Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Poetry

The Balinese believe we are each accompanied at birth by four invisible brothers, who come into the world with us and protect us throughout our lives. The brothers inhabit the four virtues a person needs in order to be safe and happy in life: intelligence, friendship, strength, and poetry.
-Elizabeth Gilbert

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Listening

Today I am listening to the wind blow around a tin can, reading, grateful for the silences.

Laundry Cannon

This morning I was standing in the yard with Honey when I heard a boom that sounded like a cannon firing off. We both winced. I looked around and noticed my neighbors laundry basket full of clothes upright in the parking lot. Then I saw my neighbor drop another basket off his third floor porch, splitting the plastic. He drove off with three full baskets. End of the year laundry.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Age

The forties are the old age of youth and the fifties are the youth of old age. -Edward Hoagland

Monday, December 22, 2008

Peace Town

Nelsa Curbelo, a 66-year-old former nun and schoolteacher, took on the toughest young criminals in Ecuador’s most violent city—and won them over with love.
"Everything in society tells us to distrust others. I think it's the other way around. We need to profoundly trust in those around us, in their potential and in who they are," the grandmotherly Nelsa Curbelo Cora says. In 1999, she walked into the violence infested city of Guayaquil, Ecuador to BE peace. Through her grassroots work, many of Guayaquil's most dangerous gangs have disarmed, agreed to abandon violence--and now work together to rebuild their community!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

It is snowing rapid tiny snowflakes and I am baking tiny round sourdough pumpkin raisin breads.

Apes

It is even harder for the average ape to believe that he has descended from man.
H. L. Mencken

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow

The snow is gorgeous and still falling. It looks like whipped cream weighing down the branches of the evergreens. Neighborhood sounds are muffled.

Dark Dude

I spent the night reading Dark Dude, Oscar Hijuelos' new novel! I recommend it!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Time

The seat of my office chair, in use for twenty five years, is wearing out, my office rug is wearing out, and I am wearing out. As the Chinese say, "It's later than you think."
-H.L. Mencken

The World

The world is always ending; the exact date depends on when you came into it.
-Arthur Miller

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Poet Mary Oliver

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver

When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
-Mary Oliver

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dream

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
-Vincent Van Gogh

Ouija

A woman came into GiGi's Woonsocket shop and bought one of my favorite paintings called Ouija! What a great feeling! I feel appreciated and understood.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Titles

Mother, father, sister, brother, cousin, friend, these titles don't work for me. Bill points out that I am unusual because I am not tribal. He's right but I am communal. In my world people are people, not roles. It may be awkward for the folks who need the definition of a role to get their bearings but this is not how I navigate.

Remember

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
-Vincent Van Gogh

Deed

A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.
-Vincent Van Gogh

Dare

One must work and dare if one really wants to live.
-Vincent Van Gogh

Inner World

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.
-Gandhi

The Exotic

Brave Combo has a new CD just in time for the holidays. It's called The Exotic Rocking Life! Check it out!! Dance, dance, dance!

Marsupials

I have always been fascinated by marsupials. Yesterday I found out more on Wikipedia.
Marsupials' reproductive systems differ markedly from those of their placental mammal cousins (Placentalia). Females have two vaginas, both of which open externally through one orifice but lead to different compartments within the uterus. Males generally have a two-pronged penis, which corresponds to the females' two vaginae. The penis is used only for discharging semen into females, and is separate from the urinary tract. Both sexes possess a cloaca, which is connected to a urogenital sac used to store waste before expulsion.

Pregnant females develop a kind of yolk sac in their wombs, which delivers nutrients to the embryo. Marsupials give birth at a very early stage of development (about 4–5 weeks); after birth, newborn marsupials crawl up the bodies of their mothers and attach themselves to a nipple, which is located inside the marsupium. There they remain for a number of weeks, attached to the nipple. The offspring are eventually able to leave the marsupium for short periods, returning to it for warmth and nourishment.

Clean The Machine

Walking many miles and sleeping many hours brings poetry back into my soul.

Fruit Crate Labels

Dover books published a book of fruit crate labels. The graphics are so inspiring. Typography meets illustration with a bit of humor.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Serenading Skaters

I walked Honey through town and saw the skaters in the park. I want to serenade them with my accordion on the huge empty stage overlooking the rink! The parks department loves the idea. I'll have to convince Bill it isn't too cold at 23 degrees. I'm not sure our instruments would forgive us.

These long nights are perfect for baking and cooking. Last night I made chocolate pudding pie in a whole wheat crust. Tonight, apple pie.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Light Mood

This time of year I often become a Grinch. My mood usually descends in November and hangs low until January. But so far my big walks in the daylight have kept me from despair.

Body Hug

I love wearing leotards and tights. I love the way it squeezes me all over. Body girdle. Body hug. I feel like leaping and dancing as I take out the trash and wash my dishes. I do!

Hoop Letter

Last May I wrote a letter to the family on the reservoir, a house we walk by every time we walk through Blackstone. I noticed that they had a basketball hoop laying down next to their trash cans for years. I asked them in my letter if they were interested in parting with it. One day last month when I was walking Honey the woman who lives there came rushing out and said I got your letter, my son and I discussed it, you can have our basketball hoop, Merry Christmas! I thanked her and told her we'll use it! Bill and Craig picked it up and put it on the roof of the car and set it up. Now it's freestanding in our small yard. Honey loves to play she traps the ball and bites it and barks a lot. It's a great way for all of us to have fun breathing fresh air!

Appetite

I have been helping Honey transcend her queasiness by taking her for a three mile walk. When we get home she is enthusiastic about eating. Ironically my medicine for my lungs made me ravenous and so the walk helps me find my way back to center. I have great sympathy for people who have to take medications that alter their natural rhythms.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Shadow

We saw the documentary Inheritance last night on WGBH public TV on POV Point Of View. It's a must see. Here's a description of it from the WGBH web site:
Imagine watching Schindler's List and knowing that the sadistic Nazi camp commandant played by Ralph Fiennes was your father. Monika Hertwig (shown), the daughter of mass murderer Amon Goeth, has spent her life in the shadow of her father's sins. Inheritance follows Hertwig as she seeks out Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, one of the few living eyewitnesses to Goeth's unspeakable brutality. The women's raw, emotional meeting unearths terrible truths and lingering questions about how the actions of parents can continue to ripple through generations.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Warm Wind

Sleep is medicine. I had two nights of 12 hours of sleep and woke in good spirits. I am baking a raisin pumpkin bundt cake. The wind is blowing a warm 60 degree air and a rainy mist. Honey ate her rice mixture food out of my hand. I am ready to walk the loop in my yellow overall lobster rain pants. For the first time in weeks I am not ravenous. And for this I am grateful.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gray Day

Today the cold is painful and I am not welcoming the gray sky. I am in the pink cozy chair covered in a red blanket with a fresh book of poems. I keep thinking about sewing heavy curtains to keep out the cold. I'm moving into my Winter mind.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Metaphysics Anonymous

A storefront mission in a slum
Where we come together at night
To confess our lifelong addiction
To truth beyond appearances,
Of which there are clues everywhere,

Or so we tell ourselves.
Estranged from family and friends,
Busy tuning pianos on Saturn,
Looking for a moonbeam in a cucumber,
If you were to ask us.

The unreality of us being here,
An additional quandry we are cautioned
Not to bother our heads with
As we wait with eyes lowered
For coffee and cookies to be served.

-Charles Simic

The Music of Words

I love the music of words and the colors of foods. My orange pumpkin bread is decorated with polka dots of magenta cranberries!

I played my first Polka, on my accordion and it made me smile.

Contagious Mood

...a cheery next-door neighbor has more effect on your happiness than your spouse’s mood.
-The New York Times

“Your happiness depends not just on your choices and actions, but also on the choices and actions of people you don’t even know who are one, two and three degrees removed from you,” said Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Harvard Medical School

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sunday

This morning, the first snow.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Neighborhood Artist

Yesterday while Honey and I were out walking we ran into Father Onisie who invited me to his woodcarving studio, in the neighborhood mill building on our street. It was fun to see the carvings he is working on and the art made by some of his friends. I have always been a huge fan of religious art of all cultures even though I did not grown up with any religion. Maybe that is why I love it so much.

Bare Trees And Sunshine

I love Bulgarian folk singing. It sends chills up my spine transporting me to a forest of bare trees and wolves.

I love bare trees and sunshine and the long shadows of Winter.

Body Wisdom

When I run and dance my body wisdom sharpens and I trust it. I am not a head propped on top of my body. I am a body with knowledge integrated into my knees thighs calves abdomen belly chest arms face and fingers.

Hello Ladies

Last night I went up to Wright's Dairy Farm to say "Hello Ladies" to the pregnant cows in the maternity barn, and pick up some milk. The sun was setting and the bakers were whipping out Christmas cakes behind the frosty bakery window. On my way home the Court Street Bridge was lit up with red and green holiday banners and little white lights.

I got to play my accordion all night at a friends musical birthday party. We even played a polka!!!!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Towards The Light

The dawn sky is amazing this morning. I have been going to bed at 8PM and getting up early. I love to wake in predawn darkness and know my day is moving towards the light. Yesterday Honey and I jogged and she ate her food heartily and I got rosy cheeks.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sunshine Walk

I just walked Honey through downtown Woonsocket I saw my favorite Beacon School kids painting on The Cakery window! Honey and I said hello and kept walking down South Main Street all the way to Pound Hill Road in North Smithfield. We walked to Phoenix Rising Horse Farm going around the muddy horse trails. We met lots of dogs and then we walked home via Providence Street. I took a detour through River Island park so Honey could drink water while I examined the skating rink. When we got home I unearthed my ice skates! Free skating every day! C'mon down! There's a guy on St. Barnabe Street that sharpens skates in his basement workshop. His place is like a museum. He has autographed pictures on the wall of all of the champion Woonsocket hockey players! He also has some of the first skates ever made! Going there is almost more fun than skating.

Time and Space

Time and space have no boundaries when you are communing with a good book. You can have tea with Tolstoi and dinner with Dostoevsky! I love the book Episodes by Pierre Delattre. Reading it inspired me to write. Right now I am reading Brenda Ueland's book, Me. I prefer memoirs and letters over fiction any day except some fiction feels so authentic it captivates me the way honest memoirs do. The Fire Eaters by Bill Cobb is a book I reread every few years. That book changed my life along with The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. But in general I gravitate towards the memoir or books of letters because my imagination is wild enough. I am always eager to read honest writing.

Grateful

I am very happy tonight because Honey ate her food! She had been disinterested yesterday due to the antibiotics for Lyme Disease. We had rehearsal last night so when we got home at one am she was off schedule. This morning we were coaxing her with our home cooked Hills recipe kidney diet prescribed by our beloved vet of thirty years, Dr. Peter Belinsky. Apparently Chocolate Labs are prone to kidney disease aggravated by Lyme Disease.

Last week I found out what my high school friends have been up to all these years. It's fascinating to discover many of us are doing exactly what we loved back then; writing, directing, acting, painting, playing music. Vivian Schiller is head of NPR! David Warren is director in LA for Desperate Housewives, Walton Ford is a very famous artist in museums and galleries and collections around the world. Eve Sicular has two thriving Klezmer bands in Manhattan. These are all friends from grade school and high school. It's so exciting to see how they have blossomed over 30 years. I am so proud of them. Reconnecting with childhood friends has been one of the highlights of my year.

So many of my childhood friends suffered outrageous abuse. How is it that we did not end up committing crimes of rage and end up in prison? I am extraordinarily lucky that I have had the courage to look at my upbringing over many decades and continue to heal through writing, painting, and performing music. Now I make my life about what I want it to be!! I wanted to be a singing and dancing actress (and rockette) in 4th grade. I am closer to that than ever before! I love giving back, celebrating life by using my gifts.

Playing bari sax and singing are the best medicines for asthmatic lungs but I still have to take my inhaler a few times daily (albuterol) and low doses of prednisone to counter the inflammation.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

To Teach Is To Learn

Let's learn Yiddish together!

Shabtsitvainik
shob-tzee-tvy-nik, to rhyme with "popsy rye wick."
Fake religious seer. One who believes in, or follows the precepts of a religious charletan
-Leo Rosten The Joys of Yiddish

Thirty Year Anniversary

Today is my thirty year anniversary of running away from my parents' Larchmont NY home the Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend 1978. That night I called my friend Jessica Brown who was home from Brown University visiting her parents, and asked her if there was room in the car. I knew she and some others were heading back to Rhode Island that night. I packed my little red backpack with a stack of books (one of which was the poems of Arthur Rimbeau) a few clothes and my toothbrush. Jessica lived on Hope Street in a huge apartment which was the second and third floor of a former rooming house. She shared it with six other Brown University students. I baked bread and washed dishes for the house while looking for jobs and my own apartment. We ate supper every night as a group. I remember having laughing fits during the nightly post-supper tea. I met a bunch of smart wonderful people, some of whom are still close friends. Rhode Island became my home.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hanukkah Song

Today we practiced our Hanukkah song for the upcoming free holiday show. I shot hoops in the sunshine with Honey dog chasing the basketball! I love breathing fresh cold air. Afterward I ironed dinner napkins. It was very calming.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gene Pool Chaos

We decided this should be the name of our band.

Quote Of The Day

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

A Dog Barked In My Dream

A dog barked in my dream waking me up this morning!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Table

The table is important to me. We have a vintage 1960's kitchen with a robin's-egg-blue counter and birch cupboards. It is wonderful but it is a pantry. So we turned the tiny room that was an office when we bought our house into our dining room. We put our found-in-the-trash 1940's enamel kitchen table in the middle of it at an angle and every night, even though it is freezing cold in winter and blazing hot in summer we sit to take a moment to stop and listen and gaze at each other and eat our supper. I light my collection of Hispanic religious candles and I bring in Honey and her dog bed and we are a family having supper. I believe this is the secret to a happy marriage.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dharma Trading Company

In college I got a few dozen long sleeved white cotton shirts from Morris Trenk on Orchard Street in NYC. I dyed them in the textile department dye lab over Thanksgiving weekend! Those were the best shirts I had for years and after they were worn out they made great rags. Now I have found a new source for long sleeve cotton shirts. You can dye them or decorate them or leave them plain white. The more you buy the lower the per shirt price! Gather your friends together and checkout Dharma Trading Company. They have tons of great stuff. I'll go in on a dozen mediums white long sleeve T-shirts if anyone in New England wants to boost their order!

Freaks, Geeks and Strange Girls

Freaks, Geeks and Strange Girls: Sideshow Banners of the Great American Midway - a fabulous book for circus lovers! My Brighton Beach grandmother Sophie took me to the Barnum & Bailey Circus in Madison Square Garden when I was a kid and I was frightened by what I saw. A woman fainted and fell off the tight rope. But I am a huge fan of circus art and I love circus music.

Improvisational Dance

Put me in a room with a radio and I am happy for hours. Dancing, dancing, dancing!

Infinitas Gracias

This is one of my favorite art books, Infinitas Gracias: Contemporary Mexican Votive Painting, by Chronicle books. Perhaps I should make a votive painting because Honey survived Lyme Disease. I must find a used copy of this book. Honey and I walked 6 miles yesterday in the ice cold sunshine. I am making turkey soup today! Breathe deeply and be grateful for everything especially your lungs. Happy Saturday! I have the urge to kiss a frog. Where are they hiding?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Doug Anderson

Last night we heard poet Doug Anderson read excerpts from his upcoming memoir Keep Your Head Down.

Turning Fifty

This morning I swam out
into the cold
where the depths began,
turned back toward the young
people on the beach, shouting,
beautiful out here,
then felt the wind in my face
carrying my voice out
over the water like a lost scarf.

-Doug Anderson

Jane Shore

Jane Shore is one of my favorite poets. I first heard her reading her poems in a Boston public radio interview 14 years ago and I was immediately hooked. I have since collected her books and given them as gifts to poetry loving friends. I am so happy to announce that she has published another book. This one is called A Yes-Or-No Answer, published by Houghton Mifflin. I urge you to rush out and get all of her books! You'll be so inspired you may start writing again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Liza

Liza Minnelli is performing here in Woonsocket at the Stadium Theatre on Main Street tonight! I have always been a huge fan of hers.

Scott Schechter: ANDREW is a trained actor, and says he suffers terribly with nerves, and he wanted to know if you had any advice for him, and also what you think about just before you step out into the spotlight onstage?

Liza Minnelli: Concentrate like you've never concentrated before. It keeps you in the moment. I pray before I go on, too. I ask God to let me be a vessel, and let his light shine through the talent he's given me, to the audience, to make them feel good. And then I say to myself "now, concentrate like the Dickens!" (laughs)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Exercise Wheel

When I was a child I raised gerbils in my bedroom. I also had a ten gallon fish tank and a windowsill terrarium made out of a mayonnaise jar on its side. I remember the gerbils would run on the wheel in their cage and it would squeak so I would put vaseline on the axle to silence it. I imagined it would be funny for humans to get exercise by running in place on a wheel. Now they do!!

Community

When your lungs get inflamed, your soles crack off, your fridge breaks, your muffler goes, a chunk of your tooth falls out, it's not so horrible when you are friends with the folks who make a living fixing these things.

Breathing

Asthma is relieved a bit by coffee and tea because they are mild bronchodilators. I wish asthma medicine was free. Over fifty dollars a month for the uninsured to buy albuterol inhalers is too much to afford. We should all be able to breathe freely, for free.

The Genie Box

This is what I call the computer.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What I Carry

My husband teases me because whenever we are leaving the house I frantically grab things out of the cupboard and fridge and throw them into my big canvas bag which is essentially my purse. I've tossed in a head of cauliflower, a loaf of bread, apples, a thermos of coffee, a pound of carrots, all so so we don't starve on the highway. I like to feel that I can survive hunger pangs if I get stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire or caught in a traffic jam. Since I never have more than a few nickels in the bottom of my bag at least I know I'll have food to eat if our car breaks down. In the winter I carry a big red fleece blanket and I always try to carry a book and a notebook too. Once were stranded in a blizzard on a ferry boat in NYC and my homemade wine biscotti kept us going.

A Piece of My Head Fell Off!

Yesterday we roasted our turkey, I couldn't wait!! It came out great. Last night I ate a turkey sandwich and a piece of my tooth broke off and is now gone! Oh well. My tongue keeps going to the missing tooth spot. It feels like a cavern in my mouth the size of Shea Stadium.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Loving Faces

I saw a woman who was the spitting image of Queen Elizabeth pulling out of Beauchemin Lumber in a dark blue Volvo today. I imagined Woonsocket as a great place for The Queen to live unaccosted. Last week I saw a Dalai Lama look alike getting propane at the Shell station. Next maybe I'll see Barack Obama's double at the Dunkin Donuts. Twice a month I get hired to photograph faces for Providence Monthly and SO Rhode Island magazines. I especially love peoples dental quirks like when they have a gap between their front teeth. I remember as a kid watching the Sonny and Cher show and being fascinated with Cher's slightly protruding eye teeth. To me that was what made her beautiful. I was so sad when she had that changed. When I am photographing people I am not shy, I tell people the things I love about their faces.

Sitting In

Diane Blue invited us to sit in tonight at the Cantab in Cambridge! I am excited! The world feels like a much better place with Obama elected. It's really warm and foggy here. Have a great Saturday.

Second Heart

Our legs are often called a second heart because they pump the blood back to the heart. Keep walking!!

Light Dream

The past two mornings I dreamt of light that woke me up. But when I opened my eyes it was 5AM and still dark.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Imagine the Angels Of Bread

This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roofdeck
or levitating hands in praise
of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year
that darkskinned men
lynched a century ago
return to sip coffee quietly
with the apologizing descendants
of their executioners.

This is the year that those
who swim the border's undertow
and shiver in boxcars
are greeted with trumpets and drums
at the first railroad crossing
on the other side;
this is the year that the hands
pulling tomatoes from the vine
uproot the deed to the earth that sprouts the vine,
the hands canning tomatoes
are named in the will
that owns the bedlam of the cannery;
this is the year that the eyes
stinging from the poison that purifies toilets
awaken at last to the sight
of a rooster-loud hillside,
pilgrimage of immigrant birth;
this is the year that cockroaches
become extinct, that no doctor
finds a roach embedded
in the ear of an infant;
this is the year that the food stamps
of adolescent mothers
are auctioned like gold doubloons,
and no coin is given to buy machetes
for the next bouquet of severed heads
in coffee plantation country.

If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles,
then this is the year;
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorium,
then this is the year;
if every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horseback
are not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year.

So may every humiliated mouth,
teeth like desecrated headstones,
fill with the angels of bread.

- Martín Espada

The Green Dutchess

This is what I am calling my pots of green vegetables that I've been baking in my Dutch oven. Having a pot of green simmering away makes me feel so lucky. Yesterday's soup had fresh green string beans and pea pods from the Asian market. Delicious on jasmine rice.

I took a bite too!

Honey is eating home cooked meals of jasmine rice, my sourdough whole wheat bread, ground beef, hard boiled eggs, a multi vitamin for dogs, and a calcium supplement, for her special kidney diet. I took a bite too! It's good! I am hopeful.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wake Up!

Dr. Belinsky tested Honey and she has kidney troubles possibly from the Lyme Disease or a susceptibility she might have inherited from her Chocolate Labrador lineage. For two days she was not eating her regular food and only expressed interest in eating dog biscuits. Apparently many dogs get nauseous from the medication. Would she starve to death? This is the worry that mothers of humans must feel all the time! Belinsky gave me the Hill's kidney diet recipe.

Yesterday I cooked up a pot of jasmine rice and hard boiled five eggs and set out in the sunshine to my butcher's for a pound of ground beef. Belinsky will test her kidneys again in two weeks. Cooking Honey's food is my prayer for her.

As I walked to my butcher's shop I was marveling at how many trees are still full of bright red and orange leaves. When I arrived I tied Honey's green leash up to a rusty metal post and ran inside and bought a pound of ground beef. My butcher Jamie Sullivan came out in his clean white apron and I told him Honey's plight.

"I don't know how long she'll make it with her kidney damage from Lyme Disease," I said all panicked. Honey was wagging her tail looking healthy and happy. The sun was shining, my butcher was smiling.
"Just enjoy her" he said.
"Yes, it's a Zen exercise," I said, taking a deep breath while staring at her.
"All of life is a Zen exercise"
"You're right!"

My butcher has the wisdom of a man who cuts fresh red meat all day. He also has discipline, cleanliness, smarts, and humor. He's the one who converted me from vegetarianism without ever saying a word, just by being a great example of a healthy smart and handsome human being. When I met his daughters and wife and son working in the shop I noticed that they were all fit, smart and beautiful and I thought, what's wrong with meat?

I told my butcher the neighborhood kids had shouted "Hi Honey" as I was walking through the neighborhood the other day and whammo, I smacked right into a telephone pole! My cousin broke her nose that way! So I guess it runs in families! Luckily my foot and my knuckles stopped me in time. I didn't break my nose or even get a purple and green bruise on my face, which I was sure would happen. But I had a lot to contemplate on the way home.

Moonlight Wieners

Yesterday I stepped out the door with Honey and it was as if the neighbors all had pent up demand. Nagla, the owner of Moonlight Wieners came running out from behind the counter with her translucent gloves on and squealed when she saw Honey. She ran back inside and got a bright orange hot dog for her.

Quote Of The Day

You know when your friends say something that you want to carve in stone? My husband said this yesterday and he hit the nail on the head.

Expectations are a waste of imagination.
-Bill Calhoun

Proud Of Connecticut

I am so proud of Connecticut for approving the right for gay couples to get married. I don't understand why anyone would not approve. I hope the 49 other states hurry along.

Morning Energy

The thing about morning energy is I only have it in the morning! But when I wake really early at three and four AM it lasts longer! I love working during milkman's hours.

Fun Breaks

There's another furniture store going up on Socal Street which is the main road here in town. It used to be Yvonne's photo and Joe's car wash. I always thought the building was a hilarious combo as if your film would be developing in the back seat as you drove through the fixer bath. Recently a construction company has turned the old building into a commerical castle made of pale gray stucco with a false front and huge plate glass windows. It's one of my favorite artchitectural styles because it reminds me of old westerns. I keep fantasizing that I could take over this place and turn it into a dance studio. I imagine everyone dancing wildly in the window while people drove by! People could drop in for "fun breaks" instead of their usual cigarette breaks. People could feel good about their bodies and crave nutritious food. I believe we have tremendous and infinite well of wisdom behind our belly buttons.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Russian Proverb

Don't hurry to reply but hurry to listen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bargain Bin

I just found a book in the fifty cent bargain bin at our Woonsocket Harris public library; it's called Writing Yourself Home by Kimberly Snow, PhD. It's fabulous!

Monday Odds and Ends

This morning I found another hoodie in the park! My third one this week. I'm off to get 22 pounds of generic laundry soap, the powder stuff that I scoop with my favorite dented aluminum measuring cup - the one I use to scoop salt and sand in Winter. Maybe I'll wash the hoodie and bring it back.


Doreen my mail lady told me that Helen the lovely old lady who has white hair and always wears a lavender coat moved away but now she takes the bus up from Warwick to feed the stray porch cats she loved. This is keeping Helen and the cats happy.


My two favorite machines are our old washing machine we got from Mario and our 20 year old black Braun drip coffee machine I got from Tom's office when he left NYC. I think I like these machines because I feel like I am accomplishing two things at once while I use them! Maybe I should call my bicycle my other favorite machine but it is not a machine. I am the machine bicycling. I am not a multi tasker by any means. I am ridiculously myopic. I can't even talk while measuring ingredients to make a cake. I can't talk while driving. I can't have a radio on in the room while being on the phone. I can't use a portable phone. I can't use a bank machine without going VERY slowly. This is all because it's too much information coming in!! But slowly I am learning to sing while playing two hands on the accordion!!! Maybe if I can master that, I'll try to tap dance while singing and playing too!


Why didn't I take typing in junior high? I think I would've liked it. My mother was forced to take it and she hated it because her father wanted her to be a secretary not an artist. I don't blame her for hating it! I will try to teach myself to type without looking. I love sewing too. I call it girl's carpentry. Unfortunately sewing is another thing that got ruined for many women who thought they were supposed to like it. I happen to love it but I always feel bad when women have felt they were supposed to love sewing and baking and cooking and end up hating them. Perhaps we do more harm than good in our society.


Nearly everyone wants to be creative in their life. I believe we'd be a happier society if we realized this and encouraged it. If we shared what is most human about us we'd learn about ourselves and each other and probably have fewer problems with depression and alienation. We'd grow more as a people rather than oppress and repress. Schools could be more like bird sanctuaries and gardens rather than be prisons of humiliation and shame. I suggest we start with homemade food, homemade poetry, and homemade music. If we walked and shopped on foot in our neighborhoods and baked bread at communal ovens we'd have a good start. Park your car, unplug your TV, make some noodles with your neighbor! Sounds like a great plan to me.


When we first moved into our neighborhood 13 years ago we got local cream and made hand cranked vanilla chocolate chip mint ice cream and the local kids helped out and then we all ate it together out at our backyard picnic table. There was one girl named Crystal whose life was changed by making and eating home made ice cream. She talked about it for months afterward. Why not teach kids to churn their own ice cream and pull their own taffy! Don't eat food made by robots! Even junk food can be made healthy when you make it yourself with love.

Sunday Afternoon

We just took Honey on a regular walk, she is doing sooooo well. We are excited about seeing Dr. Peter Belinsky Tuesday. Honey is walking up and down all the stairs in our house and she's chasing tennis balls in the yard, she's barking, and being her good old Pointer self. As my pal Maynard Silva said when he was dying; today is a good day to die. May we all live like each day is our last. Gorgeous sunset just now. The moon is visible, and gorgeous too.

I have new muscles in my gluteus gelatinous. If I ever want a home workout I can always just lift Honey up and down three flights of stairs five times a day!

I went to get milk up at Wright's Dairy and saw a newborn Holstein calf the size of Honey in the maternity barn. She was napping and all shiny and clean with black and white fur. A long red rope of afterbirth was hanging out of her momma like a second tail. Maybe I could I get trained to be a dairy midwife helping cows give birth. I could buzz up there on my bicycle! It's only three miles away. Maybe Wright's Dairy could have me on call as a volunteer.

Our neighbors have been hugging Honey. She is back being her Honey self again making the rounds in the neighborhood.

Rodney and Sue gave us their old basketball hoop. As soon as we remove the huge piles of sticks and leaves for city pick up we can tack it up and shoot hoops! I can't wait! We have a basketball and we have pumped it up. Bill and I both love to shoot hoops and I have been hunting for a hoop for years.

I found a 2009 red covered spiral-bound calendar at Job Lot. The whole year is broken up into in 15 minute intervals from 8AM until 9PM. A bit frightening! But for three bucks I thought I'd try it.

I think I need the Obama diet. Have you read it in the NYT? Maybe then I'd be as svelte as him!

I set up another few batches of sourdough bread. It will take a few days to rise naturally but it's worth the wait. Then I'll make a braid with three strands of dough. A braided bread when sliced looks like cumulus clouds!

Enjoy the blessings of now.

Alice Walker's Open Letter To Barack Obama

My pal Sally Larrick sent this to me and I wanted to share it.

An Open Letter to Barack Obama, from Alice Walker, writer
Nov. 5, 2008

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Honey Updates

Honey just pulled me down the street I jogged to keep up with her. We visited her regular haunts; poop alley, the park, the neighborhood below us. It was like we'd been out of town for weeks even though we'd only been away from her routine for two days. She really is being her old self following me down the cellar stairs, waiting on the turquoise floor towel while I'm in the shower, following me from room to room and barking when she needs me. Sunshine today! We are counting our blessings.

This morning at 6:00 AM Honey was downright perky! She curled around to scratch an itch, and she barked when I was putting on my jeans which is her usual routine. Then she went down the stairs all three flights on her own and trotted into the yard almost running!! She performed all of her bodily functions. She took her medicine hidden in peanut butter and drank water and preferred dog biscuits for breakfast. She is napping now. The sun is out. Dr. Rix told us yesterday that he is deeply concerned about the damage her body has done to her kidneys in the process of fending off the Lyme Disease. Honey feels better today and I am grateful for every moment. Our regular vet Dr. Belinsky will retest her urine and tell us what he thinks on Tuesday. I am hugging and kissing her. Enjoy the day appreciate the blessings of now.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A Fun Night

Bill and I had a great gig last night playing as a duo saxophone and accordion and keyboards in the Blackstone Valley Visitor's Center in Pawtucket. There were two art openings; one for the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative Ten by Ten holiday show and one for Penelope Manzella's oil paintings of amazing mill scapes! It was a fun night and a lot of people turned out. The acoustics were great and people were happy! I was so high from the fun I didn't fall asleep until very late.

Honey

This morning at five AM my chocolate Labrador Pointer named Honey who is normally healthy and extremely active, couldn't even walk! We just took her to Sakonnet Vet Hospital in Tiverton and she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Dr. Rix was great, he gave us medicine for her and said she should seem noticeably better in a day or two. I hope so. We are carrying her up and down the stairs. Luckily she has a good chance of recovery. Seven and eight years ago my dogs Lucy + Ruby each died after 14 years. They both had a great long healthy lives and one bad day. May we all be so lucky, right? At five AM Honey seemed like today was her last day. Luckily there's hope. And luckily Honey can be with me, on her bed at my side. She took her medicine well, she is napping and she seems content. I pray she has a full recovery for us and for all the kids and friends, and dog friends in the neighborhood who love her too!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Quotes Of The Day

Those who are awake live in a state of constant amazement.

-Buddha


If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.

-Buddha


No one outside ourselves can rule us inwardly. When we know this, we become free.

-Buddha

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Bowl of Green

I love greens! Today I took bean sprouts, peapods, and chopped Chinese broccoli and put them into my Dutch oven with sesame oil, olive oil, and the schmaltz-skimmed gelatin from my chicken stock and I also added water. Then I heated it all up and added hot sauce soy sauce and salt. It was fabulous, fast, and delicious!

When I was 12, in 1973 I had dreams in black and white and green. I told my English teacher maybe it was because I was a vegetarian. I still remember those dreams about my white rabbit and my pet guinea pig named Blanche.

I wish there was more freedom for kids to be creative in school. Now it seems school is geared towards testing and many teachers are extremely miserable punishing their students for their unfulfilled creative dreams. I know it scares most adults but kids need to speak out freely and creatively. For many of them it's a matter of life and death, as it was and still is, for me.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Speak Out

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

-Martin Luther King.

Excitement

The fog rolled in late last night! I love fog almost as much as I love a snow storm. I have been feeling an excitement similar to snow storm excitement so it's no surprise that I woke up with joy bubbles roiling in my middle since two thirty AM. The fog is still here. I'm seasoning my Dutch ovens with schmaltz, leftover chicken fat. I've got the white plastic summer box fan airing out the kitchen and my overnight sourdough whole wheat bread rose up over the top of the bowl. I braided it and it is rising now too. The washing machine is agitating our clothes and the coffee pot is going. And I am dancing!

The other night at supper time I accidentally burned my hand in hot water. It happens every year at this time because I forget how hot the water can get from the boiler. I was so angry about it I had a scream fest. I let it rip! A string of curses. Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttttttttt. Sounds good when you belt it out. 25 years ago I used to scream a lot while driving in my little blue VW bug assuming nobody could hear me! I tend to scream a lot if I have more than a few cups of coffee! I used to love to go to the glass recycling dumpsters at Brown University and recycle my clear glass apple juice jugs by smashing them from a height, and screaming! There's nothing more satisfying than that when you've got a bit of rage in you. And we all occasionally do. Arthur Janov would be proud. He's the guy who wrote the Primal Scream a 1970's therapy of screaming. The Buddhists think this is ridiculous and we are just making more bad karma by yelling. Perhaps they have a good point. I'm not suggesting we all scream but I think if we had safe and humorous ways to express anger and frustration like punching pillows and chopping wood with an axe (while screaming - I guess I like to yell) we'd be less likely to shoot each other or strangle our children. As a teen I loved beating the air bubbles out of clay imagining the clay was the face of my math teacher. I'd be centering the clay on the potters wheel imagining it was my mothers face spinning around melded by my strong hands. What a wicked child, you say. Bruno Bettleheim wrote an amazing book called Uses Of Enchantment all about the importance of fairy tales and how the gore and violence in them is important for kids so that have a way to process their anger. All the people in childrens publishing who believe childhood is sweet and all children are adorable don't recall having been one! A great book to read is Boy, by Roald Dahl. Now there's a guy who made magic out of his rage and what an amazing storyteller he was. My brother wrote him a fan letter in third grade and he received an nasty letter back saying you think I have time to write to you creepy kids! Perhaps this is why my brother isn't a big fan of writing his heroes.

Anyway I am baking an election cake and we are going to scream with joy today!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Earth Udder

I want a calf so badly! Mr. Wright said "Sure, take one!" I called my reference librarians to find out if I could adopt a cow. They read me the zoning ordinance of Woonsocket: "As there is no agriculturally zoned land within the city, farm animals are not allowed in any district."

Rachel the sweet dairy farmer at Wright's Dairy farm told me I am better off coming to visit the cows than owning one. She was in the maternity barn raking the hay today. I marveled at the enormous pregnant cows. One cow had a black and white udder that looked like a globe hanging between her hind legs. She said we think she's going to have twins! I asked her do they have to call for emergency help when the calves are on their way out? She told me she worked as a manager on a farm that milked 1,000 cows a day and had an average of three cows giving birth daily so she's seen it all and can handle it all. Maybe I can be a Wright's Dairy midwife and help out once in a while.

Hoops!

We're looking for a basketball hoop for the neighborhood parking lot!

Monday Morning

I've set up my sourdough whole wheat bread and made it into a braid. Now it is rising next to the boiler, the only warm place in the house!

I was asleep last night at 8PM I woke at 5AM because it was only a five hour sleep the night before! These early to bed early to rise hours are the ones I love. Milkman's hours!

I woke with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah song in my head. We've performed it with the Small Town Concert Series and Dave Rave and Lauren Agnelli conducting us!

Now I am witnessing the light show in the sky dawn colors from dark blues to gray to purple to pink with hint of orange so far. The little brick schoolhouse behind us is lit up and their chimney is puffing little white clouds of smoke. I am wearing a black sleeveless leotard, and maroon dancers footless tights, blue jeans, and two gray sweatshirts. It's an exciting week ahead. I'd like to play my accordion at the polling places with Obama written across my face...is that illegal?

Quotes of The Day

A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received.
-Albert Einstein


It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.
-Antoine De Saint-Exupery,
The Little Prince

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Quote Of The Day

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Body Shapes

I love looking at bodies. In college when I swam at the Brown University pool I was amazed at the variety of shapes a body can have. The ladie's locker room showers had no doors just stainless steel partitions that jutted out from a center like spokes on a wheel. We were all in plain view stark naked, all ages and shapes. It was a shock to me at first. I would look closely at older women's bodies as they showered to see what may happen to mine as I age. And now I laugh at myself when I complain about a jiggle and a fold here and there because someday if I am lucky I will be as wrinkly faced and jiggly as a Sharpei puppy! I remember being fascinated with aging and I drew an aged self portrait in my sketchbook when I was 12. I remember at Grandma's Brighton Beach apartment after we came off the beach and boardwalk and showered I'd see Grandma changing back into her clothes. I was fascinated by the way the flesh on Grandma's back protruded around her bra. And there were permanent grooves in her shoulders where her bra straps had lived and worked for decades. At the pool there is a skinny old lady her flesh hangs on her droopily like the skin around a bloodhounds eyes. She has no fat but her loose wrinkly skin drapes over her bathing suit. She looks like a skeleton wearing a white wet plastic bag. I tell myself be graceful in your body and in your behavior and be civil and kind. It's an important practice and a skill that may even improve with age!

Last Bite Of Baklava

Last night I found the last bite of baklavah in the freezer from our friends daughter's Bat Mitzvah in 2004. It was delicious with hot clear tea.

Calendars

I have a conundrum about calendars. I love them but the squares of the days can't be too big or I feel that I don't accomplish enough in a day or too small and I feel claustophobic. I need to see the whole month at once. That is comforting to me but but I need to record lots of information. Maybe I should make a six foot by six foot calendar on strips of my roll of butcher wrap paper and hang it on one whole wall in my studio! Now there's an idea. Most years I get my dollar calendar at Job Lot one year they skipped a day May 31. It was probably why it cost a dollar! A dollar for a day.

Early & Late

Last night I made a multigrain muffin cake at midnight and at one AM we turned the clocks back so it was midnight again! I love that! I was enjoying being awake and didn't feel too tired but I do love early morning so I went to bed. I woke up with the pre dawn light, opened my dark green shade and watched the Maxfield Parish sky unfold from navy blue to cobalt blue to cerulean blue. Dawn light is a daily miracle. My abdomen responds to light with joy energy and I have to get up and write. When I let Honey out in the yard to pee, I saw the frost had articulated each blade of grass with a frozen sparkly silvery white outline. Breathing the cool air feels so clean in my lungs.

One of Ten

This summer I realized that when I count all of the marriages my biological parents and step parents have had and the subsequent children adopted or born from these relationships, I am one of ten siblings! One sibling I have not yet met and one child born with Down Syndrome died in infancy.

Quote of The Day

Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you.

-Jean-Paul Sartre

Letters

Nearly all of my friendships have developed out of writing letters. I am compulsive e-mailer. I often find inspiration from letters I receive.

I am not a drinker or a partier or an avid phone caller so the only way I build relationships is by writing to people, or by walking around the neighborhood with my dog. It's true! And before there was e-mail I used pen and paper and bought pages of stamps! I wrote to many poets and artists who I admire. It's very rewarding to write letters although I never expect a response. I am just surprised and thrilled when I get one.

There's an interesting book called Letters Home by Terry Vance, Ph.D., published by Pantheon Books. The author encourages people in a Gestalt way to address things that trouble them in a letter even if they don't intend to mail it.

When I lived alone with my first dog a big yellow Labrador + German Sheperd mix named Travis, I would sit down to my supper at my green and beige 1940's enamel-topped kitchen table with pen and paper and write letters while eating my dinner. By writing I was having a conversation with the person I was thinking of and I no longer felt alone.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Magic Day

This morning while I was at my desk window I saw a four year old black boy in Power Rangers outfit in the driveway and I just had to go down and say hi. I met him and his three sisters and cousin and we chatted. They were scootering and skateboarding up and down my driveway which is also the neighborhood driveway because we share a parking lot with the four other tenements. I said wow, wow, wow, watch out, as they raced down the hill turning onto the sidewalk to avoid the busy street. One girl the Latina cousin who had wavy black hair down to her waist, said she was dressed up last night as a girl from American Idol and she burst into her song and dance routine for me. I was spellbound. The other girl said she was a princess. Today she was wearing white sneakers that were printed with the word red many times in different colors. I said your white sneakers say red! She said they are red rhino sneakers named after the red rhinoceros. I love rhinoceroses I told her. She had on a shocking pink shirt and jeans and had a million black extension braids down to her shoulders.

I went back inside and made some lunch; cubed fresh tofu, bean sprouts, spinach, garlic, mixed with leftover whole wheat elbow macaroni, and soy sauce and red chilis sauteed in olive oil.

I came back outside standing in the sun at the back gate, eating with chop sticks. The kids were eating snacks out of their blue bags of Ranch Flavored Doritos and climbing my clothesline poles by stepping up on the fence. I watched worried that they would fall while Honey tried to eat their Doritos! The dimpled tall girl wanted to know how to use chop sticks and I showed her and let her try mine. It's like holding a pencil but with another stick that doesn't move. She tried it a few times.

The kids hands got covered with the old oxidized silver paint from climbing the pole so I brought out orange soap for them to wash their hands at my spigot. They were scared of the little red and black box elder bug they saw on the base of my house. I picked him up and showed them his pretty red and black bug back. I said they are sweet bugs called Box Elder bugs named after the Box Elder tree. They won't hurt you. But they wouldn't hear it! And ran screaming. I am terrified of spiders so I didn't push it.

Then later on my way out for a walk with Honey these same kids asked me to accompany them to the Moonlight Wieners around the corner. So I turned around and we all held hands and marched over to the wiener joint on Rathbun Street. Honey and I waited outside while they ordered their dogs "with everything" from the cheerful buxom brunette wiener girls in red shirts at the counter. The owner usually gives Honey a free wiener on weekdays when we walk by, but she wasn't there. Honey was so disappointed, I had to tug her home.

Then my neighbor from Haiti with huge gorgeous round flat very black face stopped his 15 year old pale blue Toyota in the middle of the road and said "Do you want some yogurt?" clutching a white plastic bag out the window. I said sure! It was a total spontaneous act of kindness on his part. He gave me a the bag filled with banana and strawberry yogurts. I squatted on the sidewalk and doled them out, exactly enough for two flavors for each of the kids. I decided it's easier to carry if they take them in the white plastic bag!

I said do you know what's happening Tuesday? We get a new president. They said I vote for Obama! I said me too! And if he wins I am going to dance in the street. They said me too! I said let's close off the parking lot and dance! So if it's a nice day I will be out in our neighborhood parking lot with sidewalk chalk drawing and dancing with my new neighbors.

Then I saw Doreen our mail woman and she said aren't you afraid to stand here? I said what, this is my neighborhood and that is my house, why should I be afraid? She said there are three pit bulls that live here. I said oh, Michael's dogs? I am probably partly responsible for Michael having three dogs because when I first moved to Woonsocket and we were squatters in the mill he would come by and ask me if he could play with our dogs. He was about nine years old! Now he is 29 and he is my neighbor!

Today out of the blue I got a call from my local bank teller Elaine asking me if I wanted to have a play date with my dog and her daughter Darlene's Weimeraner. I said sure. I have never met her daughter or their dog but I see Eileen at the Sovereign bank two blocks away and had suggested we try this someday. I always bring Honey to the bank when I go in! I walked over to her daughter's house about a mile away on Saint Cecile Street off of Diamond Hill Road and I met Eileen and her husband and their daughter a dental hygienist on maternity leave and her husband; a fireman and their two boys and their Weim named Ruger. The dogs played, the kids played, the neighbors kids played and it was 60 degrees and sunny. I even found four little old fashioned glass ice cream dishes on the way over which I just washed. Someone had put out a forest green plastic mesh laundry basket full of clear glassware. It caught my scavengers eye. Most of the basket was full of stuff I didn't want; shot glasses, champagne glasses with writing on them, and little bowl vases like the kind you find filled with flowers on tables at weddings or goldfish at amusement parks. But I spotted the four little clear glass ice cream dishes in the pile and carried them home. Maybe Tuesday we'll make ice cream if it's a nice day. I have an old fashioned hand crank ice cream machine and we can make it outside in the parking lot. I'd better go make some ice!

Naked and Proud

If Obama wins...I plan to dance naked in the streets or run naked into the ocean screaming with JOY!

I will be proud of our country for the first time in my life!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Inwardly Mobile

Upwardly mobile, downwardly mobile, I'm inwardly mobile. Upper class, middle class, lower class, I'm no class.

Orange, Orange, Orange

Orange leafed trees and carved orange pumpkins. I was walking through the baseball field and I saw through the chain link fence, a Tibetan Monk in orange robes getting propane at the Shell station. I ran around to see if it was the Dalai Llama himself! Imagine that. But I think his robes are maroon. Anyway, this was no Halloween costume and I waved as I crossed in front of his navy blue jeep walking by with Honey.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Books

One of my favorite books which I keep in my emotional rescue pile; the one in my studio, next to the couch, was written by a woman who among other things won international swim records in her 80's. Her name is Brenda Ueland. It's called If You Want To Write. The book applies to anything that inspires you. When I first read it I thought nobody could be this happy and inspired. I dismissed its seemingly wholesome joy. But now I worship this book. For 25 years I've collected books on writing. Starting in college I developed a hunger to understand what painters think. Since most painters don't write, at least not as much as writers do I ended up with many books written about writing by great writers. I always want to read what creative people think, in fact I never tire of it. I have read the published diaries of Anais Nin and May Sarton, which I reread regularly, the collected letters of Tennissee Williams, a book of letters by Georgia O'Keefe. The letters of VS Naipaul, and I'm still hungry for more. I also never stop loving looking at books with big black and white photographs of dancers dancing. In bookstores I can never resist browsing cookbooks that have pin up photos of bread!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Quote Of The Day

My pal Jim Kent sent this to me today:

From a letter to Agnes de Mille by Martha Graham:
According to Agnes de Mille: "I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. ... I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be. Martha said to me, very quietly,"

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others"
from The Life and Work of Martha Graham

Weekend Warrior Wardrobe

I found a dirty rumpled extra large gray cotton sweatshirt when cleaning up the neighborhood softball field last Saturday. I was going to dump it along with the bags of trash but my husband said why not take it. It was wet and smelled of beer but I took it home. On the chest is printed Charlestown Weekend Warriors Softball Team 2006. On the sleeve League Champions is printed. Now it's a clean warm dry gray cotton hoodie. It covers my head and my rump. I love it.

Serenade

I was remembering 30 years ago living in Providence. I'd try on my house mate Joe's jeans while he was at school. I would cry while looking at his family photographs, the ones that he kept in a cigar box on his old wooden spool table in his room. Then I'd go out onto his balcony and play my silver flute. Sometimes I'd look out and see my neighbor lying down on the grass in his garden looking up, listening.

Snoring Monkey

When we went to bed last night our fifty five pound brown Pointer + Labrador mix was snoring. She gets her own warm bed next to ours. Honey the Pointador. Sometimes we call her the monkey. I thought Snoring Monkey might be a good name for a blog or a band. But it might it not encourage too many followers.

Strange Black Cake

I made a strange black cake. It is now nearly gone but sits under clear glass on my turquoise kitchen counter. It's a ginger blackstrap molasses cake. It almost hurts to eat it, it is so bitter but it's full of vitamins and good with tea + coffee. Not quite a mistake but a cake to be improved upon.

Standing Room

I am working standing now. It feels good. When I am at my desk for a day it feels better to be standing than sitting, shrinking into a frumpy mushroom. When I stand I think with my back, my chest, my lungs, my calves, my ass, my thighs, my hips, my shoulders, and my arms. My whole body becomes an antennae for language, sounds, colors and scents. I don't know how I ever worked sitting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Losing Track Of Time

I rarely lose track of time but my husband always does and it's admirable. It's admirable to be so immersed and focused that you "lose track of time."

Did you know that there is a Society for The Deceleration of Time? It's a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1990 by a university professor; Dr. Peter Heintel from Klagenfurt Austria.

When I am in transmit mode the speed of time is nearly impossible to keep up with. The days feel like they are ten minutes long. I can set my kitchen timer while baking and wear it around my neck and still burn stuff in the oven.

Growing up, my parents were always in a rush. We don't have time for...you name it! My mother was always honking, zipping through red lights and then speeding passing cars by crossing the double yellow line. When she drove, I feared for our lives!

My husband has never been in a rush and seemingly never runs out of energy. It's a temperament thing. His whole family is this way! In my family we're built like impatient squirrels. Zoom, zoom, scream, yell, collapse!

Audience

The hardest lesson for me is discovering the bittersweet truths about having an audience. Of course I wish my parents, siblings, cousins and friends wanted to read my writing, hear my music and see my latest paintings but it doesn't go that way. It may never go that way. But there are people who enjoy what I do and somehow they find my work. It is very gratifying to communicate even though I have no control over where my work will end up and who may end up listening. I must remember that.

Glimpses

Occasionally I get glimpses and I try to take notes. I imagine that everything we do counts down to the last molecule and breath and that our purpose on Earth is to wake up to our actions, examine our beliefs, and make adjustments because it all matters. We do leave a trail. It's just a glimpse.

Extraction

Why do people extract the fun out of exercise by walking on a machine, facing a wall? Why do people eat powdered egg whites when they can eat a real fresh egg? I can't fathom these things.

Beginners Mind

Allow yourself to be a beginner and life is much more rewarding. It is harder to allow oneself this as an adult. We all are told to master things before sharing them publicly. That said, I wrote for ten years daily in my spiral notebooks before publishing my blog. Not that you have to but my point is we all start at the first step. I never believed this until I saw my husband teach himself to play the piano. I could hear him sounding out tunes in the living room and he would pull his hands away from the keys when I walked in but eventually he could play a few songs and played them when friends would come over for supper. Now, only a few years later, he regularly performs for a paying audience. That process was all I needed to see to believe I could take a path to music too. Which is the thing I wanted so badly to do. Give yourself permission to begin and to be a beginner. What else is life for?

Laundry

I was admiring the Munroe Dairy mechanics white milkman outfit at the parades this weekend. His white shirt and pants were whiter and brighter than ours! He said "I use ALL." I said maybe we'll do our laundry at your house! I told him I never use hot water for my clothes because of the cost (and the fear my jeans will shrink and make me look fat). Our water tank is heated by oil. No blood for oil! No war for white laundry. I'd rather wear graying whites than have soldiers as cannon fodder dying for my white shirts.

We don't turn up the heat much in the Winter either and it's awfully cold! Fleece is a great invention and the fact that it's made from coke bottles is even better!

I've noticed that running generates body heat all day long! Especially running up and down the stairs. I am terrified of how we'll keep warm this winter. I wish I had a wood stove for burning the dead trees in the cemetery. Dead trees in the cemetery. They should be dead, right?

Imagination

I am inspired by Saul Steinberg and I think of him every time I say "I have never had a passport" My friends mom said Where you go, you don't need a passport. Imagination is the ultimate passport!

Awakened by The Moon

Awakened by The Moon is a great biography of Margaret Wise Brown. I am awakened by the moon tonight. I see the moon-glow reflecting on the slate roof next door. I woke at one am thinking about our Munroe Dairy Band jackets and how much I love the white embroidered script on the black wool. I love uniforms. Bill had an old gray A&P shirt he found in a rag bag at the piano shop he worked at years ago. It had the little A&P logo in a one inch square of white fabric over the left breast pocket. It was so cool, and he wore it as his favorite shirt for years. Black logos on pale paper always catch my eye. My friend Avon used to save motel stationary and find discarded envelopes from defunct businesses and companies and even deceased friends. He would write us letters on it. It was all part of the lore of using something that tells a story. I bicycle down the street and get paper scraps from the back room of our friends print shop! I make grocery lists, bookmarks, and even business cards from the paper strips. Occasionally I'll be rumaging through a desk drawer or open a book and find an old list stuck inside. On this tiny scrap of paper I get a glimpse into my life.

Clothing Swaps

Free clothing exchanges sound like fun but I'd have to dump my clothing in Nebraska. I can't bear to see someone I know wearing my old shirts and pants. It would be as traumatic as seeing my husband in bed with another woman!

Back Flip Into A Cold Pond

I have a story in one of my books of a young actress working with Katherine Hepburn and how she had to do a back flip into a cold pond for a movie scene. Hepburn was an avid year round ocean swimmer most of her life. She said to the young actress, you don't want to hire a stunt man, teach yourself how to do it! It will be rewarding and anyway you don't want to grow up to become soggy! This is how I feel about marching six miles dancing singing playing my bari sax in a parade. I wish to do this through my 80's and not become a soggy adult! I also would like to swim outdoors all year round. I have this physical endurance and skin temperature thing. I get high from exertion and I love the feel of cold water on my skin. It's fun!

Man Behind The Curtain

My favorite moment in The Wizard Of Oz is when Dorothy is in OZ and she opens the curtain hiding the Wizard and he is revealed in his un amplified tired voice. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." Many people have taught me things but sometimes the person who is my most inspiring teacher isn't actually leading a very inspiring life themselves. The inspiration might be just a moment where we intersected. But I must be grateful for that fact that they still changed my life!

Ocean Swimming

We got invited to swim this morning in Narragansett. I am not the only crazy swimmer! My painter pal Luke Randall apparently swims all year round even in winter through ice and snow, every Sunday morning at 9am!

Luke and Lisa and I jogged across the beach and then we were roasting hot. So Luke and I jumped in and Bill and Lisa hung out on the beach. Honey our dog jumped in the surf too. Then we took hot showers at Luke and Lisa's house and ate eggs, homemade waffles, sliced pork, Lisa's home made oatmeal bread and hot coffee. All of this food and fun so early in the morning. I loved it because I am not only a water person I am a morning person!

Luke builds furniture and has built an amazing painting studio in his backyard with sky lights. I had never been there before. He makes interesting still lives and wild Rube Goldberg contraption machines.

I just cooked up all the vegetables from yesterday's gig at the farmer's market; beet greens, purple cauliflower, basil, and an unidentifiable mystery green. I had never seen a purple cauliflower before yesterday! They grow them orange too! I also cooked the two heads of broccoli I got at The Big Apple orchard in Wrentham. I cooked all the greens with tons of fresh chopped garlic (I get 5 heads for a buck at the Asian store) and soy sauce and then I made pesto from the basil using raw sunflower seeds (we get ten pounds of sunflower seeds at a time from JAR bakers supply in Lincoln RI) and Job Lot olive oil and the Asiago cheese is made from Munroe Dairy Milk. There is a cheese factory in Providence, yes it's true, I've been there! It's off Manton Ave. The milk underground! Guys in hair nets making cheese.

I think I might make homemade macaroni tonight using a pasta machine Keith's friend Paige gave me...it uses different dies to make different shapes!

I'd better jog and swim and dance because all I do is eat!

Graffiti

While crossing the street walking Honey I saw graffiti in the yellow-green stripes of the crosswalk. It said "If I were green would you notice me?"

Poet Martín Espada

...once the poem leaves me and takes flight, it belongs to the reader. I want my poems to be useful. I'm gratified when my poems go where I can't go, to weddings or funerals, to prison, to other countries in other languages. (I've been translated into Turkish!) Sometimes readers let me know, in dramatic ways, that the poems belong to them. I met a young journalist at a reading in New York who had a quote from “Imagine the Angels of Bread” tattooed on his leg.

-Martín Espada

Obama Omen

Yesterday afternoon there was rain and sunshine at the same time! I went to the window and saw a double rainbow. We went out to the third floor porch and hooted and hollered. All the neighbors and kids were out shouting and pointing. The first rainbow was very bright almost like neon, and the second rainbow was faint. And the color of the sky between the two rainbows was a very dark gray compared to the rest of the sky which was pale gray.
I immediately thought this means Obama will be president! Hurray!

Accordion Dream

I dreamt I was telling someone the reason why I love to play my accordion is so I can celebrate life and merge with it rather than stand on top of it.

Panama Cowboy

Saturday night after the Chester gig we played outside for fun celebrating our guitar player Rodney's fiftieth birthday. He has an amazing vegetable garden with ten foot sunflowers and unusual squash plants and tomatoes of all kinds. He has plants and trees that he has rescued. He is a landscaper by day and his wife Sue is an amazing cook and was a caterer for years. She made the best food I have ever eaten in my life!!! They raise chickens and have raised two sons too. I played my accordion all night outside around the bonfire. We were up until three am singing with Lauren, Rodney and a hippie cowboy from Panama! Sometimes I wish I lived closer to the band mates so I could have a Jersey cow and make yogurt cheese for everyone!
Today I made pesto using cilantro from Asian store with fresh garlic, Romano cheese, pine nuts, olive oil and salt. Very good! I will put it on whole wheat penne. I made another raisin bran cake using applesauce made from our bruised apples cooked with star anise. Bill was able to get it out of the cast iron bundt pan in one piece.

Heart Shaped Waffles

I woke up at five am dreaming I was making heart shaped waffles. I played my accordion to the bluegrass tunes...when it got light I picked Concord grapes downtown behind the insurance company parking lot. I sat outside with my notebook in the sun...I heard a blue jay singing in our tree. I walked Honey into blackstone by the reservoir a few miles away and on the way home I found an apple tree to pick apples off and eat along the walk...then I saw my gardener friend Armand and he let me pick his white raspberries and plum tomatoes and basil and I carried them home and made a tomato basil parsley sandwich on my bread with onion toasted and mayonnaise. It doesn't get any better than that. These September days are splendid.

Important

I believe that one of the most important lessons of the Holocaust is that we must not remain silent in the face of cruelty and injustice. In the words of Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, "Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Favorite Jeans

This was an essay I submitted to a magazine. The theme was "Delicious."

Every time I dig out my old favorite jeans I notice a few more places where I would like to fit into them better. I get indignant - there’s no reason I can’t wear these, after all, my bones have not grown! Wearing them around the house is a gentle reminder. Rather than snicker when I look in the mirror, I resolve to get back to my long morning walks with my dog. I’m inspired by my dog's gorgeous thighs!

Though my morning walks set out to be thigh-toning and waistline-trimming, they quickly become mind-expanding. I go with my dog in any direction as if the whole world is my exercise gym. When I was much younger, I was terrified of everyone, and sometimes the neighborhood felt hostile. Now I make a point to wave to everyone in my neighborhood, and say hello to anyone I pass on the street. I live in an urban environment, and everyday kindness builds a truce and a bond between myself and my neighbors.

But back to my thighs.

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