Friday, April 30, 2010

An Omelette For A Mouse

I found a tiny white egg on the way home last night. I spotted it in the green grass of someone's lawn. I picked it up to examine it. I thought it was a white jellybean at first but I could see by the shape and subtle markings that it was an unhatched bird's egg. I carefully carried it home in my left hand while holding Lily's leash in my right hand. I wonder what the egg will become. An omelet for a mouse?

Horned Owl

I dreamt there was a horned owl at the window. I was amazed and let him in. Then we fed him a black bird and he ate him feet first. The birds head and beak moved because he was still alive.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pink Confetti

The past few days I've seen piles of pink petals in the streets from the flowering crab apple trees. I scoop up handfuls and let the wind take it away! Pink confetti! And it is super windy today. I've been working hard, I'm a bit calmer, finally adjusting to Spring. Yesterday after working I took Lily swimming in Harris Pond. She fetched the stick about six times and then she exuberantly ran up the bank ahead of me and out of view. I panicked, walking around and calling her name for a few minutes, but then she appeared. When I got home I made wheat-oatmeal molasses scones. Perfect with mango tea! I rolled the dough with my big wooden rolling pin and cut out the small circles using my favorite scalloped-edged cookie cutter. Then I played my sax. I was so tired when I woke up this morning, I felt like I had been run over by a truck. But it is a good feeling to be tired from doing the things that you love.

August Wilson

Confront the dark parts of yourself. ... Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.
-August Wilson

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Robot Winking

We were given a television much larger than any we've ever owned. We lugged it up three flights of stairs and plugged it in. When we turned it on it made an electrical sound like a robot winking. I was instantly mesmerized by the huge technicolor faces. They are so large I feel like an infant looking up from my crib at grownups. It's a powerful tranquilizer.

Life Can Be So Simple

Life can be so simple and delightful
in certain seasons.
I cherish
putting on my walking shoes,
taking a walk,
watching the sky turn colors,
returning home,
making oat cakes,
reading a book.
Who made my shoes, my denim jacket,
my belt, socks, underwear? Someone
laboring over a sewing machine in a hot climate.
I hope they too get to enjoy
a walk, a sunset, oat cakes, a good book.
-EL

Visitors Dream

We walked Lily to the pond last night and she swam in the secret swim spot. On the way we met a man and his family working on the mashed potato house. I told him the story about how I walked past the house last Thanksgiving eve and heard a woman on the porch suddenly say "mashed potatoes" into her cell phone. I've called it the mashed potato house since. He plans to remove the mashed potato siding and put up wood shingles. He's also going to remove the pair of thousand-pound cement deer and give them to the elderly couple on the corner who really wants them! His brother is working on a house around the corner, and their grandfather, the man with the Saint Bernard and the pool, lives a couple of blocks away. It seems like now I know nearly every person and dog and cat along the pond.

Yesterday Bill appraised the piano belonging to one of the women who lives there. She is selling her house and has already moved out. Sometimes I wish that I lived there and could see the sun set nightly over the pond. But it's okay, being a visitor is great. Perhaps I appreciate the neighborhood more than I would as a resident. But imagine if we bought this little house and shared it with our family. We'd all be able to swim in the secret swim spot and in the winter we'd skate on the ice. I would hook up a wood stove to huddle around on damp gray days. Our country house would be a mile-and-a-half walk away! But one house is plenty for me and the dream is more fun as a dream.

Silence Machine

I am extraordinarily sensitive to noise, especially if I am agitated or have a migraine, though I love being in the city. I'm OK with some noise, and other noise drives me crazy. I'm not sure why there is a difference. Some noise makes sense, and doesn't bother me, and other noise is invasive, distracting, and irritating.

I remember visiting my grandmother on Brighton beach as a child. On the hot summer days I'd hear voices and radios and the surf from the beach. She lived next to a racquetball club with outdoor courts, and I would awaken to the sound of the balls being hit and bouncing off the walls. It all was a pleasant noise to me, the sounds of that time and place.

What were the sounds of a hundred years ago? Did Charles Dickens get irritated by the sounds of hooves on cobblestones when he was trying to write?

I love early morning and probably the silence has a lot to do with it. As the day progresses, I might have to make noise to have my silence. Like ski resorts that make snow I'll manufacture white noise so I can have the silence to work. A fan is a good Silence Machine, creating just the silence I need to drown out the urban ghetto in the ever-ripening spring.

Once I left my studio radio on and forgot about it. When I woke in the morning I heard sound from the radio. I was furious that someone would violate the silence of a Sunday morning. Darn, I'll have to call the police, I thought, as I got out of bed. When I fixed my tea and went up to my office I found the radio playing in my studio. I was so embarrassed. The jerk violating this pristine morning was me!!

William James

If this life be not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will. But it feels like a real fight.
-William James

Annie Dillard

A painting covers its tracks. Painters work from the ground up. The latest version of a painting overlays a earlier versions, and obliterates them. Writers, on the other hand, work from left to right. The discardable chapters are on the left. The latest version of a literary work begins somewhere in the work's middle, and hardens toward the end.

Margaret Mead

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
-Margaret Mead

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Heaven walks among us ordinarily muffled in such triple or tenfold disguises that the wisest are deceived and no one suspects the days to be gods.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The days come and go like muffled and veiled figures sent from a distant friendly party, but they say nothing, and if we do not use the gifts they bring, they carry them as silently away.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

This day for all that is good and fair. It is too dear with its hopes and invitations to waste a moment on the rotten yesterdays.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

We, as we read, must become Greeks, Romans, Turks, priest and king, martyr and executioner, that is, must fasten these images to some reality in our secret experience, or we shall see nothing, learn nothing, keep nothing.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The end of being is to know; and if you say, the end of knowledge is action,--why, yes, but the end of that action again, is knowledge.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

All that can be done for you is nothing to what you can do for yourself.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature is a language and every new fact one learns is a new word; but it is not a language taken to pieces and dead in the dictionary, but the language put together into a most significant and universal sense. I wish to learn this language--not that I may know a new grammar, but that I may read the great book which is written in that tongue.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

So far as a man thinks, he is free.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Purity does not lie in separation from but in deeper penetration into the universe.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

It doesn't matter if the water is cold or warm if you're going to have to wade through it anyway.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend must have a long head or a very short creed.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Love alone can unite living beings so as to complete and fulfill them... for it alone joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of men and the earth.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world... Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We are collaborators in creation.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one's self to others.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Recent Paintings

I have posted new paintings. Please visit my "recent paintings" page on my web site portfolio.

http://www.emilyliskerportfolio.com/

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My House Is Breathing

Today all my windows and doors are open. My house is inhaling and exhaling warm spring air. The older I get the more I appreciate and respect the seasonal cycles of the year.

Geneen Roth

Our relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself. I believe we are walking, talking expressions of our deepest convictions; everything we believe about love, fear, transformation and God is revealed in how, when and what we eat... If we are interested in finding out what we actually believe - not what we think, not what we say, but what our souls are convinced is the bottom-line truth about life and afterlife - we need go no further than the food on our plates. God is not just in the details; God is also in the muffins, the sweet potatoes and the tomato vegetable soup. God - however we define him or her - is on our plates.
-Geneen Roth, Women, Food and God

Hans Lohse

Musician and architect Hans Lohse's audiovisual biography - have a peek:
www.earthsong.me

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Darian Leader

I am reading an amazing book called The New Black; Mourning, Melancholia and Depression by UK psychoanalyst Darian Leader, Graywolf Press. It's brilliant!
. . . the exploration of human interiority is being replaced with a fixed idea of mental hygiene. The problem [depression] has to be got rid of rather than understood.
-Darian Leader

High Tops

When your pants are too short, wear high tops!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
-Rumi

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Carpeted Supermarket

Its called Shop and Save. It's a former Almacs that sells beer and wine as well as groceries. I only go there once a year when I want variety, or to feel like I am grocery shopping in a horror movie with all of my former kindergarten teachers. I'm not sure why it feels like that, maybe it's that I don't recognize the brand names or that there's a brown carpet and low ceilings. It's cozy compared to the gigantic supermarkets we are used to but it's not exactly cuddly. I usually go there for just one or two things, like bananas and beer. I love grocery stores and loathe liquor stores, so I'll buy my beer at Stop and Shave and go up and down the aisles looking at the dusty boxes of wild rice and cubes of orange cheese and pre-sliced pepperoni on plastic party trays. Perhaps I don't get out enough. This time I needed to buy pasta. There was no angel hair so I bought linguini. I also had to buy a jar of spaghetti sauce, something I always feel is sacreligious but on this occasion a necessity. So I had a meal of linguine with generic spaghetti sauce, along with a bottle of beer - what fun! It was a delight. As much fun as a carpeted supermarket after a year of my regular grocery store.

Mr. Ashangi

In fifth grade my African dance teacher Mr. Ashangi from Kenya, came to our Social Studies class as a guest. He said dancing is as important as not dancing. Being still is as important as moving. Forty years later, I am still thinking about the importance of his message.

Disc Jockey

When I was 13, I would listen to Alison Steele The Night Bird on WNEW when I was in my bedroom up late, sewing. I loved her smoky voice and the music she played. I wanted to grow up and be a disc jockey just like her. I still think that being a disc jockey would be a cool job. What appeals to me about it is the idea of sharing my love of music, having my solitude, and broadcasting my voice. I had no idea Alison Steele was so famous until I mentioned her name to my neighbor and pal Joe Ferrier who has a record store called Joe's Moldy Oldies and is a disc jockey here in Woonsocket. He said he has LP's of Alison Steele's radio show from back when it was syndicated and people made records!


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alison_Steele

Dog Parents

I saw Bens' mom in the supermarket last night and told her about Fudgie running loose and following Lily and me for two miles. Fudgie is the puggle in Blackstone that I wrote about recently. She said Fudgie was in her yard just now, running loose again. All us neighborhood dog lovers know each other by our dogs' names - we never remember each others' actual names. It's just Jewel's dad, Lily's mom, Fudgie's dad, Ben's mom, etc.

Hoops and Eyes

Yesterday, after discussing it with my husband, I asked my neighbor Kevin if he would liked to have the extra basketball hoop we had. He said sure, and when I turned around to give it to him it was gone. It must have been stolen out of our yard just this week. I felt terrible having made him the offer before noticing that it was gone. I apologized profusely and then felt really creepy knowing someone came into my yard and stole it. Granted, it has sat there leaning against the house for two years. I hope it is getting used. I hope I can find a hoop for Kevin. I loathe broken promises and now I feel I broke a promise.

I set out to walk Lily and try to clear my mind.This had shaken me up. I was already obsessing over this. Part of me wondered, if I had missed the stolen hoop what else had I overlooked? Were the kiddy pool and two old plastic chairs still in our yard? Did someone come with a truck and take all of our yard toys in one swoop? Should I go back home and check, blowing off the walk? No, keep walking, the smarter part of me said. I have always thought of myself as extremely observant. I could have even been a detective except I am too emotional and I have crazy hair. At age seven I used to go to the psychologist's office each week and I would spend the session telling him which books in his bookcase he had moved since the previous week. This is what I did for four sessions a month for eight years. I have an acute visual memory and a tinge of obsessive compulsiveness thrown in for good humor. Yesterday I happened to pick up David Sedaris' essay A Plague Of Tics in his book Naked about his childhood obsessive-compulsive nature. I was blown away. He is an amazing writer.

Okay, now back to the walk. When we turned the corner at East School Street onto North Main Street Lily started to limp and rub her face with her paw as if she had an itch. I looked at her paw and felt around for a thorn but couldn't see one. She limped again, pawing at her face, and I saw a drop of blood and a tiny speck of glass embedded in her front right paw pad. I tried to get it out. Blood came out, glorious red drops one at a time. I wiped my hands on the nearby wet grass. A man on the opposite side of the street was walking slowly wheeling a suitcase and wearing a heavy backpack. He crossed the street, concerned, and I told him Lily had a little glass splinter and I was trying to get it out. I showed him her paw and I felt for the glass again but this time when I reached for it, it fell out! He saw it fall out too. It was a tiny speck the size of a pebble. We both smiled as Lily was instantly prancing and wagging her tail. The thorn from the lion's paw! The man said I just thought another set of eyes might help. I said you are very kind. Thank you. As I resumed walking I thought, see Emily, the world is made up of a lot of good people.

George Bernard Shaw

If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance.
-George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tune A Dish

I dreamt I was tuning a pile of dishes. There were pots and pans soaking in my sink and I was slapping the side of the biggest soup pot with a wooden spoon removing the smaller pots above it to tune up, to make the notes higher and cleaner.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Asparagus!

Lily just had her first swim in Harris Pond and on my way home I told my gardener friend Armand that I was turning over my garden this weekend. He said he just harvested his first crop of asparagus. I realized we probably have some too. So when I returned home I raced into the backyard and found a dozen stalks. I cut them, rinsed them, and ate them standing over the kitchen sink.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Mighty Cross Winds

I realize most of us are acting at cross purposes. What makes me think we'd all line up with the same beliefs, expectations and dreams? No, we all behave like kites being blown this way and that by mighty cross winds. Perhaps if I kept this picture close to my heart my expectations about people wouldn't be dashed so routinely.

Dogs Take My Heart

Yesterday I saw a photo of a 100-pound black Labrador in a nearby pound. Her name is Gretch and apparently they have tried to place her three times and she has been returned each time. I could tell she is a good dog, she is four years old, and she just needs a committed owner to give her three miles of walking each day and some boundaries. I urged them to let me help them find an owner. I might contact Elmsford in New York as a back-up. They are the no-kill shelter where I got Lily.

Later in the evening, walking down Edgewater Drive, I met the family who belonged to the puggle that followed me on Friday. I told them the story of how he followed me all the way to Woonsocket and how I was afraid he would get hit by a car, crossing the busy streets. They said he escapes a lot, he flies out the door and then he's gone! They told me he breaks his collar, and the tags fall off. I suggested they get one of those woven collars with the phone number embedded into the design. They loved that idea.

Further on I saw the young golden retriever who Lily has met several times. As we walked by the fence to say hello the dog jumped up and tore at my husband's shirt, mouthed his hand and started to chew at his beard. His yard is full of torn shirts and sneakers, items apparently given to the dog to chew. The dog is already overweight and his behavior is out of control. He just chews and barks and waits for attention, isolated and left outside all day. The owner came out and was proud to say he was going to breed him because he has champion bloodlines. I hate that arrogant breeding business, and the guy obviously just wants to make money off of his dog. Sadly this man is a good example of how humans are descendants of the Neanderthals. This guy doesn't even walk his dog! He hasn't done an ounce of training with this dog and hasn't given him the companionship either. After he is paid for stud service, then will he start training him? He's got it all backwards. And perhaps that is how he runs his whole life. I walk to clear my head but sometimes what I encounter on my walk requires another walk!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Buckwheat Waffles

I love buckwheat! One Christmas when our family said what would you like? I said buckwheat flour! Everyone gave me a bag. I stashed them in the freezer. I am still using it!

Buckwheat Waffles
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour (I used organic Arrowhead Mills)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk (skim or whole or dry milk)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup oil (I used corn oil)
1 teaspoon real vanilla (RI Job Lot sells it inexpensively)

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately then combine.
Preheat waffle iron and brush on a teaspoon of corn oil. Pour batter into waffle iron-depending on the size of your waffle iron. My 1950's waffle iron waffles use about 1/2 cup of batter and bake for four minutes. These are so good as is, hot or cold. They don't even need butter and jam. You can freeze a bunch if you have leftovers and drop them in the toaster when you want a fast snack.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Black Line

I have been craving solitude and trees on my walks. So I have been walking in cemeteries, hoping the dead won't talk back! Yesterday as I walked down the fire road of Oak Hill Cemetery I looked over at the row of tenements. There was a string of laundry hanging on a line that ran out of the third floor window to a pole in the back yard and every article of women's clothing was black; jeans, shirts with spaghetti straps, bras, panties, socks. I had to smile - it seemed appropriate laundry for a cemetery.

Jane Shore

WORKOUT

by Jane Shore

My sister is doing her exercises,
working out in my husband's study.
The rowing machine sighs deeply with every stroke,
its heavy breathing, like a couple making love.

She's visiting from Iowa
where the cold weather is much worse

When she was ten, I'd hear her
strumming her guitar through the bedroom wall.
She'd borrow my albums - my Joan Baez, my Dylan -
and sing along,
shutting me out, drawing me in;
imitating my hair, my clothes,
my generation.

I used to feel sorry for her
for being eight years younger.

She opens the door a crack, and surfaces
in earphones, and wearing pink bikini panties
and a lover's torn T-shirt.
Strapped to her hands are the weights
that weighed her suitcase down.
Her thighs are tight, her triceps shine,
her body is her trophy.

The night she arrived, we sprawled across my bed,
her cosmetic bag spilled open
and she shadowed my eyelids violet,
demonstrating the latest tricks;
the way I used to make her up
on those nights she watched me dress for dates,

watched me slip into my miniskirt,
my sandals, my love beads.
Now she's no longer in love with me,
and eyes me pityingly,
triumphant, her expression the same as mine
when I watched my mother
examine her face in the magnifying mirror.

She's got to keep in shape.
She's a performer, it's her business
to look beautiful every night.
Sometimes when she begins to sing,
men in the audience fall in love.

She's warming up in the shower;
the tile walls amplify her voice.
Safe, for once, under temperate rain.

Like a dress handed down
from sister to sister,
in time, one body will inherit
what the other has outgrown.

-Jane Shore, Music Minus One

Word Gourmets

I am reading Johnny Cash's autobiography and just like Dr. John's autobiography the language is very musical. I love reading the writings of musicians and poets for this reason. They are word gourmets.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Nicole Dextras

Check this out!
Artist Nicole Dextras makes dresses, "weedrobes," from plants.
http://www.levygallery.com/landart/nicole_dextras/artist.html

Farm Fresh

I just went to Wright's Dairy Farm on Woonsocket Hill Road and pet the big mama Holsteins that were lying down on the cold gray clay in their stalls in the barn. Their heads were poking out of the bottom of the stalls. In the maternity barn there were five pregnant cows standing at the fence eating hay from the wooden trough. A few chickens with colorful plumage walked around pecking at the dirt and warbling. I went inside the bakery and bought some fresh milk and a dozen brown eggs.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bill-frog

We're celebrating 25 years. All that childhood frog kissing paid off!

Twins

Today on my walk I saw twins dogs everywhere. I saw a tall thin man walking two white Westies, and two short round ladies walking two white poodles. I saw a young couple, a man and a pregnant woman, walking two young pitbulls. When I got to Cold Spring Park I saw that the twin baseball fields were occupied by ball players, boys playing in one field and men in the other.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Flowering Trees

I just walked all over the North End of Woonsocket admiring all of the flowering trees. I love the pink crab-apple trees and the flowering white pear trees because they remind me of Van Gogh's painting The Blooming Plumtree. I stood on the hill at Cold Spring Park and admired all of the activity in the diminishing light. I spotted two people closing the gates to run their dogs in the big green baseball field below. Lily and I descended the hill and I asked the two women if it was okay if we came in to play with their dogs. She's good with other dogs I told them. They said sure. There was a beagle and a six-month old black German Shepherd with a white chest and pepper-speckled left paw. Lily ran herself silly chasing them both and being chased by them. She played with their dog toy, a miniature tire that she stuck her snout into and ran with. Then after a few minutes of high-speed running she was exhausted. I thanked the woman for letting me play and we started walking back up the hill through the park. Lily flopped down on the cool gravel near the monkey bars. I realized the gravel was nice and cold, she wanted to cool down. A bunch of kids came over and pet her. She rolled over on her back with her tongue hanging out. She was in heaven. Then we walked home, taking the same route back, and I looked for the short and squat bulldog Mr. President at the corner of North Main Street. He was in his yard and barked at us as we passed. We took a detour to the pollywog pond on East School Street and Lily had a big drink while standing up to her neck in the clear water. She really knows how to live and I feel lucky she is in my life.

Henry David Thoreau

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least--and it is commonly more than that--sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. You may safely say, A penny for your thoughts, or a thousand pounds. When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them--as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon--I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.
-Henry David Thoreau, essay Walking

Martín Espada

I meet people all the time who tell me, "Poetry saved my life. Were it not for poetry, were it not for this poem, were it not for this poet, I would be somewhere else. I would have made other choices. I was in prison when I read your work. I was a dropout when I read your work. And I decided to become a poet myself. I decided to go back to school. I decided to get a job." There are very tangible outcomes as a result of feeling inspired. And we have no way of knowing this as poets when we put our words into the air. And paradoxically, even the most political poem is an act of faith. Because you have no way of quantifying its impact on the world. But the fact is we write these poems and put them into the environment, into the atmosphere and we have no idea where they're going to land. We have no idea who's going to breathe them in. We have no idea what affect it's gonna have on an individual life unless that person materializes and says, "Poetry saved my life."
-Martín Espada

Loose Puggle

Last night at 6:00 PM a black and tan puggle (pug + beagle mix) with a red collar appeared and began following us when we were walking along Harris Pond. I asked a few neighbors if they had ever seen him before. Nobody had. He didn't have tags. He was totally enamored with Lily and even got his face peed on a few times when he ran up to her while she lifted her leg. He managed to follow us for two miles, right to the intersection of Rathbun and Privilege Streets at the Blackstone/Woonsocket border. The dog would run into traffic following us and I had to stop a few cars. I carry a spare leash, since this has happened before with loose dogs following us, and I tried to hook him up. The dog squirmed away each time I reached to catch him. I asked a guy who was walking toward us while talking on a cell phone if he recognized the dog. He decided to help out and turned around and headed back to Blackstone with the dog following him.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Bullfrogs

The bullfrog tadpoles in the holding pond on my street are huge, bigger than my big toe. They have yellow bellies and swim rapidly away when Lily and I approach the pond. I just looked up bullfrogs on Wikipedia and found all kinds of cool words. I'd be a biologist just for the words.
American Bullfrog Rana catesbeiana,
Bullfrogs grow on average to be about 3 and a half to 6 inches (9-15 cm) long in bodylength (although there are records of some as big as 8 inches), legs add another 7-10 inches (17 - 25 cm) to length. Adult bullfrog skeleton is representative of tetrapod vertebrates, comprising an axial skeleton (skull and vertebrae) and an appendicular skeleton (pectoral girdle and forelimbs, pelvic girdle and hindlimbs). Ranids, however, lack ribs. The pronounced pair of dorsal humps in the back of ranid frogs are the ends of the pelvic ilia, homologues of the human hips.

The bullfrog skull is highly fenestrated. The orbits open ventrally through the roof of the mouth to accommodate eye retraction during locomotion and swallowing. The skull bears a continuous row of tiny teeth on the maxilla and premaxilla and a pair of small vomerine teeth on the palate. The mandible is toothless.

The bullfrog nervous system consists of a brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves including cranial nerves, spinal nerves, and sympathetic nerves serving organs such as the heart, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, gonads.

Females have an eardrum (tympanum) the same size as their eye. Males' eardrums are larger.

Olden Days

I am turning fifty this year and I've been thinking a lot about what this means. First of all, it means that all of my childhood traumas are ancient history. Not that the scars and pain are gone, that may never happen, but the events were fifty years ago! As I used to say to my mom, "When you were a kid was it the olden days?" My picture of my parents' and grandparents' time was that everything was in sepia tones and horses carried milk in wagons over the cobblestones. A few years ago my biological father gave me an old photo album. I looked through it, not recognizing anyone. In one photo, I pointed at a baby carriage. "Hey, look at that antique baby carriage." It was made of wicker. But then I had to laugh, because wasn't an antique, it was what they looked like back then!

Tipi

I am not much of a traveler in the tangible sense although I am never NOT traveling in my imagination. Perhaps that is why I prefer to stay close to home. I get vertigo in cars, boats, or airplanes. But I love trains! I probably would love to travel on horseback, but I won't because I can't imagine any animal wanting to carry 130 pounds.

I have always loved spending time in a tipi - I lived in one briefly. For me it's a kind of travel. I have collected tipi-making books and pamphlets for decades. I have a strong cast-iron 1940's Kenmore sewing machine and know of places where I could buy awning canvas to sew one. I even have a scraper my brother gave me for taking the bark off the poles. maybe someday I will set up a small one in the backyard for the dog and cats and kids to play in.

Uniform

I love uniforms. I even asked my mom if I could go to the parochial school on my street because the girls wore a uniform - plaid grey and maroon skirts and maroon sweaters with white blouses underneath and dark tights! Even when I was 3 years old I remember just wanting to wear my navy blue Danskin turtleneck and pants every single day like a uniform. After college I bought a case of black T shirts and 4 pairs of black jeans and I was set for a few decades. Years ago I read that Georgia O'Keefe wore only black and white and now that makes sense to me. Especially for painters, wearing colors can be a huge distraction, like wearing cologne. These days I get to perform in outfits that are essentially uniforms. And I'll still pick out a piece of clothing, like a vest, and wear it for days on end.

Kabir

The small ruby everyone wants
has fallen out on the road.
Some think it is east of us,
others west of us.

Some say, "Among the primitive
earth rocks," others,
"in the deep waters."

Kabir's instinct told him
it was inside, and what
it was worth, and he
wrapped it up carefully
in his heart cloth.

-Kabir, translated by Robert Bly

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Garth Hudson

There is a view that jazz is 'evil' because it comes from evil people, but actually the greatest priests on 52nd Street and on the streets of New York City were the musicians. They were doing the greatest healing work. They knew how to punch through music that would cure and make people feel good.
-Garth Hudson, The Band

Wheat Pimp

My pal Brittin Eustis is what I call a wheat pimp, he's a wheat broker. See my cooking blog, The Insomniacs Kitchen to learn about the new grain freekeh (wheat) and recipes.

http://TheInsomniacsKitchen.blogspot.com

Wolf Spider

A wolf spider crawled across my desk this morning. I have always been an arachnophobe! I blew the spider off the desk hoping Lily would eat him. She didn't, she only sniffed him as he crawled along the rug. I ran and I put my empty glass watercolor painting jar over him. Then I slid thin cardboard under the jar and moved him outside to the porch and set him free over the garden.

Risk Everything

Risk everything to do what you care about. Life is short.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Simone De Beauvoir

My life would be a beautiful story come true, a story I would make up as I went along.
-Simone De Beauvoir, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter

Richard Thompson

I have a definite idea to start, and it changes as I do it, or no idea, and just go through the process, and realize that I had an idea, but it was buried in my subconscious, and now I can see it.
-Richard Thompson, songwriter

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Red Cart

I just walked Lily to Fernandez Market and on the way I found a red supermarket shopping cart that was broken but mendable. I took my extra dog leash and wrapped the loose section of the cart so it stayed closed. Then I was able to walk Lily and my 10 pounds of potatoes, large cabbage, 3 pounds of apples, hand of bananas, bunch of celery, and 2 bags of carrots the two miles home!

Common Scents

Yesterday we ran into the man who used to be the gardener at Oak Hill cemetery and when he greeted Lily his cologne rubbed onto Lily's head and neck. When I went back to my desk, I was so distracted by Lily wearing his scent that I took her to the muddy park puddle knowing she would lounge in the stinky swamp water! I preferred that scent to cologne. When we got home I hosed her off.

Goodbye to the Old Life

by Wesley McNair

Goodbye to the old life,
to the sadness of rooms
where my family slept as I sat

late at night on my island
of light among papers.
Goodbye to the papers

and to the school for the rich
where I drove them, dressed up
in a tie to declare who I was.

Goodbye to all the ties
and to the life I lost
by declaring, and a fond goodbye

to the two junk cars that lurched
and banged through the campus
making sure I would never fit in.

Goodbye to the finest campus
money could buy, and one
final goodbye to the paycheck

that was always gone
before it got home.
Farewell to the home,

and a heartfelt goodbye
to all the tenants who rented
the upstairs apartment,

particularly Mrs. Doucette,
whose washer overflowed
down the walls of our bathroom

every other week, and Mr. Green,
determined in spite of the evidence
to learn the electric guitar.

And to you there, the young man
on the roof turning the antenna
and trying not to look down

on how far love has taken you,
and to the faithful wife
in the downstairs window

shouting, "That's as good
as we're going to get it,"
and to the four hopeful children

staying with the whole program
despite the rolling picture
and the snow - goodbye,

wealth and joy to us all
in the new life, goodbye!

-Wesley McNair

Mud, Apples, Milk

by Michael Walsh

Of all things to miss, it's silly
to miss how cows drowse in mud.
They blink slow as toads.
Instead I should miss
light on the blond corn
or trails of gravel dust
that rose like kites and vanished.

But I don't miss that.
I miss how I could bring
bruised apples, press them
like smelling salts
to sleepy noses.
You had to let go
real fast or risk a finger
to the lick and snap.

I miss their udders too,
the mud fresh as wax
on the swollen skin.
Each day I broke the seals
with hot rags, and milk
flooded my palm—
a white creek down
the gully of my wrist.

-Michael Walsh

Monday, April 05, 2010

Spring

Spring is always poignant because nothing stays. It must be caught and appreciated on the wing, for soon it will be gone. And with so many of my friends now in their eighties it is more poignant than usual for me this year.
-May Sarton, The House By The Sea

Creosote Cologne

Last night before bed I bent down and smooched Lily on the snout as I do every night. Her face smelled like creosote. I realized the hot weather had made the telephone poles sweat creosote, and when she approached them on yesterday's walk, sniffing eagerly, she picked up a bit of creosote cologne on her nose, giving her a most distinguished fragrance.

S Shape!

Once I was in the waiting room at Sears getting a new battery put into my car. The TV was blasting and flickering colors and motion, and I wanted to look away. It was Oprah and she had a guest named Doctor Oz. The doctor was telling women that their shit, when perfectly healthy, should land in the shape of an "S." As if women needed more shapes to worry about!

Wesley McNair

Sleep

by Wesley McNair

The young dog would like to know
why we sit so long in one place
intent on a box that makes the same
noises and has no smell whatever.
Get out! Get out! we tell him
when he asks us by licking the back
of our hand, which has small hairs,
almost like his. Other times he finds us
motionless with papers in our lap,
or at a desk looking into a humming
square of light. Soon the dog understands
we are not looking, exactly, but sleeping
with our eyes open, then goes to sleep
himself. Is it us he cries out to,
moving his legs somewhere beyond
the rooms where we spend our lives?
We don't think to ask, upset
as we are in the end with the dog,
who has begun throwing the old,
shabby coat of himself down on every
floor or rug in the apartment, sleep,
we say, all that damn dog does is sleep.
-Wesley McNair

May Sarton

It is time I caught on to the fact that people who say, "I make no demands" are the ones, of course, who, whether they know it or not, are out for the blood in one's body, are out to catch the soul, and to dominate a life. The least they demand (but that is everything) is one's attention.
-May Sarton, The House By The Sea

John Hall Wheelock

As life goes on, it becomes more intense because there are tremendous numbers of associations and so many memories. So many people you loved are gone. It's almost two societies, the living and the dead, and you live with them both.
-John Hall Wheelock, quoted in May Sarton's The House By The Sea

May Sarton

I am begining a new phase. Perhaps one must always feel absolutely naked and abandoned and desolate to be ready for the inner world to open again. Perhaps one has to dare that. This morning I feel better for having let the woe in, for admitting what I have tried for weeks to refuse to admit - lonliness like starvation.
-May Sarton, The House By The Sea

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Muddy Waters

I'M A KING BEE

Well I'm a king bee
Buzzing around your hive
Well I'm a king bee, baby
Buzzing around your hive
Yeah I can make honey baby
Let me come inside

Well I'm a king bee
Want you to be my queen
Well I'm a king bee, baby
Want you to be my queen
Together we can make honey
The world has never seen

Well, buzz a while...
Sting you bad...

Well I'm a king bee
Can buzz all night long
Well I'm a king bee, baby
Can buzz all night long
Yeah I can buzz better baby
When your man is gone

-Muddy Waters

Trout Fishing in Manville

I saw Gene yesterday sitting at one of the barn-red picnic tables at the Castle Luncheonette shelling peanuts. "Where's Rita?" I asked. Rita is his sister. Gene and Rita walk several miles each day around Woonsocket.
"She doesn't come down on Saturdays - she takes a day off. Tomorrow she'll be here. She lives in Manville."
"I love Manville," I said, "I get my honey there from the honey people on Old River Road." "I go trout fishing there," Gene said.
"Do you eat them?"
"My sister does."
I'd love to go trout fishing with Gene in Manville.

Church Bells

Last night I went to bed at 8 PM exhausted from a day of sinus headaches. I woke at midnight and went to my studio. Forty-five minutes later I heard church bells ring, and then at one AM they rang about 12 times more. I realized it was Father Onisi's church around the corner on Elbow Street. They must have just finished a midnight Easter Mass. Bill woke up - he had been dreaming that someone was ringing our front doorbell!

April In Woonsocket

Yesterday morning Lily and I walked to the holding pond down my street - I knew it would be full from the rain. Lily approached the water and a bunch of chubby tadpoles the size of goldfish swam away. I had Lily on the extra long leash as she gently stepped into the water. Then we walked up to North Main Street. I spotted a row of rhubarb poking out high on a wall that separates a garage from a parking lot. I love rhubarb! A church had a large wooden cross draped in purple fabric that had tangled in the wind out front, and the cross had a circular crown of real thorns. I admired the butcher shop's colorful hand-painted signs tacked up on the front of the building and on the sandwich boards in the parking lot. April in Paris was the first sax tune I ever learned. This was April in Woonsocket!

As I approached Barbara's Place, two old guys were wheeling up in their motorized wheelchairs. Big signs hung off the chair backs labeled D.A.V. - disabled American veterans. One guy was getting up to lock his wheelchair to the bench. "Last year someone stole my chair," he shouted to his friend. I sat down on the bench with Lily. Barbara came out to water the red, yellow, and purple tulips and then took the man's order from his chair. "I want something different," he said. "How about a cheesburger?" Barbara asked. "Okay." Then he told me his name was Matt and that he had bought five baseball lottery tickets that morning. "I won two dollars, and then I won fifty dollars on the second card." I listened and drank some water. The other man came out and unlocked his chair but the keys fell to the sidewalk. I handed them to him. "Keys to heaven," he said, and we laughed. "She's my key to heaven," I said, pointing to Lily. "She's a nice dog," he said. "I'd like to have a Chihuahua."

May Sarton

Far greater risks than the risks attendant upon an uprooted, floating-free life that may at first glance appear "adventurous" and/or "dangerous"? The leap into commitment, in love, or in work, or in religion, demands far greater courage.
-May Sarton, The House by The Sea

Saturday, April 03, 2010

John Thorne

When I dropped out of college in 1961, I ended up in a tenement apartment on the Lower East Side, with the bathtub next to the kitchen sink. But this was still a time when cooking seemed relatively obvious, and when it wasn't, you looked at the directions on the package. My problems came about when I bought food that was not part of the family repertoire, chicken gizzards, for example. I had no idea what to expect from them, so I had no idea as to whether I had cooked them properly. It reminds me of the time my mother encountered an avocado but confused it with an artichoke. Close, in a way, no? Still, the results were not a success. I ate a lot of scrambled eggs at first, then branched out to cooking hamburger and chopped onion, then stirring in frozen peas. And on and on. Anyone for more kasha and chicken gizzards?
-John Thorne

John Thorne

Perfection is as false an economy in cooking as it is in love, since, with carrots or potatoes as with lovers, the perfectly beautiful are all the same; the imperfect, different in their beauty, every one.
-John Thorne, Simple Cooking

Friday, April 02, 2010

Carl Finch

I'll buy into a lot of stuff that many people would think is too
musically shallow or manipulative and usually not mind being so easily
persuaded, cause I'm also easily transported. It’s a cheap way to travel.

-Carl Finch, Brave Combo

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Library

I read in the paper today that there's a library in North Scituate RI where along with books and DVD's you can borrow a fishing pole, an extra large cake pan or a puppet! Is that cool or what?

Baritone Fool

April Fool's Day! Today is my 5th anniversary of playing the baritone saxophone!