A Christmas Story

Oh what a life I lead!

I woke with a start at yesterday’s dawn and thought, Oh my God! There’s something magic going on! And I don’t actually know what it turned into as the day transpired except the excitement never quite left.

What did happen was that late afternoon a young man, 20 years young, came into the gallery. He was in a sort of dissolute wandering and within minutes had burst out much of his sweet troubled confusion. Most of which was attributable to being 20.

He was on a mandatory hunt for a job. His parents, with whom he lives here when he’s not at UC Santa Barbara surfing and getting a degree in the most odd Environmental Sciences (holy shit) had sent him on a mission in some sudden panic their boy would never be able to earn a living and threatened to withhold funding his upcoming trip.

He has been restless in their presence and it upset them. He doesn’t really want to stay in college. He wants hands-on adventuring. He’s scheduled to go to Thailand in three weeks for several months to study all the usual idiot stuff, credit-earning, of eco this and that and sustainable whatevers. And surf. He has no success with the girls. (I have to laugh, whoever has success with mates!) He got himself off psychotropic drugs to deal with his ennui PRESCRIBED BY THE UNIVERSITY!!!!!!!!! Mother of God the world’s gone mad. And finds he likes having moods after all. Tall, good looking, slim athletic kid I am sure Trevor sent me.

He’s been drawing and painting on his own, watercolors, and writes poetry.

Well, obviously he landed in the lion’s den and I couldn’t restrain myself from encouraging him to abandon all pressures of conventional satisfying idiot planning of his life and go climb a mountain. (He’d said he thinks he’s just got something figured out and then turns around and the mountain he thought he was on top of looms even larger and he’s on the bottom.)

It was so exhilarating. And he was really engaging in a lovely way with what I was saying. He felt one removed from all his friends who seemed so complacent on the paths they were on. Including the girls . . . I asked if he was drawn to women who fit somebody else’s picture and he allowed that they had seemed very happy with the lives they had and not interested in much otherwise.

Then in the midst of my revealing the possibilities of the world he might not have considered (including tales of travel, looking at my Gandy Dancer, an astounding art teacher I had and what I learned from him) Old Tom came wobbling in, announced as is his habit, I’m Ninety!, and I made the young man, Peter, sit down and had Tom sit down and I sat down and I made Tom regale the espionage-riddled story of his midnight hospital escape. Which Peter really liked. We were all laughing so hard.

After which I said (as Peter had half-heartedly tried to escape the old fogeys earlier) that he was free to leave at any time . . . and Tom got up, pleased with his relevance to a new generation, and Peter and Tom left. Before departing Peter stopped at the gallery door with me and said everything looked different to him! You could see it on his face. I recommended a couple of places he could get short term holiday work, and the whole place was aglow.

Essentially I think I told him what it has taken me so long to learn which is to kind of step aside from the problem and observe it with a clear distant-making eye. Here he had parents who loved him and would likely support anything he wanted to do. But they want to see him on some good track and relax about their son, and feel as if they’re good parents who have given him what he needed. And in the mix all the dopey business of how it looks on the outside. And if he could figure out what all that required and satisfy it he would stop feeling torn in so many directions (I assured him that was normal and the product of youth and worth celebrating) and go about doing whatever the hell intrigued his dear heart.

What a Christmas present.

And it made me think again about the children’s book I’ve half begun called, What Does It Mean To Be Good. Which I mainly thought to direct at 7-8 year old’s but it’s probably a good life-long shove also for the parents brave enough to read it out loud to the little ears around them.

All day painting yesterday, really lovely, Peter and Tom’s perfect interlude, and picturing you now heading across vast expansive steppes of Tex.

Bob returned the pile of plates I’d given him with a lovely piece of berry pie tucked inside. Oh what a life I lead.



Salvador DALI  stopped by.
APRIL 8, 2018
 DEAR FOLLOWERS   &   FRIENDS OF Barbara Sparhawk, my friend:
For the past 2 month she has  been battling the sudden appearance of brain tumors,  out of the blue and devastating, crippling a diagnosis connected to blindness which has radically affected her  entire life.  The tumors are being successfully  shrunken, a miracle in every way, (and in one of the most  beautiful places on earth) near her home.
Before long  she will be back to her  creative life which has governed who she has been since birth. 


FROM SPARHAWK:   My art work on many forms such as cards and posters and clothing and all things is available from   REDBUBBLE
Please continue to visit, observe, and enjoy my  work, and comment.  You are all very important to me and I am so happy for your presence in my life.
Bless you one and all, I’m winning this battle but didn’t dream it possible, rounding the bend, the little Engine who Could.
I have dozens of stories, novels, screenplays, children’s books, illustrations, and paintings and who knows what else left in me. Stand by!







Angels, Dancing on Treetops (2)






When I get up to the Pearly Gates, if that indeed might be where I’m headed, I will walk briskly (with a sinner’s confidence) to the Saintly vision of Peter, my arms extended in my fresh unearthly joy, and the Saint, who will know me, rising, flushed of face (and seriously annoyed) will, in exasperation, ask:
“How could you have missed THAT?”

I will be stopped in my tracks.
                           “The other day…with your friend… I heard you, and I find you did not know. You did not know? We pointed!”   he will continue.

 “We placed you in front of it, we moved you there, we poked and prodded!  Why, we even cast sunbeams and danced moonbeams on it. ”   Saint Peter turns for corroboration, hands spread wide palms up for emphasis to a cherub at his side–who nods emphatically, excitedly– “We had you live beside them. See them daily. Sleep by them nightly. We had you feed the horses there, right where they were, miles of them!”.   He will stop just short of shouting:  “In a line!”

“And here again just this brief while ago, bringing you into a new place to live so you could look down your hill into your valley below and see all the beauty, all the color…..HOW can you have missed that!”

Oh dear.

All this inspired by one of my last conversations, being told by an observant girl whose young  heart swells at the sight of the woody places, streams and trees….

“I love the Sycamore for that,” she’d said to me, “you can always trace a river or streams hidden in a forest by the Sycamores growing alongside it. Look down there, see?  Now the leaves all orange and gold; you will find the river at its roots, you will always find water….beside the Sycamore.”

It was mid December, we’d had two frosts, we’d passed the shortest day.
Honestly I was shocked.  With these  truths Saint Peter addressed to me, that everything at heaven’s command had been done to put me in the path of woodland habits, and it had all indeed overwhelmed me, an emotional feast I’d never finish, and sure I’d seen every particle…. yet I had missed this most ordinary truth.
“Oh! Of course. You’re right, you’re right!”   Hot tears leapt from my eyes.   “HOW did I miss that?”

And left me wondering how much else I’ve missed. Would the heavens be an endless scold from here through eternity. Well no, no that’s not very nice, and improbable. But what ELSE have I missed.  I thought I’d seen so much.  I’d boasted to myself of all I’d seen in my long years.

But if I failed to know the Sycamore and what they mark, and  I had lived among, then…..
…..What colors have I failed to observe. What minute’s turning to me of a friendly face, a smile I abandoned too soon. What bright light from a baby’s eyes sent to me like a piercing message I must never forget — yet did not let register. What music, what delight, what pain, what love. What gentle brush of a wagging tail. What barely felt breezes stirring from the crow’s wings. The kindness of the bus driver who stopped at the patter of my running feet. The twice-warmed coffee, the special dish, the hearty greeting. The rising sun’s heroics….. from which I had driven west.
How could I have missed that.

I think we can experience everything, you know, have it all.  We have so many receptors, unused, untried, even unknown. So that walking forward with assurance that every nuance be seized, filtered in by hair and smell and dangerously opportunistic raw flesh…..open to all of it, because knowing is living.

I’ll try.

I mean to say, the thought itself  must be a poke from heaven, must it not?

Wouldn’t it be marvelous to surprise the Saints and ourselves simply by paying attention a bit more.

Happy New Year.  Here comes 2018.




This could never be done today, the risk of too many offended in a world that forbids laughter.

But from long ago and far away Andy Kaufman, here in his prime, on Johnny Carson’s TV show, returns to clear our minds of short fat dictators, the latest drug and porn saturated celebrity popping up naked on the news, or Stalinist show trials in DC.

Sit back, do your heart good.




Once upon a time and last century, actor and author Sir Peter Ustinov himself (5/16/21  –  3/38/04)   ustinov    (or someone equally delightful) had the brilliant idea of Ustinov’s going to Italy to interview opera sensation Luciano Pavarotti  (10/12/35 – 9/16/07)       Pavorotti

in his backyard ~~and swimming pool .

The link below is a filmed account of their time together.  I don’t know where we might have more fun watching people we may not know personally while away an afternoon in the most endearing, funny, clever, masculine, exchange between two accomplished human beings who are enjoying one another.  This took place in 1994, via BBC.  There is no mention of the politics of either men.

EXQUISITE SOPRANO  JOAN  SUTHERLAND  (11/7/26 to 10/11/2010)  sotherland  (I’m about 95% sure it was she),  Luciano Pavarotti’s frequent and beloved singing partner, once said in an interview (when she could stop laughing) that the tenor was famous for his on-stage tricks, you never knew what he was going to do except that you could not fail to sing through it, not let the audience in on the audaciousness.  Pavarotti, she said, would walk up behind her and slip a warm sausage (likely Italian) into her hand.

New York was insane inlove with Luciano Pavarotti in his prime and regularly at the very fine Metropolitan Opera House. I was working for ABC TV, evening news writer, in 1981, and got sent with a camera crew to get some “B” Roll background footage, no talking, just the bows, too fabuloso when he appeared with Frank Sinatra at Carnegie Hall. I remember the red peep-toe leather heels I refused to change from and my blue wet feet from the ice-slush streets. Sigh.  Some moments are worth sacrificing terrific shoes for. I never forgot a second of it.

There is such a thing a sexual fun between the genders, if we may still recognize and appreciate what genders are…..and enjoy each other for our differences, remember happiness, a love of life, and each other, and be assured…remember…that not all humankind is cut from the same sadistic cloth on display in the daily news.


>Take it away, Peter and Luciano<<.

>>And more Peter and Luciano…..<<

peter us.











FREDERICK L. GREGORY, Granite Sculptor, R.I.P.

JULY 19,1938  ~  JULY 23, 2017

FREDERICK  (Rick) L.  GREGORY,  Gone too soon.

We (I mean the country, the world, the mortal universe) just lost Rick Gregory who held on through a rough year and made it by 5 days past his 79th birthday.  This was some singular, remarkable guy.

I did this oil portrait of Rick around 1999.  I wanted to give him a kind of Apollo look, unlimited skyward eyes, and blueprints clutched in his powerful, workman’s hands.  The only thing I left out was one of his famous bandannas, never without one.

One of his early jobs was in a huge laundry, hauling wet washes through and around machines in Fresno,…..same thing Jack London did half a century earlier in roughly the same neighborhood (Valley of the Moon describes it, Oakland).  Rick called himself a “hod-carrier, the sonofabitch who takes huge wood trowels of cement up ladders”  to the construction crews.  What he loved most was picturing what a landscape needed then making its dreams come true…..water and stone and water and stone and plant life.

Rick was an American granite sculptor, from up Fresno way, who found himself racing sailboats and being on the winning Americas Cup team to  Brazil, some years back, staying awhile in Rio to learn from the famed sculptor Noguchi, falling in love with a gorgeous Rio beauty and marrying her, fathering a spectacular daughter (Alexandra) who came to California to be with him, and in his long fabulous lifetime Rick was building gardens and water works all over the world, represented by Big Sur, Rio, Carmel galleries and in fabulous homes, estates, industries.  His religion, he said, was Landscape.

Rick Gregory in front of his Sculpture Garden in Carmel Valley, Central Coast, California                           Pen & Ink by BD Sparhawk


Rick’s  daughter  hosted a spectacular and touching memorial for all his friends this last Sunday, and I gave her the portrait of Rick, which she’d seen and loves, bless her heart. So many friends wanted a picture or poster or card, I’ve put it on my Redbubble Sparhawk Site so you can order things with the image, for those of you who’d like to do so.  I hope I’m not embarrassing you good buddy.  Rick.  You always had a very healthy ego but you were never vain.  Wonder if you know how much you were loved.





You can email me at  bdsparhawk@gmail.com


BD Sparhawk



RUMER GODDEN, the one and only


The Golden Cat on Silk



Definitely one of my favorites, the endearing Brit authored children’s books, novels, fiction and non, and gave us movies her writing inspired. The images she creates!  I am swept into a rare ship at sea by her, only to be kept in sight of shore, not to be released from her spell of lulling waves or violent shipwreck passages when I might close her books and tear free –until I collapse in reluctant hallucinatory exhaustion.

Rumer (also a professional dancer, and dance teacher; named after a beloved relation) and her sisters were raised in India and this rich banquet she kept exploring (not leaving for England til 12 years old then back and forth, raising her infant daughters in Kashmir before and during WWII) is the setting of her many stories, including, most especially, the miraculous “BLACK NARCISSUS”.  Indescribable. An order of Nuns are gifted a former Indian General’s brothel perched 10,000 feet up on a cliff in the Himalayas, where they intend to heal the sick and tutor the unschooled; the view and ceaseless winds of this oddly beautiful castle prove a stunning unsettlement to all who dare take it on.  The movie, (made by the Archer’s team Powell and Pressburger”  is extraordinary, worth seeing a dozen times, potent in color and form and acting, very rare in every way with a superb cast, delightful; frightening; brilliant.

But it is this RUMER GODDEN  passage I want to bring to you, and it is from her memoir, A TIME TO DANCE, NO TIME TO WEEP”, which is bloody marvelous and full of fearless originality, independence; courage and joy.  She speaks so honestly and directly, describing the sheltered child’s ritual expectance of palatial indulgence —and then wrenching poverty, surviving in strange and dangerous, hostile worlds. She has an endless curiosity for life, people, and how to survive. She knows early she will be a writer, comes late to success.

What I loved about this small Rumer Godden inserted mid-book is the kind of thinking we, the reader, are invited to take on as our own.  It’s all full of  knowing that any and all things are, after all, possible.  There is here a life to lead, apush out of complacency,  start and do things we never dreamt before.

This, page 164 from Godden’s “A Time to Dance, No Time to Weep”, is it:

Pfeiffer Beach, Crashing Boulders


“Once upon a time, perhaps when Noah lived and perhaps this flood was Noah’s flood too, in another time when the earth was filled with violence, the waters of Teesta river in North Bengal, India, began to rise int he valleys of the Himalayas, whose ranges are higher and more terrible than the Andes.  The water rose higher and higher, past the foothills and the lower hills, past the villages of Riyang and Teesta and the people began to be seriously afraid that their retreat would be cut off by the sky.  Only the spines of the ridges showed in the water, spines of monsters and dragons petrified, with their colours hidden in the Teesta that today, after the rains, is that same milky blue.  The prayer flags were snatched and carried to the to the ridge, horns blew and the drums sounded, while behind and inaccessible, the line of snows that not even a flood could reach, reared themselves into the sky.

Down below them the consternation continued and the water spread and rose and spread.

In a temple at the top of one of these ridges, a Lama was saying his prayers.  The people went in and disturbed him, but they disturbed him quietly; the horns stopped blowing, the drums were not beaten, and the people stood still as their headman went to him.

‘Well, what is it?’ said the Lama.

‘The water — the water is coming up.’  It was.  The people were standing in it; it was lapping the temple steps.,

‘Tell it to go down,’ said the Lama.

‘Tell it?’ 

‘Yes.  Give it a positive order.’

‘But it won’t pay attention.’

‘Won’t it?’ said the Lama. ‘Then I must tell it myself.’   And he came out from his prayers and put out his hand.

I think of him as looking Chinese in a stiff robe, with a Chinese absorbed and peaceful face. He looked at the spines of the hills and the water swirling round them and the jumbled colours of the people and their frightened faces and silent horns and agitated flags; he looked up at the sky and the unmoving snows and back at the water, and he put out his hand and said, ‘Rungli-Rungliot. Thus far and no further.’

The flood immediately stopped; the water went down and the Lama went back to his prayers.

The words that he said stayed there in the place, as its name.”                                            (End of passage)

 Rumer  Godden adds:   (“Rungli-Rungliot is a real place on the spur of Himalays, facing south above the plains and the gorge of the little Runglee river that they say was left behind by accident when the Teesta water fell.”)

======================================            ===========================

Original oil painting above is by Sparhawk. “Pfeiffer Beach, Crashing Boulders’, it was sold to a family visiting my Big Sur gallery from Japan;  the photograph of author Rumer Godden is from the internet unattributed;the golden tabby cat on top is the marvelously beautiful Tommy Jefferson.


CHARLOTTE, or: Girl With Apple


Charlotte:  Girl With Apple  (oil on canvas, c. 12X12 inches. Portrait by B Sparhawk)

DSCF8496Detail 1, Portrait of Charlotte

And whom, you may well ask is this heavenly Charlotte?

She is the love of the sister of a friend of me the portrait painter.

DSCF8504Detail 2, Portrait of Charlotte

And you may well wonder too what is the apple doing next to the beautiful dog.

There is an explanation of sorts for that.

DSCF8502Detail 3, Portrait of Charotte

It arises from a painting of a boy, (not (so you know) by Czech master Johannes Van Hoytl the Younger ~~who does not exist~~ but by the lovely English painter, Michael Taylor, who is alive.  With an apple) known and feverishly described all over the internet as “Boy With Apple”.

DSCF8497Portrait of Charlotte, in the Studio

Has any painting we may wonder had such an effect on the public since the spark of life between Adam and God, or that interesting Dutch fellow’s sunflowers.

I was amazed, when I looked at some point, that it was definitely not just me taking note but a chunk of the universe.  Do you know this work?

OR IS IT POSSIBLE  that some one or 2 among you may not have seen the marvelous “GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL”  movie.

A Wes Anderson film with a fabulous cast (listed below in tags) and thrillingly delish story acted out in a kind of Chaplin-marionette brilliance of unreal people borrowing randomly from history and human behavior, an emphasis equally on: purity, rough fellows, innocence, crippled shoe-shine boy, attentive clever lobby boy and servants, a funicula, politics, soldiers, and wicked gangsterism.

And luxurious settings but also a harsh prison.

And money coming and going.

Of course a nicely done painting.

And pastry to die for (plus the recipe).

The movie’s underlying roundabout goes dashing in and out of the inheriting in, thieving of, related murdering related to, loss and gain of loves and lives and property and most especially…focused on a portrait done in fine Renaissance style  by a modern artist, called:  “BOY WITH APPLE”.

At first blush I  fell in love with the movie and the painting.  I have checked it out of the local library DVD collection to keep watching it,  about 25 times so far.

That painting effected (subconsciously and quite out loud) any number of canvases I painted afterward for months, but none so especially or delightfully or movingly or filled with pleasure for me as this ~~suddenly (in real-time and real life) by surprise commissioned portrait of Charlotte.  Who is, as said earlier, the love of the life of the sister of a dear friend.

I was struck at once by Charlotte’s medieval cathedral palazzo civilized wavy elegant good looks.  I knew that there would appear stone walls and columns and breezed-up draperies and lace hankies and dragonflies in profusion and twilight glow and small romantic freshly plucked bouquets and an offering on a Merano hand blown glass thingy which turned (very nearly of its own accord) from a toy ball to an apple.

Here is a bit more on the portrait & principals.   Click here

And about the film.  Click here.

And about Michael Taylor, painter:  Click here


…If anyone is interested in a storytale portrait of their animals or offspring or loved ones or something fancied, do let me know.  

It’s what I do.

INQUIRIES:  PLEASE EMAIL     bdsparhawk@gmail.com

will do the trick nicely. As with Charlotte I work chiefly or entirely with photographs.

I promise to respond.

Tickled pink you’ve stopped by.







Sparhawk oil portrait of Van Gogh, c. 1999



Vincent Van Gogh’s letter to Theo Van Gogh, 1883, from the Hague, on his third year of having begun to be an artist.

I’ve been years writing my autobiography. In it Vincent Van Gogh comes to visit me this one anguished young painter’s night in Brooklyn. I ‘m in my early 20’s, in the clutch of death by brush, not knowing enough to translate my visions to canvas and I have conjured him up. He stays and advises and the most marvelous grand adventures happen in the following year. During which my own story unfolds. My book begins when I am packing up and leaving Yosemite, remembering back decades to that midnight I first saw him.

Constant warfare my whole life.  Like an old soldier now done with war. What were the whirling years, to whom did they  belong.  Not a stranger, no not a stranger.     An earlier me.”

to be continued…………




APRIL 6, 2017

I came very close to missing this muscular display.


                                                                    There had been inexplicable crashing outbursts,  sounds of fury signifying who knew what….things carried off my deck by wild winds?   Hurtling through the air endangering aircraft? Planets?

How were the birds reacting?

 Could  my apple tree still be covered in blooms?

DSCF8145I wandered to the great valley windows, then into the larger outdoors…..to discover a sky like I’ve never seen before in my life. 


It lasted through dark of night, releasing brief  shots of brilliant moon before going black again,DSCF8157 and by dawn had become mist and rain.


Everything got a good blast of the elements, all of us better off for it, the senses pummeled and thrilled.Apple Tree, Hilltop, early April, 2017

“THE NEW HAT”~ Sparhawk painting



I painted this years ago in one hot humid summer week.  I was exploring me, testing my mettle on 60 desolate acres in the log cabin I’d rented in Blue Ridge mountains alongside Harper’s Ferry, where I feverishly filled canvases with pictures for a gallery I found that said they’d take me, and filled notebooks with words for the bones of a novel, for which the publisher remains unfound.



I needed a break. Too broke to shop for real (and DC was about 2 hours east), this was the substitute. Okay, imagine with me: speeding off in a fabulous little (Robin’s egg blue) Sunbeam Alpine convertible (my dilapidated old Ford on its last legs) to an unbelievably divine shop (somewhere) and buying a hat! matching the dress! Not a farm hat but one incapable of protecting from wind or rain or bees, simply THE superb bonnet made for late afternoon drinks in an incredibly gorgeous famous old Washington bar with a handsome poet who just phoned he’d be landing his seaplane on the Shenandoah especially to meet me ~~4:30 sharp  ~or thereabouts. Be there! He could only stay til Wednesday. Before which he’d be ripping off said new hat etc. and we would be lost to lust. So here in the picture, rushed home to try it on, all the bits around including the hatbox and tissue it came in, getting ready for my quick dip in the pond then roaring off on the long and dusty trail to my rendezvous. Oh what a life!

Well, I thought about it all week while I worked on this, and the marvelous fantasy embroidered itself in. Big canvas too, about 7 X 4 feet. It went to the gallery in Middleburg,  Virginia where it did not sell.

The following fall I moved west.  The New Hat  went from east coast storage to garage to covering a broken fireplace flue above the mantelpiece in some godforsaken cottage; then across America in moving vans to horse ranches and eventually slotted into the back of a 1974 Chevy & up the mountains of Yosemite.  There, 7  years later on the day before I moved back to the coast The New Hat sold to the Yosemite gallery owner who’d exhibited my work and fallen in love with it. Which happily covered gas and my first month at a fellow artist’s house in Pebble Beach, a room of my own en suite, the smell and sound of the sea, and the sight of the breakers  below. And some sweet romps with an interesting surfer who never read poetry or wrote it, preferred beer to Benedictine, couldn’t pilot a plane, didn’t like being indoors ever but knew how to handle serious waves and me, and did nice work with fish on a campfire, too.

There’s never any telling where a new hat will take you.














2003 to 2004 I lived in two places and both, though separate, were the gateway mountains  of Yosemite — The High Sierras.  The first place up at 5200 feet is the subject here.  The second was a peculiar old gold miner’s shack at a slightly lower elevation, a place of equal  peculiarities and dangers    (detailed in my splendid story collection: The Gandy Dancer and Other Short Stories, (Amazon et al) which Robert Redford absolutely fell in love with and told me so but for some reason known only to God has not purchased–yet–for movie-making,  because he’d be marvelous in or directing any one of them & I could use the bread). (Also Mr Redford if you missed it read  Charles, The Man Who Lived Through Wars  here, it’s terrific!)

But I digress.  The FLYING SAUCERS OF YOSEMITE are not uncommon.  In fact they’re so common it turns out nobody much says much unless it’s about the one last night on my roof, or did you catch the three in a row doing flips and hurling pods.  There were especial frequencies of the huge triangle-shaped ones blotting out the stars of the spectacular night skies.  That’s how you knew.  You’d be looking up, pulled roadside spooning with a loved one, or solitary–spooning Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough from the carton–and say, “Hey, what happened to the stars over there?  It’s like a big black triangle thingy the size of a football field chewed up the stars, oh wait a minute, that’s one of those flying saucers everybody sees,  all the corners are blinking.  I’ll just leave before they see me…” 

On a lovely day, a day this very same week in March in fact but 14 years ago, I was meandering around the cabin I’d rented.  It was near sundown.  It had been warm and gorgeous. A night of spectacular clarity with a big full moon against fabulous clouds was on its way.  And I was on living top of the highest mountain around, facing west, Bass Lake down below, up higher than Ahwanee.  And this appeared in front of me. Silent.



This phenomenon unfolded from the start of sundown into the dark of night, a rising moon in cloud cover, and a flying saucer drifting across the sky over a period of easily an hour.  Slow as can be. Stayed pure horizontal no up or down. No sound.  Enough time for me to call a friend from down the hill in town who took 15 maybe 20 minutes to close her shop and arrive.  I took pictures. Here they are. What is it if not a spacecraft from some marvelous place where Earthlings are adored, slowed down to say howdy, headed to (or from) the mother ship.














I’d love to know what you think.  Or if it’s a message you got that night on your mountain, too.  I know, looks like a duck, flies like a duck. But it’s not a duck.





                                                                  HEY LITTLE GIRL !


                                                        ROLL YOUR OWN TAMPAX —


                                                                     10 SECONDS —


                                                                 NEAR ZERO CENTS  —




          (PS– You DO NOT need a College Education or College Loan or HS Diploma to figure this out)


2. ROLL OUT APPROXIMATELY 24 INCHES OF TOILET PAPER (about 6 sections). (Adjusting length and thickness to heaviness of menstrual flow)
9. WHEN HOME-MADE TAMPAX IS SATURATED (just like the store-bought kind) it will come out all of its own accord when you next use the toilet. You DO NOT need some pulley string.

Now girls, really.  There seems to be a rising fetish in which shouting out body parts and figuratively rubbing bodily function in the faces of innocents has come to be considered fun.  And crotch-grabbing. (And yes by the way, I too am sick to death of hearing all the jolly updates about erectile dysfunction).


Many moons previous (1967) there was a clever movie made called  “TO SIR WITH LOVE”  which saw to the education of rowdy, troubled British high school students. One of them, maybe LULU the dear Brit singer, heaved a soiled pad at the teacher, Sidney Poitier, who did not take kindly to that.  And whereas he did not teach the girls what I have just taught you on this page, the lives of the kiddies was improved because a grown up called them out.


Vulgarity does not necessarily rule supreme unless it’s ALL you ever expect for your life.

And forcing tax payers to cover your every expense from cradle to grave is not a sign of cleverness.  Indeed it will cost you more dearly than you have stopped to calculate.


The whining feminists of 2017 exhibit a stunning lack of inventiveness, along with the fine American pioneer spirit to be bold, independent,  and resourceful.


I ask you, if this is feminism today…why did my mother’s generation fight for the right to vote and wear trousers, and my generation burn our bras and panties and leap through the glass ceilings?

If you want to do some global good for the vagina, fight the female genital mutilation being practiced.

Now THERE’S a cause for a generation.


Using the glorious freedom of roll-your-own  —  I have happily worked construction jobs, painted billboards high above Times Square, painted carousels and rides in Coney Island, camped in the woods, sailed in boats, tended bars, climbed pyramids, danced on pianos, ridden horses — and not bled all over myself and others even when I was dead broke and couldn’t afford somebody else’s equipment for my hygiene.  And NOT ONCE chatted up strangers about my private parts and life.


Grow up, honey.

If you think you can stand it.

Shut up and roll.




I just found this movie at the local library and really, you’ve got to find and see this as it will rearrange your brain.  But in a good way.


Adapted from the runaway international best seller: ” THE 100-YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED”.   The biggest  grossing Swedish film of all time.

Directed By FELIX HERNGREN, 2013


                                       Last night as rain relentlessly poured down on droughted old California I was cozied up and eating a fabulous dinner I’d made, awash in a lovely Australian Ruby Port, trying to not roll off the couch laughing because of heretofore unknown, unseen, unheralded (to me) Swedish (heavily subtitled, part in spoken English) movie, featuring the  hysterically funny escapades of my new hero, Allan Karlson, The 100 Year Old Man.

He’s a kind of Scandinavian  Forrest Gump whom we meet as he escapes his boring retirement home. The candles for his ho-humish 100th birthday cake are being set alight in the room next door.  Allan is a long way not finished with living. Out the window he goes.

His past unfolds before us in remarkable flashbacks. There isn’t anything he hasn’t done, improbably unscathed, though –like Forrest– is sort of someone you might not want to spend time with so much as get to know from a distance. Allan loves dynamite more than life itself and most especially blowing things up. The pursuit of which over the course of a hundred years variously gets him locked away,  drafted into world wars, cajoled into fighting the Spanish Civil War, a comradery with Franco, building skyscrapers in NY, a fabulous prisoner of war bit with Einstein’s idiot brother (I know, me too), instructing Oppenheimer on the Manhattan Project, advising Stalin, becoming a daring double agent in the Cold War, and  now ~~in present day~~ being chased by a really mean filthy lot of killer Swedish biker thugs called the “NEVER AGAIN” Gang (I know, me too).  Out of necessity, Allan is killing people (only the bad ones) and blowing up a lot of things along the way.  Citizens and cops in pursuit.

Allan has sort of inadvertently stolen millions of dollars from one of the Swedish bikers. Which rightfully belongs to an Aussie gangster. Who is living la vida loco. In Bali. By the time we learn this, Allan’s fallen in with 2 odd fellows with time on their hands, and a really charming pretty young woman whose otherwise useless ex-boyfriend (one of the bikers) shows up hunting for the moolah, then wants to rekindle their romance (he had somewhat redeemed himself once when he rescued a circus elephant for her) (but he’s no longer worth shit). She keeps the elephant, named Sonya, in the barn.

All the wrong people get credit for things they didn’t do of course, the bad guys are sorted out from the good ones, the heroes are made accidentally, the animals do very well, and there you are, it’s worth the time just to be reminded how remarkably we can live without hardly trying. And no it’s not the Mel Brooks 500 year old man which I’d thought in the first place when I took it home.

The filmmaker, director, book author and whole unlikely lot took two years making this strange Swedish opus.  You can’t hardly tell you’re on the planet except everyone’s so human. It’s kind of like you’re somewhere being fed somemores, hearing the story told and you can’t wait for more, and you never have to leave the campfire.



click here: TRAILER ~~ 100 YEAR OLD MAN



THE DEAD OF THE OAKLAND GHOST SHIP. Blood on the Hands of the Multiculturalists.


                                      THE DEAD OF THE OAKLAND GHOST SHIP FIRE 

920x920   Blood on the Hands of Multiculturalists.  No Sanctuary City for Independent Whites.


I heard of dead youngsters hauled from Oakland’s inferno, who then were identified, whose faces then went to broadcast. I saw the dead artists. I said aloud:

                         “But they’re white. No one will feel their pain.”

Suffer the little children. They could have been me. I am sister to Oakland’s Ghost Ship Corpses and I must speak.

Who is San Francisco.  Yes.  And who are the  sidewalks and Universities of America, Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany……..where Diversity is code for Not Safe for Whites Here.

Did Black, Asian, Middle East, Hispanic Oakland City Inspectors get orders to ignore Whites in substandard housing? Will we ever know.

Few crying the horror of exclusion, who rage and fury at exclusion as a philosophy or business practice, in a government…..few may be counted on to be welcoming to Whites.

I speak with some credentials and experience.  I have been painting, drawing, and writing since infancy and never gave it up and it even earned me a living wage during interludes from salaried jobs.  I still gauge the merits of studios based on how often my nose goes red and runny from the cold. I’ve done the tribulations and glories of creative endeavor in France, London, and East Europe; Mexico City, Cuernavaca; Quebec; NY’s Chinatown, Lower East Side, Brooklyn; the Blue Ridge Mountains, Big Sur’s redwood and sea salted air, Yosemite’s High Sierras, and crossing America north and south 3 times.

I’ve intentionally moved into hovels and shacks, filthy lofts, log cabins, stables, condemned basements, attics, garages, root cellars. More than some without hot water, without running water, without heat, without air, without windows, without electricity, without safety, money, food, or allies. I’ve moved into tents, trailers, trucks, and cars without without without. I’ve also lived in stunning scenery, endless skies, dramatic weather, and some totally…..uhm…..unique, low-or-no-cost housing because of hallelujah privacy and space to paint, sculpt, write a book. It’s a miserable, magical, thrilling horrific life as anyone knows who’s tried.

After all I left home at 17 because I sought bohemia, life outside of convention, endless experiences of being alive, music of the spheres, and glorious independence. And I did not, nor did my White generation, seek the exclusion of any race sharing that journey.

In fact we of the sixties, we still alive today of the flamboyantly inclusive equality-demanding outrageous generation, (much to the shock of our elders, and in danger from it, and not giving a hoot) wanted everyone along for the ride. You amongst us may note, as I have, that despite attaining 72.5 years, born in 1944 near-post-WWII, not a single person of color in any part of the world I’ve ever been, spanning over half a century now, has looked me in the eye and said:  Oh right, the 60’s! Good show! Thank you for that, let me shake your hand, we’re all better off for your revolution.

Indeed Whites are now blamed for every trouble the world has every known, by everyone.  Including the twice elected Black President who says: ” All Whites have racism in their DNA. Up yours.”

I devoted 5 years of my life, gained praise from every race and religion of individual NYers but lost my shirt trying to sculpt a memorial for ALL slain police officers in NYC in a year monumental for so many killed.  I was told by a predominately Black NYC Arts Commission, a Black NYC Chief of Police, a Black mayor that my work had no merit because the dark bronze figures were merely human. Not Black. The Vietnam Wall was heralded for not (choosing or daring — I don’t know) representing figures.  The Air and Space Museum finally approved a sculpted floating astronaut in space suit at it’s entrance~~ visor closed ~~ which neither identified or glorified any race though all our astronauts then were white.  As were the guys who designed and built and shot the rockets and brought them to earth again.  No matter.

In the early 1990’s, a person of great authority at the Corcoran Museum in Washington DC, our famously “American Artist” museum, told me to my White face they could not possibly find interest in my art because as a White American I had no culture whatsoever. They would exhibit African American and Native American and homosexual artists who contrariwise had culture to brag about.

From the 1970’s to this 21st Century, publishers print up authors of confession, self-help, self-pity, victimization, obscure/profound/common sexuality, and most loved of all, racism. Publishers are reluctant to print up White heterosexual women standing on their own 2 feet. Who apparently in these times have no point of view, no life to notice, no merit, up yours.  Oh, I said that already.

Look at the relentless defamation of marvelous individuals who invented, described, built for the benefit of all humankind, being re-written out because they are Caucasian. Please, on behalf of art everywhere, turn from the movie “Turner” which grinds to shred and dust the brilliant artist who was a revolution in a waistcoat all by himself until the politically correct Brits in exhaustive humiliation at their own White skin, who are not worthy of pronouncing Turner’s name, shamefully corrupted the dear man’s history because he failed to be Black.

Oakland’s White Ghost Ship Fire is your payoff, you racists of San Francisco and beyond who have been shouting from the rooftops that anyone with White skin does not matter to this world, to your Sanctuary City. Do not apply. Get out. Get lost. We hate you bad Honky.   Burn baby burn.


 click here for SF GATE, movie tribute








A great many years had passed in my own life before I understood the desirability, the sanctity, the glory of a studio of my own.  years lost to imagining that, despite drawing and painting from an admirable young age, I did not deserve such a thing.  A special place.  My own private study.  A workshop, a room, a corner of my room, a ten square foot holy land where my mind and my hand might partner up in adventuring the unsurveyed.  no one else in my house thought I deserved it either.  I did, at long last, have my own studio at the advanced age of twenty-two years which I, at long last, made for myself. Curse the wait. I should have done it age three.

Georgia O’Keeffe in Her Studio georgia-okeeffe-studio

salvador-dali-studio Salvador Dali in His Studio


I was living on the lower east side of Manhattan, street level old apartment house with one big room, tall barred-up windows in front, tub in the livingroom and half a partition with a bed on the other side.  It was on the corner of Avenue B.  Opposite Thompkins Square Park.

e-9th-st-nyc-c-1964  Six months later I moved a block up to Ninth Street between Avenue A and First Avenue into a five floor walk-up on the fifth floor. It was long and narrow, half the building’s width of about 12 feet, full length of about 35 feet maybe with windows on both ends, what was called a railroad flat. It cost $36 a month. The first place had been $26 a month.  I was working steady now and could afford the extra ten, though I confess, it took my breath when I decided to move. $36 was a lot of money.  Mostly I was enchanted by the back-most 5 X 10 foot, glass enclosed ‘extension’.  I’m coming to that. I promise. I just want you have the whole picture.

Like a lot of New York City, neighborhoods were defined block by block and the nationality of who mostly occupied that street.  This was Italian.  Shining Cadillacs lined this part of 9th Street. No spotless windshield ever sported a parking ticket, no fingerprints on the chrome.  The block I’d left behind was Polish, Jewish, and Russian.  If they had cars they got tickets. But it was the lower east side and nobody was rich and if they were rich they already left.

e-hopper-studioEdward Hopper in His Studio

My multi-locked front door opened into the kitchen, tub and sink on the left, stove and fridge on the right, the water closet in the skylit airshaft next to that.  The middle room had space for a narrow bed and table. The front had two windows looking down on ninth street. The tenant before me had pulled up the old-timey linoleum and polished that sucker to its high shining gorgeous broad planked wood grained oak self. nyc-e-9th-st-apt-c-1964There was an exposed brick fireplace too hazardous to use.  Mr Neri was the landlord. He was crazy about me.  He brought in a really fine near-new stove for me.  E 9thSt Apt NYC1964.JPGAnd a couple of months later when the old refrigerator exploded Freon, the firemen rushed in and carted it up the narrow flight of stairs to the roof and left it there. Mr Neri got me another one. To do that, Mr Neri called up his friend “The Humper” who showed up within a few days, early morning, lifted the fridge off the back of the truck parked in the street below then carried the new refrigerator up five stories on his back, held in place with a mover’s strap and stopped one time only for a breather. The Humper was about 6 foot 5 and something in the neighborhood of 275 pounds. I never saw anything like it before, and not again until I met Barefoot Adam of big Sur who is a slim vegetarian-farmer with dreadlocks and can lift about ten times his weight with one hand.


thtvdb0995You know whose studio,

55fd2c0ffb9196654faa27313afa34ee and Claude Monet’s.

But back to New York in the Sixties and MY STUDIO.

doug-uranek-kitchen-sink-e-9th-nyc1964 With visitor.

It turns out they kind of build themselves. Trust me on this.  I was too self-conscious to think I could make a studio –do it–just like that. But here was this beguiling wide and narrow place at the last drop end of the back of the apartment with about floor to ceiling windows and a wood roof and a door of its own, facing clothes lines above concrete courtyards filled with a lot of crappy New York millions of people’s left over and forgotten and thrown out the window stuff.  But screw the view.  If you’re not familiar with them, and they may no longer exist, an ‘extension’ at the far end of a New York apartment is a very chancy deal.  Most likely entirely illegal, really old and unstable. It hangs out over the back of the building, nothing below, usually only on one or two floors above the second or third, no heat, no electricity, and built of wood planks, old window glass and other questionable materials by the mother-in-law’s nephew around the turn of the last century.  Why it didn’t fall off with me in it I will never know. But it did not.

It sang songs to me every time I looked at it from the day I moved in.  first just folksy chanting bare melodies, then serious pop songs about love and glory, and then full-blown opera that was very loud in my heart and ears and bursting soul and I thought OH! Wow.  Is that you?  Might you be a studio?  My studio?

And all I heard was yes I am.

Come on in.  me-9thst-studioc-1964 Which I did.

Kamenstein’s Hardware was a block off, facing Cooper Union Square on Third Avenue and Ninth Street.  They carried everything, and in the heady mix of serious tools and lumber and nails and electric and plumbing supplies for the landlords, were things for the artist.  Kamenstein had easels and palettes and brushes and paint.  He had palette knives and linseed oil, turps and varnish, and sketchbooks. He had canvas stretchers, brass tacks, and gesso. One day I walked in there and bought a huge redwood palette (which I still have) and a seven foot high huge easel on a square base with wheels (which I left with Misia in Virginia).  I wheeled my bold declarations of my trade one block home and lugged them up five flights and opened the front door then walked straight to the back extension and put my new life inside.  I brought in my brushes. I put a slim bookcase against the wall, filled my big glass jar of turpentine and set it on top, and rags, and boxes of charcoal, pastels, pigments.  I laid out the new palette with all the colors I had.  Then I stepped back and look at this wonderland and I whiffed it in deep and long and then I cried. It’s very moving to do something like that. Here I am world. No more guessing. You will recognize me from a mile away by this aroma.

The cheapest white pigment to buy was Lead White (likely outlawed in public and private today).  I’d get it by the quart can.  It was actually heavy, good heft to it.  It covered really well, wonderful texture but had a serious propensity to go yellow, and that meant the solid white places and all the colors you mixed with it too.  Friends from Goddard would stop by my place to crash the night, have a bath, eat spaghetti en route to elsewhere.  Part of the deal on a good day was helping me get the huge canvases I was painting weaving it around a short staircase to the roof to lay out flat in the sunshine in the hope it would bleach the yellow out of the white lead. I’m not sure it actually worked but it was entertaining to do and made me feel like I was on a blue river green grassy bank next to an impressionist’s rowboat living the life, taking advantage of the great outdoors. Fantasy is an important component of surviving slum living.

there’s the business of joining a, well, what….a kind of….way of living, that all of a sudden you’re doing something other people have struggled with and loved for centuries. You are a part of all that, is what I mean.  Like understanding mathematics, or how the stars turn, or a leaf grows, or fixing a motor, is this experience of being inside something magnificent bigger than just you and crowded with fantastic people since the beginning of time. You have to love it to get there.  Love is what does the trick. You can hate it later but at some point it really has to throw your spine out of joint so that you’re never the same you were, only better.

I lived in that apartment about two years, and painted like mad whenever I could. It was a thrilling, freezing, airless, roasting, terrific first studio. I can’t believe I only have one photograph of my first studio, but that’s it, maybe due to its sacredness, the privacy, the wanting it to remain inscrutable, a thing of spirit, untouched by historic actualities.

east-broadway-chinatown-nyc   East Broadway, View to Manhattan Bridge

I moved to a Chinatown loft when I left Ninth Street. chinatown-loft-e-bway-1967 It was on East Broadway next to the Manhattan Bridge, third floor, and by then I knew who I was and what I was up to. I was in the animation business and making a lot of money though irregularly. I never have learned how to budget anything. The rent was $75 a month.  And that was really a lot.  But I did it.  And applied to the city for what was called an ”A.R.T.” Permit.  ‘Artist In Residence.’  It became a law when artists started to lust after big empty spaces. Light manufacturing buildings housing people needed to alert the fire department in case of emergency. It was an enormous badge of honor, not easy to get.  You had to prove you made your living painting. Oh ha ha.


I had 7 rescued cats by then, not one with sense or training to stay out of my palette, not scratch my canvases, not get fur in the portraits.  Sylvester, Brownie Golden Swallow, their babies Theophrastus, Jasmine, Orion; and Muffin and Pennywhistle. So I built a room out of 2 X 4’s and chicken wire that the cats could climb up but not get through. I had an unhindered view of Chinatown and the bridge, and protected my ever-increasing emotionally connecting output of paintings and drawings.  The loft was huge.  About 50 by 100 feet, fifteen foot ceilings.  I remember more than ten floor to ceiling windows. The windows were huge. I was in half the corner building’s floor. There was another artist on the other side of me who was a successful fabric designer and related to the Impressionist, Prendergast. the floor below was storage.  The floor above was occupied by a Chinese guy who made leather coats. His forty workers showed at 8 and left at 4. I have no idea what else was in the building. All eleven windows rattled when subways traveled across the lower part of the Manhattan Bridge.  It was a hell of a lot of glass.  Huge sheets, only two sections the top and bottom, and about six feet wide by ten feet tall. They never shattered or cracked. Old stuff. Great light. In a couple of weeks the shake, rattle and roll was no big deal.

Chinatown was likely the best place I’ve ever lived in a city.  The colors and words, the architecture, shapes, smells, senses electrified at every turn. Friendly people. The Tongs ruled and made the streets incredibly safe.  Most everything ran 24 hours a day and I’d walk out of my loft the three blocks to shops, get some fabulous bun or noodle thing at two in the morning cheap and good, and walk back home, happy for the freedom. Around the time I moved out a couple of years later the young, bloodthirsty and ruthless Hong Kong gangs were doing the impossible by challenging the Tong leaders.  Blood ran red in the streets. Wholesale murder came to Chinatown. It was wild and dangerous for the first time since maybe the 19th century, maybe ever. But it was spectacular to me when I lived in it. If I forgot to say it then, thank you all for the good time.

It’s the same with most things in life.  Better remembered for the precious moments, the brief spells or unexpectedly extended ones.  We get touches, glimpses, episodes, departures, arrivals, enter stage left exit stage right. Home fires burning around heady, productive fires in the belly.  Unforgettable decor. Fabric that looked just so in a certain shadow or brightness.  The hat hanging on the peg. The broom in the corner. The orange ladder-back chair from a Vermont farmhouse. Sketches pinned over the sink. The palette empty, full, the easel on wheels. Peculiar lights. The smells of heaven. Build you one. The studio.

The End

Copyright October 23, 2016 BD Sparhawk

PS There seems to be some trouble correcting typos–especially capitals at the start of sentences.  It has something to do with doing a copy/paste from another page that’s preventing doing the change. Sorry for that, still working on it. Thanks for the visit. Sparhawk.


CHARLES, Who Lived Through Wars

CHARLES, Who Lived Through Wars 

An Illustrated Short Story

©2016 B Sparhawk

His name wasn’t  Charles but it was how he introduced himself to me and it was all I ever called him.  I didn’t care, I liked secrets. I’d go so far as to say I admired secrets though Charles shared few. He sometimes slipped up, well it wasn’t a slip, a man like that doesn’t make mistakes, he’d refer to himself with a variation on Charles that was an endearment in another language.  He spoke, what was it he said? Seven, I think so. Yes,  fluent in seven languages. Several dialects, Bantu naturally. And he was aces at telling jokes and knew a thousand, and Irish was his best accent. Did he ever tell you the one about the twins in the bar in Dublin, the brothers?  How about the nuns and the cobblestones. Really, no kidding, Scots, too, very fine imitation Scots.

We spoke French to each other, well mostly English of course.  He did a native’s job with both and I did a fair job with French from living in Paris, I had my one year high school vocabulary in German, and about sixteen words of Russian and oh God but we laughed and laughed falling off the table falling over backwards right off a chair laughing and having such a good time. You know honestly I fell on the ground more than once in bust at the seam hysterics with Charles, I really did, on the ground, pounding the dust with my fists.


He was older than me by a few years but looked so much older than his age because of war wounds making it damn hard for him to walk, more every year, worst at uphill. He was handsome blue eyed blond German stock~~ South African~~ and he was hiding out in Carmel from enemies of a war few in America might recollect, the civil war in Rhodesia, the cruel, violent, dangerous, costly of man and treasure Rhodesian war. The old enemies were still living and still looking for Charles. His eyes would red up.  Here was this tough fighting man and the war fought was a part of him, he’d been deep in about as far as anyone could go, the memories made him cry because it was war of incredible meaning to Africans.  It was  his country, he had been born in Johannesburg, and grown up in it, and loved it.

He told me in that war, racing flat out on the desert sand between camps, three of them in a jeep, and they knew they were being pursued. Him and another soldier and a woman too, all of them Intel. It was dusk, almost dark, where the hell was the road. They hit a mine. The jeep blew sky high.  Charles got thrown twenty-five metres off. The other guy was dead on the ground in two pieces.  The woman was alive crumpled in a heap, bent half over trying to lift her head, calling to him.  Come here, come now now……. now she said. Charles pulled himself over, then  to standing next to the upturned vehicle, vaguely aware he’d got hit, that his back was full of shrapnel, shock does that with pain, then seeing his bleached desert khakis go dark, as he stood looking, like a goddamn red tide coming in over him and that registered…oh…yes I see….because his blood was pumping out of him, fast.  They could hear  vehicles coming up behind them. The enemy rounded the closest hill.  He had staggered to the woman. She said, ……shoot me, for the Christ’s sake shoot me now, you know what they’ll do with me, you know what they’ll do, you…….  And so he did.  When he told me he cried.  His faced moved only a little but his eyes poured out like waterfalls.  I think he loved her but he didn’t say.  I bet in a war with the constant state of crisis of unseen death lurking beside you, of course you fall in love in a damn second, of course you do. And the human heart responds to courage in people we know. So there on the desert alone, the sole survivor, wounded, in the hands of the horrific enemy, Charles managed to live.  He got beat up, kicked and interrogated and would not talk.  He told me he lay there with his arms wrapped around his chest trying to protect his heart, a boot against the back of his head pushing his face into cinder and metal and soft beige sand while they discussed  (in an African dialect he knew well) what to do with him. Rifles locked and loaded.  He told me he was glad for the hurt helping him fight drifting. He felt so wanting to drift.  He was getting the most beautiful pictures imaginable behind his eyes, as if someone had made him a movie just for him of everything he loved and he was aware of beginning to smile for it…… We are warned against that, he said to me. Stay conscious, stay alert, force yourself…... He was dragged to a hospital where a lieutenant identified him and after that he was treated with care. They put blood back in him, three litres (half the six, said Charles, of what his Jaguar took.) He got his rosy cheeks back.  He was valuable, an asset. He could be exchanged.  He didn’t say anything more about it to me.


“The climate here in Carmel, in Big Sur, Monterey, Marina, it’s the same, you have a Mediterranean climate on the central coast, there are only seven places in the world with this climate, like Capetown.  You need to see Africa. But this, look at that sky, look at that ocean. What a place, I love it. Come on,” he said, “get in the car,  I’m taking you for lunch. Deetjens.” I looked down starting at my workboot-covered toes and sagging blue socks; the white linen Bermuda shorts needing a stitch and a wash, and then my billowy pale yellow shirt that had red paint on one elbow and green alfalfa smudge on the collar from feeding the horses and getting a muzzley thank you nudge.  “Don’t be a fool,” he said, following my inspecting eyes.  “You’re perfect.”  Bless him, Charlie cut a lot of slack for tan, leggy blonds.

When I broke my leg it was Charles who picked me up at the Monterey hospital after the third day, slapped a blue pack of Gauloises in my hand, laughing at our French soldier joke, and had already lit the first one in his mouth like Casablanca, leaned over  and I let him roll it between my lips, me sitting next to him in the front seat; he piped Edith Piaf up and her Vie en Rose and off we went over the reeking air of camel dung tobacco, regretting nothing. He used two fingers to pull his silver flask out of the door pocket and toss it into my lap; his broad, cheering, blue eyed smiling tan face beyond it. Benedictine, our favorite brandy. Sacred, made by the monks. Let the good times roll. We knew each other.  At least, I knew as much as he allowed of him and he knew me, and what kind of rare joy that is in a life. Shit.

Those were the early days when being with Charles was feeling, as he allowed, perfect.  He changed in his last years and by then you couldn’t stand being with the man for constantly dodging rockets he’d shoot off at you aiming to kill, but most of the time I spent with him was just great, to near the end.  Pain made him bitter. Memories, lost loves, abandonment by an entire nation made Charles bitter. Being hunted. Running for cover. A pricey divorce, not seeing his children again, only knowing they’d reached 3 and 7 and 9, followed by forever’s silence. Then America’s endless surgeries on his back when the Stanford doctors dug around for the shrapnel alongside his spine, and his ribcage, and inside his leg muscles. Later they tried treating his thyroid for the cancer but the radiation didn’t work or they got it wrong in the first place, or both. For almost a year he practically lived at Stanford. He had to give up Camels and he had to give up cognac, and he started wearing a scarf around the multiple scars on his neck. But worst of all he stopped telling jokes.

I knew him nearly two decades here and he made life worth living, he did.  Charles. We were never lovers.  I was still too screwed up from my son’s death, my life started all over again moving from New York to Big Sur.  I told him that:  Unh uhn Charlie baby, no way, in case you haven’t noticed I can’t see straight and I’m lucky to thread words together into a sentence just now.  And you, sweetie pie, are way too dangerous, but I’ll visit all you want and hang out all you want and do silly serious anything together between dawn and sunrise you’re always welcome to my barn.  Charles said okay. But after that he never let up teasing me about other women or flirting outrageously with any bon bon crossing our path.  Which really got annoying.


He’d drive the ten miles out from the coast to see me. Corozon at Barn Studio I had a studio at Holman Ranch in the big red barn on the hill.  Carmel Valley –just past the village.  Holman, up land, 1

400 beautiful acres around me and 150 horses in the pastures. Dorothy was still alive and owned the place then, she had let me turn the tack room and the first two stalls into an apartment, and we put in a bathroom at the very end.  Geez that was great.  Skylights, concrete floors, I made a studio and kitchen, we built a four foot open shower out of river rock and the sink was a fabulous bird bath I had piped with copper tubing and red outdoor garden faucets, and filled the bottom with grout and colored glass bits. Geez that was sure great.  The bathroom ceiling was marcelled transparent fiberglass sheets and I jammed every square inch with plants. The two donkeys, the mule Corozon, the goat Rambo, and a couple of sheep whose names I never knew got tucked in for the night in the paddock next to me and the last three stalls.DSCF4378  Everything crashed off my walls when they butted heads.  Charles showed up with lumber for bookshelves poking up out of his top-down front seat. Sometimes he brought a working hot plate, electric kettle, boom box,  a stunning chair from a Pebble Beach dumpster. Dorothy raised my rent $200 a month. She said because the bathroom got added but I think she was jealous.


I was working, you know.  Five days a week in Carmel at the marvelous Little Swiss Cafe, off Dolores, favorite for locals, best food on earth, open breakfast and lunch that’s it.  Stevie the surfer and his incredible Dad, Hank the Dutchman, and Forever Carol of course.  Charles came in for early lunch, split pea soup usually, sometimes oatmeal.  I’d see him at the door and run up and simultaneously our hands clasped and our cheeks slid together and off we’d go in a tango up the aisle.  The customers looked away or clapped, depending. How did that start anyway?  I have no idea.  Then we’d speak French and he’d eat and leave and I was off by three-thirty and a lot of days during the week he’d drive his beaten up convertible up the hill and park in front of my barn door.  The name of my studio was his idea, by the way, that was Charles being brilliant and right on the money:  The Hawks Perch.  Yup.  A gift of a name from Charles. I’ll never call it different.

He was a painter too, he just took it up as a kind of innocent empty-headed disguise that would add to his incognito and give him an edge with the ladies.  He was a good painter though, original, scenes of the Africa landscape.  Life Is A Dance Studio he called himself. And oh but he had an eye for the girls. The older he got the younger the girls got.  Everybody pretty much adored him. He really had that nailed, the charming-adorable thing.  What was not to love.

Charles had this fascinating photographic memory and an impeccable ear.  Well what do you call that, total recall of anything you hear, has it got a name?  The son of a bitch never forgot a single word you said or where you said it or what the weather was like or the time of day or the song on the radio when you said it.  You ever know anybody like that?  It was amazing, kind of like watching a magic show to be with him and see those rabbits pulled out of a hat.  It could really get annoying too, I mean you wanted the average dish for everyday, a little leeway with a memory, something commonplace, didn’t you?  I thought so.  But it was fascinating.  He was in espionage of course, an intelligence officer.  So bright a guy, and a scholar, and a linguist, and he, to hear him tell, could run circles around ten country’s spies at the same time in the same room and even Henry the K. if he happened to be in town talking about what kind of weapons who had where and tease with what the fuck was on the plane. That’s what he said.  I believed him.


Wherever Charles lived, nobody ever knew.  I mean nobody.  We used to ask each other, ones who knew him: You ever been to Charles’ place?  Charles ever show you where he lived?  No. No. NO. No.

Tucked up away somewhere in some craggy den. I think he wore clothes til they got too dirty then threw them out and bought some more.  He did that with phones. He used them a few weeks and threw them away.

I think he had millions in all kinds of currency and precious metal socked away in twenty places in forty countries on ten hilltops in empty cans buried three feet under a rock he’d marked in chalk with X.  Charles knew every bank on the coast and the name of every manager and president. He conducted a lot of business.  Out of a briefcase. Or his army vest pockets. Or cargo shorts pockets or from shoe boxes side by side in the trunk of his car.  He had drops.  Places where messages were left and exchanged, and using a couple of different names, mail boxes and message centers, that kind of thing. I know that for a fact because he took me along to one once, it was kind of not on purpose but I was in the car and he needed to find out something. A little post box place off the beaten path by the wharf, dark and narrow, a bright eyed guy alone behind a counter, like a bar in a way. How cool is that. So Charles.


He instructed, this man who knew how to survive combat.  THE BLUE THUNDER“Check the fluids. No, I mean it! It’s not some goddamn joke. Get out of the car. Goddamn lift the hood and check the fluids! You don’t ever take off in a vehicle without checking the fluids. It takes a minute. It saves your life.”  I was lazy, it used to burn him up, so I learned, now I do it unfailingly.


The last time I saw Charles he was moving half an inch at a time leaning on a walker, coming out of the River Inn in Big Sur after lunch with Abby.  She’d been in charge of the stables at Holman Ranch.  Her husband and Charles had been close, too.  She was driving him around now when he needed it.  He was nasty, angry, furious.  Abby couldn’t put up with him long, nobody could.  But he was sweet that ten minutes he came and went inside my gallery in Big Sur he didn’t know I had opened. I was selling my paintings and drawings. He only looked at one painting, a portrait I’d done of Van Gogh. “That’s world class,” he said.  I smiled. It had been a couple of years since I’d seen him.  He was sweet, he was the old Charles. He told us a joke in a thick brogue that took him five minutes to land on the punch line, and it was damn funny enough that we were laughing til we cried. Sparhawk Pt Lobos  Like the old days. Then they left.

I saw Abby a couple of years later.  She came to the gallery I opened in mid-Valley and wanted me to make another cloth rug for her, this time with her Siamese cat. Gallery new photos July 16, 2011 008

The first one was a leaping kind of Navajo horse deal and fifteen years later, well it got more beautiful every year. That’s the truth.  She said Charles was living in a hospice in Carmel and could no longer walk.  Then a guy from the village stopped in maybe a year after Abby, and he was on his way visit Charles, and it was rough he said, seeing him like that. Did I want to send a message. Did I want to go along to see him. Come with me, he said.

Tell him I said hello and I love him, I said. Tell him that for me. Please.

I pictured him, you know I did in part from the descriptions and part imagining, the warrior curled up with his back to the world in a small dark room devoid of class or luxury or worldliness, curled against the light, and not all the pain killers on the peninsula enough to ease the hurt so he just took it and shut up though sometimes a growl came out, his eyelids pinched tight against those brilliant blue eyes pinched tighter on the face no longer tan, hair not sunbleached white blond and thick, and the beaten up body all that was left to live in, it all made him a little less gorgeous. I couldn’t have cared less about that part, who cares, the Charles inside is what I cared about but man oh man he was hard to reach before and now forget it. And I was older too by twenty years, and he hated to see a woman whose skin was no longer a girl’s smooth, who looked older than 25.  Jesus Christ.  I’m sorry old buddy. I can’t even comfort you, can I.  What the bloody freaking hell did you go and arrange for your departure from the world.  Nobody admitted entry, nobody home.

Then he died, which I knew when a friend handed me his obituary, torn out from The Carmel Pine Cone.  And it was a sanitized white wash of the briefest thing written either by somebody who never knew him or had copied down a dictated version out of the mouth of the mystery man himself.

Charles had lived at least a year with his back against intrusion, hardly able to move, feeling fired on by strangers for their touching him, strangers who could not imagine his journey, strangers who tended to his pills and fluids and did his washings up, strangers with never an idea what secret brave history moved inside the man on the bed who stayed true to the cause, who refused to talk.  Charles, the soldier who lived through wars.


                                      SPOON   RIVER   ANTHOLOGY


                                                   EDGAR LEE MASTERS

(“The earliest Angry Man in American Poetry”,  suggests the author of his book’s introduction, May Swenson, “though born 17 years before Ezra Pound.”)

Did I miss this or was the public school English Lit impact on my child’s brain so small~~ because the thoughts were so large. 

Because I had no ability to reference a life lived as full as it would ever be.  Hearing these post-mortem declarations, of lives halted for real and imagined citizens of

Spoon River.                                                  

 Masters had “fled…determined not to submit, as his father had submitted, to the hypocrisy and deadly existence of the small town.” (From the unclaimed preface to the 1962 Collier Books edition). SPOON RIVER was a bestseller–  following his 11 published  books of plays, verse and essays which brought him little attention. 


It’s on a single page, or even less than a page, you see, from each summarized life, an autobiography…from outside Chicago 1915…from the side of a hill.   

If you missed it too like me, or like me forgot, go on, will you? Read this now? 


                                                           “Willie Metcalf “

“I was Willie Metcalf.

They used to call me “Doctor Meyers”

Because, they said, I looked like him.

And he was my father, according to Jack McGuire.

I lived in the livery stable,

Sleeping on the floor

Side by side with Roger Baughman’s bulldog,

Or sometimes in a stall.

I could crawl between the legs of the wildest horses

Without getting kicked — we knew each other.

On spring days I tramped through the country

To get the feeling, which I sometimes lost,

That I was not a separate thing from the earth.

I used to lose myself, as if in sleep,

By lying with eyes half-open in the woods.

Sometimes I talked with animals — even toads and snakes —

Anything that had an eye to look into.

Once I saw a stone in the sunshine

Trying to turn into jelly.

In April days in this cemetery

The dead people gathered all about me,

And grew still, like a congregation in a silent prayer.

I never knew whether I was part of the earth

With flowers growing in me, or whether I walked —

Now I know.” *



This bit read now, today, by me, this morning, made me gasp and cry and whimper.  I read another ten entries before closing the slim paperback of its 318 papers, turning to it’s final back cover stamp identifying the volume’s earlier home:  Martin Luther King High School, 635 B Street, PO Box 38, Davis, CA95616.   I confess I suffered an impulse to mail it back, (though it was likely not through purloining found this day in the library of my friend who is an honest, long suffering teacher of children), lest some one child miss this.



“Mr Kessler, you know, was in the army,

And he drew six dollars a month as a pension,

And stood on the corner talking politics,

Or sat at home reading Grant’s Memoirs,

And I supported the family by washing,

Learning all the secrets of all the people

From their curtains, counterpanes, shirts and skirts.

For things that are new grow old at length,

People are prospering or falling back.

And rents and patches widen with time;

No thread or needle can pace decay,

And there are stains that baffle soap,

And there are colors that run in spite of you,

Blamed though you are for spoiling a dress.

Handkerchiefs, napery, have their secrets —

The laundress, Life, knows all about it.

And I, who went to all the funerals

Held in Spoon River, swear I never

Saw a dead face without thinking it looked

Like something washed and ironed. “



“Masters said he wrote under a spell of such intensity’ that he lost all sense of time and was pulled back to the real world only by the coming of twilight at the end of each day.”*




“We stand about this place — we, the memories;

And shade our eyes because we dread to read:

‘June 17th, 1884, aged 21 years and 3 days.’

And all things are changed.

And we — we, the memories, stand hee for ourselves alone,

For no eye marks us, or would know why we are here.

Your husband is dead, your sister lives far away, your father is bent with age;

He has forgotten you, he scarcely leaves the house

Any more.

No one remembers your exquisite face,

Your lyric voice!

How you sang, even on the morning you were stricken,

With piercing sweetness, with thrilling sorow,

Before the advent of the child who died with you.

It is all forgotten, save by us, the memories,

Who are forgotten by the world.

All is changed, save the river and the hill–

Even they are changed.”



Maybe it’s too sad for childhood.  Because there’s too much information.  About what’s ahead of an earthly existence before any of us blindly launch off with a living things courage swaddled in ignorance.  Thank God for that. 

But read it now.


And here’s the thing:  Go live a life you alone might say: Good job. Okay. Well done. Au Revoir.Sparhawk mona lisa 2


*In quotes–Excerpted from 1962 Macmillan Publishing Company paperback edition. Spoon River Anthology made more money for the author and his publisher than any other previous volume of American poetry.

Sparhawk self portrait; Sparhawk clothesline










































SOBERANES FIRE~View From the Valley

7-30 night sky (2)sundown, last weekend, from the hills over Carmel Valley Village


Soberanes  (Pronounced so-BRAN-neez) wild fires continue. I am told this is the number one fire concern in America now.

I’m not doing a lot of traveling around in this.  Holman Ranch, Pasture, 2 Horses, DawnNormal routes are periodically jammed or closed or busy.  In fact these days when they’re empty they’re eerie.


CV FIRE skyThe old, closed CV Airport is being used for helicopter sorties. CV FIRE copter They fly in to refuel, meet for new strategies, check and change equipment. 

CV FIRE 2 coptersThey swing bright red buckets below as they fly, expandable water-carrying for 4-500 gallons a pop.  They’re dipping from ponds, and the ocean.

CV Post Office, facing south7-24-16There are always a couple of locals up the hillside there, staying respectfully behind the familiar yellow plastic tape.

This (below) is from about a week ago, a friend’s place at the top of Country Club Drive which is maybe a mile west of Carmel Valley Village.  It was quite a view, and as night fell to a dark sky, huge red flares shot up — visible fury from those hilltops. Beyond our gasps, we conjectured about exploding trees or what comparable made rockets that size, stunning even from our distance.


I heard from a neighbor that bulldozers were cutting a six lane wide swath for fire lanes, off in the flaming  wooded edge of oak and chaparral that thrill us all, resident and visitor to our spectacular and dangerous terrain. There’s a growing feeling that such lanes need to be kept up, not abandoned when the fires are out.

Firemen have come to all our houses down lonely roads, hidden away, off in the woods here, what an heroic effort! in a pre-potential-evacuation survey to warn, alert, inform.  They’re bloody marvelous.  They leave a yellow paper marker fixed with silver gaffer tape to the tops of driveways, announcing the contact made and who’s what where. Fire engines are here from all over California. Firefighters from all over the world.  One of them told me this, the Soberanes Fire is now the number one fire concern in our country. Early this morning a group of maybe ten firefighters were on an early morning jog up then down a side road here near The Running Iron, off Carmel Valley Road, staying fit.

One friend is sheltering a family of friends, one of six families she knows who all lost their homes in the past week on Palo Colorado, a strange/remarkable/fabulous uphill road about ten miles south of Carmel with out of this world houses.  The terrible count of homes burnt remains uncertain, some  residents still blocked from return. I’ve heard 41, then 61 houses gone.  One of my friends from Palo is in town while her husband and son stay, holding the hoses, holding hope, still untouched as of today.  These homes of Big Sur and Cachagua (pronounced cah-SHAH-gwah)  are almost universally stunning structures built by inventive architects and real pioneers with remarkable imagination and enterprise.  My friend Bette’s home, surrounded by giant redwood and fern, has a small stream running through the lower half, running with some velocity, too! It passes under then up then out of the house enclosed in part by a boulder-walled, rock floored, glass ceilinged room, full of plants, and it is spectacular.  There are undocumented out-buildings too, there are things that have delighted the eye and heart and made rare  homes for families and their animals, for lives that opened young to the great possibilities of being alive.  They won’t be rebuilt, not the same. Maybe something even better.  How lucky we have been to know such things and the people in them.DSCF2457

There’s some loose talk of the insanity of building or living in dangerous places.  I think it’s wasted on the initiated. DSCF2316Outside Studio, DaybreakCarmel Beach storm You get your nostrils full of a rarified atmosphere, a geography that doubles your pulse just by standing in it, a hand full of plant and soil that’s one of a kind in the world and you bet you want to stay.  Eucalyptus Group, Barbara's garden

In one of my chats with the firemen when I was outside Kasey’s grocery in the village,( I am always waving, smiling, thumbs up and thanking their passing vehicles), (the streets are filled with handmade crayoned signs:THANK YOU FIRE PEOPLE), and congratulating them on jobs well done, they answered my questions about hardship and risk and long times separated from families.  Then, in my response to my noting the light in their eyes, the ready athletic bodies, the strength and resolve  you feel radiating from them, and my asking if they hadn’t leapt at this….isn’t it what you train for….isn’t it about the best most perfect thing in the world you can imagine doing….the beaming smiles coming back say yes.  Well bless your hearts, all of you.  DSCF7081Thanks for coming when we needed you.  Safe days and nights, safe journeys, safe home when it’s done. We’re all sure we’re in good hands.

Good to know ya.


I’m planning to make a picture book of my studios some day.  I wish to heaven I’d had the sense to photograph the first dozens of them.  But then it had not occurred to me that they were important artifacts to this life I’ve chosen, unique in form and content. Which is why what follows here is a kind of alert to my fellows:  Pay attention to your environs.    

CV, Corozon at Barn Studio                      Tack Room Barn Studio.  Mule Corazon awaits carrots, Holman Ranch


 When I move into a new place, and if you happen to have witnessed the before and the after of where I am moving in to, you might exclaim: 

 This is very like the circus came to town!  DSCF7016

 And you would be right.

 I adore Excess. DSCF7044 Profusion. Plenty. Hilltop House Studio, StripesCV, Studio, Holman Ranch Barn, plants   MCV, Gallery Interior 6 MCV, Gallery Interior 7

Daybreak, outdoor studio

(Brief aside: I don’t mean the yacht in the harbor. I can see going somewhere unique. However. It’s hard to imagine a more boring time than climbing aboard a big boat on purpose, jumping into the water below, climb back, eat drink jump off again, and climb back to be waited on by a dubious hired bunch who are expected to scrape, bow, take good selfies of you and your buddies, clean up purgative messes following your misbehavior, and the dreaded exposure to stranger’s body parts which may fall short of movie star perfection).

I am instead BS, Gallery Interior 3talking about the

MCV, Gallery Interior 2expansive joys of the luxury of emotion, and an excess of that which, with imagination and substance, you at once may call your own no matter your finances because you carry it with you wherever you are.

DSCF5695   DSCF5715   It’s given me endless pleasure and I want to pass it on in case you haven’t discovered it yet.

It is the business of living inside who you are.DSCF5121.JPG


DSCF5096Ever since I was the only grown up at home, which is presently and has been a very long time prior to now, I have by accident then by purpose centered my nesting around my studio; the rest of my life spirals out from there, cornucopia form.Mid April Big Sur house 008


I had a friend who wouldn’t hear of it for herself.  A fellow painter.  She could not bear the thought of waking up and going to sleep on unfinished work screaming at her in the dark, hectoring her in daylight: yes yes and yes: One’s painting(s) in progress are thoroughly in charge of your life.  Her finished work she did very moderately display where she lived, and you really had to have it pointed out to you.


Well then, I am a glutton for torture by her defining.  DSCF4608By my defining? I like immersion.  I rather like the communicating with my paintings and drawings, and therefore want all my work around me always and forever up and down the other side of every existing wall that makes up my home. WallDSCF4047 It does not torment. It edifies. It expands my history. It lays bare where my brain was heading on days I can recall at once with every sense I have and more. It fills my eyes with colors I will always think are marvelous; it fills my heart with emotions to see the portraits of flowers, the faces of friends, both animal and human.

Now that’s a fine excess is it not. I’ve only just begun here, the new place.DSCF7014


You know, Turner chose those paintings of his he wanted buried with him bless his heart, something I understood the minute I read that because of the intensity of love for some particular ones of your own work. Fortunately for the world nobody paid attention to his post mortem demand.

(I do pray you have not troubled your soul by watching the recently released Turner movie.  It is a blatant assault on a lively genius with the courage to depart from the rigid demands of artist-as-documentarian, and to launch an opposite, headstrong appeal to the human heart. More on the wretched movie which depicts Turner a brainless bouillon, another time.)


Back to STUDIOS.


I have another friend who, though a professional photographer, will not hang her work around her in her own home for fear critics will disturb her balance. I get angry at her for that, but know I may have overcome my own same terrors by finally opening one gallery of my paintings, then another. I hope she will do that, too. It may be an uneasy thought initially, but once you plunge in, you will be pleasantly surprised.


BS, The Gallery, April 18, 2010 023

The Hawks Perch Gallery I, Opening Day, Big Sur


The midnight before my opening, my paintings hung and windows covered with bits of unprimed canvas to frustrate the passersby until I was ready to open my doors to them, the broom at rest, the hammer finished with its day, the screw eyes and copper wire shimmering darkly from a far corner after so much action, the spotlights perfect; the rug just so, the bouquets perked and spread and lit, I sat alone at last amongst all this and trembled and shook and wept and laughed and tore hair and pronounced myself insane for the risk I was taking by showing my guts to the hard cold world…..before I finally went to bed exhausted by my endless internal tyrannies and remembered again the intent of joy that had started me on that path.  Mermaid Sign, facing right



I learned considerable in the days that followed.  As it turns out the world was almost universally as interested in seeing what I had up my sleeve as I have been myself.


 They didn’t even have to like it all — though that was nice too.

But instead of my every unwarranted anxiety I got to talk with total strangers about my single brushstrokes! My PaletteMy palette!      

Why I painted what!Two Bouquets, new  Why I painted at all.

It was an unrivaled revelation of comfort and joy which had very rarely happened before in over fifty years of exploring my artistic impulses. You still have to be prepared for not making much money; if you’re at all well-located the overhead’s a killer and landlords are generally ruthless. Artist’s profiting from their art remains illusive, which is why it is so especially important that your fulfilment comes undeniable from you yourself.


Spirits Studio, full paintingThis is all to say I recommend making what you dearly love a current, pressing, unshakable, crowding, smelly, pushing shoving part of your daily existence. I would even go so far as to say that if you in this regard fail your art, that your dying breath will pulse forth the cry:  MY STUDIO….WHERE IS MY STUDIO…… 

….which should have been around you every minute of every day, and where, if we any of us have the luck of it, we get to die.

Please, pay attention to your heart.


Central Coast Skies

We don’t usually get this much rainfall but the past month has been water-rich and it’s doing marvelous things to the atmosphere.    Here’s a recent dawn…



We’re getting the huge picturebook skies I remember from childhood, those illustrations of clouds filling every square inch, huge and billowing, on the move….


and an invitation to flight, don’t you think?  DSCF6762

Antoine de St Exupery, one of my favorite writers (Le Petit Prince; Wind, Sand, and Sky; Night Flight; etc)  said the most marvelous things about inspiring exploration:

Antoine de Saint Exupery quotes.jpeg

Only for the Brave ~ Storm Imogen Hits Cornwall



(and keep going to the bottom of this post, nice Sparhawk Stormy Oil Paintings, too!)1.Cliffs at Sennen near Land's End in CornwallThey’re having a weather experience4.Cornish Coast at Porthleven, 20 miles east of Porthchapel Beach in Cornwall, (below is the lighthouse getting a drench……)6.Longships Lighthouse off Cornish coastand they have8.Cornwall had it before, quite a coastline.  2.Land's End, CornwallMust be some brilliant architecture and bricklaying because the houses survive the turmoil.  5.PORTHLEVEN IN CORNWALL, 63 FT WAVES IN ST IVES

coast of cornwal, Sennen 



Don’t turn your back on the ocean is still good advice.  9. Photographer towed 50 feet along beach by crashing wavesIf you’re out there taking pictures, don’t forget to duck (the woman above, a photographer, got knocked down and dragged fifty feet on the beach, and survived with a bloody face and broken arm).


You can be in for a great treat in the hours and nights following turbulent skies.

Big Sur Dawn sky

Big Sur Dawn, original oil painting by Sparhawk


Big Sur River Meets Pacific

Big Sur Dawn, original oil painting by Sparhawk

South Coast The Wild Coast Is Lonely

Big Sur Dawn, original oil painting by Sparhawk


Humans do like wild weather.  Some even paint it.

Ocean, Wild Sky

Big Sur Dawn, original oil painting by Sparhawk

and the sweet aftermath……

Big Sur Sunset, Dunes


Starry Starry Night, Sept '12

Starry Starry Ocean Night, original oil by Sparhawk


(Photos of Storm Imogen from The UK Daily Mail, February 9, 2016)



HERON in the MEADOW, Signs of Spring


                                     HERON ON THE MEADOW ~~ Signs of Spring

Heron, 1     My neighbor and I spotted a marvelous tall slim bird in the meadow this morning, and it obliged my closeness  Heron, 2 with it’s

remarkable calm,  Heron, 3  coming I imagine with the knowledge it can fly off when choosing to despite my enthusiastic admiration, and prior even to that greet me with a stern and serious eye to eye challenge to its territory. Heron, 7 I don’t know what it sought here, or if it found the treat of frog or snake, the meal, the sustenance.  Or if, soaring over one Sunday afternoon, returned simply because it wondered what this lovely patch of flat ground next to the river held.   (And PS if you know birds and this is not a Heron please do tell.)

Lavender, 2

French Lavender, as well as the fruit trees in the neighborhood are in bloom.  And daffodils. 

The Carmel River, which by the way has gone from zero to 3 pairs of Mallard ducks in less than a week, and become a roaring fine waterway, wide, clear and deep again.

Last week four bold Kayakers showed for a day’s frivolity, and yesterday a fellow and his Labrador stopped off, and trotted out to center bridge to see what the steelhead situation was.

It’s spring.

White Dogs of Big Sur Clyde


DSCF2930There was interesting man named Clyde who lived in the whereabouts of Big Sur, I have no idea exactly where, or if it was full-time van and campfire life.  I’m not even 100% sure of his name, I think I got it right.

Clyde bred and raised dogs.  They were all white, blue-eyed, and some exquisite combination of wolf or coyote and Shepherd and/or Husky. Clyde was very precise about the combination, he knew whose mate was who and when and where and how old. 

DSCF2931I’ll say this about the fellow’s very mixed reputation (which ranged from fearsome to deranged to saintly), he raised the most marvelous dogs you would ever want to know in your life.  Angelic, healthy, beautiful, dispositions of poets, and providing companions for a lot of locals who were lucky enough to end up with one of Clyde’s dogs.  There are a lot of all white wolf-like dogs in the Santa Lucia hills there now.DSCF2929

DSCF2926He never seemed quite firmly robust, and sometimes the dogs looked underfed.  When we met he was in what are stupidly noted as the golden sunset years of a life, which I suppose I now qualify for myself and I can tell you for a fact it’s hard work and not often golden or sunny. That takes more work than it used to.  I took these photographs around 2010. Aren’t they beautiful creatures?  Wish I’d noted their names. 

I heard that Clyde died two years or so ago.  I never did have a long conversation with him, not once;  he’d spend time with locals  he knew  DSCF2928near my The Hawks Perch Gallery off Highway 1, at the pub next door.

I took these photographs with his permission.  That’s Clyde’s hand assuring these handsome animals I could be trusted to get near his vehicle. 

May they all be blessed in their lives after the loss of the ruffian who did such a nice job loving them.  You can see in their eyes how they loved him back.  Not a bad legacy, old boy. Au revoir, Clyde.





My darling standard old buddy computer crashed.  I got about everything back (WHEW!) all my photos, boy was that scary.  But not my email.  I’ve been working on it about a week and not making any progress.  I have a new email for contacting me though (hope springing eternal) eventually the old one may come back to life.



Please use this for now.

And anyone trying to reach me since last week, please give it another shot with this one.

NEW PAINTING~Carmel Valley Bistro Backyard


Oil on Canvas (Large, maybe  28 X 48 )

Carmel Valley Bistro BackyardI’m not entirely sure this is done, I’ve been working on it awhile, then the temperature dropped (outdoor studio) and I’ve thought of a few more things to add….IFit warms up this week.  Meanwhile, wanted to show it to you all, it’s been a great painting experience. 

The Bistro no longer exists, it’s now the wine-tasting rooms of one of the many vineyards out here.  I worked there in 1997, my first waitress job in California, exhausting two and three shifts a day because everyone always quit within hours.  Run by maniacs. I was, despite the horrors, really glad to have a job and some place out of the rain.

My Luminous Window on the World

Day after rain, Shauna Orchid

My Luminous Window on the World

Far far away on the other side of our country….(though for years there were many things to love in my Brooklyn)….the rampant effusion of flowers to fill the eye and heart was satisfied only by long, hazard-filled, grimey subway trips to mossy walled, early NY Romanesque style architecture: protected hot houses, orangeries, botanical gardens. Or there were museums or picture books…or painting my own.

Lily Bouquet at WindowTropical flowers were non-existant in shops, or scarce, or a king’s ransom. A standard 5 stem bouquet of yellow daisies, a single sunflower or Easter lily were barely within the budget. Then a miracle discovery of the Flower Market, in the West 20’s I think, wood boxes & metal stands filling block after block. And the dizzying morning glory of walking through those heavenly cropped fields, the intoxicating aromas, the brilliant colors. By noon, thousands of shoppers and walkers and every other marker but perhaps a single lavender petal, a curled and spotted white lily bloom left abandoned on the hosed down cement sidewalks, had vanished from the stage of that theatrical city, a life emptied. But the Flower Market was still a long haul from home and required a pre=dawn start up, and was really (despite the possible mind-blowing feast) a costly journey after all. I knew it was there. Having seen and walked it I could still picture it from afar.Table Tops, Bouquet and Orchids

Then I moved.

These photographs are from the current, seventh garden I’ve made to live inside of since coming west. I’m getting better all the time and this one’s a doozie.

Orchid and Books, Window    Last week Safeway tossed their over-ripe bouquets into an accessable dumpster; my garden is having a fresh bloom of Spanish lavender; the huge Bird of Paradise has ten new budding stalks ~~which I’ve learned will thrive and open when cut; my African Violet is a constant purple thrill; and a spectacular old perfumed orchid which has been in my outside studio for a month (til the overnights dropped to the 30’s) and last night I brought it inside. It has been ufurling brand new blossoms, up to four open, three buds to go and perfumes the whole bungalow.River Nile Begonia, Shauna Orchid, Window

They crowd my tables by my window. I am thrilled to sit within inches of all this. The compulsion to share this seizes me every minute of the day and night. I want to give you a look and I encourage you to do the same which is to fill your own landscape to more, more more. (PS, in the background on the right here, the ruffled green leaf with the red edging is The River Nile Begonia, and really incredible.)

As Sir Mick Jagger said, “Anything worth doing is worth over-doing.”
Let the good times roll.

Light through Shauna OrchidBird of Paradise Window

THE FINEST STORY IN THE WORLD, and the Contstant Delight of Rudyard Kipling


and The Contstant Delight of Rudyard Kipling

I waltz in and tango out of Rudyard Kipling’s stories, always intrigued, unfailingly pleased. I’m just doing the dance this week on his pages of short stories: “The Kipling Sampler”, copyrighted 1892-1910 by RK himself, then “By arrangement with Mrs. George Bambridge of Doubleday and Co, Inc.” (I’m not making that up), through 1957 which is the year of the volume in my hand;  pages totalling 223, which are fragile and yellowed in this friendly slim volume that I have carried through very nearly my entire life beginning with teen me of the meritorious ’60’s. The decade was you know, in retrospect (amazingly) (improbably) something to brag about. Even inciting nostalgia. And if for nothing more than this said of my generation: We were readers. And by God but we had writers to read.
The Kipling Sampler contains 8 short stories including the thrilling “Mowgli’s Brothers”, “The Tomb of His Ancestors”, other favorites; 18 Poems including “Gunga Din”, “Mandalay”, and “If~”; “On Travel: An Englishman in Yellowstone Park”, telling of his 4th of July visit to Livingstone; and an extract of his novel, “Kim”.

I am today drawn in by one I have never read. I have not, all my life, stuck with collected Kipling from start to finish. He engages me variously through the years, and I don’t think he’d mind my saying so, not a bit. But I’ve always loved having him within reach of my extended paw.kiplingPortrait of Rudyard Kipling by B Sparhawk, Oil on Linen

That tale is called: “The Finest Story In The World”. Pretty compelling stuff for a writer to trip over just by the title alone. But the opening salvo was so good, so rich, I want to share it with you.

It’s part of Kipling’s magic that with a mere handful of sentences (so linked you have to return to see if you just read one or several) he gets you lasooed in and doesn’t let go until the final punctuation. I’m going to give you Mr Kipling’s first paragraph. See if you don’t agree.

“His name was Charlie Mears; he was the only son of his mother, who was a widow, and he lived in the north of London, coming into the City every day to work in a bank. He was twenty years old and was full of aspirations. I met him in a public billiard-saloon where the marker called him by his first name, and he called the marker “Bullseye.” Charlie explained, a little nervously, that he had only come to the place to look on, and since looking on at games of skill is not a cheap ausement for the young, I suggested that Charlie should go back to his mother.”

Are you hooked? Well, pages 54 to 79 of my ancient volume carries Kipling’s tale in full. Just 25 pages of something that carries you off to untold imaginings of your own at the heated end of the author’s prodding nib.

It’s a brilliant light touch with the stranglehold of a python yet all he does is  tell a story. It’s a real craft, not easy to duplicate, a joy to fall into.

Now here is the oddest thing imaginable, and part of the reason I want to tell you about this. Kipling details more of this young Charlie Mears he befriends, and the odd arrangement they come to (Charlie’s coveting a writer’s life that Kipling, older and wiser, the never identified first person is experiencing) wherein Charlie supplies Kipling with an unbelievable story he is unable to write, and Kipling pays him 5 pounds for the idea because he believes he can, himself, write it.

Charlie lets his story out in a gush (of ships and galley slaves and swashbuckling hero pirates) then piecemeal in appointed visits, and their talk is of writing and the thrill of words, and the overwhelming mystery of how the juvenile, untraveled, unread Charlie could possibly imagine any of it. The story goes on to reveal that Charlie is channeling (Kipling calls it metempsychosis) an ancient Greek galley-slave and the content comes to him in dreams and he is accurate to the point of his writing out what the galley slaves scratched in ancient Greek with their iron bound wrists on their oars!  Which Kipling trudges off to verify with an annoyed antiquarian linguist at the museum across town.  How stupendous is that!

Kipling’s character continues to pry the tale from young Charlie who is kept oblivious to the obvious that he is speaking somehow from his OWN history as a captive Greek slave on a pirate’s ship. Then Charlie, gaining confidence,  begins to spin out other past seafarer lives “half a dozen several and separate existences spent on the blue water in the morning of the world”, in fact the man’s a rare treasure trove, now appearing to possibly be an Argonaut in a previous life!!  What a find for the writer befriending him. Wow.

But this here-and-now-Charlie is as naive and petulant as a child whom Kipling must nurse along.  He dares not tell him what he suspects… because he begins to envision his own writing career into unimagined, glorious sugar plums….once the story is writ.

But here’s a wondrous strange part for me, and it fits in the peculiar category of never knowing at all where reading someone else’s words might lead all of us.

Kipling’s paying cash for the story idea allows Charlie the money to purchase unread books; he is giddy; he falls in love with Longfellow and quotes a poem’s stanza about the sea: “I remember the black wharves and the ships And the sea-tides tossing free; And Spanish sailors with bearded lips, And the beauty and mystery of the ships, And the magic of the sea.”

Now by sheer coincidence it is from one of my favorite Longfellow poems, and the very bit I memorized long ago, and in fact (I’m not making this up!) included it in my own short story, coming from the mouth of my Grandfather Alfred in the one called: “Grandpa’s Ticket to Ride” (“The Gandy Dancer & Other Short Stories”, BD Sparhawk, 2004.)
And the pirate hero of the Charlie/Kipling story is a red-head, same as my sailor Grandfather!  It’s all true. What can it mean?

And on reflection, because I’m a writer and see the construction of things and the plot and twists and turns,  I’m also thinking: Why Rudyard you sly fox you. 

Can it be that you had some story in your head with the cast of characters, and some composition of the plot and fancies of where it might go but couldn’t make it go there…..and look what you did! You went and invented Charlie, and never did more than the outline of that story but still you turned it into a tale worth keeping and telling, and named it “The Finest Story in the World”.

Which is likely the emotion you woke from sleep feeling it must be, aha.

But trying to get it onto paper never worked right. Now this discovery of mine of you adds so much wonder and happiness to my knowing the man, and increased admiration.  What a damn clever fellow.  Oh I wish I’d known him. We could sit at a country campfire for endless talk, or opposite at a railway’s gas-lit dining car table with cream-colored linen and weighted silver over a fair meal and stiff drinks of an evening; or catch sunrise on a midnight’s hike, rounding a trail’s bend into a wide open space that led downhill to the longed for destination and we hadn’t stopped talking for hours.  Maybe days. 

I can (and have) exhausted even the best of friends with my enthused descriptions and tales.  But I have the feeling Rudyard and I would never run out of steam and only rest long enough to eat or drink or have a few winks then pick up where we left off.  How I wish I’d known you in the flesh.  And, I think it’s fair, that despite your generous gifting of so much pleasure to the world, to discover from “The Finest Story in the World” that you turn out to be a thrifty man who would never let even a convoluted delight go unexplored.

For the full of Kipling’s short and marvelous tale, go here:  “The Finest Story in the World”

SPARHAWK OILS ~~ New Paintings



Done Late Summer 2015

                  Magnolias, Bucket, Cat, End of Day                    

COPY ONE, Magnolias, Bucket, Cat, End of DayCOPY 2, Magnolias, Bucket, Cat, End of Day                        Oil on Canvas  20 X 20





Water Bucket, Sundown, 2COPY ONE, Water Bucket, Sundown, 2COPY 2, Water Pail, SundownOil on Canvas  20 X 20  




Despite the dreaded California drought (and all the politics that caused it) there’s a marvelous profusion of flowers this summer on the central coast.  The Magnolia Trees, the meadow blossoms, the constant surprise of what’s down the block or around the corner or at the edge of a field and my arms filled with all I see on excursions into what’s around me, brought home. It’s always more than any simple vase can contain so I head for the buckets and watering pails, eyes lit and heart aglow. Enjoy the waft.


I’m not sure where this came from, one of those paintings that seem to produce themselves. 



11 X 14 oil on canvas