I want you to know – I take this “summer mini-office” thing seriously.

Each and every day – weather permitting – my first mission is to set up my office space on our upstairs balcony.  In this house we are blessed with an unusually large balcony, which literally sits atop our living room. Whereas our terrace is just a narrow strip of bricks between the house and the 1st level of the garden, the balcony has the actual dimensions of a large room. It’s partly covered with a translucent roof (plus sidings) and partly open to the elements.

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Angel: if there were a place we know nothing of…

Paula Modersohn-Becker

Rainer Marie Rilke (by: Paula Modersohn-Becker)

Learning a new language is a funny thing. In our native language we tend to swallow words whole; giving little or no thought to their etymological source. But when you learn a foreign language – syllable by syllable – you savour each vowel, each consonant, as though it were the seed of a fruit from some exotic tree.

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Georgia Douglas Johnson (1886-1966)


I want to die while you love me,

While yet you hold me fair,

While laughter lies upon my lips

And lights are in my hair.

I want to die while you love me,

And bear to that still bed,

Your kisses turbulent, unspent,

To warm me when I’m dead.

I want to die while you love me,

Oh, who would care to live

Till love has nothing more to ask

And nothing more to give!

I want to die while you love me

And never, never see

The glory of this perfect day

Grow dim and cease to be.

Part Way To Bedlam


That does not keep me from having a terrible need of – shall I say the word – religion. Then I go out at night to paint the stars. (Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother)

The town does not exist

except where one black-haired tree slips

up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.

The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.

Oh starry starry night! This is how

I want to die.

It moves. They are all alive.

Even the moon bulges in its orange irons

to push children, like gods, from its eye.

The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.

Oh starry starry night! This is how

I want to die:

into that rushing beast of the night,

sucked up by the great dragon, to split

from my life with no flag,

no belly,

no cry.

(Anne Sexton)

Yes, I’ve read Sylvia Plath. I read “The Bell Jar” as well as “Ariel“, a volume of her poetry. Although I understand her position in the feminist pantheon, I have to also admit that…well…I’m just not into her. Something about those wisps of her character that came through in her writing simply didn’t resonate with me. Although I continued to read about her life, as well as any stories The London Times later published about her husband, poet Ted Hughes, or her children, I have always perceived a distance between the urgency in her writing and my own heart.

Not so with another writer from around the same time: Anne Sexton. I am a diehard lover of the poetry of Anne Sexton.

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“Beautiful Losers”

When I was still in high school, once a twice a year a book trailer would pull into the driveway of my old elementary school and sell books. I have no idea why that happened – the school district had well-stock libraries in every school; plus there were book stores in nearby shopping areas – but it’s something that sticks out in my mind. For example, I can remember going over to the trailer in a school bus and hearing Carlos Santana on the radio. No idea if that memory is really true, or if two very separate incidents have simply co-mingled in my brain. In any case, I have this vivid image of a hot summer’s day and the rhythms of Samba Pa Ti in my mind.

It was while I was in high school and in that book trailer that I bought two books by Leonard Cohen. Oh, I must have been familiar with his seminal ballad “Suzanne“, but – otherwise – I’m not too sure what drew me to those particular books. I remember purchasing his book of poetry, “Selected Poems 1956 – 1968”, and I also bought one of his novels. I bought the other one later, so I now own both “Beautiful Losers” and “The Favorite Game“.

Needless to say, I am a Leonard Cohen fan. Despite all my early feminist leanings, what’s not to love about such an unabashed lover of women, whose restless heart is wrapped in raspy vocals and political egalitarianism? We women all know someone like him (if we’re lucky): A man who means every bittersweet thing he whispers in your ear at the very moment he says it, but on another day – and with another woman – is motivated to make a rainbow of equally soul-stirring (and lingerie-removing) proclamations.

But I digress…

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Love is not Concerned

Schwäbischer Alb Nov08 080

I am a big fan of Alice Walker. I make no bones about it. I felt blessed to have discovered “The Color Purple”. I remember the summer my mother and a girlfriend came to visit me in Germany for the 1st time.  Although my mom’s not much of a reader, she did read “The Color Purple”, as well as “Rubyfruit Jungle”, that summer while in Germany.  “The Color Purple” is also one of the few DVD’s I actually own.

I have also read many of her other novels with relish and revelation. Other personal favorites: “By the Light of My Father’s Smile”  and “In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women“.

Evelyn C. White’s insightful work, “Alice Walker: A Life” also stands high on my list of favorite biographies.

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…It’s Human Nature

Of course I spent the last week following the coverage of Michael Jackson’s death.

Like many people, it was a surprisingly emotional time for me. Funny, but I had almost forgotten just how much Michael Jackson and his music had meant to me as a child and young person. I had also forgotten just how many great songs he had released! So much of my image of this man had been overshadowed – first by his strange physical transformation, secondly by the circus surrounding the molestation allegations.

But the coverage of his death brought back many vivid and happy memories of my childhood adoration of  The Jackson 5. Some younger people (and many non-blacks) may never understand what it was like back then – as a black child in a predominantly white setting – to watch not only someone who looked like me, but who was also around my age, dancing and singing up a storm on TV! So talented! So cute! So publicly appreciated!

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Summer’s Mini-Office

Since my last post I have been dealing with several issues. Not all bad; not all good. I did have the opportunity to visit with my family in the States, though, which definitely falls on the positive side.

Because the weather has been hot and sunny so much of the time, I have been able to temporarily pitch my tent on the balcony most days. It’s a wonderful place to work. I usually only hear the birds and whatever I may have on low in the background on my computer.

It rained yesterday evening and this afternoon, so I am back in the office. That just means that it’ll be cooler tomorrow morning – all the better for working outside again tomorrow!


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