Monday, October 09, 2017


"If you can trust nature, by and by you become quiet, silent, happy, joyful, celebrating – because nature is celebrating. Nature is a celebration. Look all around. Can you see any flower which looks like your saints? Can you see any rainbow which looks like your saints? Or any cloud, bird singing, and the light reflecting in the river, and the stars? The world is celebrating. The world is not sad. The world is a song, an utterly beautiful song, and the dance continues. Become part of this dance and trust your nature."

-- Osho


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Three geraniums

The dark creeps in on you and suddenly the days are no longer long. On the train back from London last night, I realized that at 6.30pm it was almost winter. I love the train; I do all the things you aren't meant to do, like stare at people, make eye contact, sometimes chat. I have my little telepathic ideas about everyone. I told a woman the other day that her hair was fantastic. It was curly and wild and she wore it well, without worrying about it. I longed for such confidence.

I wake up in the dark now, in my cozy bed with its Hudson Bay blanket and the two real live furry hot water bottles around my legs and feet. You can hear if it's raining by the sound the cars' wheels make on the road. Mostly it's just drizzle. But today there is wind and from my kitchen window I can see that the trees are veering into yellow and orange, and I dream of Maine and Vermont and pancakes with maple syrup.

I am alone but for the dogs. (Potential burglars: the small one will kill you, no problem.) My darling man is in London as it was the opening of the London Film Festival last night. It's strange not to wake up to his lovely face. He sleeps like an angel, quietly. My French Bulldog snores more than him.  Secretly, I like to be alone. I like to make my own tea, to start slowly, to venture out early with the dogs, to drink in the day, to bathe in nature, like a fool, to be renewed.

Slowly, slowly, I am finding my people. My friend with whom I had tea yesterday, an imp of a woman, smiley and wise, says that it takes two years to find your people when you move to a new place. She is my people. She has somehow managed to rise above class, a notable feat in this country, so that when I speak to her, I feel as if I am speaking to an American friend. There is no barrier, no layers to negotiate, no flinty passive aggression to beat down, just an openness that I understand and appreciate. It's a jungle out here, I tell you. There is just so much stuff to get through, so many little hints and notes that may have meaning (but meaning is always denied; "Oh, it's a JOKE!" or "Oh, no, I'm FINE.") It's snakes and ladders for a foreigner and believe me, I am a foreigner here in the land of my birth. Nothing is dealt with straight on. Which is both good and bad. I am reminded of the way my father asked for the salt to be passed. "Darling, would you like some salt?"

So being with my impish friend, who is a writer and, I dare say, an empath, over a lovely big cup of Darjeeling in a hotel filled with the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen, displayed in various sized milk bottles, is like sitting by a burn in the Scottish highlands, in the sunshine, splashing water on one's face. I'm refreshed and I have a lovely warm feeling, as if I have been eating Ready Brek.

We are two nations divided by a common language. I could write about this for a long, long time. It pulls into focus one's idea about identity, belonging, class, ways to live. I used to believe I spoke both languages fluently. Now, I wonder.

There are three rose-scented geraniums in my kitchen window. I was in house full of plants last week and decided that as winter closes in, we need to bring more green things inside.

Three geraniums. Two potatoes.

And one more thing:

"We are all just walking each other home." -- Ram Dass

I think this is a good thing to remember in these dark times. I think that's what I want to spread about liberally. We are here for a very short time. There is only room to love each other.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017


Taking this opportunity to thank all my lovely friends who supported me in the South Oxfordshire Sponsored Ride. Incredibly happy to say that due to everyone's enormous generosity, we raised over $1800 for Macmillan Cancer Support. I have the nicest friends and the best clients in the world. I also have an expert lorry driver (who's handsome to boot) and a very sweet little mare, who jumped her heart out. Thank you to everyone. I am incredibly grateful. Big love to all of you. (And yes, that's a bottle of Lanson Black Label in my hand!)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Not an accident

It's raining solidly even though the weather apps say it shouldn't be at 4.47am. I have to be up at 6am. Is it worth going back to sleep? Oh the scourge of not sleeping. The agony and the ecstasy. 

One thing I know: what we are on the inside bears no relation to how we look on the outside. The man who lies next to me, tall, elegant, fine-boned, who walks purposefully, his chin up, is a sweet, playful child on the inside, slightly unsure, loving as a puppy. And maybe no-one knows it. Even when he is sleeping he says to me "I love you" if I touch his arm. (The dog who is the other side of the sandwich says it too, I am sure of it, but in grunts and snarfs.) I wonder if that is all we need to survive? That unfailing, unflinching love to protect us from the rain, from our own quiet self loathing, our own lack of faith? Where does the faith go on these sleepless nights?

And then this magic happens. You were one. And how you are half of two. And despite all the things you don't like, all the traits you want to fix, your focusing on the wrong things, your short temper, there is love for you. Unequivocal. (His word, not mine, my darling, another of his.) 

That soft breath juxtaposed with the rain. The owls. The dog in the crook of your knee. The ameliorating of the constant angst. It melts away. 

My friend who has just been given a bipolar diagnosis has been put on a new drug. I don't remember its name; an anti-psychotic. She said "I was swimming in the ocean in rough seas with huge waves and now I am on a desert island." Imagine that. Oh, so this is how life is meant to be? You mean, the anxiety isn't normal? You mean, people don't usually worry over everything tiny thing? You mean, there is love for you even if you are terribly, terribly flawed? You mean imperfect is the new perfect? Ha ha. 

Bathe in light. Love the soft rain. Remember the warmth and the fine silk threads that bind us all to everything else. This is not an accident. 



Monday, September 25, 2017

compôte de pommes

I'm eating homemade apple sauce (they call it compote here, but it's apple sauce) and greek yogurt with honey. It's delicious. I keep licking the spoon.  I'm alone at my kitchen table. The apples are from my tree. I have three apple trees, maybe four. There are so many apples that they are rotting on the lawn. The dog collect them, play with them, throw them to each other, leave them under my bed. Last night I made roast pork with crackling and apple sauce and mashed sweet and roast potatoes in goose fat. There are white flowers on my table. It's so cold that I've put a big old Hudson Bay blanket from LL Bean on my bed. It's a week of first. I'm going autumn hunting (cubbing) on Thursday for the first time, and on Sunday I'm doing a sponsored ride - cross country over thirty fences. My finger is broken but I don't care. This is what life is meant to be. A big fat, slightly scary adventure. And I think, broken finger crossed, that my son is coming for Christmas. I hardly know how to contain my whoops.
Here's to my brave little mare, who makes my life so much better.
Here's to my amazing friends who have sponsored me (bit overwhelmed by the kindness).
And here's to everything kinda, sorta, working out in the end.
I feel blessed.
Thank you.

PS. Hillary Clinton's book is a MUST READ.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Remember

By the first of August
the invisible beetles began
to snore and the grass was
as tough as hemp and was
no color—no more than
the sand was a color and
we had worn our bare feet
bare since the twentieth
of June and there were times
we forgot to wind up your
alarm clock and some nights
we took our gin warm and neat
from old jelly glasses while
the sun blew out of sight
like a red picture hat and
one day I tied my hair back
with a ribbon and you said
that I looked almost like
a puritan lady and what
I remember best is that
the door to your room was
the door to mine.

-- Anne Sexton


Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Home Again

So I haven't seen the new Meyers-Shyer film but I've read some of the reactions, the tweets, a few reviews. And this profile of her by my friend Amy Kaufman. It's one of those movies with a cute trailer, a winning Reese Witherspoon, and a Brentwood house to die for. It makes me miss LA, and it makes me miss the silliness of LA, the brilliantly lovely artifice. (England is not without its own artifice; each city has a unique claim.) It makes me think of delicious houses on the west side, with immaculate, sparkling kitchens with carrera marbled surfaces that make you want to make bread, even if you're not a baker, of light pouring in through big windows, the sound of the birds, a glimpse of pink bougainvillea, a civilized terrace with a couple of chaise longues in a muted beige, and perhaps a cashmere throw next to the NY Times (they only get the Sunday edition, for the Styles section, natch). It reminds me of friends houses, or, specifically, industry friends houses, with discreet housekeepers just out of frame as photographs are taken, and forced niceties, even of the most genuine kind. Of parents just out of touch with reality, and materialistic children (oh, honey, they'll grow out of it). It reminds me of the gauzy reality of Los Angeles. Not now perhaps, when it's being assaulted with the highest temperatures and the worst fire on record, but most of the year when it's pleasant and 75 degrees, and you don't have to worry about coats, raincoats or walking shoes. When you can wear ridiculously inappropriate dresses and heels because you're driving your air-conditioned car, and there is no weather to think of. It reminds me of perfect restaurants whose first thought is ambience and making the farm-to-table feel authentic. Of patrons that are so hip that they could be from central casting.

And you think I'm being catty? No, this is the LA I love. Along with the melon-pink sunsets, and the way the brown haze has a terracotta glow to it just above the hills, the way you can listen to the radios of the people driving next to you on the 101. Where you're not alone in loving Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, or where Larry Mantle is something you can discuss with your kids over dinner. The way you can have a yearning for an al pastor taco and you know exactly where to find that truck. The way that your friends don't know what mud is, and every hand you encounter is manicured with square, perfect nails in effortlessly chic shades. It's like, you just know.

I miss the shop girls with the Hermes bags. The perfect high school dads who are attorneys during the week, who wear Nike and Adidas to show they know casual, who shop at Supreme, because they're down, and drive Teslas and Priuses because, you know, Range Rovers are just not cool. I miss the Brentwood Country Mart, the moms who hang out at the Starbucks, the ayurvedic spas, the pho joints on Western, where you go to feel smug, because they're, you know, the real deal.

And the sunshine, and the kindness, and the warm smiles that may be vapid, but at least their hearts are opened, and their bellies filled with green juice.

Yeah, so, I'm jealous I didn't make that movie. That movie makes me feel like home. That movie makes me wanted to snuggle up on our old brown leather sofa with the weird homemade cushions I got in Del Mar when Minky was horse showing and I can't resist a home store, with my kids, in sweats, eating chopped salads from La Scala, and watch a bad rom com set in the city we love, with all its fakery. It's all for Hollywood, but we're winking at each other anyway, because we know it too, and we're in on the game. It's our genre. It's how we live, which just a sprinkling of a veneer of unreality, under sunny, blue skies, and the roar of motorbikes ridden by aspiring actors in their muscle shirts coming up from the canyon. It's pretend. It's make believe. But it's our make believe.

Addendum: A friend just put up an article on grief from Thrive, which I randomly clicked on. Here are the first two sentences:

Another way to say that you are grieving is that a part of you is stuck in a moment in time. 
 Sometimes the cause of the stuckness isn’t the grief itself, but the fact that you don’t even recognize that you’ve lost something and that you need to grieve.