Alive, Alive-Oh

A family of hawks has moved into my neighborhood. On my morning walks I often find pigeon claws attached to long bones stripped of flesh.  The hawks hop about in their tree or swoop low over the neighborhood, hunting.  The pigeons crane their necks and take to the air in crazed circles.

Several blocks over, the top of an enormous pine tree is full of heron nests. It’s odd seeing such large birds so very high up.  The other day I found two tiny fish on the sidewalk under the tree, covered in ants – a dropped breakfast, no doubt.  The adult herons stalk about the river searching for food.

Los Angeles, at least the neighborhood I live in, is surprisingly full of wildlife. On my evening and morning walks, I tread carefully, since a rustle can mean a skunk backed against a fence, tail quivering in the air.  I walk slowly and give everyone a wide berth.

It’s been an odd few years, though I’ve been feeling now like I’m at least waking up a bit. I’ve been baking a fair amount, though it’s always a difficult process in the tiny bungalow kitchen.  Since the enormous tree was cut down last year, the house has become an oven with the kitchen being the hardest hit.  Even putting on the kettle can cause me to break out into a sweat these days, but I persist.  I’ve been baking a lot from the Honey & Co. Baking Book, which is my current favorite.  For my birthday, I made a syrup soaked lemon cake with elderflower mascarpone icing that was pretty fabulous.  I’m hoping the kitchen cools off enough for me to make some bread soon without roasting everyone alive.

I’ve been knitting on the train during my commute and outside at lunchtime. I finished my second Rock Island shawl using up most of another cone of yarn from my mother’s enormous stash.  Unfortunately, moths had gotten to the center of the cone, so the last part was a little dicey, since I kept coming up with terribly short lengths.  Trying to knit this a second time really helped me reach another level with lace, though.  I found the second lace chart confusing and unwound the whole thing at least four times until it finally made sense to my poor brain.  Now I’m working on the Woodland Shawl, whose leafy pattern I found completely incomprehensible the first time I tried it, but which is now rather easy and meditative.  The leaves expand and contract, the yarn has long bands of shifting colors.

I’ve been reading less than usual, though I recently read So Much for That Winter by Dorthe Nors, which I was completely blown away by. The book consists of two novellas that are both about break-ups.  The first story, which is broken up into single lines was very reminiscent for me of the Eric Rohmer movie Le Rayon Vert (Summer in English).  It has the same quality of a breath held just slightly too long.  The second novel, different in tone, was written as a series of lists.  The form of both stories works to completely illuminate the emotional content of the stories and feels integral to the telling.  I’m looking forward to reading her book of short stories, Karate Chop, which is waiting for me at the library hold desk.

This blog still seems to me like a lonesome monologue humming in the ether, but it still feels grand to have words forming in my head and on the page.  “Alive, alive-oh!”

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