~short answer or long answer?~

August 26th, 2007

Will you take me as I am–strung out on another man–California I’m coming home.

A lyric quote from Joni Mitchell can only mean one thing–
I spent a few days visiting Noria at the Marin Headlands where she is an artist in residence. It was gorgeous.


Northern California still has a strong pull on my heart. As N pointed out, the Atlantic ocean is just not the Pacific, all sparkly blue and inviting you to dip your toes in, which we did–at the end of a long hike through the barracks and wild flowers.


The day started for me at 6 am, so after some writing time that was quite productive (working on the Kansas chapters of the book inspired by the newly acquired home movies), I wandered in my nightgown to make a few pictures in the early morning light. I was greeted by both the wild turkey and deer family, who loiter around the artists houses. The eucalyptus trees smelled heavenly. I use their oil at night to send myself to sleep, perhaps this is why–a reminder of this landscape.


The residency is spiffy—you live with other artists, either in your giant room (if you are a writer) or smaller room (if you are a visual artist and so also get a giant studio space) and are fed by the lovely Juliette, who escaped the kitchen at Chez Panisse in time to make the greatest ratatouille I have ever tasted.

The secrets I learned: cook vegis separately first, salting some (like onions) to extract water and not others (such as zucchini) to keep form. Roast and peel the peppers and tomatoes. For these secrets and a lovely almond and plum tart she gave me to take to dinner at Doug and Karen’s I offered a well-received chicken-shaped kitchen timer.

Dinner at D and K’s with David and their posse of Vera and Roy was so much fun I forgot to make photos. There is nothing in the world like old friends. The older I get the more I appreciate this.


The city itself is an old friend too, and one I am seriously considering in my plans to exit New York. Oh! Those are ‘sposed to be secret! That’s okay, no one reads this blog anyway…
Driving around GG park, seeing the Victorian painted ladies, the ocean air, the person to empty space ratio, it was all looking pretty damn good. Of course, this is true of just about any place at the tail end of a New York summer, even a “mild” one.


Our walk extended into many hours, all along the coast. We went past the old missile site to the lighthouse at Point Bonita. I was esp taken by a bench placed at the peak, looking out over the bay, with the bridge and city in the background. On it a brass plaque reads “Do you want the short answer or the long answer?”
This felt like the theme of the trip, given Noria and I didn’t really stop talking for 72 hours.


We eventually made it down to the sand to Rodeo Beach where I lunched daily in another lifetime.

I spent two summers out here, assisting photographer Larry Sultan in the early nineties. I wound my 64 Plymouth Valiant (slant 6, push-button tranny) up and over the thistle-covered hills to the studio he rented by Rodeo Lagoon. Sometimes I sprayed him with water and made pictures of him dressed as a sad sea captain, other times I catalogued slides and addressed invitations to openings and took my lunch by the sea with the pelicans, thanking the sirens for my good fortune.


The nooks of Stinson, Bolinas, Muir beaches still float in the distance. Another gift of aging is the way memories begin to layer on top of each other—my time with Larry blending with my time with friends frolicking in the sand blending with this new memory of visiting Noria. There were ghosts everywhere, comforting.

I brought home a notable sunburn (neglected to sunscreen my décolleté), a slow appearing batch of poison oak, and three wild turkey feathers. Plus also the recipe for that incredible ratatouille.


One Response to “~short answer or long answer?~”

  1. Habib says:

    What do you mean no one reads your blog? Move here, move here…

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