these birds, this woman

Love and greetings once again from the big desert. Joshua Trees, soaring mountains, winds that carry the breath of the creatures and plants in Earth’s biome, and layers and layers of sky surround me, swirling. I am quite near Vasquez Rocks, scene of frequent hilarity.


My dead are in mind and in use as much as my living right now; E.B. White, Edward Teller, Carl Sagan, Buckminster Fuller, our grandmothers, our mothers, my friend Alice Olson, my uncle John Freeman. The ancient-named gods of the winds, the sun, the sky, Dali, Henry Miller, Fitzgerald, Gaudi, Saarinen, Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury.

More are added every day; 2016 has been cruel beyond cruel; Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Steven Hill, Robert Vaughn, Morley Safer, Merle Haggard, Abe Vigoda, and as if that weren’t enough, Gene Wilder and Alan Rickman. And Trump elected? Are we dreaming, we ask. I console myself that Dick van Dyke remains, as of today.


Each time I walk by the ground squirrels outside where I’m living, or stop for looks back and forth with the robins or ravens in the trees, I think, these birds, this woman, this moment. I smile at them when I pass, sometimes I stop if it is sunny and I make small noises of friendship. They run, or do not run, sometimes they make noises back. I cannot tell one robin from another, but some ravens stand out to me as individuals.

We really ought to be able to translate the rudiments of raven language. So many sounds, so many clicks, so much intention and long-range communication. Such blackness and shininess and smartness. I want to talk to them.


raven photo © Minette Layne via

I’ve started playing tennis, I may have mentioned this. In my own way, I’ve been a secret athlete, but other than chess (chess team in high school, represent!) I’ve never really done an organized sport by the rules. I love badminton, but without a net, and with lots and lots of fierce spiking of birds. I like Scrabble, but I like to play upside down and backwards, blanks go wild when they hit the board, 12 tiles, under 30 points a turn you’re drool. For the last four months, though, I’ve played tennis almost every day, and I’ve played hard. And what do you know? I’m a beast! I mean that in the best possible way. It suits me. So I feel strong and healthy.

Also, thrillingly, the work that I began at MIT almost two years ago is coming to fruition in ways beyond any that I could have imagined. Not only are we bringing wind and solar power to the campus, and contributing to the renovation of MIT54, but we are also bringing a lab of world-class scientists, engineers, artists, designers, programmers and business people to tackle the real work of solving problems. We’re all weary of the make-work of administration and corporate and academic and funding constraints and reports and conditions and supervision and forms and consultants and metrics and and. We just want to do work, only work, and in the most enjoyable, deep, meaningful ways possible.

So – we are making our own lab. It’s called the UnLAB, and we’re starting in Boston, this spring. Watch this space for news! Our plans are ambitious and hopeful, but with the lineup we’ve got, it’s hard to go wrong. We look like this:


Finally, exciting beyond belief: after starting over twice (so much beautiful information has come in so many floods this year) I am nearing completion of the final Contemporary Geometric Beadwork books. With something like 6500 $50-$75 investors in our project, it’s a lot of communication, and it will be a beautiful relief to hand over the finished work, and watch it flower in the hands of the people.

More soon…

and maybe a little Willy Wonka?

come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination
take a look and you’ll see into your imagination
there is no life I know to compare with pure imagination
living there you’ll be free
if you truly wish to be

4 thoughts on “these birds, this woman

  1. The unLab! I’m fiercely interested and look forward to hearing more. Once the book is out I’ll bring it to class and we must work on getting you here to talk about it all. Maybe Winter2018? Xxx

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