movements that move us, parts 2, 3 & 4

Here’s a kinetic sculpture that unlike the previous work is minimal and simple – and yet it creates its own complexity. I like that its use of linear components creates images reminiscent of non-linear designs seen in, for example, cell division…

Kinetic Art – Dynamic Structure 29117 2007-2010 from Willem van Weeghel on Vimeo.

Then, something lighthearted and involving sound waves:

Floating Orchestra from Harvey & John on Vimeo.

And a graceful sculpture in a Singapore airport.

“Kinetic Rain” Changi Airport Singapore from ART+COM on Vimeo.

movements that move us, part 1

This last week I was a little surprised to have two videos showing kinetic sculptures “float by” in such short succession and out of curiosity I looked to see what else I could find of the engaging and, literally moving, creations people are making.

What I found was really compelling, so rather than a single post with a line of videos in a queue, I’d rather present these artists’ work one at a time so they can each be savored.

Today I just came across the work of U Ram Choe who is based in Seoul and who makes amazing sculptures that come to life with some ingenious and delicate designs and probably a fair bit of computer wizardry.

Una Lumino, 2012 by U-Ram Choe from U-Ram Choe on Vimeo.

In this last video, he talks about how he approaches his machines: as though they are alive and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s precisely because of this attitude that the materials he works with become so responsive under his creativity and care.

I love how something so imaginative can actually be made!

of fog and fireflies, and dragons in the city

A few years ago this wonderful video made the rounds and I was smitten (and fittingly scribbled a little fog-love poem).

The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

we pretend we are comets

We pretend we are comets, that we are suns,
when we’re no bigger than fireflies, smaller than sparks
in the expanding night of the universe

and the fog rolls in and in and out again to the sea
and the sea rolls
and it all rolls around a star, the way we circle,
the way we orbit the space in which
there are such things as fireflies and fog,

and really, we are galaxies
tucked within galaxies, within galaxies,
all of which roll in and in and out again.

*** *** ***

San Francisco is my mythic city; when I dream of cities, they are all somehow always parts of San Francisco, always known by the proximity of rolling hills to sea to fog, even in the shadows of tall buildings or on endless looping highways.

The fiction project I’m working on is set in San Francisco. It also has dragons. Not fire-breathing, ravenous beasts, but water-borne, thunder-clad, hidden creatures. I’m not exactly sure where they reside, though when I close my eyes and feel for them I get close and somehow the fog has something to do with them. A much younger me (20 years ago!) thought so too:

The giant tongue drooling over the bay
licking down hillsides
between orange teeth,

That filmy white tongue
sliding between the spiked incisors of the city
lapping at the shore,

Exudes the breath of dragons
as its succulent dream flesh
curls around each wave

and tastes.


Simon Christen has a new time-lapse video out and it’s just as mesmerizing as his first, reminding me again of the wonder of water vapor and the way the ocean travels inland, touching as it goes.

Adrift from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

*** *** ***

That linocut accompanied the second poem in a little self-published volume called Rusts, Blues and Golden Browns.

Oh “May” goodness, what happened?

May flew! We had Winter until March then it felt like March for 8 weeks and now it’s June! Yesterday was the first truly sunny, blue-sky day we’ve had in ages and I felt drunk on sunshine.
Somewhere along the way I reconnected with my commitment to have a writing practice: I started working on the story I’ve put down and picked up and put down again for about two years, decided to indulge my Muse and work on short fiction, wrote a few poem snippets and am contemplating an essay. Additionally I’ve had editing work and have been attending a German conversational group 3-4 times per week. Too, I’ve been working every day to keep up with the yard and housework and have set aside a little more time for exercise.

My check-ins with blog friends dropped to null and when I finally popped back in I saw so much interesting stuff that I don’t know that I’ll be able to catch up!

I don’t have any blog posts planned or in the works right now, and I may be starting up the blog that’s “under-my-name” again as a place to play with fiction and such – but I haven’t made any decisions.

This is really just a fluff post, nothing profound or useful or even entertaining. Just, “hi everybody.”:-)

Portrait of a kind-hearted man


My father-in-law was born in Shanghai in 1927, the year civil war broke out in China in what was to be a 22-year-long conflict. b. january pictures 122Youngest of seven in a time of poverty and struggle, he was given to another family at a young age, though he kept in contact with his birth family. When he was ten, Japan took advantage of China’s internal division and invaded Shanghai. I don’t know much about how those years were for him, but I can’t imagine they were easy.

Prior to the Chinese Communist Party’s victory over the Republic forces, he met and married my future mother-in-law.Yu LingFeng Chen JianMin


Eventually the People’s Republic of China would be founded, he would join the military as a teacher and work to improve literacy among troops who had received little or no education between the long-term civil and world wars and the demanding farming lives many had left behind.

b. january pictures 468

At heart he was a romantic, he loved literature and eventually would become a high school literature teacher. His three children grew up in the relative safety of their father’s school, under his and their neighbors’ watchful eyes. Sometimes that was difficult, especially during the years of the Cultural Revolution.




One daughter was sent for a time to a pig farm in a faraway county. His youngest, the only son, taught himself English in the 1980s and became a tour guide. Eventually that son would travel abroad and bring home a foreign wife.

From the very beginning my father-in-law was kind and accepting of me. He was only ever patient with my stumbling Chinese, was amused when I went on to learn the local dialect. He never criticized me and was always generous. He loved his family, enjoyed a nice walk around the block, was a phenomenal cook and a devoted reader of the local newspaper. He marveled at California’s beautiful blue sky when, at the age of 70, he first left China and he took great pleasure in his grandchildren. I will miss him.



first forage

Things are growing!

Compare today with the photo taken just six days ago…

20130426_093509    20130420_144249It’s such a relief. I’d tried not to be aware that winter’s drag was dragging on too long but couldn’t keep it far out of mind. Mostly I just tried to keep a chipper attitude about yet another snow and stretches of grey time. But now, finally, things are growing and I realize how totally for granted I’ve taken my California-ness and the ability to find pretty much anything to forage any time of year. At least in the off-season, the dead of summer, you can still pick some bay leaves and soak up sunshine, while here, in Germany, leaves and sun are scarce in the winter.

This week I made an important discovery. The much-touted Bärlauch (Allium ursinum) is not, as I’d imagined, chive-like. I’d assumed (having not bothered to look it up) that it was wild cousin to chives (Schnittlauch).  My neighbor-friend pointed it out to me on a walk (where we did also see chives growing wild at the edge of the path). Not only is it the right time to find this plant with many English names (bear garlic, broad-leaved garlic, buckrams, ramsons, and, similar to it’s German version, bear leek), it’s also wildly abundant in our surrounding woods and so I couldn’t pass up a chance to get to know this aromatic herb.


This morning the Gastropod and Arthropod clans were out in full-force, doing their typically calm morning things, probably happy spring has finally arrived.




As soon as I saw the extensive patches of Bärlauch, this recipe for herbes salees (salted herbs) sprang to mind. I also poked around for other versions, just to see what folks have done before and since I was mostly interested in using what I have on hand – currently just the one thing.


Well Preserved, in addition to being an all-around interesting site, gives a little historical-cultural spin on the practice of salt preserving herbs and the long standing “tradition” of using what you have.


Two days ago I went and picked just shy of a pound of Bärlauch and today another pound and I’ve been able to make completely local fresh herb-preserve that includes locally mined salt. I’ll be using it to season soups and maybe with butter for a garlic-bread spread. SONY DSC

It’s been too long since I engaged in one of my favorite activities and maybe it signals a step toward feeling at-home a little when the wild plants are starting to feel like friends.

Saturday walk


I went for a walk in the woods yesterday; my first since it stopped snowing. I can be kind of an idiot – caught up in not-starting and then when finally the meniscus breaks and action inevitably spills over, I think: “WHAT was I waiting for?” While walking in the woods is pleasurable, it was also necessary, and so it happened.

It’s not that I took the Boston Marathon bombings any more personally than any other horrid event I’ve had pass by my from-a-distance perception – and not that I took it less personally. The image of the man in shock in the wheel chair, his legs sharply absent, his artery being held closed by one who had lost a son to war and another to suicide, insisted on staying in my mind. Disturbingly. I’m not sure I think it can be made sense of, but I found myself walking (and aware of walking, on legs and feet) uphill, and down, looking for narrative, for meaning.

Funny, this world – it’s full of Story in its own way, but not necessarily narrative when you expect it. Not necessarily even Lessons or pointers toward Meaning.  I started out simply annoyed by what looked cliche and obvious. It’s spring. Life is pushing its way out of the ground, from under layers of dead and decaying leaves. You know this, right? That’s what we’re told the world is showing – that out of death comes life. Yeah, there it was and I was annoyed by it, by the impersonality of it.  By the fact that the trees and plants don’t seem mind.


The tall trees are still bare in most cases and saplings still rusk and clatter with dried, dead, bleached leaves that haven’t been let go. But soon enough they’ll all flush and soften and live again. In and out, live and die. They know it just comes and goes – or they don’t know, they just are the coming and going, even until their lives themselves go from the coming and return from the going.

I don’t know. I tried too, to not look for metaphor. I just walked and remembered what I’d felt a few months ago, that that which fits me absolutely, like my own skin, is my stride. How easily that can be taken from someone.

Wandering with only a vague sense of the direction I wanted to head, I traveled mostly south and a little west. I’d thought, originally, to head for a more southern point of town and catch a bus back to the center then back home. But the closer I got to town and people, the less I wanted to do that so I headed east and away and came upon an old tower. Two Euros and 170 steps later I stood at the top and looked at the view toward home below the rise.


The wind gusted coldly and briefly my thoughts flew outward before settling again in my mind and following the track back home with my steps.

No narrative, no metaphor, just journey outward and back, looking as I go.