Thursday, April 30, 2009

Advice

Do not do what I do; rather, take whatever I have to offer and do with it what I could never imagine doing and then come back and tell me about it.
-Mark C Taylor

Divine Bovine

I saw a cow in the maternity barn at Wright's Dairy last night. She was all black with a crescent white moon on her left thigh and little bit of white on her ankles. I saw the cow named Blue who is all white with speckles of black. I've followed Blue and her offspring for years. The six roosters in the rafters of the hay barn had such colorful plumage that I wanted to make a painting of them.

Wright's Dairy tore down the old wooden cow path that led to the white wooden milking barn, and now there's a path lined with chain link fencing leading to the red metal barn. It's the new gigantic milking parlor for the cows. The public visiting hours haven't begun yet.

Lily loves visiting the cows and the farm is only three miles away.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dive Deep

Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Asparagus

I woke at 5:00 this morning. Lily was ready for the day. It's hot and my Red Maple tree is frantically trying to make leaves. I am eating asparagus cut moments ago, out of my backyard, with mustard on home-made sourdough-wheat-oat bread, green olives and pimentos and celery.
I'm reading No Choirboy by Susan Kuklin, about teens on death row. AMAZING!!!!!

Dog Mother

I have a dog the way other people have children.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tail Gate

Today I walked Lily past the baseball field and all the players were out in the parking lot cooking burgers and drinking beer, having tailgate parties with their families. It was really cute.

Lava

I went to Wright's Dairy farm yesterday with my friend Jonathan and we shoveled manure into a few cardboard fruit + vegetable boxes and loaded them into his big pickup truck. It was fun and stinky and the manure pile was like lava! Soon my Red Maple tree will be smiling and I will be ready to plant my vegetables!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Worm Poem

Dirt and worms make me happy
and sometimes people too
but if I chose between them
I'd be torn in two
-Rodney Maxwell

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Be Inefficient

Vonnegut tells about going out to buy an envelope when he wanted to mail something. Here’s a version from a PBS interview:

DAVID BRANCACCIO: There’s a little sweet moment, I’ve got to say, in a very intense book– your latest– in which you're heading out the door and your wife says what are you doing? I think you say– I'm getting– I'm going to buy an envelope.

KURT VONNEGUT: Yeah.

DAVID BRANCACCIO: What happens then?

KURT VONNEGUT: Oh, she says well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore.

Loving Trees

I never tire of staring at trees. Bare, budding, or full of leaves, they're never dull. Since last year I've turned my desk around and taken down my office curtains all so I can watch our big maple tree. Half the year I sit on a tall chair and the other half of the year I prefer to stand at my desk. It's an energy thing.

Magnificent Dirt

Ten years of procrastination paid off! Our pile of sticks mulched into magnificent dirt! I am so excited. We are using our six extra blue green and brown plastic recycle trash barrels to fill with our new dirt. Then, when it's all cleared off the cement we will have the perfect basketball court. I have turned over the small garden. Wish I could get manure not so much because we need it but because I love the adventure of shovelling manure from the mountain at the dairy farm into a few cardboard boxes in the back of a pickup truck. Country living in the big city!! Lily is a happy dog as long as she gets the BIG daily walk. Me too. We saw little league practice at Cold Spring Park last night and all the nine year old boys in red tops with gray leggings. So cute. Our friend Judy was the coach with hat and clipboard. This town is too cute, like a sweet dream!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pitch Fork

I turned over the vegetable garden plot yesterday with a pitch fork. A lot of happy worms were working away. I'm ready to retrieve free manure from the dairy farm!

Quotes of The Day

If you can't find the truth right where you are, where else do you think you will find it?
-Buddha

Weigh the true advantages of forgiveness and resentment to the heart. Then choose.
-Buddha

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.
-Buddha

Live like the strings of a fine instrument - not too taut and not too loose.
-Buddha

Dog Portraits

I found these dog portraits to be amazing.
Portraits by Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson

Have a peek.
Enjoy!

Art Work

It is a strategy for many artists and athletes to set a minimum daily requirement for work. But each person has to find what works for them. And they may discover that it might be ever-changing. For me I can't put a predetermined minimum on what I do unless it is ridiculously achievable otherwise I feel like a failure if I don't make it and the next thing you know I am vacuuming under the stairs or cleaning the coffee pot with a toothbrush rather than working at the things I care about. I speak from having treated myself extraordinarily badly in this regard for decades. Now the best way for me to get results is to just show up and be grateful for whatever happens.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mark Doty

I'm maybe four, and we live in a different big house in Tennessee, one on a hill, with a steep gulch beside it where my father's pickup truck is parked, down by the chopping block - a wide old stump - where on some Saturdays he kills a hen for my grandmother to pluck and roast for Sunday dinner. Still completely clear to me, the pale body of the hen, resting in an oval enameled metal roasting pan, black and flecked with little stars, as if the hen lay in the midnight sky.

The sea! It seems absurd to have a single word for it, as it never on any two days in my history of knowing it appeared remotely similar.

-from Dog Years by Mark Doty

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Reading Bender

I've been on a reading bender. I love it when I can't put a book down. It's happened a lot in the past month. There is nothing more delightful and life affirming than to read a book written by an exquisite writer!

The Dogs Who Found Me by Ken Foster
Dog Years by Mark Doty
For The Love of A Dog by Patricia McConnell
Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin
The Merry Recluse by Carolyn Knapp
Appetites by Carolyn Knapp
The Dinosaur Man by Susan Bauer

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Caterpillar and Butterfly

Mood is like weather. In general I can't choose the weather I live with, but I can be ready with boots and umbrella, or bathing suit. When I think of my mood as weather I am less likely to blame myself for the mood, or identify with it so deeply. I try to see and develop the things in me that are unchanging no matter what the "weather-mood" is doing. I think of this as developing my fulcrum.

Cyclic moods are like the tides. Tide charts are essential, and the moon affects the tides, and storms coming up the coast must be monitored. Floods and droughts are difficult and must be dealt with the best way possible. Planning and managing require first surrendering identification with mood.

I used to have a lot of shame about my moods, and I would ride my moods like a surfer riding waves. I would push them to extremes, or try to hold onto them. I really believed that when I felt great, I had "finally figured something out." Now I know when I feel good that the sad days will return, and when I feel sad I know good days will return. So I am less inclined to push or grab at my moods. I try to keep both sides in mind. Joy and pain become more of a bittersweet life dance, as many spiritual traditions point out.

I am either a caterpillar or a butterfly, but there is no favoritism because each are essential to the other. A butterfly can't imagine putting on all those pairs of shoes every morning, and a caterpillar can't imagine lifting off as a way to get around.

My imagination is a fulcrum - even as my mood fluctuates, my imagination operates reliably 24/7. On the other hand, my sensual sensitivity fluctuates with mood. At times the chemical, sound, taste, visual, and body sensitivity can be a gift, and other times a burden. So I try to celebrate the gift and laugh at the annoyance. The best thing for me to do is reassure myself that the mood will pass, and to use and work my body (another reliable fulcrum) as much as possible to help the caterpillar lift up its head, or help the butterfly stay in touch with the earth. There is poetry in the sadness, and gravity in the joy.

Anne Lamott

I think I'm about to start a novel so I feel a sort of mounting dread because it's so much harder and it takes so much more stamina and time. It'll take me two years to write a novel. I'll take a whole year to write a really awful, awful first draft and the essays of course are immediate gratification, I can finish something in a week. I'll probably start mid-May and it'll go badly for a year. It's always the same. It'll be my 12th book, I don't sit down and go, "Wow, must be doing something right!" I sit down and go, "It's all over, it's all hopeless, it's a nightmare!" and little by little the characters will start to roll their eyes and start to contribute. But if you were to check back in a year I will be so relieved because I will have put together a really awful first draft and it will seem like a small miracle.
-Anne Lamott

Wood Pile

Bill and I took a walk the other day. I insisted that I show him the new road I found off of our street. We passed a yard that had stacks of wood lined up neatly on a cement wall. The newer pieces were a yellow brown and the older pieces further back towards the house, were gray. That's what I like I said, insurance you can see!

Alarm Clock

I have an alarm clock that jumps on me! She's a furry four-legged beast. She urges me to get up and I do! I get dressed and we go out into the yard into the dawn light. She sniffs all around the bushes looking for cats. I breathe fresh air and look at the sky. Then I feed her and put on the water for tea and she goes back to bed.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Merrier World

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-J.R.R. Tolkien

The Poet

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.
-Jean Cocteau

To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.
-Robert Frost

Quote

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.
-Agatha Christie

Music

When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.
-Henry David Thoreau

Courage

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.
-Erich Fromm

We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world
-Helen Keller

The best way out is always through.
-Robert Frost

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Elie Weisel

Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.
Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
-Elie Wiesel

Toggle

Yesterday I walked to the dairy farm with Lily, and as I arrived Rachel the farmer was on the way to the maternity barn with her toggle kit. "What's toggling?" I asked. "It's what you do when one of the four stomachs of a cow (the main one) gets twisted and out of place and fills up with air. This cow gave birth a week ago to twin calves and is now showing the symptoms."

So I watched as Rachel's brother and father put a rope around the cow which was then attached to a post in the barn. They draped another rope over the cow in a few places; shoulder, stomach, leg, so they could move her down and turn her over on her back. This was amazing to see. A cow on its back with hooves in the air just like my dog does all the time! Apparently the stomach moves to the right place in this position. Rachel gave the cow's belly a fillip, listening for a ping sound "like a basketball." After a few tries, she checked one spot with a stethoscope, and then inserted the toggle, tacking the stomach like a big staple to the side of the cow so it won't move. Very quick!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Perfect Park

Bill and Lily and I just walked over to the fenced in baseball field in Woonsocket's Cass Park and Lily ran like crazy chasing the ball! She is beautiful to watch! A guy with an Australian Cattle Dog showed up and Lily and Pooch chased each other in circles. It was great fun. Then Lily lay down on the big wide flat slab in the shallow water at the park waterfall to cool off while drinking! It was hilarious. I wish I could've filmed her. Now she is so tired. On the way home we found a really nice Santa Claus hat in the bushes, just in time for Easter!

Quotes of The Day

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

One ought only to write when one leaves a piece of one's own flesh in the inkpot, each time one dips one's pen.
-Leo Tolstoy

A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end... but not necessarily in that order.
-Jean Luc Godard

The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.
-André Gide, Journals, 1894

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Czech Proverb

Learn a new language and get a new soul.
-Czech Proverb

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Poem

The Drunkard

You drunken
tottering
bum

by Christ
in spite of all
your filth

and sordidness
I envy
you

It is the very face
of love
itself

abandoned
in that powerless
committal

to despair

-William Carlos Williams

Craving Words

Here's what makes me happy:
Reading something that puts into words something that's just plain true. Something I sort-of-kind-of-knew but had never put into words. Something that makes life clearer, more understandable for me. Until you can put a name on something, you can't understand it.
-The Healthy Librarian

This is from a blog I found recently which I really love. It's called Happy Healthy Long Life.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Charles Baudelaire

What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.
-Charles Baudelaire

It is the hour to be drunken! to escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish.
-Charles Baudelaire

Always be a poet, even in prose.
-Charles Baudelaire

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Spanish Proverbs

A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.

I don't want the cheese, I just want to get out of the trap.

Live with wolves, and you learn to howl.

Experience is not always the kindest of teachers, but it is surely the best.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Fool's Day

The fool is always beginning to live.
-Proverb

Poet

The poet may be used as a barometer, but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather.
-Lionel Trilling

He Listens

The poet doesn't invent. He listens.
-Jean Cocteau

Noise

I don't want to be a kvetcher but . . . I often have a problem with noise. I can walk into my kitchen or work room and if the radio is off but still plugged in I can hear the hum. I yank out the plug and immediately feel so much better. I'll even turn off my computer during the day so I don't hear it humming. In the fall I can hear the leaf-vacuuming machine running in the cemetery 1/4 mile away. Luckily we don't have motor boats or leaf blowers or weed wackers in this asphalt jungle of a neighborhood but we do have the booming of car stereos shaking the window panes, the steady continuous hum of my next-door neighbor's dryer, and in the kitchen we have spoons scraping the bowl and forks scraping the plate. Why do these sounds make me crazy? I am not sure but I am fascinated by what sounds I can tune out and what sounds make me furious. I love the sound of kids playing in the neighborhood, and the barking of dogs now and again doesn't bother me a bit. So why do certain sounds affect me so strongly that I start to feel enraged and trapped? Maybe because I feel I cannot say anything to stop the noise. I cannot ask the cemetery groundskeeper to not vacuum up the leaves, or the neighbors to stop drying their clothes!