2013 in photos: Touched by a Rachel

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

I took a lot of photos this year, most of them during the two months I spent in the UK. I never did get around to sharing them all, so let me try to make up for lost time with a few gargantuan posts. One benefit of taking a look back is seeing patterns that one might not notice otherwise.

Holding up a beech

Here’s Rachel laying her hand on beech trees in Hebden Bridge, Continue reading “2013 in photos: Touched by a Rachel”


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Early in the morning to the Exchequer, where I told over what money I had of my Lord’s and my own there, which I found to be 970l. Thence to Will’s, where Spicer and I eat our dinner of a roasted leg of pork which Will did give us, and after that to the Theatre, where was acted “Beggars’ Bush,” it being very well done; and here the first time that ever I saw women come upon the stage. From thence to my father’s, where I found my mother gone by Bird, the carrier, to Brampton, upon my uncle’s great desire, my aunt being now in despair of life. So home.

What money I own I give
to beggars—the first time
I saw women age.
I found my mother gone
by bird, a great desire
now despair of life.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 3 January 1660/61.

The perils of indolence

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Up early, and being called up to my Lord he did give me many commands in his business. As about taking care to write to my uncle that Mr. Barnewell’s papers should be locked up, in case he should die, he being now suspected to be very ill. Also about consulting with Mr. W. Montagu for the settling of the 4000l. a year that the King had promised my Lord. As also about getting of Mr. George Montagu to be chosen at Huntingdon this next Parliament, &c.
That done he to White Hall stairs with much company, and I with him; where we took water for Lambeth, and there coach for Portsmouth.
The Queen’s things were all in White Hall Court ready to be sent away, and her Majesty ready to be gone an hour after to Hampton Court to-night, and so to be at Portsmouth on Saturday next.
I by water to my office, and there all the morning, and so home to dinner, where I found Pall (my sister) was come; but I do not let her sit down at table with me, which I do at first that she may not expect it hereafter from me. After dinner I to Westminster by water, and there found my brother Spicer at the Leg with all the rest of the Exchequer men (most of whom I now do not know) at dinner. Here I staid and drank with them, and then to Mr. George Montagu about the business of election, and he did give me a piece in gold; so to my Lord’s and got the chest of plate brought to the Exchequer, and my brother Spicer put it into his treasury. So to Will’s with them to a pot of ale, and so parted.
I took a turn in the Hall, and bought the King and Chancellor’s speeches at the dissolving the Parliament last Saturday.
So to my Lord’s, and took my money I brought ‘thither last night and the silver candlesticks, and by coach left the latter at Alderman Backwell’s, I having no use for them, and the former home. There stood a man at our door, when I carried it in, and saw me, which made me a little afeard.
Up to my chamber and wrote letters to Huntingdon and did other business.
This day I lent Sir W. Batten and Captn. Rider my chine of beef for to serve at dinner tomorrow at Trinity House, the Duke of Albemarle being to be there and all the rest of the Brethren, it being a great day for the reading over of their new Charter, which the King hath newly given them.

An ape should be locked up
in case he should die.
Do not sit down,
my brother Leg,
my brother Stick!
The latter I carried and feared—
of all brethren, the king.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 2 January 1660/61.

The complaint department is now open

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“It did not please him…” ~ D. Bonta

We assure you, the zipper that wouldn’t zip wasn’t mocking your mechanical skill set.

Unfortunately, mold can sometimes grow in a package supposedly vacuum-sealed at the factory. How many miles do you imagine it had to travel to get to your table in Foghorn, Alaska? And how do you know what was pressed next to it in that crowded grocery shelf?

There is some variance in general opinion with regard to the one minute rule, or the three minute rule. So it fell under the table. If it didn’t land in dog poop and the kid looks fine, you can probably stop screaming.

Let’s take a minute right here to go over what really upset you. First of all this young woman was nursing her baby under a tastefully printed shawl covering both her shoulders and bodice— Was it the ikat print that you couldn’t understand?

If you want to go ahead and throw the rest of the bottle in the trash, it’s up to you. But I have to let you know we won’t issue a refill until three days before your next schedule.

I’m sorry it wasn’t delivered to your apartment’s physical specifications, which we did not have at the time of order and purchase. Would you prefer to have the manager shot?

There are some things we can reassure you of: the warranty and warranty renewal plans typically expire the day before you experience a major product breakdown.


In response to Via Negativa: Faux pas.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

canela shows us her dark side
Photo of Canela by Rachel Rawlins

A dog’s very presence constitutes a reproach.

Why are you just sitting there, when the whole rest of the world is right outside?

Another cup of coffee, really?

Why can’t you anticipate my needs better? Or does it amuse you to wait until I am literally dancing with discomfort to take me out for a goddamn piss?

Why aren’t you rubbing my belly right now?

When I was a kid, dogs were still largely kept in dog houses. Even Snoopy, the most anthropomorphic dog before the debut of Family Guy, lived in a dog house. They got scratched behind the ears now and then if they were lucky. “You want to go for a walk? Knock yourself out.” Now they are members of the family, like five-year-old children who never grow up, until one day they die and leave a gaping hole in your life. It seems down-right anachronistic that their day-to-day behavior is still driven by centuries of breeding for utilitarian tasks: to herd, to guard, to catch rats, to retrieve the still-warm bodies of dead ducks from shallow water.

Canela, the dog I’m currently sitting for my brother’s family, struggles with the last of these inborn inclinations. I watch her sniffing and straining against the leash on her twice-daily walks, whining out of her deep need to locate and retrieve, to mouth, to bring back. Because the rest of her pack disappeared while she was out on a walk, she looks for them up at the other house as often as I’ll let her, tugging me up the hill, and appears to believe they might be hiding anywhere on the mountain. We make great circles around the ground zero of their disappearance. In search of clues, she wants to follow every fluttering wing.

Belated Christmas letter

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

At the end of the last and the beginning of this year, I do live in one of the houses belonging to the Navy Office, as one of the principal officers, and have done now about half a year. After much trouble with workmen I am now almost settled; my family being, myself, my wife, Jane, Will. Hewer, and Wayneman, my girle’s brother.
Myself in constant good health, and in a most handsome and thriving condition. Blessed be Almighty God for it. I am now taking of my sister to come and live with me. As to things of State.—The King settled, and loved of all. The Duke of York matched to my Lord Chancellor’s daughter, which do not please many. The Queen upon her return to France with the Princess Henrietta. The Princess of Orange lately dead, and we into new mourning for her.
We have been lately frighted with a great plot, and many taken up on it, and the fright not quite over. The Parliament, which had done all this great good to the King, beginning to grow factious, the King did dissolve it December 29th last, and another likely to be chosen speedily.
I take myself now to be worth 300l. clear in money, and all my goods and all manner of debts paid, which are none at all.
Called up this morning by Mr. Moore, who brought me my last things for me to sign for the last month, and to my great comfort tells me that my fees will come to 80l. clear to myself, and about 25l. for him, which he hath got out of the pardons, though there be no fee due to me at all out of them.
Then comes in my brother Thomas, and after him my father, Dr. Thomas Pepys, my uncle Fenner and his two sons (Anthony’s only child dying this morning, yet he was so civil to come, and was pretty merry) to breakfast; and I had for them a barrel of oysters, a dish of neat’s tongues, and a dish of anchovies, wine of all sorts, and Northdown ale. We were very merry till about eleven o’clock, and then they went away.
At noon I carried my wife by coach to my cozen, Thomas Pepys, where we, with my father, Dr. Thomas, cozen Stradwick, Scott, and their wives, dined. Here I saw first his second wife, which is a very respectfull woman, but his dinner a sorry, poor dinner for a man of his estate, there being nothing but ordinary meat in it. To-day the King dined at a lord’s, two doors from us. After dinner I took my wife to Whitehall, I sent her to Mrs. Pierces (where we should have dined today), and I to the Privy Seal, where Mr. Moore took out all his money, and he and I went to Mr. Pierces; in our way seeing the Duke of York bring his Lady this day to wait upon the Queen, the first time that ever she did since that great business; and the Queen is said to receive her now with much respect and love; and there he cast up the fees, and I told the money, by the same token one 100l. bag, after I had told it, fell all about the room, and I fear I have lost some of it.
That done I left my friends and went to my Lord’s, but he being not come in I lodged the money with Mr. Shepley, and bade good night to Mr. Moore, and so returned to Mr. Pierces, and there supped with them, and Mr. Pierce, the purser, and his wife and mine, where we had a calf’s head carboned, but it was raw, we could not eat it, and a good hen. But she is such a slut that I do not love her victualls.
After supper I sent them home by coach, and I went to my Lord’s and there played till 12 at night at cards at Best with J. Goods and N. Osgood, and then to bed with Mr. Shepley.

This year, trouble settled
in with me, and I mourn
the dying of tongues
and ordinary doors.
Time is no old token.
I have lost friends and
a calf’s head at cards.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 1 January 1660/61.


holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

You have no shovel, so you forage in the cupboards
to find only a plastic fork and two knives. So
is this what it feels like in those fairy tales
where the girl is sentenced to labor after impossible
labor, before being granted access and social mobility?
What the villain/ess doesn’t understand: the girl
was born in a third world country, where she learned
to shampoo and bathe with a scant pailful of water,
where snacks are a euphemism for all the inventive
ways one might use every part of the animal for food.
Stables, lions, sky-darkening hordes of birds? You
got nothin’ on me, Hercules
; and isn’t a deus ex machina
just another name for cheating? Your parents
have to work in the fields. Or they are sick,
missing, dead. Try dandling your new baby brother
on one hip while feeding your two-year old sister
when you’re only five. Try taking them out
into the avenue to weave through traffic, splay
begging fingers against the tinted window glass
of cars. Shred after shred layers the years;
petulance and bad temper are so unnecessary.
They will not make the miracle you pray for—
only stubborn patience, the improv work of your hands
as you make a hollow in the gravelly soil deep enough
for this plant you have brought to take root and grow.