Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Aimee Bender

On Goodnight Moon by Aimee Bender

Sunlight on the Side of a House

from Writer's Almanac today:
It's the birthday of the painter Edward Hopper, born in Nyack, New York (1882). By the time he was 12, he was already six feet tall. He was skinny, gangly, made fun of by his classmates, painfully shy, and spent much of his time alone drawing.

After he finished art school, he took a trip to Paris and spent almost all of his time there alone, reading or painting. In Paris, he realized that he had fallen in love with light. He said the light in Paris was unlike anything he'd ever seen before. He tried to re-create it in his paintings.

He came back to New York and was employed as an illustrator at an ad agency, which he loathed. In his spare time, he drove around and painted train stations and gas stations and corner saloons.

Hopper had only sold one painting by the time he was 40 years old, but his first major exhibition — in 1933 at the Museum of Modern Art — made him famous. His pieces in that show had titles like Houses by the Railroad, Manhattan Bridge Loop, Room in Brooklyn, Roofs of Washington Square, Cold Storage Plant, Lonely House, and Girl on Bridge. Though his work was more realistic and less experimental than most other painters at the time, he painted his scenes in a way that made them seem especially lonely and eerie.

Edward Hopper said: "Maybe I am slightly inhuman ... All I ever wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house."

Monday, July 21, 2014

Abraham Lincoln

I am an optimist because I don't see the point in being anything else.
-Abraham Lincoln

Blasphemy Martín Espada

from NYT

Martín Espada's most recent collection of poems is "The Trouble Ball." He is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Sam Hamill was born in 1942 or 1943 to unknown parents. Adopted and raised in Utah, he was beaten and abused, a runaway, a petty thief, a heroin user, in trouble with the law, in and out of jail.

In the poem “Plain Dumb Luck,” he writes of being “huddled in a cell in Fredonia, Arizona/ rolling cigarettes from a Bull Durham pouch/ locked up for the crime of being fourteen and homeless.” A sheriff tells him to “Go home, son,” but he would “rather steal than taste that belt again.” And yet, by poem’s end, 40 years later, the poet concludes that he is “the luckiest son-of-a-bitch alive.” It was his “dumb luck” to discover poetry. From the practice of poetry everything else would flow.

In the words of Hayden Carruth, “No one — I mean no one — has done the momentous work of presenting poetry better than Sam Hamill. His editing and publishing, his criticism and translations, his own very strong and beautiful poems have been making a difference in American culture for many years.”

This poem is dedicated to him.

For Sam Hamill

Let the blasphemy be spoken: poetry can save us,
not the way a fisherman pulls the drowning swimmer
into his boat, not the way Jesus, between screams,
promised life everlasting to the thief crucified beside him
on the hill, but salvation nevertheless.

Somewhere a convict sobs into a book of poems
from the prison library, and I know why
his hands are careful not to break the brittle pages.

Natural Chaos

Stop tidying your life, I tell myself.
Chaos is what I love. Not drama, but a cacophony of clutter, my kaleidoscope of kooky prompts.

Just like when baking bread with natural yeast. The natural wild yeast from frequent baking, contribute to the fast acting sourdough.

People appear wired to incur a significant physical cost to eliminate a mental burden.
People who are checking things off the list all the time might look like they’re getting stuff done, he said, but they’re not getting the big stuff done.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Moon Water

Roberto said, When the water barrels fill up at night we call it Moon Water.

Banana Trees

My neighbors in the green-pea-soup-colored Happy House had a yard sale last weekend and they were selling mostly baby items. They had three tablet style cell phones laid out for sale.
How much? I asked.
Ten dollars, Sherry replied.
I only have six dollars, I said.
For you, six, because we like you, Sherry replied.
People laugh at me because I've never owned a cell phone before.
How do I work it?
Press the button to turn it on.
Bruce stepped forward and touched the screen.
You know YouTube he asked? You can go to YouTube.
He touched the screen again and stuff started to move.
My stomach flipped over.
I'll have to take Dramamine to work this thing cuz I get motion sickness looking at the motion on the screen.
Really? Beth asked.
Yup, it's true, I said.
I am from another time.
Whose paying for it? I asked
It's the internet, it's just in the air, Sherry said.
Really, are you sure?
You'll need a charger from the dollar store, and it's only 35 dollars or 55 a month for phone service unlimited, Beth chimed in.
I don't have 35 dollars.
I took out my six dollars from my Emily the Strange - Change Comes from Within change purse and handed it to them. I've carried this six dollars around for six months. I laughed.
Thanks I said.
I was already having buyer's remorse and I hadn't even crossed the street. Was this a misspent six dollars? I was sure it was although it seemed worth the conversation, I told my husband.
Then I let it sit on the kitchen counter.
The next day my change purse was in the foyer on the floor. I must've dropped it on the street and someone must've picked it up and pushed it through my mail slot.
Boy, am I lucky.
I had no idea it was missing.
I went over to tell the Yard Sale family, thank you for dropping off my wallet.
It wasn't us, they said.
Well it's a mystery then.
I noticed the tree towering over their backyard. What a big tree I said. That's a banana tree, Bruce said.
It's a catalpa, I said, smiling.
I was told it was a banana tree, Bruce replied.
Not here, maybe in Jamaica though.


Last night at 7PM I walked to the pond hoping to meet Doreen and her newly adopted rescue dog, Ranger. She wasn't home but I ran into other folks and their dogs. I met a newly adopted puppy Bella the Portuguese water dog on Ethel Street, and Macy the gray mastiff, and Riley the retriever, both on Edgewater Drive, and one mop-headed Pekinese on Miller Street. I got home at 9:30 PM and chatted with Ed and Marlene who were standing around out front. We chatted and laughed, telling stories about why none of us could ever become president due to infractions from our past.

At moments like these I want to block off the street and have a lasagna party with all the neighbors. Maybe we can do it without blocking off the street traffic. A sidewalk buffet, with dancing and live music!

Yesterday Leo and his cousin were dancing a tango out on the sidewalk. I was at my drafting desk and spotted them on the sidewalk below. I smiled as did everyone else who was watching. They are only ten years old, but had all the dance moves, including turning their heads sharply back and forth and Leo dipping his cousin back. She wore a colorful dress and they were having a blast.

Later when I saw Leo I said "You're a great tango dancer!" He was surprised that I knew he'd been dancing. "We just made up the dance," he said. "Well that's how it goes," I said. I suggested we have a dance marathon for Autumnfest, or better yet right here on the sidewalk. "Tomorrow?" Leo asked.

I walked on Social Street and cut over to the garden on Clinton Street, and then went back again when my library books arrived. Later that night I went to Harris Pond, both trips just wearing my flip flops with my dress. (We called them thongs back when we were growing up). It was a five mile day.

I woke up at 2:30 AM unable to breathe. I was dreaming I was to play in a band at RISD with the Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth. She asked why I wasn't playing sax. I told her that I couldn't breathe so I'd have to play snare drum.

Back in real life Bill ran down and got an antihistamine and a decongestant for me. My nose opened and the antihistamine knocked me out. When I woke I was sure today was Sunday. It knocked me to Sunday!

I had my annual physical a few days ago and I said I felt good for 54. The doc said, "You are not 54!" I said "Really?" He said, "You are 53." "Thanks for the extra year," I said, smiling. "The greatest miracle I've performed all day," he replied.

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandella

from Writer's Almanac today:
Today is the birthday of Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela (books by this author), born in Mvezo, South Africa (1918). He was the first member of his family to attend school, and that's where his British teachers gave him a new name: Nelson. Since childhood, Mandela had heard stories of his ancestors' courage. When he was 16 and participating in a ritual circumcision ceremony, the speaker lamented the life of oppression Mandela and the other boys would face under the rule of white South Africans. Mandela didn't understand everything that was said, but he later said that the experience formed his resolve to work for an end to apartheid.

He spent 27 years in prison, but refused to carry a grudge against his captors. He later said of his release from prison, "As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison."

He also said: "A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Take Care

Have people forgotten their own ancestors trials? Take care of the children. They are our future!

Agatha Christie

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
― Agatha Christie

Instinct is a marvelous thing. It can neither be explained nor ignored.
― Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

I do not argue with obstinate men. I act in spite of them.
― Agatha Christie, The Mystery of the Blue Train

But surely for everything you love you have to pay some price.
― Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

If you place your head in a lion's mouth, then you cannot complain one day if he happens to bite it off.
― Agatha Christie

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.
― Agatha Christie

One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.
― Agatha Christie

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jeff Bridges Interview

Bridges himself was a musician before he was an actor — he’s been playing since he was a teenager. His new album, Jeff Bridges, is filled with blues and country tunes, produced by his old friend T Bone Burnett.

Bridges tells Kurt Andersen that performing songs isn’t so different from playing a character on screen: “I’m a character too,” he laughs. “We’re all characters. I don’t really know who the hell I am anyway.”
-Studio 360 Interview with Jeff Bridges

Flirting with French

Adult language learners are, to borrow a phrase used by some psycholinguists, too smart for our own good. We process too much data at once, try to get everything right from the get-go and are self-conscious about our efforts.

. . . We adults have to work our brains hard to learn a second language. But that may be all the more reason to try, for my failed French quest yielded an unexpected benefit. After a year of struggling with the language, I retook the cognitive assessment, and the results shocked me. My scores had skyrocketed, placing me above average in seven of 10 categories, and average in the other three. My verbal memory score leapt from the bottom half to the 88th — the 88th! — percentile and my visual memory test shot from the bottom 5th percentile to the 50th. Studying a language had been like drinking from a mental fountain of youth.
-William Alexander is the author of the forthcoming book “Flirting With French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lessons from the Hood


Lessons from the Hive

Honeybee collapse has much to teach us about how humans can avoid a similar fate, brought on by the increasingly severe environmental perturbations that challenge modern society.

Honeybee collapse has been particularly vexing because there is no one cause, but rather a thousand little cuts. The main elements include the compounding impact of pesticides applied to fields, as well as pesticides applied directly into hives to control mites; fungal, bacterial and viral pests and diseases; nutritional deficiencies caused by vast acreages of single-crop fields that lack diverse flowering plants; and, in the United States, commercial beekeeping itself, which disrupts colonies by moving most bees around the country multiple times each year to pollinate crops.
- Mark Winston


Iris Murdoch

Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.
- Iris Murdoch

Thomas Francis Jr., Microbiologist

Epidemiology must constantly seek imaginative and ingenious teachers and scholars to create a new genre of medical ecologists who, with both the fine sensitivity of the scientific artist and the broad perception of the community sculptor, can interpret the interplay of forces which result in disease.
- Thomas Francis Jr., microbiologist

Monday, July 14, 2014

Painter Francis Bacon

When one is right inside the work … it’s very stimulating and exciting, because that’s when you bring things nearer to the nervous system. You must understand that I don’t paint for anybody except myself. I’m always very surprised that anybody wants to have a picture of mine. I paint to excite myself, and make something for myself. I can’t tell you how amazed I was when my work started selling!
Francis Bacon, painter

Where Mental Illness Meets Brutality


Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Girl who Married a Bear


Computer Crash

Dear Friends, Acquaintances and Readers,
I write about 800 e-mails a week. My computer is Windows 98. LOL. It finally crashed and I lost all of my addresses. Please write me here if you have not heard from me.
Thank you,

Loose Dogs

Last night we saw a man walking a brindle pit bull in the Job Lot parking lot. He explained his dog Hershey was a rescued Chesapeake Bay retriever that had been running loose in North Carolina. I've heard that before, I thought. Later my husband and I were remarking at the absurdity. This dog was full grown weighing 40 pounds with a pit bull face, paws, build and markings. The man said he lived in the woods in Chepachet. People won't adopt a pit bull so the kennels make up a dramatic story and change the dogs lineage. It's always about the loose dogs of North Carolina, Texas or Tennessee or the Puerto Rican Poodle Gangs of San Juan.

Mulberry Moon

We called it the Mulberry Moon because out Mulberry tree has been bursting with berries. We have a huge groundhog in our yard eating the berries, having a blast. We walked Lily last night and admired the moonlight light and cooler temperatures.

Full Moon July: Buffalo (Bull), Hot Sun also called Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon.



Studying the Siberian Hamster

Studying the Siberian hamster, Dr. Fred W. Turek, a professor of neurobiology and physiology at Northwestern University, found that when the rodents were placed under lighting conditions mimicking a summery 15 hours of sunshine, the levels of testosterone in the male would soar.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Emotional Survival

This book reminded me of the highs and lows, the roller coaster of short deadlines in my former newspaper career. And the hyper-vigilance of my childhood upbringing. A very insightful book.

Color of Hope

From Writer's Almanac today:
It's the birthday of poet Pablo Neruda born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Parral, Chile (1904). In 1923, when he was 19, he sold all his possessions in order to publish his first book, Crepusculario (Twilight). Because his father didn't approve of his writing poetry, he published it under the pen name Pablo Neruda. In 1924, he published Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada, known in English as Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, which made him famous. Neruda always wrote in green ink, because he believed it was the color of hope.

In 1927, he began a second career as a diplomat. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1971. In his Nobel lecture he said, "All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are."

Paul Krugman

It turns out, however, that using monetary policy to fight depression, while in the interest of the vast majority of Americans, isn’t in the interest of a small, wealthy minority. And, as a result, monetary policy is as bound up in class and ideological conflict as tax policy.
The truth is that in a society as unequal and polarized as ours has become, almost everything is political. Get used to it.

-Paul Krugman

Friday, July 11, 2014

E.B. White

My friend Judy grew up next door to E.B. White, in Maine. She's a lucky duck.

from Writer's Almanac
It's the birthday of the essayist and children's writer E.B. White born Elwin Brooks White in Mount Vernon, New York (1899). After a young pig he was raising got sick and he failed to save its life, he wrote one of his most famous essays, "Death of a Pig." Then he wrote a children's novel in which the pig doesn't have to die: Charlotte's Web (1952). It's the story of a runt pig named Wilbur who is saved the first time by a little girl and the second time by a wise spider. It is one of the best-selling children's books of all time.

E.B. White said: "I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Beat Goes On

At 71, "Officer Wes" is still on the beat

Don't ask Seattle police Officer Wes Ferris if he's planning to retire.

He's not. At 71, he says, he's too young.

Besides, he feels great, loves his job and can't imagine what else he'd do.


Safe Haven for Animals

Directory of Safe Havens for Animals™ Programs
Those fleeing domestic violence may bring pets to these shelters.

Where snowfall continues deep into summer.

Polar bears have taken on the role as the main troublemakers.

“If you want to live here, there is something slightly warped about you,” he said.


How is it that an entire country is being brought to its knees?


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Larry Brown, Fireman + Fiction Writer

from Writer's Almanac
It's the birthday of the novelist Larry Brown (books by this author), in Oxford, Mississippi (1951). He liked school when he was a kid, but read mostly hunting stories and fishing stories and cowboy stories — nothing that qualified as literature. He failed English his senior year in high school. He enlisted in the Marines and was stationed at a barracks in Philadelphia. He spent a lot of time listening to the stories of veterans who'd come back from Vietnam. He went back to Mississippi and joined the Oxford Fire Department in 1973 and loved the job. It didn't pay well, though. He had been reading best-selling novels by Stephen King and Louis L'Amour and thought maybe he could do that too. He wrote a novel about a man-eating bear in Yellowstone Park. It got turned down by everybody. So he went to the library and checked out every how-to book about writing that he could find. He started writing short stories and started reading Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner and Raymond Carver. His first book of stories, Facing the Music, came out in 1988; and the year after, his first novel, Dirty Work, which was based on the stories he had heard from veterans back in the Marines. The book got great reviews. And he went on to become a renowned Southern fiction writer and published three more novels before he died of a heart attack at the age of 53.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Open Notes

When I was seven my mother took me to a psychologist who said very little over the years except "Your Mother is sick, Your sister is sick" He smoked cigars and took notes in 3 different colored pens, red, blue, green, depending on what I was saying to him. One time he had me speak into a tape recorder and another time he had me draw his portrait in pencil during the session. It was all a mystery to me why I was there and why I couldn't stop going. I always wondered what he was writing about me. Over the 8 years my mother drove me to see Mr. Brown the file he had on me got pretty huge.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Prison Archives


Strangers in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein
I think that science fiction, even the corniest of it, even the most outlandish of it, no matter how badly it's written, has a distinct therapeutic value because all of it has as its primary postulate that the world does change.

David McCullough
One night, he was at a party with Harry Sinclair Drago, who had written more than 100 Westerns. McCullough got up the courage to approach him and ask him how he did it, and Drago said he wrote four pages a day, no matter what. McCullough said, "It was the best advice an aspiring writer could be given."

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Our Munroe Dairy Band Plays 11th Bristol Parade

We had a fabulous parade yesterday at Bristol's Fourth of July. The cool cloudy weather made it perfect for our three miles of music making. There were ten of us playing dressed as milkmen in our whites, 8 point hats, and black bow ties. We got rained on as we lined up rendering our outfits translucent. But we had anticipated this and told everyone to wear white underwear!

The always gentlemanly milkmen loaned us their yellow Munroe Dairy wind breakers and dry towels so we could dry off and warm up before we had to play.

We had the best parade ever. My former next door neighbor Lucille handed me a bottle of cold water and I handed it to Bill just as he was in dire need of a drink. Thank you Lucille!

The thunder and lightning and torrential rain arrived after we performed. Not everyone was so lucky. There was a lot of wet wool.

When we got home I simmered a pot of homemade tomato sauce using Jamie's fresh hot Italian sausages, olives, eggplant, celery. The aroma was magnificent when we woke up. This morning I decided to cook pasta. I made two trays adding spinach and pepper jack cheese for an improvised lasagna. My Aunt rose and Aunt Florence are smiling from heaven.

My spotted cow dress and white tights and black leather Mary Jane's and all of the wet towels are drying in the sun.
Thanks to the guest musicians, Maureen's amazing turkey and chicken salad roll-up sandwiches, the adorable milkmen Jay and Victor, it was an exceptional day at Munroe Dairy Summer Camp.

Friday, July 04, 2014


It starts with giving millions of immigrants permission to stay, to work and to live without fear.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

True Acceptance

In the presence of animals, we find true acceptance. Unlike with our peers, we feel no need to explain ourselves. Alone with them, our self-consciousness dissolves.
- Vint Virga

Vint Virga

He has treated severely depressed snow leopards, brown bears with obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobic zebras. “Scientists often say that we don’t know what animals feel because they can’t speak to us and can’t report their inner states,” Virga told me. “But the thing is, they are reporting their inner states. We’re just not listening.”

Russian Cinema Posters


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Ira Glass

I love Ira Glass!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sally Field

I find that’s one of the great things about acting—you have the opportunity to stand in somebody else’s shoes, whether it’s someone with mental health problems or someone who lives and works in a small town. Each character faces a dilemma in her life, and as an actor you’re able to step into that character’s skin, look through her eyes. You leave transformed, a different person, because once you live a little bit of someone’s life, it changes you.
-Sally Field

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stray and Abandoned Computers

All of my computers have been cast offs, and hand me downs, and trash pickins. The latest one a beautiful Mac, (1998) was inherited from from URI's Music Library, a few years ago. Today it has finally bit the dust. We are hunting for cast offs from Bill's school. Stay tuned. Donations accepted. Looking for a non portable simple desk top. Nothing fancy.

Kids on my Corner

Last summer the kids on the corner gave out free manicures and pedicures, with their illustrated poems. They came and told me a police man stopped to have his nails painted! They were so ecstatic and so were their parents. They talked about it all week. These kids have since moved a few blocks away and I see them when I'm out walking Lily. Maybe we can get something going again this summer with fresh tortilla-making hand-cranked ice-cream, and writing and illustrating poems. And drawing with sidewalk-chalk too.

Free Mending Library Creates Community

Love this!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Magritte Summer Sky

I woke at three thirty and now at 4:30 I'm looking out and I see a Magritte Summer sky.

Friday, June 27, 2014

2 Small Bits

Hypo-Mania Vest

Years ago I stayed with friends in CT on my trip home from a pavement pounding portfolio day in NYC. I was so hopped up I couldn't sleep. At 3 in the morning I started cleaning their kitchen stove and counters and microwave. I threw my black vest in with my 2 canvas bags and washed them in their basement washing machine.
The result was my favorite black linen vest got ripped and raggedy. I was devastated and embarrassed. What was I thinking?

I continued to wear it, looking like a character from Oliver Twist. Wearing it was punishment. If I kept my right arm down, or hid it with my dog walking shoulder bag, I could hide the major raggedy seam. it was awkward because I am left-handed and prefer to wear my bag on the left side. I was always reminded. I was still my favorite vest, and I wore it this way for 15 years.
Yesterday I opened up my sewing machine and hemmed the raggedy seam. It still has wonky spots but it is still a great vest. Now I wear it as a reminder of how bad I can get in hypo-mania.

Chief's Bathtub

Years ago we rented a fabulous apartment on Grand Street up on the hill off Park Avenue. We never tired of the view of the City hills houses and waterfall. When I washed the dishes or got dressed in the morning I gravitated towards the view. We had a fireplace too! The bathroom was also spectacular. It was a real room, a black and white 1920's tiled room with a built in tub. My husband made beer in the tub. I took baths in it with my two 80 pound dogs resting nearby. We had been told the Police Chief lived there years ago. When sudsing I always imagined the Chief of Police taking a bath in my tub.

Uncle Peter

My Uncle Peter Loeser was my step father Tony Gargagliano's best friend. He was born in Holland. He introduced Tony to my mother Sonia, after both of their first marriages broke up. He also knew and worked with my bio dad, Tom Lisker. They were all Madison Ave advertising art people in the 50's and 60's.

When I was seven my mother dragged me into the kitchen to say "Uncle Peter has had a few drinks, he's telling stories about how he escaped the Nazis. Don't ever ask him about this."
Of course I wanted to ask him. When I was 21, out on my own, I wrote a four page hand-written letter to him when he lived in Santa Monica California. I asked him about his life and told him about mine. I told him why and how I escaped my family, particularly my mother, and what I thought my mother was doing to me because of HER childhood.

18 years ago Uncle Peter was asked to write his war story for Steven Spielburg who was collecting Holocaust survivor stories. I have a copy and it's AMAZING! He escaped the Nazis 6 times. One time, a crowd of hundreds were rounded up in a theater. He walked out, acting like an everyday German going to work. He hid in ceilings. He fell in the firing squad, feigning death. He lived with a family, hidden between two floors, never being outside for a few years. He knew to avoid the two creaky stairs when entering their apartment to use their bathroom. He got really good at morphing.

I think of this because when I photograph I am taking Uncle Peter's advice on how to be invisible. "People never look up!" This is one of the many ways he was invisible to the Nazis. He was a natural actor--in order to walk out of a round up he had to be confident, and have German posture. Be an actor! And it worked.

Uncle Peter was surrounded by glamorous women fashion models who were ranked on description cards - "Legs Excellent, Eyes Blue" - yet he had an early life of adventure, espionage, and tragedy. He gave his photography portfolio to my half-brother Peter, his namesake, and Peter loaned it to the art directors of MADMEN to get the details right. He died 2 years ago at age 90, a bachelor.

Cheap Travel

I listen to radio classique 24/7 hoping I will become fluent in French.

Le Journal du Classique

A 13h, Laure Mézan reçoit Seiji Ozawa, chef d'orchestre et fondateur de l'Académie de Musique Seiji Ozawa.

Listen here

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


I learned from my 98 year old friend Anita Long, that there was a famous bar at my corner years ago. I can still smell it I tell her. On hot humid days the old urine wafts up from the cement sidewalk in the alley under my window. I have tried everything to bleach it out. Now I laugh.

In Summer I can't walk through any neighborhood where the garbage truck has left the trail of leaking garbage 'soup' without gagging. My husband laughs at me "Just block your nose!" He says.

Any molecule of cat urine sets me off too. It might as well be radioactive waste. Yet, I love to sniff my cats scented whisker pouches, my dogs fur after sitting near a wood stove. I love to sniff my pillow. I love the scent of moth balls, and cedar chests, fresh coffee, black blueberry tea, and my husband's neck when he is grilling meat over the hardwood charcoal. I love the scent of baking bread. I love the smell of the fertilizer aisle in the hardware store, and new shoes. I loathe the scent of cologne and perfume unless it is diluted. I love the scent of a freshly lit match at the beach. Or the fresh scent of newly blown out birthday candles and cap guns. I love the scent of bleach at the butcher shop at clean up time.

I love the scent of paper leather bound books. I love the scent of seaweed and salt water. I love scent of vinyl seats in a NYC taxi cab. I love the machine oil scent of subway tracks in winter. As a child I loved the scent of my fathers face when coming home from the train station in winter. He smelled like newspapers and cold air. I loved my mother's Ma Griffe perfume when she had been out to dinner. I loved the scent of bath oil. I love the scent of dog breath and a baby's scalp. I love the scent of cardboard.

I love the scent of Murphy's Oil Soap and imitation green apple scented dish detergent.

I love the scent of ceramic studios, oil painting studios, wood shops, and glass blowing furnaces.

Most of all I love the scent of pens and paper. Love the smell of my dashboard of my old blue Volkswagen super beetle that I learned to drive on. I was told horsehair was responsible for the distinctive scent. I do love the smell of hay and horses.

I love the smell of tractor tires and the hot metal seat, baked in the sun.

Neighborhoods used to be filled with common scents; making home made pickles, boiling cabbage, baking beans and pies muffins and roasts on weekends and Italian bakeries.

My friend told me his puppies paws smelled like corn chips. it was true.

Summer in New York, Season of Smell

from Jon Frankel:Smell is very important, yes. And I have done a lot of thinking about how urban dwellers navigate their environment using smell, as of course all people do. If you put a manhattanite down in the rain forest, or the Australian outback, they’d be lost. But on the streets of manhattan, with the eyes closed, you can tell the difference between an Italian bakery and a bagel bakery, between pizza and egg rolls, between dry cleaners and street sweepers, garbage and shit, a fish store and a produce stand, a newsstand and a bookstore. Sometimes it’s human urine that reeks on a hot night, but it’s also dog urine which stains the curbs, hydrant, light poles. If there are feral cats, it’s a different smell. And then there are the smells of steam radiators, roaches and mice. Of chlorine bleach, ammonia and lemon cleaner. Once, walking in the hall at the library, a young woman walked by, very beautiful but very young, and she smelled like bubblegum and perfume! How enticing, how mixed the signal…

A guy I worked with told me he had a reaction to medication after his appendectimy. He said his food smelled and tasted like plastic so he couldn't eat. I always imagine that's what is in those weight loss drops.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bibliomancy Oracle

Try it here.

Steven Heller

Article in Print Magazine on the inhumanity of stripes.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I finally Understand

Stephen King — 'Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.'

Inspiring Mr. Addo

Mr. Addo, who honed his muscles using a mango tree as a pull-up bar and concrete blocks for dumbbells, is a two-time former winner of the Mr. Ghana bodybuilding championship.

Mr. Addo, too, says the seniors energize him. Raised within the Ashanti tribe, Mr. Addo was always taught that improving the lives of one’s elders is of the highest virtue. “They remind me of my grandmothers and aunties back home,” he said.


Friday, June 20, 2014

I Love Faith Shearin

This poem was featured on Writer's Almanac today and I sent it to a bunch of people.

Spelling Bee

by Faith Shearin

In the spelling bee my daughter wore a good
brown dress and kept her hands folded.
There were twelve children speaking

into a microphone that was taller than
they were. Each time it was her turn
I could barely look. It wasn't that I wanted

her to win but I hoped she would be
happy with herself. The words were too hard
for me; I would have missed chemical,

thermos, and dessert. Each time she spelled
one correctly my heart became a bird.
She once fluttered so restlessly beneath

my skin and, on the morning of her arrival,
her little red hands held nothing.
Her life since has been a surprise: she can

sew; she can draw; she can read. She hates
raisins but loves science. All the parents
must feel this, watching from the cheap

folding chairs. Somewhere inside them
love took shape and now
it stands at the microphone, spelling.

"Spelling Bee" by Faith Shearin from Moving the Piano.
© Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2011

Annabella Gloria Philomena Sciorra

Fabulous actress!

La Mamá Grande

BARCELONA — Carmen Balcells was never just a literary agent. Nicknamed La Mamá Grande, after a story by Gabriel García Márquez, she served as a confidante and coach, someone who paid her writers’ dentist bills and deftly resolved their domestic problems while promoting the greatest Latin American and Spanish authors across the globe, including Mr. García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and many more.

Ms. Balcells’s parties are legendary. Once, she hosted a dinner for the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes and his wife. When their plane was delayed for hours, she had the dinner served, then had the entire table cleared and set again so that when the couple finally arrived it appeared as if the party was just starting.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Classic Bistro

The owner, Michel Bosshard, 77, covers his big belly with a white chef’s apron and always wears a red bow tie. He welcomes his guests with slices of a fat, garlicky, cured sausage that he cuts with a large knife and serves with a pleasant, bubbly white wine from the Loire.

“You have to drink it without making a face because it’s a gift I offer you,” he said.


Barn Owls

I woke up at 2:30 AM and watched barn owl on a live web cam in Texas.

Ghostly pale and strictly nocturnal, Barn Owls are silent predators of the night world. Lanky, with a whitish face, chest, and belly, and buffy upperparts, this owl roosts in hidden, quiet places during the day. By night, they hunt on buoyant wingbeats in open fields and meadows. You can find them by listening for their eerie, raspy calls, quite unlike the hoots of other owls. Despite a worldwide distribution, Barn Owls are declining in parts of their range due to habitat loss.

View here

Cheers to Amy Bloom

I love Amy Bloom's writing. She is featured on Writer's Almanac today:

It's the birthday of writer Amy Bloom born in New York City (1953). She worked with pregnant teenagers and autistic kids, and she said, "I realized that I didn't find other people's problems as boring as many people seem to." So she decided to make a living from it. First she worked as a psychotherapist, but she found herself wanting to write, and she began writing short stories. Her first collection, Come to Me (1993), got great reviews and was nominated for a National Book Award. She continued to write, and her books include Love Invents Us (1997), Away (2007), and Where the God of Love Hangs Out (2009). Her novel Lucky Us will be published next month.

She said: "There are no general stories. One doesn't hear general stories as a therapist. One hears unbelievably specific, intimate, detailed stories. There is no big picture. There is only this particular moment in this particular life."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Little Green Men, Meowing Nuns and Head-Hunting Panics

A Study of Mass Psychogenic Illness and Social Delusion

by Robert E. Bartholomew McFarland

"For a two week period in 1956, residents in the vicinity of Taipei, Taiwan, lived in fear that they would be the next victims of a crazed villain who was prowling the streets and slashing people at random with a razor or similar weapon. At least 21 victims were reported during this period, mostly women and children of low income and education." A thorough investigation revealed however, that: "five slashings were innocent false reports, seven were self-inflicted cuts, eight were due to cuts rather than razors, and one was complete fantasy." This is one example of many cases of what has traditionally been called "mass hysteria" that are examined in this comprehensive study of human beings' fear of the unknown. Beginning with a concise history of mass hysteria and social delusions, the author differentiates between the two and investigates mass hysteria in closed settings such as work and school, and mass hysteria in communities with incidents such as gassings, Pokemon illnesses in Japan, and medieval dance crazes. Also examined are collective delusions, with information on five major types: immediate threat, symbolic scare, mass wish fulfillment, urban legends and mass panics. The book ends with a discussion of major issues in the area of mass hysteria and a look toward the future of this intriguing subject.

Pride and Respect

The streets of Woonsocket are now as clean as cities in Switzerland! Mayor Lisa knows how important it is. Her motto on the license plates is Pride and Respect. I have been so inspired and impressed with the clean streets that if I see a piece of trash it stands out and I feel compelled to pick it up. Hurray Woonsocket!

Amazing Article


Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Tanganyika laughter epidemic of 1962 was an outbreak of mass hysteria – or mass psychogenic illness (MPI) – rumored to have occurred in or near the village of Kashasha on the western coast of Lake Victoria in the modern nation of Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika) near the border of Kenya.

The laughter epidemic began on January 30, 1962, at a mission-run boarding school for girls in Kashasha. The laughter started with three girls and spread haphazardly throughout the school, affecting 95 of the 159 pupils, aged 12–18.[2][3] Symptoms lasted from a few hours to 16 days in those affected. The teaching staff were not affected but reported that students were unable to concentrate on their lessons. The school was forced to close down on March 18, 1962.

After the school was closed and the students were sent home, the epidemic spread to Nshamba, a village that was home to several of the girls.[4] In April and May, 217 people had laughing attacks in the village, most of them being school children and young adults. The Kashasha school was reopened on May 21, only to be closed again at the end of June. In June, the laughing epidemic spread to Ramashenye girls’ middle school, near Bukoba, affecting 48 girls.

The school from which the epidemic sprang was sued; the children and parents transmitted it to the surrounding area. Other schools, Kashasha itself, and another village, comprising thousands of people, were all affected to some degree. Six to eighteen months after it started, the phenomenon died off. The following symptoms were reported on an equally massive scale as the reports of the laughter itself: pain, fainting, flatulence, respiratory problems, rashes, attacks of crying, and random screaming. In total 14 schools were shut down and 1000 people were affected.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Time Dogs

One day years ago we were out walking and a boy asked us if Ruby and Lucy our Labrador and coonhound, were time dogs. What's a time dog we wondered until we realized that he meant a watch dog.

Dancing Plague of 1518

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Engraving of Hendrik Hondius portrays three women affected by the plague. Work based on original drawing by Peter Brueghel, who supposedly witnessed a subsequent outbreak in 1564 in Flanders

The Dancing Plague (or Dance Epidemic) of 1518 was a case of dancing mania that occurred in Strasbourg, Alsace (then part of the Holy Roman Empire) in July 1518. Numerous people took to dancing for days without rest, and, over the period of about one month, some of those affected died of heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion.

The outbreak began in July 1518, when a woman, Frau Troffea, began to dance fervently in a street in Strasbourg. This lasted somewhere between four to six days. Within a week, 34 others had joined, and within a month, there were around 400 dancers. Some of these people eventually died from heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion.

Historical documents, including "physician notes, cathedral sermons, local and regional chronicles, and even notes issued by the Strasbourg city council" are clear that the victims danced. It is not known why these people danced, some even to their deaths.

As the dancing plague worsened, concerned nobles sought the advice of local physicians, who ruled out astrological and supernatural causes, instead announcing that the plague was a "natural disease" caused by "hot blood." However, instead of prescribing bleeding, authorities encouraged more dancing, in part by opening two guildhalls and a grain market, and even constructing a wooden stage. The authorities did this because they believed that the dancers would recover only if they danced continuously night and day. To increase the effectiveness of the cure, authorities even paid for musicians to keep the afflicted moving. Some of the dancers were taken to a shrine, where they sought a cure for their affliction.

Historian John Waller stated that a marathon runner could not have lasted the intense workout that the men and women died from hundreds of years ago.

Dalai Lama's Instructions for Life

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three R’s:
- Respect for self,
- Respect for others and
- Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and
think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Clean Streets

I love Woonsocket!

The streets are very clean these days. So when I see one piece of trash it sticks out and I feel compelled to pick it up!

I have filled 4 bags this week: Social Street and Rathbun Street Clinton Street East School Street Hazel Street Elbow Street Saint Germain Manor.

The best part is seeing people get inspired to do the same thing!

Our Mothers: Maternal Mental Illness

Postpartum depression isn’t always postpartum. It isn’t even always depression. A fast-growing body of research is changing the very definition of maternal mental illness, showing that it is more common and varied than previously thought.

Scientists say new findings contradict the longstanding view that symptoms begin only within a few weeks after childbirth. In fact, depression often begins during pregnancy, researchers say, and can develop any time in the first year after a baby is born.

Recent studies also show that the range of disorders women face is wider than previously thought. In the year after giving birth, studies suggest, at least one in eight and as many as one in five women develop symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or a combination. In addition, predicting who might develop these illnesses is difficult, scientists say. While studies are revealing clues as to who is most vulnerable, there are often cases that appear to come out of nowhere.

Mental Illness

Thinking about the suicides of friends of mine.
The real issue, is mental illness.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Issa Sunday

the man pulling radishes
points the way
with a radish

- Issa

don't swat that fly
it wrings its hands
it wrings its feet

- Issa

scarecrow -
his back to you
any way you look at him

- Shiki

changing leaves
in time
with the traffic lights

- Sophia Frentz

garage sale -
in the dressing-table mirror
a stranger's face

- John O'Connor


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Carl Jung

Jung had several spontaneous visions when he was recovering from a heart attack when he was 69. All of his visions are described in detail in his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

Sick Bed Visions (1944)

"It seemed to me that I was high up in space. Far below I saw the globe of the earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light. I saw the deep blue sea and the continents. Far below my feet lay Ceylon, and in the distance ahead of me the subcontinent of India. My field of vision did not include the whole earth, but its global shape was plainly distinguishable and its outlines shone with a silvery gleam through that wonderful blue light...the sight of earth from this height was the most glorious thing I had ever seen...

Something new entered my field of vision. A short distance away I saw in space a tremendous dark block of stone, like a meteorite. It was about the size of my house, or even bigger. It was floating in space, and I myself was floating in space.

An entrance led into a small antechamber. To the right of the entrance, a black Hindu sat silently in lotus posture upon a stone bench...I knew that he expected me. Two steps led up to this antechamber, and inside...was the gate to the temple. As I approached the steps leading up to the entrance into the rock, a strange thing happened: I had the feeling that everything was being sloughed away; everything I aimed at or wished for or thought, the whole phantasmagoria of earthly existence, fell away or was stripped from me---an extremely painful process. Nevertheless something remained; it was as if I now carried along with me everything I had ever experienced or done, everything that had happened around me. I might also say: it was with me, and I was it. I consisted of all that, so to speak. I consisted of my own history, and I felt with great certainty: this is what I am. I am this bundle of what has been, and what has been accomplished.

This experience gave me a feeling of extreme poverty, but at the same time of great fullness."

Over the next few weeks, Jung would feel gloomy by day, sleep the early evening to midnight and then awaken to a feeling of ecstasy. "It was as if I were in an ecstasy. I felt as though I were floating in space, as though I were safe in the womb of the universe---in a tremendous void, but filled with the highest possible feeling of happiness. Everything around me seemed enchanted...Night after night I floated in a state of purest bliss, thronged round with images of all creation."

During this time, Jung has visions of several images of "mystical marriage." Mystical marriage is a complex concept that has been expressed in the writings and artwork of alchemy, kabbala, Gnosticism, and some major religions. The marriage occurs when two powers, such as the Chinese yin (the feminine) and yang (the masculine) are brought into harmony; in this case to form the Tao. Since yin and yang represent many different attitudes and ways of comporting ourselves in the world, a marriage indicates that we have the power to be in balance with these two powerful forces. We are the "whole" person, not limited to one side of the coin but instead enlightened enough to be able to employ whatever attitude or behavior is appropriate in the moment. To Jung and Jungians, this was a vision of tremendous importance and of a high achievement.

(For a full retelling of these visions, see chapter 10 of Jung's, Memories, Dreams, Reflections.)


Friday, June 13, 2014

Magic Words

There are people who you may never meet, but still have a profound effect on you. There are people who can reach through time and space to touch you, and change you forever, sometimes only with words. Sometimes especially with words.
-Rajan Khanna

The Haven Foundation

The Haven Foundation gives financial assistance to provide temporary support needed to safeguard and sustain the careers of established freelance artists, writers and other members of the arts and art production communities who have suffered disabilities or experienced a career-threatening illness, accident, natural disaster or personal catastrophe. Grants are awarded and renewed at the discretion of the Haven Foundation Board.

To make a donation to The Haven Foundation, please send a check to:

The Haven Foundation
P.O. Box 128
Brewer, Maine 04412 USA


Sky Dream

When I was 12 I decided I would like to be cremated and mixed into cerulean blue pigment and painted into the sky.

All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds.
- Richard Brautigan

Thursday, June 12, 2014


A man is whole only when he takes into account his shadow.
― Djuna Barnes

I talk too much because I have been made so miserable by what you are keeping hushed.
― Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

A man's sorrow runs uphill; true it is difficult for him to bear, but it is also difficult for him to keep.
― Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

The unendurable is the beginning of the curve of joy.
― Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

Her heavy peasant face was fringed by a bang of red hair like a woolen table-spread, a color at once strange and attractive, an obstinate color, a color that seemed to make Lena feel something alien and bad-tempered had settled over her forehead...
― Djuna Barnes

Key Spy

Back when we first moved in 20 years ago, my friend Merrill and her seven year old son Adam came to visit from Arizona. It was a hot summer night in August. I went up to put fans in the windows and get them tucked into twin beds in the guest room. Bill was closing up when he heard a commotion out front so he went to investigate closing the foyer door behind him to remain invisible. I fell asleep. I woke at 1:30AM and Bill wasn't beside me. I woke again at 4AM and he still wasn't here. I walked into the guest room and my friend Merrill bolted upright and said "What's wrong?" Bill is not here, I'm scared. It's not like him. So we locked arms and went room to room looking for Bill in our big old house. When we entered the living room we heard a small voice."Help me, Help me" It was Bill, he was locked in the foyer in his boxers. He had been there all night, jumping up and down ringing the floor-switch doorbell, and alternately trying to sleep on the tiny green cushioned window seat. "Why didn't you climb the fire escape? I asked.
"I was afraid of scaring our guests, and I was in my boxers." He said.
We couldn't hear a thing with the window fans blowing.
This story still cracks me up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Morning Musings


I saw the pink dawn this morning and got up and made blueberry pancakes. The only way to have peace and quiet around here is to wake super early, beat the rush on noise. . . .
Don't get me wrong I like noise but it has to be the kind you can screen out. My husband grew up in a huge family in a small house I grew up in a huge house in a small family. This might be why I can't tolerate other peoples noises and he can tolerate just about anything. The problem is I like people even more than he does, and I actually need them but I wish they would be quieter. I wish they would be considerate. He thinks its futile. I like music too but I don't place my speakers at top volume on my porch facing another apartment house. I have a tiny little radio that hums classical music mixed with static due to the bad reception. I still listen. I screen out the static. I also don't mind the sound of traffic, sirens, garbage trucks. But I hate when people blast their bass canons and my house shakes. That's when I fantasize taking pop shots. I bet I'd be really good at it. Or maybe as my pal Troy suggested, hitting them with a laser scrambling device that would fry their electric power. Instead I take a walk to calm my nerves or I phone the lady police dispatcher Flynn and say could you please ask the police to come by and tell the folks at 134, third floor left to lower the bass. My windowpanes are vibrating. I'm sure Flynn knows my voice by now.

The boy next door has his bedroom window 2 feet from my kitchen sink. I try to be considerate and shut the window when my husband and I are talking especially at 4AM. The boy I discovered is a vampire. A sweet handsome vampire but a vampire nonetheless. The other night when I couldn't sleep I came down to make a cup of tea and his bedroom was all lit up. It was 3:30 AM on a Monday. After I was done making tea I turned the light back off and scurried out with my tea. I was a vampire in high school too.

Strawberry Moon Pie

Yes, it's my name. Strawberry. My middle name is Moon. My pal Josie calls me pie but I'll get to that. My boyfriend calls me wild. I am a read-headed left-handed freak. A special freak my father says trying to comfort me. A freak show, my brother says because I don't like sweets. I think he's a freak because he would eat Gummy Bears and green monster cupcake frosting as dinner. My idea of a great dinner is pancakes but nobody listens to me. Lately all I want to do is shut the door to my room and stay inside and read about dolphins. I hate Spring and all of the birthday parties slumber parties and pool parties like everyone is suddenly happy and nice wearing pink and kelly green. Where were they all winter when the real nice weather existed? Last Sunday I made a terrarium out of a mayonnaise jar and I found some moss and what looked to me like baby trees to put inside. Pine trees for an ant. My parents got divorced and they pretend its nothing because they are still friends and dad lives nearby. Honestly that just makes it worse. I think most of what adults do makes things worse, don't you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

This Quote is taped over my Desk

When at last I wrote my first words on the page, I felt an island rising beneath my feet like the back of a whale. As more and more words emerged, I could finally rest: I had a place to stand for the first time in my life. The island grew, with each page, inhabited by people I knew and mapped with the life I lived.
- Jimmy Santiago Baca, from Working in the Dark; Reflections of a Poet of the Barrio

Mr. Brown

When I was in second grade my mother took me to a psychologist named Mr. Brown to see if her divorce was what was upsetting me in school. I had to go every week. I sat in the room and looked around. There was a wall of books. This doctor didn't have toys, he was an adult psychologist but there was this huge wall of books. Each week I would sit and stare at the books and tell him which book he moved to which spot from the previous week.

Tolstoy's Toes

On this day in 1881, Leo Tolstoy set off on a pilgrimage to the Optina-Pustyn monastery.

He was 52 years old, and his two greatest novels, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1877), were behind him. He had found himself in a crisis—he was famous, had a family and land and money, but it all seemed empty. He was unable to write, had trouble sleeping, contemplated suicide. He read the great philosophers, but found holes in all of their arguments. He was amazed that the majority of ordinary Russians managed to keep themselves going every day, and he finally decided that it must be their faith. From there, it was a short time until Tolstoy took a walk in the woods and found God. He wrote: "At the thought of God, happy waves of life welled up inside me. Everything came alive, took on meaning. The moment I thought I knew God, I lived. But the moment I forgot him, the moment I stopped believing, I also stopped living."

His wife Sophia was not so thrilled with his conversion. He renounced meat, sex, alcohol, fiction, tobacco, and the temptations of a family. He dressed like a peasant. He wanted to give all of his money away, but Sophia wanted to live what she considered a normal life, not to mention raise their 10 children.

Tolstoy made his first visit to Optina-Pustyn in 1877, a visit in which he apparently exhausted the chief starets—or community elder—with his questions. On this day in 1881 he set off on a second visit, and this time he decided that to be more like the common people, he would walk all the way there, dressed in his peasant coat and wearing shoes made out of bark. He was pleased with his spiritual guidance, but he wasn't used to walking in bark shoes, so by the time he made it to Optina his feet were so covered in blisters that he had to take the train back home.

-Writer's Almanac

Strawberry Moon

Yesterday when I was out walking Lily I saw two legs hanging off a big green dumpster. I couldn't tell what I was looking at until the legs became animated revealing a torso. It was Ray in his airplane pajamas scouting for treasures. "I'm being an environmentalist" he said, placing his third Hires root beer can on the sidewalk. He had a white 13 gallon bag of household trash in his hand and was eying the gallon milk jug inside to add to his collection of recyclables. I adore Ray.

Charlie Hoffack Detective Artist

Hoffacker said his detective job typically begins at 2 a.m. with a call about a shooting. He rushes to the scene and sizes up the loss of another young man’s life. Then he begins gathering witnesses, video recordings when possible, telephone tips -- anything to eventually put together the pieces to solve the crime. He gives family members whatever news there is to give. Stress comes with the territory.

His release, he said, is art. When he gets home from work, he paints until it’s time to sleep. When he gets up, he paints until it’s time to head out again.

“You can focus on it,” he said of painting, “it really takes me away.”

There tends to be a lot of depression among police officers, he said. Everyone tries to find some way to decompress. Art, he said, “has helped me be more healthy.”

Hoffacker credits his love of art to Delgado Community College instructors Holis Hannan and Dan Tague. Three years ago, he began taking classes at Delgado related to his career as a cop. But elective classes were also required. So he signed up for a beginners painting course and discovered an unknown passion. His teachers became great mentors, he said. Among other things, they helped him see beyond landscape painting into conceptualism – the sort of art where ideas are as important as images.

Dumpster Diving Pool

FANTASY: I want to make this dumpster diving pool, or a bunch of them for the neighborhood along with outdoor ovens!


Sunday, June 08, 2014


Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Monday, June 02, 2014


I dreamed about a hat made of jacquard fabric that had four large faces above the brim. The hat was designed so you could pick which face to display forward. The hat was for actress Frances O'Connor starring as Rose Selfridge in the PBS drama Mr. Selfridge.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Always do what you are afraid to do.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Van der Kolk believes strongly that dancers — and musicians and actors — may have something to teach psychiatrists about healing from trauma and that even the hokey-sounding is worthy of our attention.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Weird Dreams

Yesterday I dreamed I was holding an infant. I threw a ball to play fetch with him. I clapped the baby on the back thinking he would chase the ball but he cried instead.

Today I dreamed I was in an 80's Oldsmobile with Lori Colwin driving. I told her I was a huge fan of her books. We discussed May Sarton's book Journal of a Solitude. She said she wasn't sure if she would like May Sarton as a person. I said perhaps it doesn't matter, the book is great.

Then, she accidentally drove over Bill's foot.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Richard Rhodes

If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent, whatever that is. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me if I do? You’re a human being, with a unique story to tell, and you have every right. If you speak with passion, many of us will listen. We need stories to live, all of us. We live by story. Yours enlarges the circle.
― Richard Rhodes

Richard Rhodes

If you’re afraid you can’t write, the answer is to write. Every sentence you construct adds weight to the balance pan. If you’re afraid of what other people will think of your efforts, don’t show them until you write your way beyond your fear. If writing a book is impossible, write a chapter. If writing a chapter is impossible, write a page. If writing a page is impossible, write a paragraph. If writing a paragraph is impossible, write a sentence. If writing even a sentence is impossible, write a word and teach yourself everything there is to know about that word and then write another, connected word and see where their connection leads.
― Richard Rhodes

Cara Hoffman

Lauren was familiar with vigilance because she'd felt it for most of her life; been gifted with the ability to read the air in a room, a hair out of place, a single sentence for the wealth of information beneath it. For the premonition it will give you. The sound of the lipstick case snapping shut, a bag being zipped, a throat being cleared, the clink of a light chain against the mirror at 4 A.M. These are just some of the little things that mean you might be a soldier one day.
- Cara Hoffman, Be safe I Love You

Monday, May 19, 2014

Acoustic Ecology

What if before you move into a new place and sign that expensive lease you could find out how noisy your new neighborhood is going to be at various times of day? TenderNoise is an applied acoustic ecology project in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco that measures the area’s sound decibels and gives estimations of when noise levels are at their loudest, and where it’s coming from: music, heavy trucks, raised human voices, SFPD sirens or construction. It could even forewarn you that your adorable, potential neighbor’s apartment doubles as a German Bass club at night.

TenderNoise was developed by esteemed design studio Stamen, building consultancy Arup, and data mapping company Movity, so it’s got a pretty legit pedigree. To compile data for this project, they stationed thirteen decibel readers at several major intersections in the Tenderloin to gather all of the sound information. So potential Tenderloin tenants, who were formerly at the mercy of their realtor or landlord’s good word on how “peaceful and quiet” any given block might be, can now simply check the TenderNoise map to see if the area is right for them.

While TenderNoise lets you avoid city noises, a web app on the opposite coast embraces the cacophany. You Are Listening To mixes city sounds like NYPD radio streams with synthy tones to create music from each city—the result is modern symphonies of major cities like: L.A., New York, San Francisco and Montreal.
By Anne Louise Korallus-Shapiro


Urban Noise

How Do You Tell a Whole City to Shush? By Elizabeth Weingarten

Noise as an urban plague should be addressed in broader terms that allow for quality-of-life improvements for people living in noise-riddled areas, rather than those that can hop into a quiet spot to recharge. One such effort came about in San Francisco's Tenderloin district, a part of the city where very low-income individuals reside. Residents often complained about the noise, but the city was reluctant to make changes without data to prove that the noise levels there were significantly higher than in other parts of the city.

The TenderNoise project, a response to that reluctance, collected noise levels in the Tenderloin and proved they exceeded legal thresholds. It reminds us that broader efforts to deal with the inequities in noise pollution should be at the forefront of noise conversations—and not quieted.

Greta Byrum, senior field analyst, New America’s Open Technology Institute:
Visionaries from the Lomax family to Harry Smith have collected time capsule-like recordings of the ambient urban soundscape, surrounding you with the fractious chorus of fishmongers and fruitsellers on New York City's Lower East Side in the 1920s; the out-of-tune dissonance of too many bells ringing together on a Sunday in the 1960s; the barking of dogs. The city is like an orchestra—its crescendos and lulls are a testimony to the clashing and meshing of cultures and events that form the urban fabric itself.

Yet in order to work and live in urban soundscapes that are getting noisier—where life becomes an undifferentiated din and where you can't concentrate or rest—we all need to have places and times to retreat. This shouldn't just be a privilege of those who can afford to soundproof their homes. We should treat this not only as a case for regulation (which is necessary, in moderation) but as an opportunity for design innovations like New York's pocket parks or its High Line. But there’s another possible solution: While the introduction of new technologies (airplanes, cars, heavy machinery) to urban spaces has led to the aforementioned increase in noise pollution, technology can also be an answer to its relentless din. If we demand from our architects, planners, and industrial designers the same attention to sound as to other quality of life factors, we could see a revolution in design that prioritizes quiet and restores some peace and sanity to urban living.


Cara Hoffman

Afterward they didn't talk about these fires. About how they were learning to be patient with fear. How there was no such thing as undoing, and that putting out a flame didn't mean it hadn't burned.
- Cara Hoffman, Be Safe I Love You

I just got this book after Jon Frankel's glowing review of it on his blog, Last Bender. It's amazing.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Gentle Reminder Pants

I grew up in a Jewish-Italian household where food and its journey through the alimentary canal was a perpetual theme. We all wanted to eat robustly yet remain svelte and attractive. Doesn't everybody? This is where my gentle reminder pants come in. There's no dieting, just noticing when your clothes seem to be getting a little snug. This is my favored method for judging my weight. But there is a catch. In the store it's not always easy for me to figure out my true pants size. The clothes manufacturers make me feel like Alice in Wonderland when it comes to finding reliable jeans, calling them 'relaxed fit', 'baggy fit', 'classic fit' and so on. I rely on two old and trusty pairs of slacks that are my proper size and fit to be my guide. They are unsparing in their reminders!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pamela Erens

I love editors who get rid of things.

In my experience, cutting back is the crucial act that allows the vitality, precision and emotional heart of a piece of writing to emerge.

Shaving phrases and even whole scenes from a piece of writing is light-hauling work, like tossing a few garbage bags into the back of the pickup truck and taking them to the dump.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Temple Grandin

I don’t want my thoughts to die with me, I want to have done something. I’m not interested in power, or piles of money. I want to leave something behind. I want to make a positive contribution - know that my life has meaning.
― Temple Grandin

In an ideal world the scientist should find a method to prevent the most severe forms of autism but allow the milder forms to survive. After all, the really social people did not invent the first stone spear. It was probably invented by an Aspie who chipped away at rocks while the other people socialized around the campfire. Without autism traits we might still be living in caves.
― Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism

I believe there is a reason such as autism, severe manic-depression, and schizophrenia remain in our gene pool even though there is much suffering as a result.
― Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism

Animals make us Human.
― Temple Grandin

I believe that the best way to create good living conditions for any animal, whether it's a captive animal living in a zoo, a farm animal or a pet, is to base animal welfare programs on the core emotion systems in the brain. My theory is that the environment animals live in should activate their positive emotions as much as possible, and not activate their negative emotions any more than necessary. If we get the animal's emotions rights, we will have fewer problem behaviors... All animals and people have the same core emotion systems in the brain.
― Temple Grandin, Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals

Booker T. Washington

No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.
― Booker T. Washington

There are two ways of exerting one's strength; one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.
― Booker T. Washington

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.
― Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery: An Autobiography

We all should rise, above the clouds of ignorance, narrowness, and selfishness.
― Booker T. Washington, The Story of My Life and Work

The longer I live and the more experience I have of the world, the more I am convinced that, after all, the one thing that is most worth living for-and dying for, if need be-is the opportunity of making someone else more happy.
― Booker T. Washington

Friday, May 09, 2014


Writers write more about their process than painters do, but their wisdom applies and I am grateful for it.

Resist any temptation to use the poem to make its readers like you, or admire you, or forgive you.
- Ellen Bryant Voigt

I believe that good poetry can be as ornate as a cathedral or as bare as a pottingshed, as long as it confronts the self with honesty and fullness. Nobody is born with the capacity to perform this act of confrontation, in poetry or anywhere else; one's writing career is simply a continuing effort to increase one's skill at it.
- Mona Van Duyn


Thursday, May 08, 2014

Pat Barker

Fiction should be about moral dilemmas that are so bloody difficult that the author doesn't know the answer. What I hate in fiction is when the author knows better than the characters what they should do.
- Pat Barker

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Ray Bradbury

I was remembering this quote while working today.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
— Ray Bradbury

Sunday, May 04, 2014


I was at a strip mall and I saw my favorite Japanese illustrator YK walk by with one of his cut outs but it was just the bust. He was kissing it. I followed him inside a bookstore to see if it was him. Yes it was him, the famous illustrator giving a talk about his new book. I was so excited and happy I cried and peed in my pants. Then he was suddenly no longer Japanese but a German and very round with bald head and built low to the ground. When I told him I have his books and admired his work for years, he tried to pick me up. "Do you want to collaborate?" he said. I fled, running in the dark. A small gray raggedy old man was mumbling and teetering in the street. I ran past him and realized it was my musician friend Michael aged and frail. I turned around and went back and spoke to him.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Pony Painted

Retired racehorse Metro Meteor is making paintings, with help. He even has a gallery.

How many paintings has he made?

A couple hundred. We work eight at a time. It takes four days to do one painting, working on it one hour a day. He can’t do more than one color on the same day, because he’ll smear it. So we developed this process of one day, one color. It builds up these layers of depth. His brush strokes are so strong.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mary Oliver

The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand

that this, too, was a gift.

- Mary Oliver, from Thirst, Beacon Press, Boston, 2006

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I dreamed I was telling my sister that if I committed suicide I'd come back as a cockroach but if I died naturally I would be reincarnated into a cucumber.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

David Foster Wallace

‎A real leader is somebody who can help us overcome the limitations
of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.
- David Foster Wallace

August Wilson

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.
― August Wilson

Hello, Stranger

The great thing about strangers is that we tend to put on our happy face when we meet them, reserving our crankier side for the people we know and love.

I been with strangers all day and they treated me like family. I come in here to family and you treat me like a stranger.
― August Wilson, The Piano Lesson

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ray Bradbury

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.
– Ray Bradbury

James Fenton

The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.
- James Fenton

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Robotic cow milkers.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez

Mr. García Márquez once wrote that, as a young man, he believed his bad luck with women and money was “congenital and irremediable,” but he did not care, “because I believed I did not need good luck to write well,” and “I did not care about glory, or money, or old age, because I was sure I was going to die very young, and in the street.” He learned, in reading the works of the masters like Faulkner and Joyce, he said, that “it was not necessary to demonstrate facts,” that it “was enough for the author to have written something for it to be true, with no proofs other than the power of his talent and the authority of his voice.”


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thornton Wilder

But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
― Thornton Wilder

There's nothing like eavesdropping to show you that the world outside your head is different from the world inside your head.
― Thornton Wilder

The test of an adventure is that when you're in the middle of it, you say to yourself, 'Oh, now I've got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home.' And the sign that something's wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.
― Thornton Wilder

We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.
― Thornton Wilder, Our Town

The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.
― Thornton Wilder

Being employed is like being loved: you know that somebody's thinking about you the whole time.
― Thornton Wilder, The Matchmaker

Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners... Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking... and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
― Thornton Wilder, Our Town

If you write to impress it will always be bad, but if you write to express it will be good.
― Thornton Wilder

Sunday, April 13, 2014

1964 Toy Guillotine Kit

My friend Peter had this toy guillotine kit in 1964 ~ trippy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mark Strand

Poetry is about slowing down. You sit and you read something, you read it again, and it reveals a little bit more, and things come to light you never could have predicted.

You don't choose to become something like a poet. You write and you write, and the years go by, and you are a poet.

-Mark Strand


I dreamed I was on Brighton Beach riding the elevator in my Grandmother's old apartment building. The elevator was exactly the same as when I was five. I saw my reflection in the metal door plate. I looked just like them, I thought. In the dream there was a family gathering and my Uncle had black hair, black horn rimmed glasses and long black Elvis Presley sideburns. My brother had gray hair. Is that your hair, I asked him. He removed the gray yarn Raggety Ann wig to show me his real gray hair. His cheeks had little red hearts, rubbed away. Doesn't Uncle Ron look like Elvis Presley, I said. I tried to tell them about my dream of seeing my reflection in the metal door plate in the elevator. I've never dreamed my reflection, I said but nobody was listening. In the dream my postman was my landlord and he was at the party telling me how dangerous the neighborhood was but I had already rented the apartment.

Monday, April 07, 2014

A Dream

I dreamed I went to visit Robert Bly in Minnesota, imagining I might want to move out there. He had an Irish Setter that walked upright like a human, and spoke English. The dog was scratching a lot from itchy skin. This is like some weird dream, I thought and then I woke up.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Emotional Hemophilia

I hate being cyclothymic. I'm either elated or suicidal for 10 week stretches. The emotional pain is a tornado spinning within. Here it is a glorious day and I am tempted to lay down in the road so cars will run me over. Please shoot me, I want to scream at anyone who might be able to comply. I'll donate my organs! I am reminded by my patient husband that I will adjust to the downward mood switch and it won't be so bad in a week or so. I feel that I don't have that kind of time. Yet I don't have a choice so I take a long walk and that helps, and then a hot shower. I started 4 books yesterday, none of them were right. They all had false notes, bad metaphors and lies. When I need to read, I hunger for honest writing so I feel less alone in my pain. This is about tending to emotional bleeding, a bout of emotional hemophilia.

Painting Is

Painting is strange work: I walk into a room with all of the terrifying voices of fear and self doubt swirling in my head like a tornado. I pick up a brush, my sword, and start carving my way though the tangled mess to make a sketch on canvas. I enter the battlefield each day hoping to find something that might take hold. Then working on the painting becomes a game of chess with the void. I can't call it fun, exactly, but necessary.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Andrea Giovino

Well before the sun rose, the streets around our house at 689 East Second Street in Brooklyn smelled like a combination of antifreeze, dirt, the ocean, and corn chips. If poverty smells like anything, that would be it.
-Andrea Giovino, Divorced from The Mob

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

David Stuart MacLean

I am reading The Answer to the Riddle is Me, A Memoir of Amnesia by David Stuart MacLean. It is amazing scary and beautiful. Some paragraphs could be freestanding as poems. I am spellbound. Thank you David Stuart MacLean.

The Grandmothers

About two dozen Chinese grandmothers called on Wednesday for the government to protect children, and their families’ right to demand that protection, as a fourth kindergarten was discovered to be administering drugs to children without their parents’ knowledge.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Rain

Last night I had a big revelatory cry the kind where rock beds are shifting under the soil. The last time I had one of these was when I worked with 15 year olds who had been abused. It forced me to confront the pain and blame I held deep inside about my own childhood abuse.

Perhaps baking bread and feeding the hungry has forced me to see something painful; old beliefs still held dear, that I am a horrible person. A battle deep within ensues and the result is tears of spring rain.

This morning I dreamed I was in a college where we took off our shoes before class and left them in a pile on a mat. After class I walked down the hall and realized I had no shoes on, just my stockinged feet. When I went back and hunted for my shoes I realized someone had stolen them. I said to the professor This is not the roaring eighties, we can hardly afford the basics.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Rikers Island struggles with a surge in violence and mental illness.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stéphane Mallarmé

There is nothing but beauty — and beauty has only one perfect expression, Poetry. All the rest is a lie.

- Stéphane Mallarmé

Is it Lonely?

This morning I got up with Bill at 4:00 AM. I started the coffee pot and by four fifty I walked over to the community kitchen. At 5:00 AM I arrived and began shaping the refrigerated dough into braids. By six fifteen the loaves were shaped and now the oven was preheating to 450. At 6:30 I baked the 13 braided loaves. Three were smaller than the others. When they were done I put them in two big baskets, cleaned up turned off the lights and went home to Lily. I loaded the washing machine with my dirty clothes and apron, took a shower, put on nice clothes and here I am. I asked myself, is it lonely to bake during the predawn hours? Maybe, but maybe not since I had a million microorganisms keeping me company.

Love Letter

In my city
of two glove karma
the porches sing
neighbors face the street to say hello
In my city of many languages we greet each other with the universal language
clasp hands and smile pointing to the sky
In my city of sincerity
the tattooed man and the toddler
wheeled in a stroller, are part of the landscape.
A couple pushes rattling shopping carts full of tin cans to recycle for nickels and dimes
there's a man on a motorized bicycle making deliveries from a black knapsack
In my city we are always dreaming from the hilltops and the valleys
staring at the river remembering the history
the brick and granite mills and towering cylindrical and rectangular chimneys
In my city I write love letters, poems to my friends
at 3AM while the dough rises and falls
and gets shaped and baked
at dawn in the big black community oven on my street
in my city it's okay to go to sleep early.

Monday, March 17, 2014