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!