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


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.


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 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!


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.


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.


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?


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?


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 uses different dies to make different shapes!

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


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.


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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