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!!