Thursday, May 31, 2007

Metaphoric Vision

I've often thought of those old-fashioned stereoscopic 3D viewers with the two matched sepia images as a metaphor for my divided psyche, the receive and transmit halves. These two parts combine together to create 3D, to make up the whole of my vision; life in one eye, death in the other, or receiving with one eye, transmitting with the other. If you cover one eye you eliminate visual depth. Both eyes are needed for the full vision.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Quote of the Day

Artists don't get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.

     - Stephen DeStaebler

Writing Memorial

I caught Maxine Hong Kingston being interviewed by Bill Moyers on public television the other night. She has been involved with getting war veterans and widows to write their stories, and the healing has been astounding. She talked about the magic and power of writing. Everything she said rang true for me and I was moved and inspired. I find that truth cuts through everything, and I thirst for it.

I'm a Two-Headed Beast

I am in the difficult head place and I must examine this again. I don't want to shy away from the healing powers of writing especially when I need it the most. It is painful switching over and adjusting to my receive head. I told myself if you are in receive mode then receive! Read, listen, watch; nourish your other house. I'm beginning to suspect it's been a family secret that a few of us have the two heads and we hate it and try to make the other head go away. For me the attempt to eliminate one of the heads caused a lot of damage and seemed wrong, so I am determined to take up the challenge and explore both.

For one thing, I do all of my painting in the often-painful noisy receive head. It's as if a door opens at those times and I descend into the dungeon, to the dark dank room with the prowling tigers, and I walk in and paint with my brush-sword. I adjust over the weeks and then it seems less painful and more normal and I get my most difficult work done. I can't seem to find that door in the transmit head because at those times I am gushing physical energy, and the sensory stimuli are loud and joyous and distracting. The obvious choice is to love the transmit energy and hate the receive, but God didn't ask me which I like better, inviting me to choose so we could kill off the other head. He created me with two heads, and I am determined to explore and know the nuances well, to appreciate the gifts of both. No war; my inner Hatfields and McCoys must share.

My husband says I am still me. It's as if I'm an island. The weather may change but I am still the island. But weeks of hurricanes and then weeks of sunshine is still a profound contrast and challenge to this little island. The island is strong, though, and built for contrasting weather.

I'm going to illuminate as much as I can, like an archaeologist digging in a cave with a hand-held lantern, prowling in my own psyche. There are cave paintings and treasures and scary dark corners but I'm not turning back.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Facing the Day

There are times when I'd like to hide under my bed rather than face the day. It's when the inner amplification of my haunted thoughts is blaring loud, and fear and suffering take a front row seat. I call it the mental flu. It happens when moving from transmit energy to receive energy. At these times I am faced with a barrage of overwhelm and worry. I am trying to remind myself that I can deal and the days will brighten. They already have, and today I swam in the clear turquoise-tinted waters of the pool. While I was there I chatted with swimmers Don and Mary. Both are elderly, vibrant, devoted swimmers.

Mary, a former nurse, stepped out of the ladies room cautiously, assisted by her walker, and lowered herself into the pool at the ladder. She walked in the water, repeating a short path while lifting blue foam triangular barbell weights. Today the young lifeguard gave her goggles and she put them on. I teased her, saying that she looked like an aviator or a raccoon. She laughed and explained how amazing her vision is now that she's had her cataracts removed. She said colors had become more vivid, and she was now able to distinguish between violet and blue. She said she must have been wearing clashing colors before the eye surgery! Her reading and distance vision had improved too. I said now you can read lips from down the block! I told her I had read about a man who regained his sight after being blind most of his life, and how he now struggles with organizing the barrage of visual information. Maybe it's not unlike my overwhelming transition into receive energy, struggling to make sense of the incoming noise.

I asked Don about a mutual friend, and then he talked to me about how all his friends living in the nearby elderly apartments have slightly different living arrangements, appealing variously to each. By the time I left the pool I was filled up with the cheer of others and feeling pretty buoyant!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Quote of the Day

There are two ways to live your life - one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.

     - Albert Einstein

The Mistress's Daughter

The library called Friday to say the copy of The Mistress's Daughter, a memoir by A.M. Homes, had come in. I read it in one sitting. It's amazing, courageous and powerful. The author took me on a journey and I am not the same for having gone there. Her voyage illuminated and healed some parts of mine. This to me is the epitome of a great book. Thank you A.M. Homes.

Cold Swim, Hot Tea

I am day-dreaming about long distance swimming. There's nothing like a long cold swim followed by a cup of hot tea.

It is gray today. It is comforting to have a blanket of clouds over me after so many days of bright sunshine. It is cozy.

I saw the newborn baby cows when I got milk for my tea. One calf was so delicate she looked like a young deer. Her fur was all shiny and clean from the rain.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Two days ago I was in a dark mood. I took a long walk with Honey and found a book at a yard sale for a dollar, it was by the Dalai Lama! Dalai for a dolla! I read it on the couch when I got home. Eventually I fell into a deep sleep, and woke up to the sound of a woman cross-country skiing on an exercise machine on the third-floor porch across the street.

Yesterday I was reading more of the Dalai Lama book I found for "a dolla" at the yard sale. Maybe I should realize I was not unlucky to have had such a difficult childhood. I was granted the opportunity to push back with the fires of compassion, love, and joy.

The lilacs are bursting in our yard. We planted the bushes twelve years ago when Bill's sister gave us pieces of her plants. The neighborhood kids had been plucking bouquets of them for Mother's Day! I don't mind, there's plenty of blossoms for everyone.

Our neighbor Armand gave us a dozen raspberry suckers to plant. He dug them up from his pristine garden, and then fleshed out our collection with sprouts of dill, Greek oregano, and cilantro. Bill cleared the leaves and twigs and planted the herbs. We discovered our asparagus has come up again! We harvested a bunch and ate them like carrots sticks and also enjoyed them in cheddar cheese sandwiches.

Today's Food Cravings!

A Peanut Noodle Dish

I boiled a pound of whole-wheat angel hair pasta in four quarts of salted water until al dente. At the same time I steamed three heads of fresh broccoli, until tender. I let it all cool, then combined the broccoli and noodles and poured on homemade peanut sauce.

Homemade Garlic Lime Peanut Sauce

I put in a blender 3/4 cup natural peanut butter, a sprinkle of red chili flakes, a few peeled cloves of fresh garlic, freshly squeezed lime juice (3 limes), a chunk of fresh ginger (the equivalent of a tablespoon), a teaspoon each of salt and sugar. I buzzed it all in the blender, adding water until the consistency was right.

You can eat this hot or cold, with a garnish of fresh cilantro or fresh parsley sprigs.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Little Hollywood

This morning my neighborhood is a hoppin' Hollywood movie set. It's so trippy and fun. There's a camera crew, actresses dressed up as prostitutes standing around getting their makeup touched up, trucks with equipment trailers with dressing rooms, the whole deal right here on our street. We watched with binoculars from the roof over the 2nd-floor front porch.

They're here to film an episode for a cable television drama called The Brotherhood. The former Lauzon funeral parlor has been turned into a fictitious Asian massage parlor, and the new Asian video store, next door to Joe's Moldy Oldies, now has a worn neon Motel sign over the window. As the film crew has discovered, our neighborhood is already a time warp on most days.

I'm out of touch with popular culture so I don't know about the show but I do appreciate the hard work that it takes to make this stuff happen, especially the cooperation between people. It's like observing the workings of an ant colony!

Grrr . . .

I am struggling to deal with the wild beasts that have made a home in my painting studio over the past four weeks. Now there's four full-sized hungry growling tigers pacing angrily in there, ready to devour me. They make me grouchy and snarly until I start feeding them oil paintings, then we do okay.

If it does not feed the fire
of your creativity, then leave it.
If people and things do not
inspire your heart to dream,
then leave them.

-  -  -

if what you do and how you live does not feed the fire
in your heart and blossom into poems,
leave, quit, do not turn back,
move fast away from that which would mold your gift,
break it, disrespect it, kill it.

     - Jimmy Santiago Baca, from the poem Ten,
       in Healing Earthquakes, Book V

Monday, May 07, 2007


My life is one big prayer; that I can keep on pouring out and ingesting art, words, and music. I am trusting this, even in the face of fear and danger.

Leaping Cows

I've been invited to a cow-leaping party in Randolph Vermont on Mother's Day. It's when the cows come out of the barn to dance for the first time in Spring! I might have to go and dance with them, serenade them on the baritone sax.


I am trying to develop another set of eyes to observe my fierce emotions and behaviors. Rather than react immediately and blindly, I try to step back and watch. It's a bit of space, and slack, like loose skin on a puppy.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spring Recipes

When I am out walking for miles I am often inspired to bake and cook when I get home. Here are a few simple recipes.

Fantastic Potato Salad

Spring is the season for fantastic potato salad. I make mine in the five-quart Presto pressure cooker that I've had for 27 years! This potato salad recipe came with my cooker. It's ready in five minutes and tastes even better when chilled. I put the steamer tray into the cooker and pour in water to the brim of the tray (about two cups). Then I take a bunch of red-skinned potatoes (about 6 or 8) and chop them into chunks and put them on the steamer tray in the cooker. I chop an onion or two and add it. Then, in another container I mix a tablespoon of mustard, 1/4 cup of vinegar, a bloop (tablespoon) of olive oil, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon or two of sugar. I sometimes add a teaspoon of celery seed too. I add the mixture to the cooker, then seal it and bring it to steam. I let it cook at full pressure for five minutes, then cool it immediately. What I don't eat right away I put into the fridge to enjoy later, cold.

Corn Bread with Apples

I am a corn freak. There's nothing like fresh moist wholesome cornbread eaten with an Empire apple. I preheat my oven to 400 degrees. I mix together 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal, 1 cup whole-wheat flour, three teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup corn oil, 1 cup milk, and 1 beaten egg, then pour it all into a small square greased Pyrex dish or a preheated greased cast-iron skillet. You can also double the recipe! This recipe bakes for 30-35 minutes or 45-50 minutes when doubling the recipe. You can also bake it in a muffin pan for 15-20 minutes.

Refreshing Spring and Summer Tea

I use frozen lemonade concentrate to make lemonade, and mix it half-and-half with a cooled-down quart of brewed Tetley tea (3 tea bags brewed for five minutes). I add fresh mint if I have it.You can also try Tetley tea brewed and added to cold apple juice and fresh mint.

Cucumber Salad

Speaking of mint (which is already growing like crazy), I like to make a simple sliced-cucumber salad with mint, yogurt, salt, and pepper. I prefer the English cucumbers, the ones wrapped in plastic in the store, until fresh garden ones are available.

Bridal Fitness Camp

I saw an advertisement for a Bridal Fitness Camp! Imagine eight weeks bunking in a strip mall, pumping iron with other brides-to-be! Sounds competitive. I'd only be interested if it was pumping iron with the grooms-to-be! Perhaps the grooms should just chase their brides up and down the streets for eight weeks. They could run across the Sahara desert. Some water company could sponsor it.

Quotes of the Day

My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be comic stories the next.

     - Nora Ephron

Be regular and orderly in your life so you may be violent and original in your work.

     - Gustave Flaubert

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

First Spring

This feels like my first Spring. I am enjoying the trees, the buds rapidly changing into leaves and flowers. For many years I have been miserable in the Spring (not sure exactly why although I have theories), but this year (so far) I am not.

Quotes of the Day

If your everyday life seems poor to you, do not accuse it; accuse yourself, tell yourself you are not poet enough to summon up its riches; since for the creator there is no poverty and no unimportant place.

     - Rainer Maria Rilke

One of the most wicked destructive forces, psychologically speaking, is unused creative power. If someone has a gift and out of laziness, or for some other reason, doesn't use it, the psychic energy turns to sheer poison.

     - Marie-Louise Von Frantz

Body Prose

I love to walk. It's like writing with my body.

I walked Honey through downtown one day last week and made a loop that added up to five miles! I carried my morning iced coffee with me in my thermos mug. I like looking at people's funky houses and yards. I am not at all interested in walking through pristine suburban neighborhoods, I much prefer the gritty urban neighborhoods that tell an interesting story; the tumble-down fish-and-chips shack with the busted screen and grimy windows, the house with the Madonna and Child in a Plexiglass box on the front yard, the tiny barber shop full of guys hanging out.

I am grateful for fresh air; perhaps it is what every asthmatic feels. I get ideas when I am out walking, absorbing a neighborhood. The flowering trees makes the city look like it's having a wedding.

Later in the day I saw a hot-nachos truck drive by and I dyslexically misread the "nacho" as "ancho." Hot Anchovies! I imagined a stinky fish truck selling hot anchovies & sardines in the summer, going around the city like the ice-cream trucks!

I also saw two young urban deer eating in the woods on the edge of the highway. I imagined them sharing a leftover pizza! Speaking of dough; it pains me to hear of people being instructed to eliminate wheat from their diets. Wheat is not the enemy, unless you have celiac disease, which is actually rare. Wheat has been the dominant staple in this country and Europe for millenia; I wonder if in China people are told to not eat rice.

We saw the battleship in Fall River when we went to pick up my paintings. I always get a chill when I see it, huge and flat gray with guns. It terrifies me. My paintings had been hanging in a nearby cafe for a couple of months, and it was time to bring them home. We stopped to trace part of the river of Fall River, which is now mostly underground in this part of the city.

I made hummus: I pressure-cooked pre-soaked chic peas then blended them with fresh lemon juice, tahini, fresh garlic, and cumin. Fabulous! I ate home-made coleslaw for lunch with the hummus and a piece of my molasses route-66 bread. The loaf was one of a pair I baked for a friend for his 66th birthday. The sixty six was stenciled in flour on top! We played the Route 66 song for him at the jam.

Quotes About Writing

I love all men who dive. Any fish can swim near the surface, but it takes a great whale to go downstairs five miles or more.

     - Herman Melville

Words are, of course, the most powerful drugs used by mankind.

     - Rudyard Kipling