Sunday, December 31, 2006

Quotes of the Day

At its best, story provides us with ways to see ourselves, ways to affirm our struggles to overcome adversities, ways to help us reach out to others and forge relationships. Story creates an intimacy that is remembered in mind, body, and soul for a lifetime.

-  -  -

Often artists find their initial subject matter in the place where they have been most deeply wounded.

     - Julius Lester, On Writing for Children & Other People

These Boots . . .

I've been walking everywhere!!! It helps me breathe and think and I get ideas. Everywhere is within walking distance if you take the time. I once walked from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC to the Indian restaurants near Cooper Square. I find it even more enjoyable to walk in Manhattan than on summer country roads in Vermont. I get bored by too many green leafy trees and not enough human craziness. Drop me in a city with my dog and I will walk until my feet bleed. And yes, I have done that.

Winter Solstice

goes crazy
this time of year.
I can't.
I won't.
I just walk my dog
for hours and hours,
the clean cold air.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


There's a couple I often see when I'm walking Honey around town. They're probably 78 or so, they are both tall, and the woman wears a beige wool dress-coat and a red hat with a blue pom-pom. She has white hair and those dark sunglasses that wrap around, covering her peripheral vision. No matter what the weather is, they're out there walking a few miles each day; even in rain, wind, ice, and snow! They come down my street and walk through downtown. I think the walking is the secret to their longevity!

Doggie Drive-Thru

They say changing your walking routine is good for keeping the paths of your brain open. I love this idea and I am a person who loves to make different loops through my city, walking down the streets from a variety of directions. When I had two gigantic 70-pound dogs, one a very unsocialized coon-hound, we had to limit our walks to places where there were no other dogs or people. It was fine because I was in my loner phase anyway. But now I am more gregarious, and coincidentally so is my dog. With Honey, everywhere we go is an occasion. Last night I walked the city in the warm dark and enjoyed all of the lights. On my way home I saw a guy do exactly what I often do: he walked up to the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru window with his yellow dog, and ordered a coffee; his dog put her paws up on the windowsill! I had to laugh - I think we're starting a trend!! By the way, why is there braille on the ATM machine at the bank's drive-thru? Never mind.

Wright's Dairy Farm

I just went to Wright's Dairy Farm and while I was waiting for them to open for the day, I wandered over to visit the calves. I love the smell of the hay and swampy mud. I love watching the gigantic heads of the full-grown mature cows, the cows chewing in unison. Some are pregnant, some are lying down. I looked at the face of one cow and thought, that's a man's face! I checked, and sure enough he was a bull. I could see the women through the bakery windows, working like mad. One woman was spackling cakes, each in thirty seconds flat. She would plop the angel-food cake out of the pans onto a rotating surface, like what potters use, and she would squeeze a bloop of whipped cream from a gigantic pastry bag onto the spinning cake, and spackle the whipped cream, scoring it with her other hand as the cake spun around, and voila, another cake decorated and added to the pile! The scent of icing and cake filled the air. In the barn I could see the farmers with their suspenders bending down to clean the cow teats and plugging milking machines onto them. What an operation!

Urban Birding

Just now I saw a male and female cardinal outside our living room window, in our yard! They were hanging around eating stuff off the ground so I got to watch them for quite a while. The female has an orange tuft on the back of her head and a slight splash of orange on her warm gray wings. The male looks like he punched his orange beak through a black rectangle! I had never noticed the black as a rectangle shape because I'd never seen a cardinal head on before! His red body was a primary red but his feathers were slightly muddy red.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

     - Marcel Proust

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Two Quotes for the Day

I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of, to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war's fears and pains, is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy, and ever-increasing enjoyment. And with our gastronomical growth will come, inevitably, knowledge and perception of a hundred other things, but mainly ourselves. Then Fate, even tangled as it is with cold wars as well as hot, cannot harm us.
-M.F.K. Fisher, conclusion from How to Cook a Wolf

We artists are indestructible; even in prison or even in a concentration camp. I would be almighty even if I had to paint my pictures with my wet tongue on the dusty floor of my cell.
-Pablo Picasso


One of the things I love about my town is the hills. I like that there is geography here, but I especially like that the hills are populated with quirky three-decker houses crammed into them. When I walk around I am never bored by the myriad things to look at; plastic yard furniture and brightly-colored kid's toys, the remnants of summer days; stuck and torn screens and jammed storm windows; the newly-hung X-mas lights in windows and porches; you name it. Standing on top of the cemetery hill this morning, and looking out at the town and the sky, gave me the sensation of flying. I felt like Peter Pan.

Now that the trees are bare I can see all of the little city lights when it's night-time, which accentuates the feeling of flying just from looking around. Years ago I had a poster in my studio that gave me vertigo whenever I looked at it. It was a Soviet commercial-design poster from the twenties; a woman in a dance pose had type swirling around her and a background which was a view looking up at skyscrapers. Even when I look at computer-screen animation I get vertigo! So I am pretty entertained standing on top of the hill in the cemetery imagining I am Peter Pan flying through downtown.

Swinging Elks

My pal Dick, the elderly gentleman polka-king of The Happy Bachelors, drove up from Attleboro and met us at the Leominster Elks Hall last night to see the Little Town Rockers. He witnessed me join in on my bari with the big guys on stage! It was a fun night of swing dancing. I saw a gorgeous 65-year-old woman on the dance floor with white hair pulled back into a French braid. She had the most beautiful legs I've ever seen on anyone! She wore jazz dancing shoes. I wanna be so beautiful when I am that age! She was dancing with an adorable bald-headed man with suspenders.

My cold is still with me. I've blown my nose so much I feel like someone yanked my nose off in the night and did a shabby job of gluing it back on today! Health is wealth!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dented Vegetables

I call the bargain produce at the supermarket the dented vegetables. I've transcended the shame! Last week I found four huge bell peppers and two cubanello peppers for cheap. It must be the spirits of my grandparents hovering over the dented vegetable cart, making sure I get my vitamin C!

I sauteed the chopped peppers in my gigantic cast-iron skillet with chopped onions in Job Lot olive oil and added crushed red chili-pepper flakes and Cholula hot sauce (which we now buy in beer-sized bottles, by the case!! hot stuff!!) then . . . are you still with me? I toasted slices of my sourdough multi-grain bread with oven-toasted sunflower seeds, and dipped it in and scooped up the peppers and onions . . . recalling the San Gennaro street fairs of my NYC childhood. Hallelujah!! Food is good!

Sax Euphoria

I am euphoric, listening to Sax Gordon's CD, Live at the Sax Blast, and to my dog, who is giving herself a bath with her tongue. It's so cold out that I am going to mix up bread dough to bake. The first floor of our home is FREEZING, especially the kitchen, but that's where the oven is, so I can bake the house warm! I stood in the backyard with my stainless-steel thermos mug of hot tea while
playing fetch with Honey in the freezing cold. The sun is out, and the cold makes it feel like I've just brushed my teeth, it feels minty to breathe the air!!

Borrow A Dog

Don't watch the TV news, it makes the world seem really dangerous. Instead, adopt a dog (or borrow a dog who has overworked parents) and walk all over your town with it. You will be amazed at what you discover, and as exercise it's more fun than going to the gym! Find out what's REALLY going on in your town. For instance, this morning I saw a crew of people at the church standing in line to get free groceries from the food bank. It was like in those Walker Evans photos of the great depression.

It makes me wish I could teach home economics - how to feed and care for yourself economically. I would want to do this at the public library. If the schools aren't teaching this, the libraries should. A great thing to do, if I ever become rich, would be to give my money to my library so they could add a gym and a kitchen and a music room! In our town the public library is like the town's living room. Most kids from the high school and junior high walk there and do their homework after school. It's really cool.


My husband read in the paper today that a man jumped off the Court Street bridge to his death. This is the bridge Honey and I walk over almost daily, passing the shoemaker and the bakery. It turns out that the man who jumped lived on our street only a few houses away. He was reported missing last Friday and his body was discovered Tuesday by someone crossing the bridge. They must have looked over and seen the body. Oh how horrible! When I went by, I looked over, imagining the leap. The water is only four inches deep. There's a bunch of guys doing construction work right there. He must have jumped in the night. My first boyfriend jumped off a building to his death on an asphalt parking lot one Christmas eve. This is a very hard time of year for people. For some, it's a time to remember childhood trauma, for others it's the depression from short daylight hours. Check on your people, bring them cookies.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dawn Thoughts

Yesterday at dawn I woke up thinking about black-eyed peas and collard greens, and that they symbolize money and good luck in the new year, and I thought, I should keep cooking and eating them, maybe it'll help us afford to fix the hole in the roof! I also woke up thinking about a pal of mine who sent me a poem he had written. I re-read it in the early light. What strikes me is his description of how, as a child, he had mentally withdrawn from his body as a form of protection. I had had a similar experience. I remember feeling nothing at family meal-time. It was as if my head was planted on a scarecrow sitting at the dinner table. I had numbness from my mouth through my torso all the way to my ankles. I had lots of feeling in my palms and soles, though, and still do.

I have been working for years to reclaim my body sensations, and I now have a powerful physical antenna. My poems and saxophone-playing seem to come from my skin! I love to play my horn barefoot. I have heard that in India, touching the bare arch of a person's foot with your naked arch is an invitation to intimacy. I can see why!

The cool air and dawn light has rolled in! I can't wait to blam on my horn!! But I'll give the neighbors and Bill time for a few more zzz's. I can't help it, I'm an early bird.


Howard Hughes saved his urine and fingernail clippings. The reason why I know this is that in fifth grade I was talking during current-events class, and as a punishment my teacher assigned me a big report on Howard Hughes.

Don't you think it's funny that teachers and governments turn good things into punishment, like book reports and community service? Wouldn't punishment be more effective if it involved something disgusting, like washing garbage cans or cleaning cat boxes? We should teach kids to love learning and community service, not punish them with it.

A Little Snow a Lotta Sax

We got a little bit of snow up here! Last night I got all dressed up, in sleeveless black miracle dress, black tights, and polka shoes. I played my horn on stage from 4 to 11:30 at 2 different jams; Corinne's and Waterstreet!! A new tenor-sax guy appeared. He was very sweet and tall, his horn looked like an old tarnished brass steam-ship part dug outta the sea, it smelled nice too. (I'm a horn sniffer.) Playing music with others is such a high! By the end of the night I was beyond exhausted, but all of me just kept pushing air! It was soooooooooooooo much fun!! People fed us. There's nothing like post-sax sleep!!

Honey's World

We've got a strong, warm wind, and just now a transformer blew up on our street, kaboom! It bloinked out the lights, made a BIG FLASH and shut off our computers for a second! Bill and I and Honey ran out into the dark street. All of our neighbors had done the same, to see what we could see. Which was nothing. But the police did come and block off a part of the street. Very exciting. Now we're off with Honey to get orphaned vegetables, a new inhaler, and cheap shampoo and hair goo at Job Lot! Hey, I just realized it's a Friday night!!! How strange not to have known the name to the day. All I knew was that it was December first.

Honey is a star! Two people came out to greet us earlier today while we were walking though town. One was a lady who used to waitress at the Moonlight House of Weiners on my street (yes, that's really the name,) and now she has her own new hot-dog place near the North Main Street butcher shop. She gave Honey a hot-dog. The other was an old guy in a black car who looked familiar. He pulled over next to me as I was walking, right in front of Chan's. He handed me a dog biscuit out his car window. He said I have two Yorkshire Terriers at home and these biscuits are too big for them! I said thanks. What a world!

Extreme Extruding

When the snow hits, I'll get out my robot pasta machine and start extruding! Whaddya think? Red, tomato; green, spinach; and yellow, egg noodles; colorful kugel for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sporty, Spitty, and Airy

When I was 6 years old and my sister was 8, we used to play together, and we developed our own language. We decided that people were either spitty, sporty or airy. When an uncle came to visit we'd say, did you see the spit in the corners of his mouth while he ate his eggs this morning? That was spitty. If someone's shirt was open at the top and they were breezy and too cool, that was airy. And if someone was always in a hurry, and chewing gum, licking fingers to get a grip when turning pages of a book, wearing nail polish, lipstick and jewelry, that was sporty.

We used to lip-sync to Cyril Richard's records, "you're so much a part of me, a part of me, the two of us are one." I wonder what my sister would think if she heard those songs now. Would she remember the little window of time when we shared a bedroom and actually played together for hours. All of this was before our differences became evident, and amplified by our mother, before we learned to loathe each other, and fight instead of play. We're still trying to figure it out, how to receive each other as adults, without falling back under the spell of the attitudes we learned from childhood.

Horns And Antlers

I have rarely felt pretty or sexy except when I play my horn. It's a miracle! All the things about my looks that otherwise might work against me work for me in the musical arena; my gigantic head with large features is a perfect stage face, my extra-long torso is good for holding the bari sax, and my legs, hidden all these years under baggy jeans, look great in my turquoise performance tights. Now I just want to develop my carriage muscles for holding and carrying myself better. Swimming and dancing will do this.

I have been invited to jam with two of my sax heroes at an Elks Hall in Leominster Mass. They must be thinking, who is this beached mermaid with her bari sax? But I'll be ready.

Simple Pleasures

I think there's cosmic divinity mixed in with my grandparent's love hovering over all thrift stores because I magically find everything I need at them. What eventually became my Brave Combo polka-dress was one of my first finds 26 years ago! I found my black-and-white polka-dotted cow dress the day before my big painting show, for three dollars! I have even found amazing shoes that fit, and that never happens even at a regular store.

My latest craze is finding broccoli, apples, eggplants, etc. in the inexpensive less-than-perfect section of the produce aisle. It's a great discovery because you don't need perfect-looking produce when you're making applesauce or roasting eggplants or turning things into soup.

Body Body

I had no idea that I often painted a yellow-ochre diagonal in my paintings until I saw them all hanging up in a room in my first painting show. I had never noticed this in my studio. Now that I am publishing my writing I am seeing other things about me that I have totally missed, and yet are as obvious as the nose on my face.

For instance, I had no idea that my primary perception of the world is completely physical. My husband is the opposite. His perception is intellectual. When he walks into a room everyone feels it, the helmet of will, Wilhelm. His name even means it. Smart guy! He has developed myriad other strengths as well, and I have tried to counterbalance my body/sensory dominance by developing my imagination, and by writing. We admire our differences. Alien marries alien.

Anyway, I had no idea I was body dominant. Why the heck didn't I become a Rockette! It would have been better suited to me. It's not over yet, I'll wanna be a Ziegfeld Follies woman into my 90's. I admire people who dance for a living, especially ballerinas, yet I know I am too much of a surrealist to be one. I like to dance by swimming in sound, not following steps. When I had run away from home, a stow-away in a loft in Brooklyn in 1976, I used to dance to Blonde On Blonde until I was sure Bob Dylan was me and I was him. We even looked alike! I was alone in the big loft dancing for hours in my wool sailor pants with the 13 buttons, skinny as a scarecrow. Now that I see I am body first, I am going to own up to it.

I Can't Read

When I was a child, I couldn't read, or so I was told. My mother's theory was that I had a mental block because I had received a letter from my dad telling me he had remarried. I could read, but I wouldn't read some things. When I was in the advanced reading group in school I loved reading The Secret Garden. But some books I hated. I would be taken to the shrink and would have to read one of them aloud and say why I hated it. "Because people don't talk that way, it's FAKE!"

Every week on Wednesday afternoons I was taken out of school to see the shrink. Whenever my mother pulled the car over, in pain from gall bladder attacks, I thought I was killing her. The shrink's bills were sent to my father who had nothing. The lawyers fought and sued. So when my dad came to pick me and my sister up for a drive, I was sure he and his new wife and my sister had plans to kill me, push me off a scenic overlook. I easily imagined them all in agreement with this plan.

I had no safety but my wild imagination. I just wrote down my thoughts on scraps of paper for the shrink each week. I would write about how I stole erasers from grade-school pals, and pencils from Woolworth's, and books from school. This makes me smile now, surrounded by pencils and books, my house filled with books, pencils pointing up to the sky from tomato cans on my desk, while I write down my thoughts for my blog.

I Feel The Neighborhood

I feel the neighborhood. It is cozy, even though some visitors have called it a slum and will never come back to see me in my home. Sad wet laundry falls over peeling yellow porches, pigeons poop from the clothesline towers, but I feel the neighborhood as cozy and loving when I rise early and it is still dark and I look out the window and see lights on and TV's flickering like bug-zappers. I toss the ball for my brown dog in the black night. She runs with the tennis ball in her mouth, and suddenly squats, diagonally lady-like, to pee. I come in and warm the teapot and turn on my computer. The genie box is my robot friend, I can write letters to one hundred and fifty people, some who don't know me well and might be scared of me, but who is afraid of a letter? The computer is less scary than I am, for I am a hairy big-faced loud-laughing big-headed burping fragrant ringletted refuse-to-be-indoctrinated woman.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Prednisone Side Effect Poem

Everything is love.
Days of magical thinking,
stories in my head.
I write them down.
Three hours of sleep a night
feels like an ocean.

I am Alice in Wonderland,
(the girl with kaleidoscope eyes)
Drink me! Eat me!
I am dancing and
thinking I am beautiful!
That rarely happens.

My mother told me I was thick-boned,
with big fat-man cigar-smoking grandpa nose.
I cried and cried. I was five years old
and believed it all,
that I was the ugly duckling.
Now I am the swan,
Love and illumination the side effect.

Being Five

When I was five I told my step-father that I was sure there was a girl exactly like me somewhere doing exactly what I was doing at every second. I was plagued by this notion of a twin. With the world so big it must be true. He said no, you are special.

Sensing that my mother was bored, preoccupied, and annoyed by me, I asked her, why did you have me?

I woke up one morning realizing that the Earth had moved around in a circle while I was asleep. I thought, I'm breathing Chinese air!

What is that? I asked my mother, pointing at the genitals of our gigantic Scottish Deerhound as he lay down on the big round center-hallway rug. She said those are his balls and that is his penis. I said wow, he gets to have all that!

I had stomach aches all the time. I guessed that I was being poisoned. That must be why people have children, I thought, to poison them.

I knew at age five I wanted a life like my father's, not my mother's. Men had everything better than women, and men were much kinder than women. I wanted to have fun working every day, not having kids.

Happy Adoption-Day, Honey!

One night recently, after three hours of sleep, I was wide awake in the dark. I lay there for two hours thinking about all of the wonderful people and amazing adventures and coincidences that have unfolded in my life, like I was viewing a movie. I thought about the day I went to adopt Honey, four years ago, meeting both her and the dog-catcher at the pound.

Honey had been held there for one week to give the owners a chance to claim her. I was the first person to contact the pound when she was finally available for adoption. It was a few days after Veteran's Day. I had left five frantic phone messages on the answering machine at the closed dog pound over the weekend. I was afraid the dog-catcher would give her to someone else because I was from the city, from Woonsocket. The dog-catcher said no, it doesn't work that way. She was less than five feet tall, with blonde hair down to her waist, shapely and built like a robust farm woman, with a tough-love vibe, ready to handle anything.

While I was there a young man came in to claim his dog, and the dog-catcher went in the back and reappeared with a gigantic, handsome, slightly-out-of-control, shiny black Great Dane with a spiked collar. The dog-catcher lightly scolded him for letting his dog loose, and fined him twenty bucks. She said be careful next time. As he was leaving I went outside with him and asked, what's your dog's name? Coltrane, he said, smiling. I said that's cool, and he and Coltrane hopped into his black Camaro and drove off. I went back inside and told the dog-catcher that I work at home, so Honey would always be with me. I told her that I had adopted many dogs. I was still afraid she might think I was a crazy person and an unsuitable dog parent. She was actually not auditioning me, but her authority made me feel submissive.

When I told her that I illustrated children's books, she told me that her mother lived in California and had written a children's book about two tractors who fall in love; John Deere and Allis Chalmers. I thought that was adorable. Then I told her that Dr B had been my vet for over 20 years. She said Oh, Dr B, I have had such a crush on him. I said me too. Then she said, he's too skinny, he needs to eat a steak. I agreed and laughed. When I was about to bring Honey home, the dog-catcher said, there's one thing we're concerned about. Uh-oh, I thought. We don't think her tail works, she said. I'm sure it works, I told her, it's just that she's been in a dog pound! And I'm happy to report that her tail works just fine.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Joy Voice

I wish I could go to the jam. Unfortunately I have a lung infection healing so the Urban Mermaid bari-sax player has to stay off the horn and out of the chlorinated sea for a few more days. Don't feel bad for me because the medicine the good doc gave me induced a state of ecstasy. Not a bad side effect. So I am taking notes on cosmic illumination. I am a person who doesn't desire any drugs, because my own mother-nature brain chemicals are already plenty. This is probably more than you wanted to know about the Urban Mermaid. I will rise up and flap my fins, reeds, and gills soon! And then I can swim in my Louis Armstrong fantasies.

I saw Louis Armstrong play in Hello Dolly when I was a wee little corn niblet. My head was the same size it is now, huge, which may be why my mother never loved me, nonetheless I was a budding surrealist and recognized Louis' joy. Viva la Louis Armstrong! I wanted and still want to be like him, spreading joy and love - the gurgly voice, the smile, the trumpet's red ribbons of sound. My mother had other plans, naming me after Emily Dickinson. But now, at the close of my 46th year, surrounded by love, I may have finally begun to learn to love my broken soul and be a wounded healer. Okay everybody, sing "Hello, Dolly" and listen for Louis' juicy joy voice!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Food Rant

Today I spent the day writing letters. I am not supposed to swim or play sax for a few days while my lungs heal. So I baked an apple pie with raisins in it, boy, did it smell amazing and taste so good too. They should bake home-made apple pies at prisons, psych wards, and rehab hospitals and I suspect people would be healed more rapidly. How many psych hospitals and prisons are located above bakeries or near apple orchards? I bet there would be better results if they were coupled together. If I were an elected official (and I'm not trying to be) these would be my most pressing issues besides peace, ecology, world hunger, and animal rights. I'd declare that apple pie is a healthy delicious food and everyone should have the chance to learn to bake one - perhaps free lessons at the local library. All libraries should have free teaching kitchens. Apple pie should be considered a valid nutritious meal, especially when made with a corn-oil crust. I keep the apple skins on for extra vitamins, flavor, color and texture. (I do the same when I make my olive oil mashed potatoes.)

I made a simple vegetarian mushroom pasta sauce yesterday and it was divine. Pasta is such a comfort food. World peace through linguini! I feel very sad about the plethora of prepackaged foods in America. We started with the TV dinner (an interesting story behind that invention) and then it became a way of life; convenience. What the heck is convenience? What is the virtue of being done with a meal as quickly as possible? Let's linger a little. Turn off the TV, the computer and the phone. Why do we treat our bodies like cars, pumping in fuel and then driving off? Our cities and towns are full of drive-through meals made by robots, and supermarkets are full of frozen foods made by other robots. It's expensive, soul-less and sad.

We need to learn some lessons from the third world where making a dish with black-eyed peas means spending the day taking the skins off each pea. My patient husband did this once! Lovingly prepare your food! I believe that you ingest the love like vitamins. Grandma's home-made cookies were full of grandma love. How many people grow up learning to bake and experience the aroma of an apple pie or a simmering pasta sauce? I was lucky in this way. I ignored bread as a kid but became an avid and committed bread baker when I fell in love with the smell of bread baking at the local Italian bakery. In fourth grade I said I wanted to invent a bread perfume! I was a health nut so I didn't want to make white bread. I made multi-grain bread and still do to this day. I am not a gourmet by any means, I am proud to be a frugal but creative and enthusiastic soul-food cook.

There was a great kids book in the 60's called Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House. I was so inspired by this book. In the book Old MacDonald poured dirt on the floor of his flat and grew his carrots indoors! I've decided to try to grow basil indoors because it is so amazing to have it fresh in pasta sauce. But I won't lay the dirt on the floor! I am concerned that my house will be too cold and dark for it to thrive in the winter, but I will try. It's often chilly in my house in the heart of winter but it is still a far cry from a frost! Sometimes I consider returning to vegetarianism for health reasons but first I will enjoy my favorite meats in moderation over the holidays; turkey, lamb, beef, and ham! Meat is a treat and a rare thing in my diet, like chocolate. But when I crave it I figure I must need it since it is so infrequent. I used to be anemic when I was a vegetarian. Now I am a robust lap-swimming, bari-sax-playing, taking-long-walks-with-my-dog, polka-dancing-in-the-living-room, energized person.

Even junk food can be made healthily. I would like to make my own olive-oil potato chips, they sell them at Job Lot and they are so good. Has anyone ever tried to make a cheese doodle? I tried to pop rice in my hot-air popcorn maker to make rice cakes. I guess I don't get out much! Every time I like something I want to be able to make it myself. I even tried to make my own tofu in college. I would like to try it again, perhaps this time find a wooden tofu mold somewhere. I absolutely crave and love fresh bean curd and eat it as it is fished out of the buckets of water at the Asian market. Supposedly tofu prevents the bad symptoms of menopause, too. I have made bagels and they are fun. Making homemade pasta is a fun thing to do during a blizzard, indoors of course. I bake through storms and heat waves! There is an old-fashioned grist mill in southern Rhode Island called Kenyon's. I went there in college on a school trip, and it was amazing to see the gigantic stones grinding whole corn into nutritious meal. Let's make Johnnycakes!! Why does appetite increase with age? For some of us it seems to. I lived on nothing when I was a kid and as an adult I eat every twenty minutes. It seems backwards to me! Get inspired and make something simple, nutritious, and delicious today!

Romance in Woonsocket

The other day I was walking behind the baseball field with Honey, going down what I call poop alley. It's where all the old ladies from the high-rise bring their little dogs. There's a narrow asphalt walking-path that cuts through poop alley to the high-rise. I saw a smiling elderly gentleman who I have seen before. He was wearing a red-and-black lumberjack wool shirt and pushing an empty cobalt blue plastic-dipped metal grocery cart. He smiled and said, "Romance in Woonsocket. That was the name of a movie my sister was in when she was 16, she wanted to be an actress." I examined his face as he was talking. He smiled a lot and had bumpy dry skin and gorgeous front teeth. He said, "Do you remember Gene Audrey? He was in town, too. I was born in 1923, I was 12 when the Titanic went down and that's all I heard about, I heard about it so much I felt like I had been on it! My wife died 32 years ago. People ask me will I remarry? I tell them my wife was crazy crazy crazy." I smiled and listened. "I've had enough of that. My wife accused me of fooling around but she was the one who was fooling around. She had 7 kids with every Tom Dick and Harry. I raised them all. When she was in the hospital to remove a varicose vein in her leg, her secret lover showed up. He was a big fat guy and he was kissing my wife. I went in the room. He punched me in the chest, I could have hit him but I didn't hit him back. I went and told the nurse someone is in the room kissing my wife! He was her secret lover. Well she's all gone now and I've had enough of that." He was smiling as he wheeled away his cart.

The New Man

There's a tall man who I often see walking around. He lives in the group home five houses away. We always have a little chat when I see him on my dog-walking outings. He'll say what a pretty dog and lean down and pet Honey as if he's never seen her before. This has gone on for years. Yesterday he said, "What kind of brown is she?" I said chocolate. "Chocolate, hmm." I said you mean what kind of dog is she? "No, what kind of brown is she?" I said she becomes a reddish brown in the summer sun. Her tail is a bit redder. He looked and agreed. Then I thought of ladies' hair colors. I said she's a chestnut brown. "Ahh yes!" He liked that.

I have seen this man for years, and every day is new for him. I'm not sure what is going on with him but he is always friendly and fun to talk to. "I love the color of your shirt," I said, admiring the pale pumpkin corduroy. "I don't know where it came from," he said. I wondered what he meant. "Okay," he said, "I've got to have my walk, my exercise, then I'll come back and have a good hearty breakfast of milk and cereal." I said it always tastes better after a walk doesn't it? Like a sandwich tasting better at the beach. "Yes it's true," he said. I was hoping we'd walk together a bit longer but he stopped at the light and pressed the walk button to cross in the other direction.

Scrap Metal

The other day I was on my way into the YMCA and the maintenance guy told me, "There's a guy who's a member here who is 89 and swims every day." Oh really, I said, I haven't met him yet. "He comes in the early morning at seven or eight and swims. He looks at every girl in the place." Some things don't fade with age, I replied. "He's a WWII veteran, I think he has scrap metal in his leg."

New Sole

There's a cute little building covered with asbestos shingles imitating red brick, on the Court Street Bridge in Woonsocket. I have crossed the bridge on foot, watching the smoke curl out of the thin brick chimney. When you look in the window you see gorgeous shoe-repair machines. The sign says Petronuzzi's Shoe Rebuilding. There's a little bald-haired man about 75 years old in a worn apron, hunched over the gorgeous greasy old machines. The other day I walked in with my dog. I took off my worn clog and handed it to him. I wear out my shoes, I said, because I walk everywhere. I see that, he said. I asked him if he could make me a new heel. He said yes. I said okay I have to go home and get my husband's shoes too and come back with my dancing shoes too. I returned with three pairs of shoes and he gave me a purple ticket. They'll be ready Friday morning he said. On Friday I jumped out of bed and walked Honey over to Petronuzzi's with my money. He had rebuilt three pairs of shoes for 20 dollars a pair. My polka-dancing shoes had been completely rebuilt, they were better than new, and shiny and buffed with new black polish! He gave the dancing shoes a new soul! I said thank you so much I am so happy and thank you for letting me bring in my dog. That's okay he said. I said she's the one who needs shoes. In the winter the ice gets into her furry paws. He smiled. Maybe I will design a pair of dog booties that he can make.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Many people are carrying an extraordinary amount of fear in their day-to-day lives. Countless times I have heard the elderly ladies in the locker room at the YMCA say they are afraid to be in there alone. They are afraid a predator will invade while they are getting dressed and nobody will hear them scream. My neighbor has pulled her kids out of the schools for fear of what could happen there, and has adopted a third watch dog. She now has a German Shepherd, a Pit Bull and an English Mastiff. She jumps through the roof when one of them barks, thinking it’s the predator she imagines hot on her trail. I can’t help thinking this fear comes from watching television. I call TV the fear machine. People don’t realize they are experiencing fear as entertainment. Right now our government is manipulating millions of people using fear tactics. Even the weathermen use fear as entertainment in their weather reporting. Zap zap zap we get hooked on high drama living. Back away from the fear machine and reclaim your freedom and birthright to think clearly! Read a reputable newspaper if you want to know the facts. Find out who your neighbors are so you can feel a little safer living on your street. But if you really want to have fear, have it about something worthwhile. Fear that you could die without ever having listened to your children, fear that you never followed through on your dream to write, or paint or play music, fear coming to the end of your life having postponed all of your dreams.

Sax Sonar

The other night my husband and I played a gig as a duo at the Italian Workingmen's Club. The event was a Beer-and-Dynamite fund-raiser for the YMCA. It was a gas, and two of my tenor sax playing pals showed up; Dick and Bebop. They are both elderly gentlemen. I introduced them and it turns out they know each other from thirty years ago! Horn players are like dolphins, we put out sonar and gather together. There were six horns at the Thursday jam last week!

Joy Bubbles

A few times a year I am awakened at two or four a.m. by joy energy flowing straight out from my abdomen. I call it joy bubbles, because that’s exactly how it feels. I get up and go to my desk and scribble words in my notebook, and start cooking in the kitchen. Sometimes I’ll play my sax or my accordion through dawn.

Red Onions

Red onions sliced in half remind me of the swirl symbol quack hypnotists and bogus psychiatrists use in bad movies. But I love to eat red onion sandwiches on my sourdough bread with lettuce and mayo. I eat scallions like Bugs Bunny eats carrots. Maybe there’s a reason I work alone!

Raw Shock

In second grade I was taken out of school and given a Rorschach test because I cried whenever I had to take math tests. On my first ink blot I said I saw bears hugging. A pretty blonde-haired lady with gigantic horn-rimmed glasses and a plaid skirt with grey wool tights took notes on a yellow legal pad. Then I was given a math test, and I cried. All of the adults gathered around and observed me like I was an alien specimen, and my bio dad was sent all of the bills.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Imaginative Dog

Sometimes when I am at my chair in the front room with my notebook I imagine the sound of the cars driving down my street to be the sound of ocean waves. In the summer, the city puts up a very tall net to catch the fly balls from the baseball field. Otherwise they land on the parked cars belonging to the folks in the elderly high-rise. When I look out my window I can see that the tall drooping nets make peaks, like a child's drawing of mountains. I said to my husband, look, we live in the Swiss Alps! One day last winter our dog Honey was barking wildly from our living room. We looked out the window and saw that the small tree out front was covered with six inches of snow, and swaying in the wind of the snowstorm. It looked like a lurking monster, with head and arms! My dog is as imaginative as I am!

Clear Soup

Today I made clear soup from all of my kale and broccoli stock that has accumulated this week. I added fresh vegetables - cubed potatoes (with the skin), sliced white onions, sliced mushrooms, chopped celery, chopped carrots, broccoli, dollops of extra virgin (Job Lot) olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes - and pressure-cooked it all for 13 minutes. It is yummy with soy sauce added, like wonton soup but without the wontons.

Jolly World

My lungs get sore and inflamed if I skip too many days playing my sax. My sax serves as a broncho-dilator, as effective as the expensive asthma medicines (Advair), and playing it prevents asthma symptoms. Tea and coffee and caffeine in general are also mild broncho-dilators. Imagine if all asthmatics had daily tea and coffee breaks, and during the breaks we all played our wind instruments. We'd all have happy lungs and it would be a jolly world.

Enjoy Life

Printed on the little paper bags from Larry B's music store is "Enjoy life more with music." It's so true. When I was a photography student I made a photo-documentary of my Smith Hill neighborhood. My first stop was Guy Alba's barber shop on Smith Street. Guy was in there that day cutting the hair of a big man with a gruff expression, a white cloth draped over his chest catching all the chunks of black hair. I was poking around, amazed at all the old heavy glass cupboards, and examining the yellowed photos, articles, and postcards scotch-taped to the mirrors. The place was tidy and clean but from another era - my Grandfather's era. I'll never forget what Guy said to me that day; "You notice everything. You must really enjoy life."

Let Yourself

When people say they've always wanted to paint, or play music, or photograph, I always say do it, not to become rich, popular, or famous, but because ultimately it's for YOU!

Finding yourself creatively will reap the biggest riches you'll ever know. I started writing and drawing because I was lonely, depressed, miserable, joyous, imaginative, crazy, confused, angry, impatient, curious, hungry, and hyperactive. Besides discovering that I am a horrible speller with no knowledge of grammar, I found out a lot of important things about myself, just by letting myself write. The same has been true for playing music, which has the added benefit of being really FUN! In fact I believe if we all played music together and shared food there would be no war. And let me tell you, Middle-Eastern food really rocks!


The sun was in the pool this morning at nine a.m. I love watching the air bubbles flowing off the tips of my fingers as I do the crawl. It's hypnotizing. When I am treading water with flippers, swimming vertically almost, I pretend I am a dancing ballerina suspended on my toes, making graceful arm motions. I love to look at photos of ballerinas dancing. They have the ultimate leg and arm muscles.

After swimming I stopped at Job Lot. I bought olive oil, sketch pads, graph paper, vanilla extract, Maria tea cookies, shampoo, and two Reese's peanut-butter cups. It was a good morning.

Pet a Calf

There's nothing like petting the large furry curved jawbone of a calf. I was petting the calf, scratching her jaw bone and rubbing her snout. I loved how easily her tongue slips into her nostrils. I think cows have beautiful nostril shapes. A bunch of these young Holsteins have black freckles on their pink noses. This one was lifting her head and looking at me with her gigantic eyeballs. The dairy farm is three miles from my very urban neighborhood. Sometimes I walk there. When I see the calves I try to imagine what it must be like to hobble around on what looks like furniture legs with cloven hooves. I would love to have a pet cow in my urban backyard.

On the Phone

The other day we were walking Honey and this gigantic garbage truck was backing up, with difficulty, into the street from a driveway. "What's this guy doing?" my husband said. "Don't bother him," I said sarcastically, "He's busy, can't you see he's on the phone?" "He's doing this while he's on the phone?" my husband said, exasperated. "Yeah, he's talking to his girlfriend." "No, it must be a really important phone call. Maybe he's coaching brain surgery, or writing a speech for the president of Iceland, or negotiating a peace treaty, or trading in the stock market, or dictating Chinese foreign policy. You know, something he can do part-time while driving a garbage truck."

All the Tools

It's the same ears for listening that are used to play music as to write, it's the same eyes for observing that are used to paint pictures or photograph as to write, it's the same nose for smelling and tongue for tasting that are used to cook and bake as to write. We shouldn't chop ourselves into bits, making our lives small by fencing off and defending one territory of expertise. We can corral, use, celebrate, and integrate all of our senses to work together in everything we do. We are each as unique as a fingerprint. Use and develop all the tools in your bag; use all the tools you were born with.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Dented Can

My friend Phoebe and I used to go to the flea market of banged-up and expired food, a nameless store that was in town briefly. It was a hit! This is not a high-end town, we love our bargains. It sounds creepy, but for us scavengers we couldn't resist. I ran into friends there buying bags of broken pecan cookies, because, as you know, there are no calories when they are broken! We affectionately dubbed the place "The Dented Can," and imagined an eight-foot tall dented can of peas rotating slowly out front - botulism world headquarters. That's not funny. Since the spinach E Coli crisis I keep imagining a mother screaming at her kid "Eat your spinach, it's not gonna kill you," and then the kid dies from E Coli. Maybe it's my perverse humor. I hope nobody who died from bad spinach had that said to them the night before.

I had a few too many creepy experiences buying stuff at the dented can - dead bugs in my pasta, (at least they were dead) and really stale tea. Stupidly I bought mayonnaise there once. But there were some great bargains, too, on soap, sponges, paper napkins, jars of juice and other safe-to-buy things. They even sold powdered goats milk. The store is gone now. And I hope my grandparents are not reading this from heaven, because they would worry about me.


I realized I had been in front of my computer for four days and needed to swim, especially if I'm considering myself to be an urban mermaid. So I went. The sun was in the pool and it was quiet. My pal Bebop showed up. "Hey Bebop!!" I shouted across the pool as he went over to select red and blue foam flotation noodles. Bebop is 78 and played saxophone on weekends in lots of bands for years. We always chat about the saxophone when I see him. We stood in the water for twenty minutes. He was animated, gesturing with both arms, singing tunes and pantomiming playing his tenor sax. I noticed I had darker armpit hair than him. "Try a tune as a rhumba, fox trot, Latin, same tune just different beat. You gotta have a good drummer, then you'll fly."

One time I saw Bebop in the supermarket and he gave me a saxophone lesson in the macaroni aisle! He was tapping his foot next to his metal carriage saying count out the beats and see how long you can exhale. It's a treat for both of us whenever we bump into each other around town.

After my swim I had a craving for green vegetables. I stopped at the grocery store and looked in the bargain bin. I got the slightly beat up broccoli because it wasn't that bad, three heads for a dollar, just the stems look banged up. I'll cut most of that part off. Greens, greens, greens, I feel like a queen when I can eat lots of greens. I saw my other swim buddy in the check-out line. I couldn't help myself, I glanced in his basket. He was buying green grapes, pulpy Tropicana orange juice and a ready-made roasted chicken. How cute! He's another adorable elderly gentleman in his late 70's. I see him at the pool all the time but rarely have I seen him on dry land! I asked him how he was. He said he was in shock, that a friend of his had just died. "I opened the paper and there he was. I saw him and spoke to him just last week, and asked him how he was. He said hangin' in there, but he did look frail. He was a member of the Y for over 40 years." It must be a shocker when all your pals start to die. He said I have goggles for you in my car, and we walked out together into the late afternoon orange light. He popped open the trunk of his little blue Toyota and handed me a set of brand new Speedo goggles! He got them at the outlet store in town and had donated a bunch to the YMCA. "I saved one for you." Thanks so much I said, thinking wow, I've never been so popular.

Polka Fans

Last night at the jam my elderly sax-playing pal Dick brought his mp3 player and headphones, and we squirreled away into the cute chilly kitchen of the bar to listen to his polka band's tunes from 20 years ago! I had the headphones on and was beaming as he sampled the collection for me. My face started to get sore from grinning. This is the happiest music in the world I said, probably speaking way too loud because my ears were covered. I can't listen to this music before bed or I won't sleep. I'll dance all night! He giggled. Dick is an engineer and was, among other things, responsible for engineering Mr. Potato Head. Is that cool or what? He worked for Hasbro and on weekends had a polka band called The Happy Bachelors. I think he was as surprised as I was to find a devoted polka fan at a blues jam. You just never know!

Pen and Paper

Always carry a pen and paper because you never know what will spark a train of thought for a story, and clues are all over the place. A big white garbage truck passed me while I was walking Honey today. As it drove by, I read the company's slogan. It was painted in big red letters, in quotes; "Trash, it's not just our business, it's our life." Now who are they quoting? George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Eugene O'Neill? I want this quote attributed! I wanted to ask the driver for his business card when he parked at the motorcycle shop around the corner, but I chickened out.

I do freelance work for a home-delivery company, and they are an adorable, kind, ecology-minded company with great service and great products, but one thing they do wrong is that they have a million different slogans, in quotes, and they print them on everything. It's so ridiculous that it's charming in that very Rhode Island way: "Your Grocery Store On Wheels," "Simply Fresh," "Live Longer Live Stronger," etc. etc.


My elderly pal Donut walks the city day and night. He's thin as a pencil, tall, and very funny. He lives two blocks from my house in the elderly high-rise. I love to run into him, and I do every few days, on my dog-walking treks through downtown. "I gotta walk, people are dropping like flies in there," pointing to the high-rise with his thumb. The first time I met him he asked me if Honey bites. He told me he was bit by a pit-bull once and had to get stitches. He pointed to his hip and thigh. He said the doctor told him, "Your name is Donut? If I was a dog, I'd bite you too!" His real name is Donat, but everyone pronounces it Donut. He always has one-liners for me and I always laugh. He's a French Canadian Groucho Marx, and I am his appreciative audience.

Mother-in-Law's Tongues

The RI Department of Transportation must have run out of type when they got to our town. You can tell because all the letters in the highway sign are a mix of upper and lower case and varying sizes and different typefaces. It's enough to distract and thereby endanger the life of any graphic designer driving north on highway 99. I try to warn all my graphic designer friends when they come to my house. Beware!! I guess we're too far from headquarters to get our share of funds for proper signage. My guess is the governor's highway exit sign doesn't look this bad! Or maybe graphic design should be a requirement for government officials.

Speaking of government I've had way too many political robots leaving messages on my answering machine. I know the election is Tuesday but I need peace of mind so I'm spending this moment thinking about how many pasta shapes there are on the planet. The genius of the noodle! In the NYC subway stations, the school for the deaf used to give out easy-reference wallet-sized cards of the alphabet printed in sign language. I would love to have a similar card with all of the pasta shapes and names in Italian and English, printed wallet-size for easy reference. Maybe it could be a tourist thing whenever you go to little Italy. Nonetheless I want to get to know all the shapes: radiatori, fettuccini, mostaccioli, fusilli, ziti, ditalini, rigatoni, conchiglie, cavatelli, tubettini, penne. Did you know there was a pasta called lingue di suocera, or mother-in-law's tongues? Pretty creepy. Strozzapreti means "priest strangler." It makes me think of the Jewish hamentashen - eating Hamen's hat! What really fascinates me is that eating capellini (angel hair - wouldn't that give you a fur ball?) is a whole different dining experience than eating linguini fini, or vermicelli (little worms!) You could eat pasta every night of the week and just change the diameter of your noodle! But how come rotini and farfalle (bowties) and other macaroni shapes can taste so different? The sauce falls on the shapes differently making the sauce-to-pasta ratio varied, changing the experience, like the way lighting variations change a face.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Two Brown Dogs on Halloween

Yesterday I saw a four year old boy dressed up as a brown dog. His costume was a fuzzy full-bodied brown dog body-suit equipped with floppy brown ears, just like my dog's. He was walking into a laundromat with his dad. I was walking my brown dog down the street. The two dogs looked at each other. It was hilarious.

Common Scents

I just hit the wrong button and everything I had written today vanished. My computer asked "Do you want to save the changes you made" and I must have hit the "no" button. Poof. I guess I never will say no to my computer again. My dog had been barking to go out, really annoyed that I was still sitting here after three hours. She has a small bladder and gets very vocal when I have delayed letting her out to pee and play fetch. I didn’t know what I had done until I came back from playing with Honey. I came up to write about my grandmother's compulsion to hide chocolate bars under her mattress, and to see where it would fit in with what I had already written and poof, all my morning’s blatherings were gone. Out into the ether. I immediately took a walk through downtown with Honey, consoling myself that it happens to everyone, it could’ve been worse, I could’ve lost a week of writing or a year or two year's worth of stories. I’ve done that too, when I crashed my computer a few years ago, and I’m still grieving the loss. On my walk I wanted to tell strangers on the street about my day's loss but I just kept walking, not stopping for anything except letting Honey pee. I’m surprised that I didn’t heave my computer through my window a long time ago but then again, I do love my computer. For a shy girl who never learned to speak up, enjoy parties, or type, I can push words around on this thing for hours of self-entertaining fun. Then I can send my inner ramblings out to friends to see what they think. Pretty neat.

One of the things I was writing about was pillow drool, a very important topic in my sleep life. Ever since I was a kid I sniffed my pillow. I even used to name the best scent Wilbur hoping it wouldn’t disappear. The scents come from drooling on my pillow in my sleep. I would be and still am so disappointed when washday comes and my pillow is cleaned of all its beloved aromas. Since now I am the laundress I can postpone pillowcase washing! When my sister and I were kids, we would lay down and watch TV on my parent's gigantic bed. I would uncover the white pillows from the heavy dark knit bedspread and sniff them. I noticed the scent of my mother's pillow compared to my step-father's pillow and appreciated their differences like two fine wines. As a kid I sniffed everything, and I still do; I have a dog's nose. When my step-father would come off the commuter train in winter we’d greet him, kissing his cold cheek. I inhaled his scent of city men, trains and newspapers. When my dog is eating she puts out a hormone-like scent I can detect, and when she’s sleeping there’s another distinctive aroma. My little brother’s bedroom always smelled of baby powder even though he never used it. It was his sleep scent. Puppies put out a scent that says don’t kill me, to the older dogs. Maybe this was true for my brother! Maybe this is why babies' scalps always smell like roses, so the mothers or siblings won’t kill them when they are crying all night. When my grandparents would visit, every Sunday, I’d come downstairs and follow the scent of their cologne to locate which room they were in. Many times when people walk by me I can smell what laundry soap they use. I have to laugh. When I greet someone I often want to say gee you smell fabulous but that is not a customary greeting in this culture. I doubt it would be appreciated.


This morning when I came downstairs there was a centipede in the sink on the black lid of my thermos mug. I screamed. This will encourage me to do the dishes before bed. Centipedes, I have discovered, love water as much as I do, but this is about all we have in common. If Radio City Music Hall had a centipede perform they wouldn’t have to hire the Rockettes. But they’d have to give out very powerful binoculars to the members of the audience. My grandmother took me to the Radio City Christmas show when I was five. I was fascinated by the infinity of legs. I wanted to grow up to be a Rockette! My mother had other plans for me.

Grandmother Sophie had a vanity covered completely with mirrors. The most fascinating part was the box of mirror that was located where the chair would fit into the desk. My sister and I would kneel down on the carpet and squish ourselves into the mirrored box together and play for hours, clapping and turning our heads, looking at the infinitely repeated reflections of ourselves. The vanity drawers were made of mirror too. I would open them and find combs, hair nets, pink foam curlers, hard plastic curlers, bobby pins, heavy bejeweled pinch-on earrings, screw-on earrings, a million lipsticks, nail polish of all shades, eyebrow pencils, emery boards, more lipsticks, more bobby pins. I was fascinated by the earrings. The pinch ones hurt and the screw-on ones had to be so tight to stay on my six-year-old earlobes that they hurt too. Forget that! The infinity mirror box really was the best part. We’d be in there clapping and moving, watch our synchronized reflection, just like the Rockettes.

Grandpa Nat would open the window, even in mid-January, and lay down on the floor in the three-foot-square of sun while holding a reflector under his chin. He’d wear white plastic eye cups over his eyes. He was sunbathing. He loved how his blue eyes would pop when he was suntanned. He’d always accentuate his bright-eyed look by wearing a blue dress shirt. When Grandma would take us down in the elevator and out under the boardwalk to the beach, Grandpa would either nosh or sunbathe or stay at the window with his binoculars and watch the millions of bikini-clad girls from the sixth floor.

Vacation Eyes

The importance of staring out the window is vastly underrated. As a kid, on winter days I’d sit on the radiator and daydream while watching the colorful skaters on the pond down my street. On spring days I’d come home from school and just sit on the floor of my bedroom, leaning against my bed while staring at the motion of the green leaves blowing on the trees. At night I loved to turn off all the lights and stare at my fish tank lit up in my dark bedroom.

I require lots of daydreaming. My sister and I would play tag with the neighborhood boys and after a few minutes I’d sneak off and hang out in the treehouse to daydream. They’d continue chasing each other for hours. Not much has changed. I’m still daydreaming in my treehouse and most people I know are out there chasing stuff.

I have never needed a passport. There’s cool stuff going on right in your own neighborhood that you would think is amazing if you traveled 3,000 miles on a vacation to see it. Pretend you did. Put on your new eyes, vacation eyes, and with the money and time you’ve saved on air fare and shlepping, go get a cup of tea and watch people in your neighborhood walk by for a few hours. Daydream without guilt.

When I was about seven I was already spending tons of time alone and loving it. My mother was convinced I was a mentally disturbed loner! I had a game where I would stare at an ordinary everyday household object like my morning orange juice glass and I’d stare at it until I didn’t know what it was, who I was, or where I was. It took about three minutes. It worked with the most ordinary things; a comb, a shoe, a fork, a toothbrush, a pencil, a chair. Who needs drugs? I was stoning myself. Don’t try this while driving!

Soapy Water

When I was a toddler my mother would take a big plastic bowl of warm soapy water and a sponge and set it out in the backyard for me. I’d be completely engaged and play for hours. This is how I feel now playing with oil paint.

The Horror Days

I loathe the holidays. I call them the horror-days. I try to stay out of the fray by doing my own thing and keeping TV and radio off. I even hate Mother's Day and Father's Day. I used to walk for miles every year on Christmas eve, to get through it, to tire out my sadness. I do have favorite foods and if I'm feeling inspired I'll bake them and give them away or eat them! Honking on my horn with my musical friends is the best solution I can think of for getting through my miseries and is much more fun than walking.

I prefer to let myself have impromptu holidays. Like when it finally cools off after a heat wave. Now that’s a holiday! When it snows for the first time in the winter and you have enough leftovers to stay inside and make a big soup. When a wind storm blows through and you just listen to it rattle your windows all night. When you just plain old feel content. To me those are the best kind of Holy-Days.

One of the things I did like about Christmas as a kid was when my step-father played records of Christmas music from around the world; Italy, France, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Norway, Holland. We’d have bagels and lox with my grandparents on Christmas morning.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

I may decide to wear a paper bag over my head just so I can go around and collect some free chocolate. Or my dog can dress up as me and I'll dress up as her.

Freckles and Constellations

I fell asleep early and woke up at four o'clock this morning. When I brought my dog outside I saw the Big Dipper constellation on the horizon, it was tilted on its handle, pouring milk into the sky. Perhaps God is left handed and pours the milk towards the handle. Who knows how it's done in the sky. Who said it was milk in the sky? I did. I guess with the Milky Way and my love of cows I just imagined the big dipper was pouring milk. The trees are bare and the sky is freckled with stars. Imagine having your freckles read as constellations.

Fingerprints and Labyrinths

I picture everyone's head as a labyrinth. We grab onto our ear lobes, tilt our skulls, and the shiny little metal ball rolls, finding its way down another path, and then another, until it hits a dead end. Then we tilt and swirl and try to find the path again. We go through life tilting and turning trying to navigate the maze. Each person's labyrinth is as unique as the pattern and grooves of their fingerprint. This is why it's tricky to find out how to help a person. Although some people can look right at us and see our labyrinth. They can tilt our head and we get it.

She's Got Weimaraner In Her

My dog has tufts of hair growing between the pads of her paws. It makes traction difficult on linoleum, and the snow and ice collect there forming ice balls on her feet in the winter. Then she tries to walk without touching the ground! She'll lift one paw, then another, and then a different one, trying to lift off like Mary Poppins. I try to clean out her paws and that sometimes works, otherwise I carry her home. Last winter I got dog booties and we put them on her, which surprisingly she didn't mind. She's got Weimaraner in her, she doesn't mind getting dressed up. Anyway she ran like lightning, her usual speed, through the snowy cemetery. By the end of the walk the booties were shredded to bits and looked 1,000 years old. Maybe this year we should sew some out of leather scraps for her. Purple or green booties would look great with her red-brown fur. Maybe one yellow and one orange one too.

Monday, October 30, 2006


I know a few couples who keep nothing but a plastic gallon jug of spring water and a few condiments in their fridge. To me this would be like deciding to sleep on a box spring without pillows or a mattress. How can they live like that? Don't these folks ever eat? I know they do, they have invited me over for home-cooked gourmet meals.

When we were about to move into our house we were so excited and overwhelmed at the task ahead of us. We had to move our individual workspaces and our apartment into one location. We discussed a plan to move our workspaces slowly and methodically, while still living in our apartment, so as not to disrupt our lives. On the day of the closing, it finally hit me; we own a house! Oh my god, let's pack up the contents of the fridge into a cardboard box and go over there. We did! And as far as I was concerned we had moved. Over the next few days with the help of our friends, everything else followed. Home is where the fridge is.

I discovered that these nearly empty fridges belonging to these successful couples were not about busy lives; these couples didn't trust themselves around food. I'll admit I am a big snacker and continuous dreamer of food. I personally don't think there's anything wrong with a few dozen mini-lunches or supper-like snacks in a day. I have friends who say that's all well and good but I can't keep chocolate in the house. Another will say I can't keep cheesecake in the house. Another will say I can't keep ice cream in the house. I confess, I can't keep cauliflower in the house! Yes it's true, it never even makes it from the grocery bag into the fridge. As soon as I get home it's like I've been let out of a twenty-year prison sentence, missing and craving an important vitamin only present in cauliflower. I rip apart the hard white brain, after mixing up a blend of mayonnaise and ketchup into the inexplicably-named Russian dressing, and I dunk the white brain clusters into the pink goo and chow down happily until it's all gone.

Crisp and Blurry

Most people remember their first kiss, or their first beer. I remember my first cup of tea, which immediately led to my first cup of coffee. I was 16. I can't believe this is legal, I thought! A door had opened and I wanted more. In high school, while my friends were taking drugs and drinking, I was plugging in the coffee pot as my parents drove out of the driveway. My skin tingled and I could focus and concentrate. I could paint three paintings in a day and in between dance wildly to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. I loved it! I thought I had found my first God. I started making more paintings and pastel drawings under the influence of my newfound beverage and wondered if I could ever work without it.

Yesterday a kind man with sleepy eyes who I've seen regularly at the jams bought my husband and me each a beer. We had just shared one, which is usually about right for the night, and here we were, each with another. I smiled and thanked him and wondered where I would hide it or pour it when he wasn't looking. Maybe if it takes me three hours to drink that will be about right. But would it stay cold? To me that's the best part about beer, the ice cold temperature and the bubbles. After a few sips my edges start to blur. I guess people want this. I prefer the sensation of crispness most of the time. We had another jam to go to and shortly after arriving I felt really sleepy. I asked the waitress for a cup of black coffee. Ah, yes. The coffee gave me a sensation of crispness, creating a boundary on my skin and a calming sensation in my torso. I sat up straight. No more blurry edges. I spotted a piece of Halloween chocolate in an orange plastic pumpkin head sitting on my table and nibbled it with my sips of hot black coffee.

But it's not just the beverages themselves that are enjoyable but the associations and combinations that can enhance the experience. Even the hours in between can make enjoying these pleasures all the more delightful. That may be what defines a ritual. For me swimming enhances my enjoyment of hot tea and coffee, and playing music and sweating makes drinking an ice cold beer quite refreshing. My husband used to enjoy a late lunch after a day of teaching science at a local high school. He'd walk home, make a sandwich, and enjoy it with a beer while sitting in the bathtub.

Ritz Crackers and Canned Laughter

My pal Rachel told me she's baking Woonsocket French-Canadian meat pies with a special ingredient; Ritz Crackers. This reminded me of how much I loved Ritz Crackers when I was a kid. I'd always take three at a time out of the waxy paper tube and shove them in my mouth all at once, chewing madly. Then I'd stick out my tongue while looking in the heavy glass mirrored light-switch plate, on the white tile wall of our kitchen. This was also the age when my sister and I would tune into I Love Lucy on the black and white television set that was often hidden but occasionally wheeled out of my parents bedroom closet. TV was considered a bad thing in our household so, wanting to be a good girl, I tried not to pay full attention to it. I would stare in another direction while my sister watched with rapt attention. But not wanting to be fully left out either, whenever I'd hear the audience laugh, I would force a laugh, chiming in with the canned laughter.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Coinciding Dents

Have you ever driven in traffic and have a car turn towards you dangerously, and you notice they already have a dent exactly where they are about to hit you? What a metaphor for the human psyche. We have to watch out that we don't keep falling back into the same dent.

I knew a couple who got hit on the right side of their car as they were making a right turn into their driveway. So they decided their driveway was very dangerous and they would, from that point on, drive around the block, face the traffic and always turn left into their driveway. When we went over for dinner they warned us to do the same but I never would, it seemed ridiculous to me. Then one day I figured out what must have happened. When planning to turn right, they must have turned left to make a big spacious loop in order to turn right, not realizing that the car behind them really believed they were turning left and thereby attempted to pass them on the right. Because they never examined what they did wrong in order to prevent it from recurring, they just continually avoided turning right. Many people run their lives this way. A guy we met from Manhattan said I was in Brooklyn once I got a parking ticket there, I'm never going back!


When I was six I visited my biological father and he explained reincarnation to me. My first thought was that I'd come back as a coffee pot. The coffee pot was always sitting beside me at the breakfast table. I loved the distortions and reflections I saw when looking into the shiny metal percolator. I would stare into it moving my face and fingers. It was my little fun-house mirror.

Now I only think about reincarnation when I think about suicide. But as I told a friend one day, I'm convinced that if I dared to take my life, I'd probably be reincarnated as a cockroach. Not just any cockroach, a NYC cockroach! What a horrible thought. I remind myself of this on my darkest days, to make myself laugh, when a jump off the bridge almost seems appealing, rather than having to endure any more psychic pain.

Slow Down

Preconceived notions and expectations get me in trouble because they are self-defeating. I tell myself to surrender all the pictures I have of friendship, success, how my workdays ought to go, the definition of a balanced meal, and the importance of matching socks! All of these plans should be shed like snake skin. Hit the refresh button and update yourself to reality.

It seems everything takes longer in real life and we are continually trying to live up to our minds-eye's speedometer. Do dairy farmers have this problem? They are pastors of the pasture, ministers of the earth. You can't rush a cow giving milk. Hey, where are we all rushing off to anyway? Maybe the day should be 48 hours long with two chunks of sleep. Would that help slow us down? How about a day of not looking at clocks, just relying on our own circadian rhythms? This weekend we move the clocks backwards, out of daylight savings time, to daylight wasting time. I don't mind, I actually like the early morning brightness and the early night can feel cozy when you are able to keep warm.


We receive signals all the time yet can we receive each other? Can we stop, look into each other's eyes and really listen. Is there room? Or are we preoccupied, swirling in our own tornados, where it's just too windy to focus, concentrate, or receive what is all around us.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Colorful World

If I ever stole decorative kale I'd get caught and have to go before the judge and say yes sir I was stealing purple and green kale from the grounds of the local office park. I'd explain that I'm sorry but he must know how delicious it is steamed and eaten with olive oil and salt. Better to feed a hungry artist than decorate a parking lot!

Last night we went to a jam and one of the guitar players was introduced as The Judge. He wore a black coat and tie, and had rosy cheeks and shiny shoes. It's true he really is a judge. He was enjoying a beer, had loosened his tie, whipped out his guitar, and rocked out! I imagined him deciding the fate of people's lives and then pictured him playing his electric guitar in the courtroom! I realized how close-knit this community is and I love it! If I ever got in trouble for stealing kale I hope he'd be my judge. Or is that against the rules?

There used to be a lifeguard at our local YMCA who was also a lawyer and a nun. One day she gave me a lift on her motor-scooter. My glamorous realtor friend plays competitive soccer a few nights a week. A few women friends of mine grew up taking apart and working on cars with their dads. A food writer friend of mine wades in hip boots to go fly fishing in the river whenever she gets a chance. A wacky unemployed smart guy I know is obsessed with keeping a collection of hundreds of orchids. A guy I met at a Christmas party is a criminal prosecutor by day and a Sunday bread baker. He loves to cultivate his own sourdough yeast from grape skins. I was at a jam recently and met a beautiful young woman sitting with her sax-playing boyfriend. We were chatting and I asked her about her work. It turns out she's a police-woman and she wants to play the sax too. I told her go for it! One day I was walking my dog in the cemetery and one of the local cops was parked there. We got chatting and he told me he dreamt of writing a book. Do it, I said. Listen to that voice and follow it. It makes for a very colorful world.


Now that our faith in spinach has been shaken, let me say a few words about kale. What an amazing and delicious green vegetable and so inexpensive too! It's not as fragile and perishable as spinach. It's a hearty robust green. It's loaded with important vitamins, B6, calcium, iron, vitamin A. If you steam it in a pressure cooker it takes three minutes. Then I like to douse it with olive oil and kosher salt or soy sauce and enjoy it with gusto! Popeye never had it so good. Save the green kale water from steaming, it has vitamins too. You can drink it salted as a hot broth or use as a base for soup or as the water used in baking bread. I've often thought if I were really in a fix I could "liberate" the purple and green kale bouquets planted as decoration around office parks.

Soul Food

I tell myself that pursuing my artistic dreams feeds me and this is an important form of soul food. In this crazy world it's crucial to nourish my soul. This is why I play in the jams, this is why I write. I ask myself, what is most important in my life? Will I nurture and grow it, and keep it alive? I need not be Mozart in order to play music and I need not be Julia Child to play in my kitchen. I wouldn't expect that of anyone. So I won't put that kind of burden on myself.

At the jams things are often chaotic and not at all predictable. Sound volumes shift burying some, accentuating others, some hosts get drunk or stoned losing track of who plays next. Some musicians thrive on the chaos and others are exasperated by it and some jam hosts have much better leadership qualities than others. One friend said for him the chaos of the jam is a microcosm of the chaos of his day-to-day life and he finds it refreshing to practice coping with whatever flies at him. I try to tame my level of expectation before I go to the jam and remember I'm there to be brave and to learn, and it's often really fun! Some nights at the jam I look around and it's magical. We're all playing music and people are dancing. There's color, light and sound and we're all one joyous sonic love cluster moving like happy bugs. Hey, The Sonic Love Clusters could be a band name!

When I hit a wrong note I often laugh. I am a beginner so I have many awkward and inexperienced notes flying out of me! My fingers sometimes jump ahead, or switch keys dancing their own way. At first I thought everyone would banish me from the universe or drop down dead if I landed on a wrong note. You're convinced it's the worst possible thing but if you immediately correct it, you realize it's not so criminal after all, it's actually kinda funny and besides, life goes on. The notes vanish. It's not like you have to step over the pile of them on your way home.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Share Your Bread

Last night we walked Honey in the dark to the local pharmacy to get mini Dove dark chocolates to enjoy with a shot of piping hot black coffee. Chocolate is a cold weather comfort. I've heard that in Spain and Mexico and France chocolate is a food! We should learn from this. What are they doing at the UN? Where's the international council on chocolate? That proves it, we need more women in office.

I'm kissing the Earth, grateful that my autumnal post-summer blues have dissipated into a focused contentment. Today I appreciate everything, even dust! It makes such a difference to be engaged in what you really care about. It is horrible to hate your job. I've been there, it's a prison and a cancer that spreads into hating your life and everyone around you. Pay attention to what you love and follow it like a bloodhound even if the scent goes up a tree.

Speaking of trees, this morning the cemetery caretaker was surprised to see me so early. He was just arriving to deal with the infinite piles of fallen leaves. The headlights were still lit on his truck. He asked me if I saw anyone sleeping on a grave. I said no. He said yesterday he found a homeless man passed out on the grass behind one of the headstones. Maybe the guy was practicing for his next journey. The caretaker called the police, and the policeman apparently kicked the man's shoe three times to wake him up. Maybe he was a deep sleeper. The caretaker said these homeless guys get a check every month, why don't they just rent an apartment together? I said maybe they are caught in a swirl and can't see the horizon. Y'never know what demons, addictions or mental illnesses people are fighting. Why is there such hostility for the down and out in this country? Are we that out of touch?

My grandfather had a little fans-and-motors store on the Bowery called United Blower, and when I visited him an occasional bum would wander in to use the bathroom in the back of the store. My grandfather said, "I give them a bathroom and I take them out for a good breakfast once in a while." Today I am thinking about charity and gratitude. Do we appreciate what we have? Can we share our bread with others? It's that simple.

As I kid I decided I was adopted and my mother was just keeping it from me. When I was five I tried this theory out on her. She adamantly denied it. As I got older I searched for clues in our family photographs. I saw my legs and blue eyes were like my grandfather's. My eye sockets and toes resembled my mothers. I'll always be an orphan inside, but I am my grandparents' child because they really loved me and accepted me.

Whenever I do something wise or good for myself and it seems to come out of left field, I say it's my inner grandmother guiding me. Like when I suddenly decided to put a three-dollar ad in the local paper, "looking for accordion," and a sweet old French lady named Madeline called me and offered me hers. And then five years later, I decided I just had to find an old bari sax, and I did. And more recently when I needed to rejoin the Y.

We all have an inner mother and an inner father, but we also have the inner demon mother and the inner demon father and we must house, clothe and feed them all.


One night at a jam my trombone-playing pal emptied his spit valve. It let out a steady steam of moisture into the arch of my left shoe. I told him what just happened and roared. You couldn't do that if you tried! I have a fantasy of playing in an all girl brass band, inspired by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. We'd call ourselves The Spit Valves.

I am fascinated by quiet early morning hours the way my musician friends are fascinated by late night hours, it's the same hours but we come at them from opposite sides of the day. I had a friend who was searching for months for an affordable apartment in NYC finally he was offered one if he legally promised to be out by nine AM each day and he could return no earlier than five PM. Someone else would be renting his apartment as an office by day! With my hours, perhaps I could share one of these apartments with one of my musician friends.

This morning I walked through the cemetery admiring the hydrangea as my dog ran ahead of me tracking the scent of a deer. The trees are golden and reddish and varying shades of orange. The rose-colored bouquets of hydrangea are drooping and dry and their leaves are turning from green to a limy yellow. The plant looks like old-fashioned couch upholstery. Looking around at the autumn trees I feel as if I'm walking through a sepia photograph. The clouds parted, revealing an early morning orange light, accentuating the tint.

The tone and color of a voice have a huge impact on me. The more resonant tones draw me in. I have a friend with a voice so beautiful I could ask him to read the phone book and not be bored. This is primal stuff. His voice lights up my torso like a pinball machine. What if we all just murmured and growled and barked for a day. I bet we'd understand each other perfectly from the tones and textures. My dog does.

Sometimes I think singing and dancing are primal art forms, because your body is the ultimate tool. There's no need to buy canvas, paints brushes, reeds, all that expensive stuff. It's just you and your body! If I tried to sing, and I want to, I fear bugs and furniture would suddenly fly out of my mouth. I used to sing along with Patsy Cline in my blue VW Bug. The sound would bounce back off the shallow windshield amplifying my tones. Sometimes when I was really angry I'd scream at the top of my lungs while driving. Cars are both magnificent sound studios and tanks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mud Flap Maiden

I woke refreshed at three-fifty this morning after having narrative dreams; I was dictating to my blog head the virtues of pressure-cooking beans, and my dog was scratching a flea. I love waking at four. It's as quiet as a Sunday morning.

I am out of working elastic in my bras and have been putting off replacing them. It's only been 12 years, jeez if they made them out of metal they would last a century! This morning I discovered the torpedo bra I had bought years ago to wear in my 50's dresses. I put it on and I looked like a woman in a racy comic strip. It's hilarious! Lifting these mud flaps up, I can see my hips again! I'm a blogging mud flap maiden!

Pressure cookers are another amazing invention. For years I've threatened to bring my 27 year old Presto Pressure Cooker to demonstrate steam cookery at the annual Steam-Up at the Steam and Wireless Museum. I did teach a pressure cooking class once. It was fun. We made applesauce in three minutes, brown rice and beans in 20 minutes, steamed kale in three minutes and lamb stew in nineteen minutes! My friend visited Tibet and when she got up in the mountains the monks were cooking yak meat and barley in gigantic pressure cookers. One day a few years ago I wrote a fan letter to Presto telling them my passion for my Presto cooker. They asked me if I minded if they hung my letter in the lobby at their headquarters.


Swimming has brought my thoughts back to bodies and the beach. My Grandmother Sophie took me to Brighton Beach when I was five and she bought me a huge thin flat potato knish from the knish man. He was walking the beach shouting "Hot knishes, Get your hot knishes here." He had a tattered shoulder strap attached to a banged up insulated metal box that held warm knishes wrapped in large pieces of waxed paper. It was summer. I remember when we approached the water I noticed all the bodies; especially the old men and old ladies. Everyone was swimming or standing in the water. Some old ladies were wearing black dresses in the water. It was my first exposure to the urban ocean of Brooklyn's Bombay. Grandma would always carry a Tupperware quart bottle of water in her beach bag and after our swim she'd have us sit on the boardwalk bench while she rinsed the sand off of our feet before we returned to her apartment. We weren't allowed to go inside the regular front lobby entrance when we were in our bathing suits. We went behind the building down the cool back alley to the gray basement laundry room to catch the elevator.

Body Knowledge

One of my favorite sensations I remember from when I was a kid was swimming in a cold pond and then laying down on a hot dry dock in the sun. The feeling of having swum gave me a sensation of inner peace that I have never found any other way, this is what brings me back into the water. One night I was treading water in a cold pond for a long time feeling just my own warmth gushing out of my neck. I loved it. I felt heat all around me while being immersed in the cool. I love cold water on my skin, it helps me know the physical boundaries of where I am, where skin meets water or when walking outside on very cold days, where air meets skin. The YMCA pool is a very warm 83 degrees so I often feel like I am swimming in semi-congealed chicken soup or warm turquoise jello. The water is heavy and yet it's holding me up. The boundaries are blurry.

The body is one big antenna, satellite dish, or what I call a ziti. We pick up signals, stuff flows though us, and zaps us all the time. The conscious mind is continually trying to decipher sensations or ignore them! Our job is to be the ziti and the antenna and serve the flow of energies. When I'm painting a picture my color choices come from my abdomen. When I play my horn I feel low notes in my calves and I shake my legs. Dancing is fun and I have accidentally danced my way into various states of body euphoria. There's a particular sensation that seems to be triggered when I tilt my head back in the height of a dancing froth. It originates in my neck and drops down. Then I get a gigantic slow gut rush up through my abdomen and spine, it feels like the Earth and the sky momentarily exchange places through me, creating what I call a body-gasm. Hey, let's dance! Playing music is swimming in sound. Recently I was watching and listening to a guitar player take a solo at a jam. I had a gut rush from my groin through the top of my head, whoosh. I was startled, but I kept on playing.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sourdough Starter

I baked my first loaf of bread when I was fifteen. It was for my tenth grade art class banquet. I made the wheat soy sesame bread from Diet for a Small Planet and it came out perfectly. Round risen golden loaves with the ultimate perfume. I was hooked and have been baking bread ever since. A few years ago I decided, reluctantly, to cultivate a sourdough starter. Since I've got no patience for house plants I was skeptical. But I kept this jar of pale mud in my fridge and basically I left it alone. If I was baking bread I'd use a blob of the starter and replenish it. Over time I'd lose track of it but it didn't die. I was secretly disappointed. I didn't want another thing to have to maintain. I continued to use it and replenish it, making bread with an occasional blob. The instructions say if three weeks have gone buy without using it throw out a blob and replenish it so it won't sour to death. I can't throw anything out, so I keep making bread with a sourdough blob thrown in. Years have gone buy and the taste of the starter has developed into a deep sour, giving the loaves an amazing flavor that develops over the week as we eat it; it gets better rather than going stale. I can't break the culture of yeast now! I realized this jar of starter has been keeping me baking bread. Maybe that’s the real reason why they call it starter.

We Cultivate These Things

I'm having a public love affair with life. I am writing in large bold type while wearing my glasses. I am in my plaid pajamas and summer bathrobe with a mug of hot weak naked tea beside me. The house is cold but feels good like an icy swim on my skin. I feel heat from my neck and goosebumps. I have eleven years of dust and paper piles in my office. I'm still wearing jeans from the Carter administration. I need to find a shoemaker.

Writing is freedom. We have unbelievable freedom in this country. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise even if they have advanced degrees. We can write paint and dance the way we want. It’s easy to forget this and be sucked up into the cultural indoctrination surface swirl. Dive deep and examine your thighs, and your thoughts.

When I first started writing I used to get up every few minutes and go to the window to check and make sure my mother was not out there with a gun aimed right at me. One day I saw a man on the street pointing at my house and nearby properties, he was looking up and down the street. I was sure he was the hired assassin assessing his angle for the kill. That’s when I knew writing was very important and I must continue. As a kid I would only write my dreams in my sketchbook and even those were psychoanalyzed. But now I am free to write, I am no longer living under a fascist regime.

Freedom doesn't take the fear away, it includes the fear. But we must use the combustible mix of fear, joy, love, and rage energies with a heavy dose of compassion, tolerance, and patience. Every day a kaleidoscope, a new mix of weather, news, emotions, hungers, dreams and fears. We are walking palettes and the brushes are in our hands.

Underwater Musings

This is my first attempt at sonar. I write because I am often lonely and I love the company of words. Words are little sparks of sound with meaning, each with an ancestral heritage of its own. I write because it’s how I feel my way through the dark. Words are my path of bread crumbs which may lead me out of the forest or in deeper.

I would like to remain a ticklish dolphin well into my old age, swimming in the underwater sun patches at my local YMCA pool. I love to see the ancient ladies methodically swimming laps, flowing through the turquoise tinted water. Just to be near them is equal to being fed chicken soup by five grandmothers. These ladies swim daily. Some have translucent skin with blue and green veins, bruises, scars, and brittle bones. They all have rosy cheeks and hearty laughs. They are beautiful. This is the chlorinated community church of the underwater aqua mamas.

Life is not the thing that begins after you ban leaf blowers and clear away junk mail. Life includes all the things that come along including fear and centipedes. Life is now. I tell myself; swim, write, paint, play your horn, cultivate courage in spite of fear, celebrate absurdity, imagination, and have fun. Laugh and learn. Find out who you are. What else are we here for?

Sometimes I wake at 4 am, and I mix up a batch of sourdough and realize the mailmen and milkmen are already beginning their day and my musician friends are just getting to sleep, and I am upside down from the perspective of those living on the other side of the planet.