Sunday, August 26, 2007

Quotes of the Day

The trick is to make time not to steal it.

     - Bernard Malamud

Art - the one achievement of man which has made the long trip up from all fours seem well advised.

     - James Thurber

If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He is not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he is really needed.

     - David Hockney

I don't believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one's aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism.

     - Virginia Woolf

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.

     - Iris Murdoch

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Too Loose

People tell me I am way too trusting and open, and reveal way too much about myself. When I was eleven I played theater games in a drama class. There was a game where everyone would make a circle around the person who is supposed to learn to trust the group. The person would climb a ladder to the top rung and fall backwards, to be caught by the whole group. When I climbed and fell backwards I was so loose and trusting my head touched the floor as I was caught. I didn't get hurt, but I always remembered it.

Cucumber Habit

I was going to buy two fifty-pound bags of flour at the baker's supply in Lincoln today. Not surprisingly they keep baker's hours, and had closed earlier than we were ready to go. So instead we walked to the Asian market on North Main Street, opposite Jaime Sullivan's meat market. We got two bags of bean sprouts, 6 blocks of fresh tofu, two bundles of scallions, 8 cucumbers, two packages of mushrooms, all for eleven bucks!! Bill carried it while I walked Honey. On the way home we found four stray tennis balls for Honey on the courts in Social Park! It was a good day.

Music Love Bomb

Justin and I had our two saxes going on stage last night at an outdoor party in Attleboro. I love to be underneath Justin's higher-pitched notiness with big baritone bops and long tones. My sound supports his, and it makes me happy to play a role I musically understand. I was lit up, whoopin' and hollerin' into the mouthpiece, dancing while playing with full energy. My thighs and feet and arms felt electric. Chris joined us on trombone. Bill played Hammond organ, Steve was on drums, Mark Jr on bass. Then at eleven-thirty a local beefy cop (right out of central casting) came and broke up the music.

Quotes of the Day

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

     -Jalaluddin Rumi

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.

     - Andre Gide

You say nothing is created new? Don't worry about it. With the mud of the earth, make a cup from which your brother can drink.

     - Antonio Machado

Gravity Defying Tomatoes

The little house on the side street behind Sunrise Bagel has a porch with two number-ten cans covered in decorative wrapping paper hanging from the ceiling. Each can has a tomato plant poking out of a hole in the bottom, yet growing up towards the light. I saw them in the spring when the owners first put them up, and I wondered if it would really work. The other day Honey and I walked by, and I saw that one tomato vine was loaded with green cherry tomatoes, and the other had plum tomatoes. Urban farming, how brilliant!

Blue Cow Yogurt

I have been visiting the Randall Lineback blue cows at the dairy farm, and making yogurt from their two-percent milk. I put it on everything; beans and hot sauce, gazpacho, fruit salad. It's my urban harvest!! And a form of cow worship. As a kid I experimented with growing sprouts and making bread, granola, and yogurt. My mother scolded me one day, "You can't eat yogurt for breakfast!" I retorted, Why not? People in India do!

The Scent Creates a Home

I'd be happy to be the village baker, and swap bread for milk and veggies. I'd gladly bake my breads for the town! I have often thought of making one of those clay beehive ovens and teaching kids to bake bread as community outreach. The smell of baking bread is one of the best anti-depressants I know. The scent creates a home!

This Too Will Pass

I am energetic and sensory and feeling very alive. Ragweed pollen has my hands and feet burning up! I don't mind. But in twelve weeks I will be slow and contemplative, quiet and inward, experiencing autumn molds and allergens. The wheel goes round and round.

Gut Rush

I think singing is the highest art form besides dancing. Using the body as your ultimate instrument is most admirable. I have always appreciated the voice. I love opera, and I would love to sing. A friend once said, with your laugh you can definitely sing! Finding a safe place to make sound definitely helps, like singing in the car. Bill suggested I sing along with the sax tunes I know when I'm practicing in the back room, and just sing the notes the way I play my sax. I tried this the other day and was surprised at how fun it was and how well it worked. At one point I felt the sound energy rush from my abdomen and gush up out the top of my head.

Social Animals

Recently, when Honey and I swam at 8 AM in the park, I noticed a man in a bathing suit hanging out opposite the pond. When he saw us jump in, he decided to swim also. It seemed like our swimming gave him permission to swim. That made me happy. We are, after all, social animals. We need the support of others.

Later I hung out on the green plastic bench at the group home around the corner with my pal Ray, aka The New Man. We sat on the bench with Honey at our feet and ate green olives with pimentos and peperoncini and orange juice, all of which he had brought out from his apartment. He gave me a handful of the trinkets which he finds in the street on his daily walks; assorted lugnuts and washers, a flip top that was cobalt blue, and a toy ring that fit on my pinky. He also likes to pick up broken glass, to protect the dogs from cutting themselves. He sorts it into piles of green and clear and brown on his windowsill. I've become very fond of Ray. He is always in the present and speaks quite slowly, so I find it very calming and enjoyable to talk with him. He has gigantic eyelashes framing his huge round sensitive eyes. His hair is gray but his eyebrows are black and bushy. He has no top teeth at all but his speech is fine.


Nearly all of my creative friends have some degree of bi-polar energy and mood swings. Maybe it is a good thing and not a disorder after all (except when it's extreme). What does it mean that this has been kept alive in our genes? When hypomania hit Vincent Van Gogh and Ludwig von Beethoven they didn't go shopping at the mall, they composed and painted and wrote. Is the bipolar cycle a remnant of our agricultural heritage? Now our society wants us to always be INDUSTRIOUS MANIC ROBOTS and just race time and spend money, have no yin to counterbalance our yang, no grief to offset and nourish our joy. The medicines are treating only half the cycle. We should be embracing and learning about the whole.


I bicycled to the grocery store to buy bananas. After I paid at the checkout, there was no sign of my bananas! The person in front of me had accidentally walked off with them. The checkout lady and I laughed!! She said just go get another bunch. But people will think I'm stealing, I said. So the cute bag boy offered to be my banana escort while I picked out another bunch of bananas.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Quotes of the Day

Physical violence can end even before we have learned the way of love, but psychological violence will continue until we do. Only outer peace can be had through law. The way to inner peace is through love.

     - Peace Pilgrim

Providing ways to help and support each other on our journeys to truth may be the highest form of love.

     - Rob Lehman

A Return to Love

When I first encountered this quote, it was attributed to Nelson Mandela. It turns out he was himself quoting it in his 1994 inaugural address.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

     - Marianne Williamson, from
       A Return to Love


They say if your only tool is a hammer, you're gonna treat everything like a nail.

I have been programmed by the consumer/commercial culture I live in to see myself in terms of illness; my mental and emotional states, attention span, temperament, physical attributes, age. Everything is an illness to be treated, an illness whose diagnosis and cure is a consumer commodity. I want to develop my soul and my awareness so I can be better able to examine myself in a healthy way, rather than get herded around like a sheep by the mega-corporation robots.

Blueberries, Blackberries, and a Lipstick Tattoo

I went into the backyard at dusk and the blueberry bush was drooping with berries. I feasted, imagining making hand-cranked blueberry ice cream with the neighborhood kids. I just might have to surprise them and get some cream and ice and salt and invite them to make it in the backyard!

Yesterday while walking Honey on the fire-road at the edge of the cemetery I spotted blackberries. Honey and I both feasted! She loves eating berries off the bushes and off the ground! Blackberries are so delicious! They look like those gigantic black ants. They dye my lips purple. Nature's lipstick!

Speaking of lipstick, my Grandmother Sophie would say it's nice to buy a lipstick at Woolworth's to cheer yourself up. I love what lipstick does for my face - it's the only makeup I wear, and it changes everything including my mood! I've imagined getting a tattoo of dark red on my lips, but that would ruin the fun, and probably hurt like hell. I once put on lipstick just before bed even though my bedroom is pitch black as I sleep! I wanted to feel beautiful in the dark! In the morning I laughed when I saw that the white pillowcases had lipstick smears on them.

Quote of the Day

In summer, the song sings itself.

     - William Carlos Williams

Farm Shade

When we first moved into our house, my husband asked me what shall we plant in our new yard? I said, anything edible; fruit trees, rows of corn, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes! I said, why mow the lawn and trim shrubs when you can be harvesting asparagus and plucking herbs, but I'm no farmer. When it comes to gardening I have no patience! I'd rather work or swim or bake or eat, than garden. We live in the city, and our yard was a vacant lot, a small and sandy pit. My husband imagined trees and bushes and began to cultivate them. He rescued shrubs and plants that he spotted on walks and drives. He even cultivated a crabapple tree from a lone crabapple! He planted cuttings donated by friends and relatives. He patiently collected, watered, and nurtured these plants which are now a gorgeous jungle of a backyard. The only trees in our neighborhood are here! We farm shade!!

Refrigerated Bedsheets

My pal Jenny told me that when she lived in the deep South she had no air-conditioning, so she and everyone she knew had another way to cool off at night. She would first soak and wring out her bedsheets and then put them in the freezer. Then she would take a cold shower, make her bed with her ice-cold sheets, turn on the fan, climb in, and hope she'd fall asleep before the sheets warmed up and dried.

Fish Out of Water

In this hot and humid weather I like to hose myself down with cold water in the backyard and then work at my desk soaking wet in front of the fan. Unfortunately I generate so much body heat that my bra mildews in an hour! But it's still worth it to be wet! I took Honey swimming in the park pond today. I love to see her shape when she comes out all shiny and wet. She is so sleek and trim. Some of the kids in the park were on a field trip to swim and picnic for the day. They were part of an inner-city day camp from South Providence. One boy, seeing that Honey was wet, said he had never seen a dog swim and asked me if I could get Honey to swim again. So we went to the part of the pond where Honey is allowed, found a stick, and he threw it for her a few times. Honey put on a real show, swimming in circles and retrieving the stick! The boy was amazed. When she got out I showed him her webbed feet, and how she uses them to swim.

My Garden is People

The local YMCA just asked me if I'd like to teach a class on illustration and writing being offered to local city teens for free. I told them I was interested. It will start this fall. I am inspired by Jimmy Santiago Baca and the amazing work he has done bringing literature to his community. My garden is people, right here in my city.

The Right Book

There is a special place in my heart for books that have been exactly the right book at the right time. I'm not sure how it works but I cherish it. A few days ago I woke up and my first thoughts were to look up Ram Dass. I still remember the day I read his book Be Here Now. I was in high school, and my parents were gone for the weekend. I lay down on their bed and read the book in one swoop. The top of my head blew off and I was never the same. I called my library, and they had a recent book of his called Still Here. I've inhaled it! He is a magnificent teacher.

I particularly love transformation memoirs, and one of my favorites is A Place to Stand, by Jimmy Santiago Baca. He is also a magnificent writer of poetry and short stories. He gave an inspiring lecture in December 2006 called The Power of Books. It's available on-line as a 35-minute audio file, provided by the Pima County Library on their website.

Speaking of memoirs and lectures, Julius Lester wrote an amazing memoir called Love Song, as well as many other books. Recently Julius published a fabulous lecture about Children's Literature on his blog, Olio.

A painter named Justin Clayton of Austin TX is posting a visual blog of his realist oil paintings, called Daily Paintings. I am so inspired by this. Habit is the muse, and this guy is demonstrating it!

Lazy Man's Summer Gazpacho

Refreshing, simple, inexpensive, and fast to make. Open 2 large cans of diced tomatoes and empty into a bowl, add a few bloops of olive oil, one large chopped cucumber, a quarter of a red or white onion chopped, a pinch of dried or fresh oregano, a generous dose of Cholula (or other) hot sauce, 2 cups of sweet corn fresh or frozen, a splash of red wine, salt to taste, mix it all together and refrigerate. Enjoy cold.

Smile Ache

Have you ever smiled so hard for so long your face hurt? My favorite band Brave Combo has recently produced another CD, Polka's Revenge. Talk about blowing the top of my head off! Their music changed my life by making me realize that I had to play music! I think of them as my five-headed muse. I've made a shrine to them in my living room, displaying all of their CD's, facing out, on my antique pump-organ.

Recurring Truth

When I was very young I had a recurring dream. I would be in my family's car with the whole family, driving along, except that no matter how hard I tried to stay seated, after a few seconds I would drift up through the roof, and couldn't get back down. My butt and the seat were like reverse magnets. I would try to seat myself, only to float up through the roof again. I understood this as an important message from my psyche.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Reagan Administration Pants

For nine years they were in my rag bag; my favorite blue jeans with the worn-out knees. Then I got an idea to sew large black denim patches over the knee holes so they would look like chaps! It turned out to be a lot of hand-sewing over seams and things and I am not patient!! So they rested in a pile, unfinished, on my sewing table, gathering dust for three years. Recently I took a look under the patches, and discovered that the holes underneath weren't actually so bad compared to my other old jeans that I wear regularly! So today it took me three minutes; I ripped the patches off with the amazing tool for undoing stitches. Now everyone will say; Wow you've got holes in your jeans, how fashionable!

Dreams Coming True

I always ask myself, what is it right under my nose that will make my dreams come true? I am thrilled to now have my books and my new little oil paintings selling in GiGi's Global Specialties Art and Gifts, a new shop right here in Woonsocket's historic and newly renovated Main Street. A dream come true! I think GiGi and her store are magical, and I have great hopes that her store will thrive. I have always wanted to print more postcards of my favorite paintings and maybe even silkscreen an Urban Mermaid T-shirt. This could be the venue! Maybe Bill and I could play music on the sidewalk for my art opening! Wednesday nights in the summer the whole of Main Street is closed off, becoming a pedestrian heaven, for the vintage car rally.