Blog & Photo Journal Archive

June 9th

Back in Cotherstone with mum, who has survived my almost two-week absence pretty well – what a trooper… (she did have a carer coming in every morning, plus friends and neighbours…) I took her to the hospital for a check-up the morning after I got back (Durham University Hospital, great folks, particularly the nurse specialist, Anne Irwin, who is wonderful). Not great news, in fact rather dire, but hey, what was I expecting? We are still planning for a July sojourn in Menorca, somehow – she says it’s what she really wants – fingers crossed, send all good wishes our way… If it weren’t for the arrival later this month of cousin Emily, who’s coming from California especially to see her, I’d take her out there right now – apart from wanting to seize the carp, the weather here is filthy – constant pouring rain, set to continue for the foreseeable future – but hey, how else is England such a green and pleasant land? In desperation I took a walk this afternoon in wellies, rain gear AND an umbrella – all the impermeables in the house are ancient and not so impermeable… Mum’s garden is luscious, if somewhat bedraggled, and the trees, hedgerows and fields are thick, thick, thick – shoulder high queen anne’s lace, carpets of buttercups, knee high lush green grass (where it hasn’t been cropped by the obliging and ever hungry sheep). If only it weren’t cold as well… the heating is still on – actually it won’t go off, the thermostat seems to be broken – put it on the list… welcome home…

While temporarily packing away my life in NY, I managed to miss all the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations here, but did manage some of my own over there: a splendid picnic in Central Park with the 2 Claudias; a gig at the Stone (Doug & Kenny) and another at Barbes (Karen Mantler, love her songs, and her mom, my hero, who was there); several meals with friends, a walk on the High Line with Evan L, and another, solo, down the red carpet at the Drama Desk Awards at Town Hall (pipped at the post by another Brit – the score for One Man, Two Guv’nors, from the National, so I don’t feel too bad). And NYU has agreed in principle to take my archives, so no matter what happens, the work at least won’t disappear. That feels good… onward…


May 30th

Back in New York for a minute – a week actually, maybe 10/12 days, depending on how things are back in Cotherstone… sorting out my lovely apartment to sublet it for 6 months/a year while I’m busy elsewhere… it’s been high summer, hot and humid, I’ve had to have the noisy old air con running while we create chaos and hopefully remedy it – “we” being myself and my selfless best friend Claudia – this is a situation where you learn your true friends… they include several of the Kamikazes and other assorted cohorts, who are housing various chunks of my possessions in order to make room – bless you one and all. Sam the cat is none too happy – they do like order, cats, and they don’t like change… neither do I, but it’s necessary, and so make the best of it.

In attempting so to do, I took time out on Monday night to go to the weekly MTO session at the Stone – oh joy – so good to stand under the waterfall of that music, and to see so many friends – a bit of a heartbreak as well, reminding me of what I’m missing, but you can’t dance at every wedding, as they say… or funeral… oops, bad taste… the apartment sorting has been a bit of a heartbreak as well, taking apart my world, but cathartic as well, in some awful way… I feel I will be better prepared for what’s coming down the pike – whatever it is… and lightening the load is always good…


May 15th

Back in the frozen north – it’s the middle of May and temperatures are still in the single digits – good lord… but hey, my hike this afternoon took me to Faggergill along Arkle Beck in Arkengarthdale – how bad can it be?


La vuelta de la isla

Well, you never know, do you? If you just let go and trust, sometimes it works out… By sheer good luck, I was still there when Christian (whom I’d visited in Marseille in March) showed up in a lovely little 9 meter sailing boat, the Tikouk, along with its owner/captain Madji, having sailed up from Béjaia in Algeria, and with them I realised the dream of a lifetime and sailed around the island. There wasn’t really time before my scheduled departure, but mum said if I came back without having done it she’d never forgive me… god bless her… so for 3 long days and 4 lovely nights I did a total disconnect from the rest of the world and had the time of my life. Hardly a summer’s idyll – barely even spring, it was COLD – we had every conceivable wind and sea: (in no particular order) no wind, too much wind, perfect wind, hot sun, cold, blue sky and clouds, grey overcast, thunder and lightning, lashings of rain, huge seas, and a final night sail by full moon… oh, and dolphins!

The three of us made “une très bonne équipe” – Madji the dashing captain, Christian the first rate first mate and me, willing crew and honoured guest – even in the worst of the storm off the north coast, I had total confidence in both them and Tikouk – she’s a lovely seaworthy vessel, with no frills but extremely well appointed. Aside from the great sailing, I slept the sleep of the just every night in my little berth & we wined and dined really well – they had caught a large fish en route, a sargo or white seabream (which christian had immediately cleaned and filleted and stowed in the very efficient little fridge on board) and it fed us the entire journey, along with algerian potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, calabasin, etc. Even with the boat careening along at 5 or 6 knots at a 45 degree angle in big swells, christian cooked and served dinner – and did the dishes – what a mariner… the one disappointment was not being able to anchor the last night in one of the idyllic south coast coves, as the southerly wind and big sea made it impossible (not to mention that we didn’t have a detailed nautical chart of the island!), but the compensation was a fabulous night sail, ending with hours of gliding by the light of the full moon with only the genoa, to take us back to port in Maó. I thank my lucky stars (and Christian and Madji) for such a chance.


1st of May – Mayday, mayday!

Trying to seize the carp while all hell breaks loose… it feels seismic, nothing is firm underfoot, sometimes I feel crushed by the weight of the world, my world, my burdens, but I know it’s all so ephemeral – here today, gone tomorrow… trying to figure out a longer-term sublet of my apartment when lo and behold, after 17 years on the waiting list, I’m offered a studio in westbeth. but I’m here, it’s there, and someone ahead of me on the list takes it before I can figure it out long-distance – so it goes… back to the sublet conundrum…

meanwhile, a brief sojourn on my island retreat, to open up after the winter and take a week’s break – muy variable – sun, wind, grey, rain, wind, clouds, sun – the heavy freeze that killed christian’s garden in marseille did much the same here, but walks are full of wild flowers.
Tylar. a friend from Oregon days (30 years ago) and a truly great felter (check it out: www.ecosleepsolutions.com/tylar_merrill.html) joins me for the beginning, and is great company as well as great help in all chores inside and out… the new wood stove makes a world of difference in heating and drying out the house… more tree pruning tomorrow, so next year’s wood supply should be in… sometimes the place feels like one giant headache, now that I’m the responsible party, but it is still magic, when I can lift my eyes and spirits from the depths… how will we fare in the future I cannot say… mum has had yet another op, bless her, more slicing and dicing – she seems to have come through pretty well. diana has been with her since I left, but she goes back to scotland tomorrow… I’m coming, I’m coming… I was hoping to get some serious writing time while here, but alas, it seems not to be… too much going on…
Talking of writing, the music for Septimus and Clarissa has been nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Score – nice to get some good news for a change…

“Hooray hooray the first of may
Outdoor f—ing used to start today”


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