Sunday, November 30, 2014

Applying myself - Part 2

Malibu sunset

Here's where I am regarding my applications to MFA programs.

I have submitted my completed applications to five of the ten programs I'm applying to.  For the other five:

1) Ready to submit, just doing final proof-reading.
2) Ready to submit, just doing final proof-reading.
3) I need to submit one more document; a letter of interest for an assistantship position
4) I want to visit the campus first (it is in the region) and then update my personal statement based on what I observe or learn there.
5) I still need to write my personal statement.

For nine of the applications, two of my three letters of recommendation have not been sent in, so I am having automated reminders sent to my references. It's tricky to balance the timing and frequency of these - I don't want to bug my references, but I also want to make sure they get them in by the deadlines.

For the tenth application, it turns out their online system doesn't even solicit the letters until after the applicant completes the submission - meaning I need to get it in with enough time before the deadline for my references to send in their letters. This is Number 4 on the list above - the campus I want to visit. I'm hoping to visit in the next week, and then submit immediately. The deadline for this campus is in early January.

It's been quite a process.

The next step is to wait - typically, schools notify applicants in the month of March.  I think, for the purpose of sanity, that my best bet is to submit all my applications and then forget completely about them until I hear from the schools. I don't want to overthink it.


Today, after more than a year of drought, we get a true gullywasher of a storm.

It beats on the roof - our flat roof sounds like a drum head. The sound ebbs and flows with the gusts of wind, first a gentle patter then like pebbles flung hard or poured from bins.

It overspills the gutters and drips, into flat puddles. It cascades onto the deck, drops bounce and spatter off the flat arms of chairs.

It flows down the driveway like a stream, a creek. Ever flowing down the hillsides, down the culverts, through the drainage pipes into the creek, the canyon and down to the sea.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Let there be pie

Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Streusel.

Cranberry Walnut Tart.

We're spending Thanksgiving with our friends Jill and Sparky Greene, on their hilltop in Malibu. I'm bringing these.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Morning deer

This morning's deer is a young male, with antlers. Jack and I come up the steps to the street, and we look up the road.  Our local deer are California mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus californicus. They browse near water, what there is of it, in our terrible drought. That must be why their trails come through this place, where a storm drain feeds from the hill and down into the ravine.

I wish this picture had turned out more focused.

He's right there, crossing from the woods to the hillside, at the bend in the road. He's there like a statue against the darkness of the forest behind him. He stops, still, watching us. Are we a threat?  He quietly assesses us. I can see his head turn, vigilant, and his huge ears swivel, listening.

I take out my phone and take a quick photo of the deer. Jack's distracted, he's sniffing the aromas of other animals, among the fallen oak leaves. Behind me, I hear a car. It's a neighbor from down the street, a grey-colored Mini with two surfboards on the rack.

I put my hand out as a warning, and make eye contact with the driver, then take another picture.  He can see there must be something around the bend, so he slows the car.

As the car gets within twelve feet of the deer, the animal suddenly shies and bolts back into the woods.

Jack and I walk on, up the rise and beyond. He sniffs the grass. He does his business.  When he's done, we turn back toward the house.

The deer is down in the woods below; he hasn't made it across the street yet. From here I can take some more photos.

This fall, I encounter deer at least twice a week, whether on my morning walk, or at night when they cross through my car's beams on the road home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tattle Tale

It's a strip mall in Culver City. I had a meeting nearby, and stopped for dinner at a little joint here. After I finished, there was still a half hour before my meeting. So I thought, hey, why not go in and have a draft beer or something, just to check it out and see what it's like?

I got right up to the Dutch door at the entry, peeked in to see the bar and the pool table, but then I got a whiff. It smelled like stale beer and garbage.

No, sorry. Maybe another day.

Great sign, though.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What's cool about living in LA

LA can be hectic, it can be a drag, it can be a rat race, but every once in a while something happens that makes you go - Hey, how cool is it to live here?

We were having lunch at a Santa Monica seafood restaurant, and a group of five sat down at the table next to us. Two couples and one child, a small girl, they ordered a bottle of prosecco that was clearly intended to be celebratory. We smiled at them and minded our own business.

As we ate our oysters on the half shell and dunked king crab legs in cocktail sauce, a plastic toy fell and then skittered on the wooden floor behind one of the women, beyond her view. I picked it up and put it on the table next to her, saying, "I think the little girl dropped this." She thanked me, with a beautiful smile.

A little later, their food came, looking delicious. As we were ready to order, [The Man I Love] asked them about one of the side dishes, and we took their advice that it was delicious.

How do conversations begin? A polite question about the celebration? A compliment about a well-behaved child? A shared enjoyment of salmon fillet or brussels sprouts? We started to talk. The older couple was from Austin, Texas, celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary.  My family was from Texas, too, we exclaimed. More smiles.

How did it go next? The younger woman, the child's mother, mentioned growing up in Rhode Island; [The Man I Love] said he'd gone to school nearby in Boston and had studied music. She said something about attending Julliard, and we asked if she was a performer, and she said she was. We introduced ourselves; they introduced themselves. She said her name was Viola.

Viola Davis.

Of course, now I recognized her. She is incredibly beautiful.

A great conversation ensued. We talked about working in the theatre, we talked about the work her husband was doing; we talked about a mutual friend, an artist she and [The Man I Love] both know well. We talked about projects she and her husband were working on, theatre projects and TV series and shows. I even confided my creative writing dreams.

She and her husband had brought a beautiful cake to celebrate their friends' anniversary, and they kindly invited us to enjoy it with them (it was delicious!).

When their party left, we all shook hands, exchanged cards, and Ms. Davis even gave me a hug. Wow!

I'm not usually star struck. In fact, I seldom recognize movie stars when I see them. But what really gets me feeling awed is when someone famous turns out to be a nice, caring, kind, generous, regular person. A lovely person. Like Ms. Davis.

Things like this happen in LA, when you least expect it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Blue Dog

Yes, I know it looks like he's blue on his eyebrow. That's the light. The ink is only on his cheek and throat.
Jack has been a remarkably well-adjusted dog, for a rescue dog, but he does have his little ways.

Some dogs can be destructible when left alone, bored. Our first dog, Trooper, when left alone, chewed up the carved leg of an antique table, in a house we rented from a Cornell professor.

Jack's predecessor, Kotzie, once chewed up one of my very favorite shoes - this was the left member of a pair of Amalfi high heels that I treasured because they were the only high heels I've ever owned that I could wear for eight hours. I nearly wept when I found it, mangled and covered in drool.

But Jack is different. Jack doesn't chew up shoes or furniture. His fixation is exceedingly narrow. He consistently attacks only two items. Eyeglasses and pens.

He eats little plastic objects. The eyeglasses are usually drug-store cheaters, costing less than ten bucks. We arrive home to find lenses and mangled ear-pieces scattered on the living room rug. Twice, though, he's attacked [The Man I Love]'s prescription glasses - a couple hundred dollars damage.

The other object of his fixation is plastic pens. Yesterday when [The Man I Love] came home from work, the remains of a pen were scattered on the rug.

But this time Jack's guilt was obvious. It marked him with a stain.  He has a blue spot on his cheek, and another blotch under his jaw. His lily white paws are streaked blue, too.

He takes these objects from the low-slung coffee table in our living room, and you'd think this would teach us not to leave things there when we're out of the house. I guess it takes a lot of training to teach old dogs new tricks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall deer

Our street - no deer in this photo
Jack and I went out this morning, as we do every morning, around 6:45, for our walk. Today it was misty and obscured. We walk north on the street, round the curve and then up a low rise. Jack likes to sniff the low branches that verge on the street.

When we climbed up the rise, we were overlooking a steep, falling away oak grove down the hillside. Down there, this morning, we looked and there were two young buck deer, dueling, head to head.

They looked like two boys on a playground, shoving one another fitfully, a little half-heartedly, like waiting for a teacher to separate them. Their heads butted together. I could hear their antlers clashing, a high, brittle clatter, like hard plastic. They pushed, butted, came apart, and then butted once again, antlers clacking.

Jack put his front paws atop the asphalt berm bordering the street, and looked down at them, and perhaps something - his breath, his animal energy - alerted them. The two bucks stopped dueling and turned their heads our way, and then they froze.

They stared at us, their big ears flaring, totally still. Then, instantly, they turned and bolted in opposite directions into the woods.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Night out

Last night after work, I braved Los Angeles traffic for two hours and ended up at Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown.

I had a ticket for a Los Angeles Philharmonic concert - I actually had two tickets, but at the last minute [The Man I Love] was unable to attend, so I went alone. It may seem odd to do that, but I've decided not to let inconvenience keep me from doing things I want to do.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Weekly Jack

Jack has a new denning place.

Inside my shower!!

After this Tuesday, I'm with him. I want to hide away.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Photo from a long time ago, not today.
It's actually raining!! Here in Southern California! Hooray!