USS Constitution Underway, October 17, 2014

Here are photos from our fabulous day aboard the USS Constitution, on her final Underway out of the Boston Harbor before a three-year drydock, in which her masts will be replaced, her hull inspected, and a variety of replacements and repairs are made. She will, in a way, be a different ship, and so this last small voyage was very sentimental for her crew, and for everyone who loves her.

Our daughter Bri serves aboard; her position during Underways is at the fore fighting top, 50 feet above deck. Here she is in climbing harness, ready to go up the fore mast, with Bill and her brothers in the background.

Sailor Bri in harness

The fire boat accompanied the ship, as always, and it was a sunny sparkling day. Rainbows followed the little boat, to our delight.

Rainbows off of the Fire Boat

Special guests on board included the usual contingent of retired and active duty military guests and volunteers (lots of different uniforms and medals, hats and epaulets, muskets, scarves, tufts and feathers) and this time the Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick was on board, along with the Boston band The Dropkick Murphys. Here is the band performing on deck, on our way back to Boston.

Dropkick Murphys on Deck

It was fun to watch Bri and the other sailors climb up to the tops, up to the triple trees, having fun. Of course I wanted to run right up the ropes, but it’s against the rules.

Bri on the Fore Top Oct 17

It was a sparkling day, just perfect. I hope you enjoy the photo gallery.

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oh, my

What a time I am having.

I myself really have no idea what I have and have not done in the past days, because I’ve let go of expectations, and am simply responding as responsibly and promptly to each stimulus and request as possible. I am trying to meet everything in real time, so that there is no carryover, no atomic decay, no debris around me. I am keeping my wooden floors swept and dusted; it’s the same idea.

I visualize myself like a conducting medium, a plasma. I move around Boston in my body (which is a wonderful, strong body and I am extremely grateful to have such a nice one to live in) but I feel as if I am everywhere at once, very alive. The faces of the people that I know are very clear to me, and I can call them up at will with my new and greatly prized videodetic memory (yes I made that word up) and watch little films of them talking, laughing. I can run film of almost anything now.

I am loving my subscription to the Van Gogh art of the day on Facebook. I see new work all of the time; pieces I never dreamed existed- they are in private collections, obscure museums. This one would be something to do if I ever find myself in Cleveland Ohio, which I do not expect will happen to me. But if it did, I would go see this, at the Cleveland Museum of Art. It was painted in 1889, and is called The Poplars at St. Remy.

The Poplars at Saint-Remy Van Gogh Oct 1889

I don’t understand the things that have happened in my head in the past year. I can only describe the sensations, the pleasure at having new capabilities; I expected to decline slowly in every way as the years stacked up, but never dreamed that I would continue to expand. That was silly of me, I see now. I can see that I have spent too much time listening to established wisdom; this is amusing if you know me, because you think, I’m sure, that I never listen to anyone. True, and not true.

Yesterday we had a thrill of a lifetime, all four of us – we went for a ride on the USS Constitution, where Bri is serving, and she was up on the fore top again, aloft for the whole journey. So exciting. I’ll post the photos from the day in a separate thread, so I can share it far and wide without all of my thoughts swirling around them, confusing others.

I tried to sum up how I felt last night, in a small Facebook post, that said, basically, that all of my dreams have come true, in spite of however short I have sometimes fallen. I can see that all I need to do is to do my best; everything will follow that and will be beautiful, even if I am not perfect. As long as I have done my best. That is a freeing feeling; it gives me both a sense of responsibility and also a sense of being cared for by and being part of a benevolent collective. The more I contribute that is positive, the more opportunities I will have.

Sailor Bri in harness

Bri in climbing harness, ready to go up the fore mast. In the background, assorted McKinnons, Evan, Bill and Liam.

As Bri explained to Liam last night, if she comes out at the top of her class, she gets first pick of assignments. It’s simple. And the best way to come out on top is just to work hard, and help others. There isn’t any need to step on them; excellence isn’t at the top of a ladder, it’s a personal experience. People get the idea that they have to get literally above others, when really all they have to do is be their best.

The important thing for me now is to see the possibilities; a bit of passiveness helps with that. I feel as if I am in a sea of Everything, and I am trying to be quiet, and handle my basic responsibilities, as I let opportunities and ideas swirl around me. When I see one that is right for me, I am not passive. But I needn’t engage with everything around me. I can see that now. I am quieter, smaller, closer to the skin.


Rainbows off of the Fire Boat

Rainbows off of the Fire Boat, from the deck of the USS Constitution during her final Underway before dry-docking, October 17, 2014.

a magical last taste of summer

Today, because I could, and because it was magically a summer day again, I walked from our house in Cambridge (up by Harvard) down into Boston. It isn’t far; a mile or two at most, but it’s the furthest I’ve walked in a month.

I went past MIT, over the bridge, up to the Post Office. It was lovely to just take off, and not worry about being fragile.

I took lots of pictures.

cambridge river
Cambridge Indian Summer

The two panos are actually pretty different; it suddenly occurred to me after the top one that I could do my panorama from bottom to top, instead of side to side, and get a lot of sky in the shot. I’m not sure why that has never occurred to me before. It’s a nice way to go, because there is little to no horizontal deformation.

I’m not sure if people do this. They must.

Our neighborhood in Cambridge is stuffed with FLOWERS.

Everything really does look like thisflower and bee boston OMG ZINNIAS

It was fall everywhere, even on turrets.

Fall vines on a turret

And I found a Van Gogh canvas I had never seen. It’s hanging in the Other Cambridge.


This Friday we go out on the Constitution; my first time. All of our first times! Bri got spaces for all four of us. It’s the ship’s final underway before a major dry dock, and being on this small journey is a huge honour. Bri will be in her place on the fore fighting top, aloft for the entire jaunt. The sails are off the ship, but the tops are still on the masts.

I might just faint of happiness, of pride in my daughter, of the joy of us all being together in a place that is not St. Louis. This is a gentle time, time out of time, a gift.


photo, US Navy

I hope Miss Fish can feel me loving her from here. I won’t see her for a month, at the current plan. My roommate in Tucson, Jay, sends me pictures, he keeps her and Simon happy. But oh, how I long to snuggle her.

Zogged Fish


It’s been beautiful here.  I’m getting used to the sugar line of the Cambridge strip, being one of the ants running up and down Mass Ave., into and out of Harvard Square, Central Square.

cambridge hat shop

We are all happy; for whatever reason, we just settled in and everything seems normal. The boys love Cambridge High, Jasper is mellow, even Wyatt, left behind at home, is happy, we think, with visitors four times a week, and a weak sense of time.

I’ve been getting back into walking; not quite riding trains yet (too much bracing and bumping) but I can walk a mile again without thinking. As usual I have sworn to never forget to be grateful for my mobility, my strength, my stamina.

Today I walked down from Harvard into Central Square, and was relaxed enough to meet people on the street again, to make people happy. It’s been a few weeks of being careful; I find that to really see people any focus on my own self is counter-productive.

glorious man

This glorious man was on his way to ask a woman something; one could guess, but not know for sure.  I hope it went well for him.

Mikes Monster Records

Humorously, Mike’s Monster Guitar really had monsters in the window. That’s a nice Godzilla on the right, from Japan, if my eyes do not deceive me. I like all three of them, actually.

Mikes Monsters

And Bill and I were just saying yesterday, “why aren’t there more CATS in shops?” So I found one.

shop cat

This guy cracked me up; he had a trombone in two pieces in his backpack, just sticking out.

Trombone backpack

And happily, no shortage of RECORD STORES, a hallmark of civilisation.


I’m working every day on my email, my digital cleanup, making errors right, getting ready for the next things. It’s been lovely to not be working all hours, but only some hours.

Beyond lovely, actually. Bliss. I’m taking things slow, winding up my energy. I feel a whirl coming on.

Next week, the excitement of the final “sail” of the USS Constitution before she goes into drydock; the sails are actually off the ship and it will be tug-drawn, but still; out of the harbour, out to Castle Island, back into the Navy Yard. I can’t wait!

I’ve seen it from shore, now we will see it from the deck. The boys are excited and that’s a fact.

Back in Boston

After a crazed month in Tucson and Dallas, I’m back in Boston through Christmas with the family. I’m going home once to Tucson to kiss Miss Fish, in November.

Landing at Logan

More has happened in the past month than I could tell. Mostly because I have forgotten it; life rockets along, and what is not caught in the basket often flows through me, and is lost in the swirl.

Since I wrote last, I led a weekend workshop in Dallas, had a knee surgery, supervised the shipping of thousands of books to thousands of places, flew to Boston to meet up with friends for a party, flew to Philly to see a Ferry show. Excitingly, in Philly, I got to see Kyle Cassidy and Trillian Stars.

Ryan, Doriot, Trillian and I went to the show together, but Kyle joined us for an early drinking session at the White Dog.

White Dog

and an early dinner at Pod, which I had seen photos of, but had never been to. Diners can control their lighting with panels on the wall.

photo by Kyle Cassidy

We dressed up for the show; I went as a long column of black. We had a fantastic time, as did Ferry.

Kate McKinnon by Doriot Lair
photo by Doriot Lair

In the Philly airport, going home, we saw a magnificent installation by Delainey Barclay, and I took a magnificent photo of Doriot in front of it. I’ve always found the Philly airport a bit grotty, but the Jet Blue zone was really nice.

Doriot in the Philly airport with Delainey Barclay

The shapes reminded me of the forms we are exploring in beadwork.

Delainey Barclay

We went to the Brattle Theater last night to see A Hard Day’s Night; on the wall outside was a tag I’ve been seeing around here and there. Not just in Boston. Bri, is that you?



There are wild turkeys wandering the streets of Cambridge. And at least one peacock, male. Evan said that he saw them walking down the street together.

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 11.08.33 PM

Today, for Doriot’s last real day in Boston (on this trip, that is) we went up in the Prudential building, because Bill had never done it. The reflection in the Hancock did the usual thrilling blend with the skyline.

Up In The Pru Two

I’ve been spending my free moments in the past week catching up on shipping questions, problems, etc. It’s been a mix of love letters and tiny fuckups; nothing serious, though, and the book is getting rave reviews.

I’m just going to keep moving forward; there is plenty to do and I am pleased to do it.

Right now, though, I’m mostly just breathing. And thinking.


Well, well.

I don’t seem to have anything left over at the ends of days to write lately; it’s really busy.  I went off to teach in Dallas last weekend, and we beaded during the days and tore up the town in the evenings. I only wish I could tell you (or frankly even properly recall) the excitements. I did come away with a photograph of a VERY grumpy nude, some incredible video from class, and a very warm heart from the opportunity to meet people I had become beady-close to through their work, and their emails.

It was just wonderful. Every minute of it.

Don’t let the sour look on this painting’s face put you off of Dallas.

Grumpy Nude

Mere hours after I made it home, the books arrived, and thankfully it was a nice warm dry day.


They were stacked by Ocean Tiss (model and muscle) in rivers along the walls of the entry, living, and dining room, four and five high. I opened them as he laid them out, so that it was easy for us in production. Opening boxes sucks when what you want to do is pick up a stack of books.

Ocean helping with boxes

Over the past three days, Sandy, AJ and I have been converting the cartons of books from the press into cartons of finished mail; it’s going unbelievably smoothly.  It’s almost like I’ve done it before; suddenly, not even double the quantity phases me. Sandy said tonight, when she left, “When I first walked in and saw all of those boxes, I thought, impossible!”  Admittedly there were a lot of boxes. But the main chunk (the thousand domestic orders) is DONE. That’s right, DONE. They won’t all be picked up until Monday, but they are finished.

Now I am turning to the foreign orders, which will also all go out on Monday.

RIng Of Death

I contemplated being fearful of this week, or of looking at the boxes in despair, but it didn’t seem useful. Better to be overconfident in some cases than under. I was so foolishly fearless that I even threw in a knee surgery to make things more interesting. It worked out; the Knee Man is in fact the genius I thought he was and he barely even bruised me. It hurt for a few days, and honestly I’ve kind of forgotten it even happened now, it’s so fine. I am forbidden from swimming , which is infuriating, but hey.

Anyway, the timing was perfect; I sat around signing all of the clear plates and making labels for a few days, I did have to battle the fill-in mail carrier for my own packages (he would simply take everything on the porch when he came to get the Click & Ship; my Office Depot delivery, a UPS box, it was all fair game for him.) It was a crazy week, but I didn’t really care what happened, I was going to keep moving forward.

Orangelina finished molting, happily, and came out to play. I will admit that I was pretty worried about her; when she was crouching miserably behind the pool shed, I sat with her for a while. I suppose molting is unpleasant. She finished that, and I trimmed up the Lurk, and now she is as friendly as ever.I just can’t tell you how happy I was to see her.

She has a new lover; I named him Grassmaster Flash.


Life rockets onward.

Mere hours after the last box goes out from Tucson, I get on a plane and go back to Boston, where I’ll meet up with a stack of friends, my entire family, and we’ll all head out for dinner and a Ferry show.

I’m enjoying every minute with the cats, the lizards (the cats I will see in November, for a visit, but the lizards…probably not until Spring). I feel delightfully empty; there is a ton of room inside my head, my heart.