Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Quotes

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
-Ray Bradbury

There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.
-William Makepeace Thackeray

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Real Human Beings

Today I needed a walk so Lily and I walked to the secret swim spot and as we approached the dirt path there were a few young kids on bicycles riding ahead of us. I said hello hoping they wouldn't be afraid of Lily. When Lily and I approached the water I noticed a layer of bright green algae on the surface but that didn't dissuade Lily from bounding in to fetch the stick. She parted the green slimy surface by swimming through it. I could hear the kids nearby at a different inlet. They were howling like wolves for fun. I didn't stay long and the boys on bikes were also leaving just ahead of us. As we climbed onto the street I saw one of the boys ditch his bike and hunch over, clutching his finger. He was in pain and began to cry. I saw him put his hand under the sprinkler that was spraying water in the nearby yard. One of the boys knocked on the door of the sprinkler house. I shouted ahead are you okay? He shouted back we need a band-aid. I saw the man who lives across the street doing stuff in his back yard and I yelled to him, "Excuse me, a boy's been hurt, we may need your help." As I approached the injured boy he said his finger got cut in his bike chain. The man and his red-haired daughter came out to the front yard. He asked her to fetch band-aids. The other boys gathered around as the man had a closer look and washed the wound while his daughter was running in and out of the house with gauze and tape. Then the kind man wrapped up the boy's finger with the bandages.

On my way home I found a bright green credit card in the street and picked it up. I could tell it was a young girl's name on the card. When I got home I tried to find her in the telephone book but realized she probably had a cell phone - phone numbers in phone books are an old-fashioned notion. So I called the bank listed on the card and got lost in the robot phone tree a few times. Then the robot asked me for my social security number. I said nothing for a long time and then a real live man said "May I help you?" I said "Yes! I am so happy to talk to a human being! I found a credit card while walking my dog and I wanted to notify the owner and since that was not possible I thought you could help." He told me he would freeze the account and asked me to please cut up the card. "Enjoy your walks," he said, and he thanked me for being a good Samaritan. I thanked him for being a real human being!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Jane Shore

Ode To Utensils
after Charlie Smith

Opening the drawer, I like the old-fashioned egg beater best,
green painted handle so worn and flaked
the blanched wood underneath shows through.
I like to see the evidence of another hand
beneath my own. I like how the twin rotors spin
in tandem, whipping up ghost breaths across my face.
I like the old apple corer and potato masher,
the ones you find at flea markets,
and the hinged egg slicer that, when opened,
is like the miniature lyre I used to pluck
playing in the corner of my mother's kitchen,
its perfect slices of cooked egg like cross sections
of boiled sun. I like the church key's one tooth
biting tin lids so that cans sigh with pleasure.
Strainers, funnels, slotted spoons, spatulas, ladles, tea balls
excite me. At night in bed, I swoon over catalogues of cookery,
and imagine my life as it will never be.
Utensils that sift flour, rice potatoes, plane cheese,
knives that are specialists, with blades
that pare and bone, fillet and carve-
gizmos that zest lemons, curl butter, strip an ear of corn
of its kernels, unravel its strands of silk-
cherry pitter, pepper mill, mortar and pestle, hand-cranked
grinder gnashing down chunks of raw meat and shitting
them out in one long continuous sentence-
peeler undressing the modest carrot, meat thermometer
stuck in the turkey's breast, barely grazing the wishbone-
O utensils, I like your tangs and tines and tongs and prongs.
Unlike me, you work without complaint.
When I close your drawer, do you pray in the dark
to your ancestors, those ancient scoops
made of horn and shell, socket and knuckle,
while I recline, cleaning my teeth with thorns?
-Jane Shore

Heat Wave

When it's this hot and humid it's hard for me to breathe. Each morning I feel like I've woken up on a strange planet and I am not quite acclimated to the atmosphere. I think my dog agrees with me. So when we set out to return a book at the library yesterday we took the tree-lined paths. On our way home we stopped at the Bouley Field water fountain and filled up Lily's red cloth bowl of water and she drank heartily. I filled a second and third bowl full and dumped them over my head to cool off. When we got home I hosed Lily down in the backyard. She ran exuberantly in high-speed loops as if she was celebrating the feeling of relief.

Monday, August 17, 2009


What children observe most closely, explore most obsessively and imagine most vividly are the people around them. There are no perfect toys; there is no magic formula. Parents and other caregivers teach young children by paying attention and interacting with them naturally and, most of all, by just allowing them to play.
-Alison Gopnik

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Deep River

Early this morning we swam in the secret swim spot. Lily is a fast swimmer! We race each other swimming out to the stick. After about 8 rounds of retrieving the stick from the river she's satisfyingly exhausted and we are both cooled off.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Do not seek perfection in a changing world. Instead, perfect your love.

As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss
most of your life.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

August Lunch

I just had a red ripe tomato, sliced, with fresh basil leaves and mayonnaise on home-made toasted sourdough bread!

Horn Sandwich

Monday night we got to dance our heads off and play a song with BRAVE COMBO, my favorite band! Lauren sang her song J'ai Faim Toujours and Bill played on keyboard, Matthew on drum box, and I got to play bari in between Jeffrey on tenor and Danny on trumpet. The horn sandwich is what I call playing with and being surrounded by horns. There's nothing better!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Shorts

I love clotheslines, they are color field poems on a string.

Sock Knot
I tie two worn maroon socks together making a double knot. I toss it for Lily and she is the happiest dog in the world, chewing and tugging and tearing at it. It looks like gum when she pulls at the fabric with her teeth. I can't wait to wear out more socks!

Flip Flops
I wear flip flops every day in summer, walking for miles. When they get wet they squeak as I walk, and my dog turns her head and listens.


Writing is a product of silence.
-Carrie Latet

I even shower with my pen, in case any ideas drip out of the waterhead.
-Graycie Harmon

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
-George Orwell, "Why I Write," 1947

The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone's neurosis, and we'd have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.
-William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

Sunday, August 09, 2009


This discipline and rough treatment are a furnace to extract the silver from the dross. This testing purifies the gold by boiling the scum away.

Jamie Wyeth

Painting is as difficult as brain surgery. It's not that relaxing. But that's the discipline.
-Jamie Wyeth

Anne Truitt

The most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one's own intimate sensitivity.
-Anne Truitt


I never had to go anywhere to find my paradise.
-Emily Dickenson


Edward Hopper's wife wouldn't allow him to draw nudes other than her. The fact that she appears in all of his sketches took on a whole new meaning when I learned that. He drew her because she insisted on it. Now I think she looks angry in the drawings, with her boxy head and square jaw and stocky build. When my sister and I were kids our mother decided she would teach us how to draw the figure. She posed for us in her studio over the garage and directed us to pay attention to the angle of her hips and shoulders and to notice their opposing directions. I was exasperated and uncomfortable being required to draw her. But at least she was clothed.

Urban Nature

I saw two monarch butterflies and an adolescent cardinal today. The cardinal was trying to keep his balance on a wire. His long tail seemed difficult to negotiate. Bill and I were watching from the living room window while he was teetering. He didn't look like he knew what he was doing! He'll grow up to be fire engine red and so handsome. It must be so dull to be a cardinal's wife, looking like a nun by comparison.

Our grass is two feet high, it looks like corn growing. But today I saw real corn growing in a five-foot patch on Earle Street near the post office. Just enough for a few dozen ears. I love the mix of urban and country in our little city.

The ragweed pollen blows in through the window fan making me fly around the room at night and causing my hands and feet to burn. It's an allergic reaction. It happens every August. My husband suggested I harvest a bit of ragweed pollen to carry in my pocket and snort it the next time I am gloomy - a histamine hit!

Garbage Truck

I try not to walk the dog behind the garbage truck in the summer. The garbage soup leaks out making the whole neighborhood stink. I gag! Incense from hell! And anything that falls off the truck is always appealing to my dog and she eats it before I can stop her!

Green Light

One day the little green light on the dashboard of my little blue VW bug lit up. I didn't know what it meant so I drove out to my mechanic who lived in the woods in rural North Carolina. He didn't know what the green light meant either but he asked me to wait. It was late summer 1982 and it was a hot, humid 90 degrees.

When everyone had gone away he cornered me and slipped his hand up my shorts. I started to shiver. My teeth chattered. I turned blue. I was scared to death, and I guess he was too. So he drove me home. Later, I found out the green light was the rear defrost indicator.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

To Live

To live is to embrace each moment as if it were the first, last, and all moments of time.
-Norman Fischer

Friday, August 07, 2009


Words have the power to destroy or heal. When words are both true and kind,
they can change our world.


Everybody's nowhere is somebody's somewhere.

Monk's Hours

These are the monk's hours. I feel light humming in my abdomen. I wake at three thirty, positive that it is dawn. My palms and soles are burning. I get up. I let my dog out to pee, and I make a pot of tea. I read poems and listen to the sleeping neighborhood hum of fans and air conditioners. I see the centipede in the sink drinking last night's water and I crush it with my shoe and wash the evidence away. I don't believe in friendship anymore.

Richard Kenney


Nobody at any rate reads it much.

citizenry have other forms of fun.

Still, who would wish to live in a culture
of which future anthropologists would say
Oddly, they had none?

-Richard Kenney

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Pablo Neruda Poem

Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let's not speak any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn't be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren't unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,

if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I'll go.

-Pablo Neruda, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

Pablo Neruda

Walking Around

It so happens I am sick of being a man.
It so happens that I walk into tailor shops and movie houses
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse sobs.
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.

Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go throught the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the frost.

I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.

I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the gound, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.

That's why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the night.

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist houses,
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.

There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical cords.

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic shops,
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.

-Pablo Neruda, translated by Robert Bly

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Cool Off

It's so hot that after walking a few blocks I fill Lily's cloth bowl with water at the water fountain and she drinks it then I fill it up again and pour it over my head!
Today after our walk I stepped into the kiddie pool and it felt fabulous to lay there in my purple shorts and black T-shirt and soak myself. It cooled me off! I noticed a few potato beetles swimming with me too.

Butcher Shop

Our beloved butcher Jamie Sullivan has invited me to hang my paintings in his shop Shaw's Meats on North Main Street in Woonsocket. Jamie's butcher shop is amazing! The place is clean the staff are friendly the floor is black and white checkered and everything is fresh, beautiful and eye catching. Jamie can tell you how to cook anything. He makes his own French meat pies, his own special marinade sauce, his own special chicken, beef, and pork sausages, and he always has new delicious surprises. While you're there you can also find vegetables, milk, eggs, deli meats and cheeses, cans of tomatoes, beans, and pasta too! Come on by and see the art, and grab a slab o' marinated moo!

Oak Bluffs

Amazing artist Angel Quinonez has opened AMITY CUSTOM INK Tattoo Studio & Gallery in Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. Come on out for stroll night and see my paintings!


I had a dream that Bill and I were in a friend's tiny all-white apartment kitchen and had just cooked dinner. Bill suggested we clean it up. We can't just walk out and leave it this way! I got down on my knees and scrubbed the white kitchen floor and Bill took care of the stove and counter tops. There were two green and red parrots in a tall cage and three fat cats just hanging out sitting in the meatloaf pose. We stepped out of the apartment and there were tall stone walls and a huge stone church and archways. There were people walking around; the ones far away looked really tiny, the ones up close looked really large. I stood and admired the view.

Three AM

It's that time of year! Our favorite band in the world is coming this way on tour from Denton, Texas. BRAVE COMBO. I woke at three AM with joy bubbles in my middle. World peace through BRAVE COMBO!

Dog Toys

Years ago we found a little golden ball in the street that is now Lily's favorite toy. It has a puncture that makes it just squishy enough to inflate and deflate and suck in saliva and make a disgusting sound as Lily chews it. We now affectionately call it the germ ball because it probably contains every microorganism on earth. When it rolls under the couch, we don't rush to retrieve it.

I was thinking I should sew Lily a stuffed denim duck or squirrel from my piles of rags. Her very own momma-made dog toy! I even have a squeaker somewhere salvaged from an old toy Honey had happily eviscerated.

Roy Acuff Song

Wreck on the Highway

Who did you say it was brother?
Who was it fell by the way?
When whiskey and blood run together
Did you hear anyone pray?

I didn't hear nobody pray, dear brother
I didn't hear nobody pray
I heard the crash on the highway
But, I didn't hear nobody pray.

When I heard the crash on the highway
I knew what it was from the start
I went to the scene of destruction
And a picture was stamped on my heart.

There was whiskey and blood all together
Mixed with glass where they lay
Death played her hand in destruction
But I didn't hear nobody pray.

I wish I could change this sad story
That I am now telling you
But there is no way I can change it
For somebody's life is now through.

Their soul has been called by the Master
They died in a crash on the way
And I heard the groans of the dying
But, I didn't hear nobody pray.


Japanese Proverb

First the man takes a drink
Then the drink takes a drink
Then the drink takes the man
-Japanese proverb

Alice Walker

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.
-Alice Walker

Oscar Wilde

I am not young enough to know everything.
-Oscar Wilde


The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.
-Thomas Merton

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mug Shot

I was thinking about how universal it is that people hate their driver's license mug shots. And we have to live with seeing them for four years!! It's quite awful. I had a fantasy yesterday of setting up a business as a driver's license photographer at the registry and I'd snap glammy portraits of people. It wouldn't take much to improve upon the setup they have now. For starters all we'd have to do is change the angle of the photo from the unflattering under the chin angle to the more flattering swooping down shot. I'd have a few make-up samples on hand for people to use. I'd take a dozen photos and people would be allowed to pick their favorite. It wouldn't have to be any more costly than a vanity license plate. My company slogan could be "Because everyone deserves the license to be beautiful."

Closing Time

I am sitting here sobbing my eyes out reading Joe Queenan's book Closing Time. It only made me cry in the last ten pages. Great book. And I learned new word on every page! No joke! He has an amazing vocabulary. Dictionary in my lap.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Well Seasoned

Years ago to celebrate our anniversary we went to Vermont and while we were there we stopped at Dan and Whit's in Norwich and bought ourselves a gigantic cast iron frying pan. It requires three strong men and a pulley to lift it. Now after many years of use, it's well seasoned, like us! Dan and Whit's is the coolest hardware store in the world. Thinking of it makes me want to drive there right now. I've always loved the smell of hardware stores ever since I was a child. And for some reason hardware stores have the same smell as new shoes!


Last night we walked through Precious Blood Cemetery. I call it Little Ireland when we stand on the very green stone-covered hill overlooking the reservoir. Further down Bill spotted a gravestone with the name Octave carved on it. Bill said I love that name. It would be the perfect name for the piano tuner's son.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Swimming in the river gives me ringlets. I wake at five am and sweep the kitchen and mix up two batches of sour dough. I fry an egg in my tiny cast iron frying pan. It's so good, I fry another. Today is August first and somehow it actually feels like a new month.

Working Hands

Yesterday I met the winemaker. She was very pretty lady who has worked at Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton for 25 years. She had beautiful grape-stained hard-working hands. I was hired to photograph her face but I photographed her hands. Then I asked her if she knew the cow lady of Tiverton and it turns out it's her Aunt Jeanne, who has 600 dairy cows! So I went up the road to meet Aunt Jeanne and she was amazing. She is 72 years old with lots of sparkle. I wished she was my Aunt! She gave Bill and me a tour and a gift; some coffee milk (her cows) and frozen hamburger patties (her cattle) to take home. I felt like I had visited Southern France for the afternoon.