Bookshelf Porn and Winter’s Little Pleasures

This is my kind of porn!

Lately, I’ve been thinking alot about pleasuring myself. And not in a “Debbie Does Dallas” kind of way. I’m talking about porn in the bigger sense of anything that revs up your pleasure centers.

Winter is coming, and I’m planning ahead to beat the blues with my own brand of porn. For example, bookshelves at right? I plan to add books to the colorful display. Books as art installation–love it!

The truth is, I’m prone to depression, so S.A.D. is about the last thing I need. To this end, I’m preparing like the squirrels who gather nuts for the winter. I’m gathering my nuts: my little pleasures for the cold weather. These include flannel sheets and Mexican sipping chocolate with cinnamon.

And prowling around with my new DSLR camera. Writing is what I do. Photography is my hobby, and I’ve neglected it for the past few years.

And finding new cafes in which to people watch and write. It also includes visiting my usual haunts and chatting with my coffeehouse friends.

And festooning my place with seasonal decorations — grinning jack-o-lantern gourds and spider candles at the moment — from now through the New Year.

And experimenting with new ways to wake up my creativity because winter can wreak havoc on my writing. For example, I bought a gynormous roll of signage paper. This morning I unrolled a section and went crazy clustering a short story idea. It was, simply put, fun.

And keeping a steady supply of (organic!) almonds for the squirrel that visits me each morning. She now takes them directly from my hand. She’s incredibly gentle about it too.

And coordinating new outfits with which I can wear my brightly colored knee-high and thigh-high socks.

And stocking up on red wine. I rarely drink alone, which is why I don’t keep much alcohol in the house, but seeing the bottles comforts me. Like that song by UB40, a holdover from my bad-ass partying days. (Yes, I had them: New York friends, you reading this?)

And buying L’Occitane lavender foaming bath and verbena foaming bath.

And many obvious things like maintaining an exercise routine and my social life…but, hey, on the grayest days it’s sometimes the tiniest pleasures that elevate a so-so day to a good day.

So, what little pleasures help you get through the winter?

If you’re interested in bookshelf porn, check out I loves me some books on shelves, all kinds of shelves!

(And if you like my bookshelves, check out Design Within Reach at

Best Christmas Ever!

The sun’s out the sun’s out the sun’s out. Melt thou most stubborn of snow, melt!

Merry Christmas! I’m feeling the good vibes now!



Aaand, kind friends offered to drive me to their house for Christmas dinner. Yum! (Sun and good food — what more does this girl need at the moment? Nothing!) (Oops, afterthought: Add a few holiday drinks to the mix and I’m set!)

A Merry Snowed-In Christmas

hollyberriesToday, I woke up in a better mood than I have in weeks. It’s a bouyancy out of nowhere, and I’m once again amazed by human resilience. There’s no reason for my mood, none whatsoever. It’s Christmas Eve and I’m snowed-in. We in my family won’t celebrate the holiday until this weekend — hopefully. I’ve been cooped up for 10 days, hiking to the grocery store, stewing in my juices.

You’d think given all this time, I’d have accomplished much writing. Hah!

Old-time Portlanders are talking about this snowfall as the worst winter in 40 years. All I know is that struggling through the snow, I meet up with fellow hikers who smile wide and offer benedictions like, Beautiful, isn’t it? even as they nearly fall on their bums. Smiles all around, shrugs, slips and slides — it’s a strange but welcome comraderie.

Today it must be 34 or 35 degrees — a step in the right direction — and when I opened the balcony window the lovely hush I’d gotten used to had disappeared, replaced by snap-crackle-popping, a most enlivening sound. Truth is, I’d never before heard the sound of a slow thaw. Ice and snow falling off the evergreens and telephone lines, snow pockmarked and slushy: unique to me.

It’s thawing out there; my heart is thawing out a little too. Time to ready myself for a bright, shiny New Year!

Though, more snow is supposed to be coming for us — one more bout before it lets us go. But I don’t care. Even if I’m snowed-in, it’s still Christmas, and Christmas was always one of the happiest times in my family. We did it BIG. Or rather, my father did it big and brought us along with him. The eight-foot tree with thousands of lights; the beautifully made nativity scene, hand-sculpted and -painted, the kind you don’t see anymore. Chipped as it was, I used to love playing with it as if it were a doll set. The multitudes of presents under the tree — too many really — maybe it was almost disgusting, but as I kid, what did I care?

I may be holed up, but it’s still Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. A few pet pictures, typical of the last 10 days.

Luna, the dog reminiscent of a cat, snuggling into the warmest spot next to my drying boots (in front of the space heater).


Trio, the cat reminiscent of a dog, playing in the snow.


Happy New Year, a Little Late

I’m back and officially ready to start the new year. The head cold I mentioned turned nasty indeed. I spent most of last week in bed after my sister and nephews returned to California (on the 3rd). This week, my priorities include reacquainting myself with my writing routines.

In truth, I’m anxious because I haven’t written in a few weeks. This is my usual reaction when my routines crumble. Right now, the tension is helpful as an antidote against winter inertia. Weather-wise, January is my heart of darkness. Holiday socializing and errand-running and family stuff propel me through December. But now?

All I can say is that you can’t take the California out of the girl. Sunlight is good. January is a pain in the neck. Interestingly enough (at least to me), now that I live in the Pacific Northwest I find that my most vivid holiday memories are bathed in sunlight.

These memories begin with my childhood home, which was built into a steep hillside above Tennessee Valley, with my elementary school nestled on the valley floor and a quaint cemetary dotting the opposite hillside. The Kirkland family’s homestead with neat white fences and grazing horses also sat opposite. Beyond the school, the Godino family also owned land — and a Shetland pony that I adored. They were the last family along the valley floor before the horse stables and the anise-scented trail that led to Tennessee Valley Cove. The pebbly beach sat on the cusp between the San Francisco Bay and the vast Pacific. These days, the area is integrated into the Marin Headlands recreational area with trail signage and port-a-potties and hikers-bikers-runners in their yuppie gear. In those days, it was a wilderness that I roamed at will.

This was my little universe, a universe over which I often gazed from above a layer of fog that had seeped over the hillsides and pooled in the valley. I was in the same grade as a Kirkland daughter and a Godino son, and I could pick out the street halfway down my hilly neighborhood where several other schoolmates lived: Kathy, Nancy, Kim, Kristi, Robin, Melissa, Julie, Mike.

Best yet, the eastward view from my house led my eye past the old-fashioned grave markers toward receding layers of a larger world: Strawberry Point, the Bay, Angel Island, the Oakland and Berkeley hills on the opposite shore. I’m convinced that this perspective beyond my little universe — plus the freedom to wander hills with nothing but sea-salt laden wind, tall grass, and my dog for company — was pivotal to my development as a writer. I could imagine anything as I gazed past the edge of the continent. And I did.

But back to the holiday memories: On Christmas mornings, my sisters and I woke before dawn. From bed, I watched the horizon lighten over my world with purple shimmers. Soon enough, the fog layer turned into a vibrant canvas in pinks and oranges before the sun finally revealed itself and a frost-sparkling morning. By then, it was time to wake our parents. Our living room sported a wall of picture windows. The memories are as simple as this: Sunlight drenched us as we opened presents.

In the here and now, it’s only 2:00 p.m. and the rain puddles already reflect orange from the garage light across the street. It’s a still, gray day. The stream next to my building is more like a river, and water gurgles fountain-like over a portion of tree trunk that floated from who knows where. The sound is comforting.