HWS 4.30

Georgia with abstraction

Dear Georgia,

We took the train to a new gallery this weekend to view an exhibit of female sculptors. Did you know, or is it a thing, or maybe just something with this exhibit – that sculpture has everything to do with the body? Is that true of all art? I think it’s hard to over intellectualize something that requires great physical strength to create.

I was reminded of how the train pushes me back down to earth and creates in me a chance to feel of the earth and the earth of me. Is this how you felt on your land in NM? I imagine that you felt that you were of that land. I find it’s not easy to feel a part of this whole thing going on around me, but the train and also music ground me in the environment and I don’t feel separate.

I gave up on meditating for a while – I lost the thread and seemed unable to pick it up for quite some time. I finally decided that I would start again even though I didn’t know why or what it would do for me anymore, just that I felt bad not doing it. Once I was about a week in I remembered that it allows me to experience my body and all my feelings just as they are right now, without any need to fix or change anything. And just sitting in it, steeping in my alice-ness – alive-ness is a real relief, even though it doesn’t always feel comfortable.










Pelvis series, Red with Yellow 1945

Dear Georgia,

Reading about you in New Mexico has brought this thought to mind, which I heard first from Chogyam Trungpa – We don’t have to be afraid of who we are – a theme I now see evident in your life story, your way of creating.

who paints the sky seen through a pelvis bone? you do.

I have begun using this word since I read about you painting the mountain until it became yours. The word is mountain-ness and I have been using it in relation to the way I am in the world. When I meditate in the morning I say – now I will practice my mountain-ness. It’s kind of like steadfastness but also carries an element of guardianship. When I practice my mountain-ness, I am able to root down into the earth and stay still even when the weather is really wild. And the weather gets really wild lately, both internally and externally.

Internal weather is emotion and creativity and energies that come and go, sometimes sweet and real and sometimes hidden and sneaky and sometimes like a rusty can lid seeming sharp and dangerous. I tend to think that if everything is going good I should just feel good. But good is only a portion of it, the feeling responding memories, tug of war tapestry of what it is to be human is the rest. I resist all of this. But when I practice my mountain-ness, I am the guardian of all of it. I say yes. Hello. I will sit down with you.

This practice makes me feel less afraid of who I am.

This is what I see in your paintings.

I see you sitting down and creating an experience of experiencing.

Does that make any sense?







Georgia O’Keeffe’s cookbooks in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center

Oh, this is very good. We can learn a lot about each other by peeking into the kitchen, our kitchens won’t lie. They tell the story about how we relate to the earth, nature, and our own bodies.

I have made your secret garlic salad dressing from Weekends with O’Keeffe by C.S. Merrill. There are 8 references to garlic in this book, by the way. You were a believer of garlic.

The one about the dressing must be shared because of it’s efficiency and elegance.

:Miss O’Keeffe showed me the secret of the salad dressing: garlic chopped into a large spoon, salt sprinkled over with the garlic crushed into it, olive oil poured over, then lemon juice or vinegar. Then [this is the best] you pour it drippingly over the greens and toss with the same spoon.:

This dressing creates such a vivid salad experience. I love using one spoon to make and dress a salad. Because I hate doing dishes.

By the way, one of the other references to garlic is the rumor that mosquitos didn’t bite you because you smelled of it. If this is true, this must be why we wear garlic to ward off vampires.

This picture of your cookbooks reminds me of the time I made my father consomme, a type of clarified broth. It was my first visit after learning that he was in hospice care. I wanted to make him something special and heard him mention consomme. It may have been just a passing comment but I latched onto the idea and set about making it. The funny thing about consomme is that in presentation it totally belies the sweat, ooze, funny smells, dirty frothiness and sheer effort of the preparation. The stock is boiled several times with all kinds of impurities rising to the surface. The egg whites are added and as they seek to collect in one mass, they further clarify the broth. Once the broth is strained great pains are taken to remove any remaining fat, including at the end skimming a clean paper towel over the surface of the liquid. THEN you simmer the liquid again and add tiny perfect cubes of carrot and celery to float in the broth when served as a start to an elegant meal.

We drank our consomme out of tea cups sitting in front of the tv. My father seemed pleased and I felt comfort that a whole messy dirty situation could boil down into something so clear and precise.


Directive #3

  1. punctuation is not always necessary
  2. B. if you can say it without saying it then don’t say it
  3. practice some regularity
  4. don’t be sentimental (of a work of literature, music, or art) dealing with feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia, typically in an exaggerated and self-indulgent way.
  5. report what is there
  6. do what pleases you
  7. don’t give up
  8. look at the edges of things – find the boundaries
  9. wear your walking shoes




room redux

Photo by Don Worth 1958

Well, first let me say – it has been a long time. September 2014 was my last post and that is because of that one sperm that wouldn’t give up and won the prize of becoming Ayla, our daughter. That’s the fancy way to say I had a baby. And she’s great, and I’m great and so grateful.

In September, after I found out I was pregnant I had to admit to myself that what I really wanted was to just be pregnant. To take the time to slow down and be with the baby. So I did.

And Ellen Bowers died. I met Ellen in my early days in Los Angeles and she was a kind, loving and bookish writer. She always wore a little piece of flair – like a flower in her hair or a beautiful scarf. She was the kind of person that could slip in and out of a room unnoticed but when she focused her gaze on you, you felt like you belonged. We shared our grief when our fathers died. She told me about riding a bike all over town when she was pregnant. She was an enthusiastic and committed fan of Room One, commenting on almost every blog post. She was so engaged that sometimes I felt I was having a conversation with her about art and writing through this project. And I loved that. And I loved her. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I just wish Ellen, Georgia and I could continue that conversation.

Lately, I feel my fingers itching to be tap tap tapping at the keyboard searching out the rhythm of the project. I just wasn’t seeing how I could continue with a life so changed by this new role. But today I watched the movie Room – which is wonderful in so many ways – and I remembered that the inspiration for this project was to build rooms, to build environments to live in by searching for the artifacts that create these women. And part of the question was always how does that process change me? I realized also that this being a long duration project meant I could make it a little longer duration. So without knowing the end date, I begin again.

This time I’m bringing the fortifying thought that I was able to push out a baby. I’m bringing a changed body and a level of exhaustion like I’ve never experienced before. I’m bringing a  broken heart, and I’m bringing a rusty tool. I’m bringing the deepest yearning to connect to you through Georgia and the hope that, through her, we will both feel that we belong.






Photo by John loengard

“The river rafters competed with one another to collect unusual stones on their voyage, and Porter found a perfectly round, shiny black rock. He loved telling the story that O’Keeffe took one look and suggested he donate it to her windowsill collection. He refused, saying it was for his wife. The following Thanksgiving, O’Keeffe was invited to their home, and Eliot mischievously placed the rock in the middle of a black marble table in the living room. She not only spotted it, she sereptitiously put it in her pocket when she thought no one was looking. The porters did not know whether to be amused or annoyed. ‘I eventually confronted her with that, and she gave it back-not at all embarrassed,’ said Porter. On their next visit to her house, the Porters donated the stone to her collection. When she told the Life magazine photographer John Loengard that it was her favorite, he photographed it in the palm of her hand.”

Full Bloom – The Art and Life of Georgia O’Keeffe by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

PS: Dear Georgia, this story is too wonderful not to share. I am wondering where that rock is now. i feel i need to find it and slip it in my pocket. but I am travelling to Hungary, Croatia & Bosnia in two days and will be collecting river rocks there for you instead. Love, A


Abstraction II

photo (1)

photo of Georgia O’keeffe’s Jack-in-the-pulpit vi, 1930 from o’keeffe by brita benke


Dear Georgia,

I was thinking today of your series of paintings of Jack-in-the-pulpits where you moved closer and closer to the spadix in each painting, until it is not recognizable for what it is yet it tells the whole story. In O’Keeffe by Brita Benke, Benke says:

“The absolute size of the object, its dimension, is concealed behind the relative size presented within the format of the picture, it’s proportion. O’Keeffe thereby reveals a reverence for all Creation, the same reverence which, according to Walt Whitman, makes no distinction between a leaf of grass and the stars in the firmament.”

In my acting training at Brooklyn College I learned that the sounds within some words hold the feeling, the spark of the word and the very sound itself can evoke the meaning held therein.

I have a desire to take this journey with you, starting at the outer edges and going in in in until we are not talking about you and me anymore but we are waltzing. There is no description necessary. Our breath holds the whole story.

For a very long time I was standing outside the door to your room, this Room Two, listening and hearing nothing inside, afraid to knock for fear I may disturb you. Then I felt one day that you opened the door and we were looking at each other face to face. And you said “yes?” and I rambled here’s what I would like to do, and here’s how and why and it all sounded so weird and fake to me but you left the door open and walked away so I walked in. Now we are here in this room together, and you are watching me trying to pin it down, make sense or explain all of it in some way…like I’m in a museum and I need to find the way to my heart through my eyes.

And your lesson is always the same. Sit and listen. Walk the dog. Make a salad. Paint, write, research. Clean the floors. Bring a sense of beauty to all that you can, and don’t explain yourself. Explaining can begin to sound like a lot of noise and this sky is way too big for all that noise. Just breathe. There is no separation between your breath and that sky.

Suddenly this is all seeming very real.



Thank you to my friend Debra for sitting down and telling me about her recent experiences in Abiquiu, her voice carrying the landscape and Georgia herself across the states to share with me.







Georgia O’Keeffe Series 1-No 1, 1918 Amon Carter Museum

Ever since I started working with you, all words seem like too much. I want to pare back until I find the essence. I don’t want to talk around it but sometimes I don’t know how else to do it…I just keep staring and pointing like a fool.

Maybe it’s time to start painting.


Irving Penn 1948I Stand outside your door for 3 months not knowing if you might answer
I stood outside my door for 8 months before that
and now we are together


Ghost Ranch

It’s my private mountain, God told me if I painted it often enough I could have it.

Dear Georgia,

I have been thinking about the wisdom of the phrase “keep coming back”, which I think is the message of your quote above. A sense of endurance and vision, without any guarantees but some kind of heart wisdom pulsing the truth. (Keep going.) Keep showing up. Keep on.

(You made that mountain yours by painting it)

When I was a little girl my father bought a mountain, which was auspiciously named Peter Mountain (my father’s name). He must have thought that mountain was destined for him too. And indeed it was. My father was like you. (artist capable of magic)

I’m realizing that doing anything in my life takes some kind of intention. I don’t even really have to believe that it is possible, I just have to know that I want to do it and why and then just keep coming back to that whenever I stray. When I was 22 I decided to do a semester abroad in Paris in the Spring. As soon as I decided and started looking at my options I found that I could go to Greece in the Spring, or Paris in the Fall, or Nice in the Spring, or Rome in the Summer. I considered each option and maybe I would have had a wonderful time going to any of these places, but I knew that I had a date with Paris in the Spring. So it became my kind of mantra: Paris in the Spring, Paris in the Spring, Paris in the Spring…

I see my husband doing the same thing now with our upcoming trip to Croatia, which is really his trip to Croatia that I am lucky enough to be a part of. His very cells are singing Croatia in September, Croatia in September…

Intention is important to my meditation practice lately. I sit down to rest, feel my body, relax my mind and pretty soon I am writing my next blog post, or finally making that point to my husband, or worrying over something that happened at work. My teachers in the Shambhala tradition tell me that’s ok. That is what our minds are trained to do (sort things out, find patterns, avoid danger) and all I have to do is realize I’ve strayed and come back…with gentleness, like training a puppy/come back to my intention. It’s not always easy but it is simple.

You are my mountain now, Georgia. If I conjure you often enough, will I be able to live you for a day? What will be the parts of you that become me? (flesh become flesh) (bread into fishes)