of a trembling street,
He learns in time to substitute a wife,
Two weeks' vacation, the "respect of peers":
The prolonged catastrophe we call a life
Instead of the coming true of our worst fears.
If genius is to carry the pristine
Shock of perception to the bitter last,
There was no purer genius: philistine,
Uncompromising, foul mouth stuffed with rust.

A poem by the young American Adam Kirsch. This steely sonnet is from his new collection, Invasions,  published by Ivan R. Dee.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


A tree in front of a house in the  Sunnydale district  in the southeast corner of San Francisco. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spencer Alley (The Sign)

It dead-ends after only half a block, and that is all there is of it. Most San Francisco people know the town pretty well, but I have yet to meet anybody who knew where I lived when I named the street. No, wait, I tell a lie. My barber knew. But he happens to live around the corner.

Monday, July 21, 2008


A century-old avenue leading to a ranger station at on Point Reyes in Marin County

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Today's heavy fog in the East Bay diffused the light around the roses and raspberries.

Beach Shapes

Foggy Sunday on Point Reyes. Good illumination for the recording of small objects on sand. 

Found in the Alley II

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tim Walker

Lily Cole poses on a decaying spiral staircase in a Colonial-era palace in India.

The new book of Tim Walker photographs weighs about 14 pounds and costs $125.00.

It stands about the same height as a small child.

Found in the Alley

Friday, July 18, 2008


I owe a lasting personal debt to Italian fashion designer Valentino (whose long career was glorified at this recent retrospective in Rome). Last year I was making a skirt for my daughter and struggling with a side-seam zipper. The fabric was embellished with swirling appliqued strips in heavy taffeta. These created three-dimensional surfaces on the fabric surrounding the zipper, which then would get crushed in a conspicuously unattractive way under machine stitching. Just at that time I visited the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and saw a collection of garments from the collection of famous New York fashion person Nan Kempner. On one of  the mannequins was a 1970s Valentino gown in red silk chiffon with a bodice of  tiny horizontal pleats. It zipped up the back. I stood and gazed at that zipper. It had evidently been hand-stitched with each stitch placed BETWEEN a pleat and NEVER on top of a pleat. Afterwards I went home and redid the skirt zipper for my daughter entirely by hand, using the Valentino method. 


From one school year to the next in the life of a Midwestern child of the early 1960s. The plastic eyeglasses gain a duct-tape bandage where the earpiece has broken. A different home-made shirt. A different home-cut hair-trend. The sub-suburban reality of improvised appearances.