Saturday, May 29, 2010

One Love

The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.
-Meister Eckhart

Rumi

Listen to presences inside poems.
Let them take you where they will.
Follow those private hints,
And never leave the premises.

-Jellaludin Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne

Allen Ginsberg

The only thing that can save the world is the
reclaiming of the awareness of the world.
That is what poetry does.
-Allen Ginsberg

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pam Muñoz Ryan

For me, momentum is far more important than inspiration.
-Pam Muñoz Ryan

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hears the Mermaids Singing

I just read Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing by May Sarton. It was fabulous. I got it from the library yesterday and couldn't put it down. I think I will read it over again today. For some reason I always want to read May Sarton's books over and over again.

Full Moon

Last night a storm cloud was lit up by lightning and beside it was a clear full yellow moon and stars! I went to sleep after ten but at 1:30 AM I woke to Lily whimpering to go out. It was thundering and lightning and raining hard. I let her into the garden on the long leash while I stood crouching at the garden door. I watched her circling. When she was done she hopped back inside soaking wet. I toweled her off and we both went back to bed. I was awake for a while thinking, swimming through words and images of my previous day hoping I would fall back to sleep. This morning it is 20 degrees cooler and I have opened all the windows inviting the cool air in to chase away yesterdays heat and humidity. The warm air is rapidly rising up through the house and the cool air is settling in.

Old Sweet Beggar

This
Path to God
Made me such an old sweet beggar.

I was starving until one night
My love tricked God Himself
To fall into my bowl.

Now Hafiz is infinitely rich,
But all I ever want to do

Is keep emptying out
My emerald filled
Pockets

Upon
This tear stained.
World.

-Hafiz, The Subject Tonight is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky.

One Person

I write for one person, but the person changes.

-May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears The Mermaids Singing

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Freya Stark

From love one can only escape at the price of life itself; and no lessening of sorrow is worth exile from that stream of all things human and divine.
-Freya Stark

One can only really travel if one lets oneself go and takes what every place brings without trying to turn it into a healthy private pattern of one's own and I suppose that is the difference between travel and tourism.
-Freya Stark

Tempo Wisdom

The great wisdom for writers, perhaps for everybody, is to come to understand to be at one with their own tempo.
-Alan Hollinghurst

Mermaids Singing

It was completely fruitless to quarrel with the world, whereas the quarrel with oneself was occasionally fruitful, and always, she had to admit, interesting.
-May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears The Mermaids Singing

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lara Herscovitch

Fabulous singer-songwriter Lara Herscovitch sent these to me today and I loved them.

We must try to take our task more seriously and ourselves more lightly. -Dorothy Height

Don't go on discussing what a good person should be. Just be one.
-Marcus Aurelius

Anne Raver

My sister, Martha, who lives in New Hampshire, likes to torture me with stories of canoeing on crystal-clear lakes, where the wild high-bush blueberries hang down over the water and you scoop them into your mouth until your lips turn purple.
-Anne Raver, NYT

On Stage

There are roofers working on the house next door (4 feet away) so I will wait until they leave before I put my new plants in the ground. When I walk my dog through the city I am on stage and public, but I am private when I'm in my garden. Don't get me wrong, the roofers are perfectly nice guys and I am not afraid of their jokes. In fact I give it right back to them when I am out on the street with Lily. I shout "I'm the age of your momma!" And we all laugh. But my garden is a sacred place.

I still have a large tin of cat food from when our house cats OJ and Powie were alive. I've put some of it in the big orange plastic pumpkin head in my garden, and I've tilted the hole to the side so the outdoor cats can step in to eat but the rain can't get in. I've also placed fresh water in a blue ceramic bowl placed snugly into the soil. It's all for the four teenage cats that now live in my jungle garden and yard. There are two orange Tabbies, a cow kitty (black and white), and an all-black one. This morning it smelled like skunk in the garden. Mr Skunk may have found the pumpkin head with the cat food inside and a scuffle may have ensued, but there's still some food left. At our mealtime when we open the kitchen curtains to the view of the garden and sit down to eat, we watch the cats come on stage and perform their cat show. They'd better watch out! The newspaper said there's a few black bears loose around town.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Painted Trees

The ailanthus is blooming! There's a stretch of them along the southern edge of Precious Blood Cemetery and each time that I walk by I am reminded of the Henri Rousseau painting called A Stroll In The Woods. The branches are so jungle-like it's as if Rousseau had painted them. Even when the leaves are gone in winter and the trees are gray and bare I still think they look like they were painted into the landscape. The black locust is blooming too. And all the evergreens have grown an additional inch of bright green.

Garden Napper

Yesterday I had to convince myself it wasn't rude to take the farmer up on his offer to give me more rhubarb stalks so I set out to go see him. When I arrived at his garden I was still feeling shy. There was a man on the far side of the garden in a chair and I waved. When I got up close I saw that he was asleep in an aluminum lawn chair with a hat shading his eyes. He was not the farmer I met last week. I certainly wasn't going to wake him to ask him where the farmer was so instead I just stood and stared at the huge patch of flowering rhubarb and the newly planted vegetables. I noticed a new row of plants freshly watered with damp soil around them. The damp soil looked like a shadow. These were bean plants that he cultivated in his home made greenhouse made of plywood with plastic sheeting as sky lights. I was inspired. I stopped off at Bileau's and picked out a flat of starter plants: kale, basil, tomatoes, lavender, lettuce, cukes, zucchini, and beets. They are holding them for me.

I Can't Stop

I can't stop; I don't know how it works. Goodbye, folks! ...
-Lyman Frank Baum The Wizard Of Oz

Add Up

But there’s a funny thing about long walks. With patience, all those steps add up. . .
-Matt Gross, Frugal Traveler NYT

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Contentment

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
-Epicurus

We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
-Frederick Keonig

You can't stop loving or wanting to love because when its right, it's the best thing in the world. When you're in a relationship and it's good, even if nothing else in your life is right, you feel like your whole world is complete.
-Keith Sweat

Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.
-Socrates

Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy.
-Lao Tzu

There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment.
-Swami Sivananda

Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is right at their heels.
-Bertolt Brecht

We may pass violets looking for roses. We may pass contentment looking for victory.
-Bern Williams

It is better to want what you have than to have what you want.
-Philemon

Contentment is a pearl of great price, and whoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and a happy purchase.
-John Balguy

Subtlety

Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.
-Leonardo da Vinci

Questions show the mind's range, and answers, its subtlety.
-Joseph Joubert

He is inside as well as outside all beings, animate and inanimate. He is incomprehensible because of His subtlety. He is very near as well as far away.
-Bhagavad Gita

Happiness

For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If someone bases happiness
on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn't going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.
-Andy Rooney

Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.
-Andy Rooney

Deserving

No matter how qualified or deserving we are, we will never reach a better life until we can imagine it for ourselves and allow ourselves to have it.
-Richard Bach

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.
-Buddha

Accept yourself as you are. Otherwise you will never see opportunity. You will not feel free to move toward it; you will feel you are not deserving.
-Maxwell Maltz

All wise people say the same thing; that you are deserving of love, and that it's all here now, everything you need. When you pray, you are not starting the conversation from scratch, just remembering to plug back into a conversation that's always in progress.
-Anne Lamott

Generosity is another quality which, like patience, letting go, non-judging, and trust, provides a solid foundation for mindfulness practice. You might experiment with using the cultivation of generosity as a vehicle for deep self-observation and inquiry as well as an exercise in giving. A good place to start is with yourself. See if you can give yourself gifts that may be true blessings, such as self-acceptance, or some time each day with no purpose. Practice feeling deserving enough to accept these gifts without obligation-to simply receive from yourself, and from the universe.
-Jon Kabat-Zinn

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Feeding

The proverb warns that 'You should not bite the hand that feeds you.' But maybe you should, if it prevents you from feeding yourself.
-Thomas S. Szasz

Paying alimony is like feeding hay to a dead horse
-Groucho Marx

The child learns so easily because he has a natural gift, but adults, because they are tyrants, ignore natural gifts and say that children must learn through the same process that they learned by. We insist upon forced mental feeding and our lessons.
-Rabindranath Tagore

I know not what you believe of God, but I believe He gave yearnings and longings to be filled, and that He did not mean all our time should be devoted to feeding and clothing the body.
-Lucy Stone

Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.
-E. M. Forster

I'm gonna share with you a vision that I had . . . You know all that money we spend on nuclear weapons and defense each year, trillions of dollars, correct? Instead -- just play with this -- if we spent that money feeding and clothing the poor of the world -- and it would pay for it many times over, not one human being excluded -- we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever in peace.
-Bill Hicks

Walter Baghot

Necessity teaches all things.
-Walter Baghot

Walter Baghot

Walter Baghot (3 February 1826 – 24 March 1877) was a British businessman, essayist, and journalist who wrote extensively about literature, government, and economic affairs.

You may talk of the tyranny of Nero and Tiberius; but the real tyranny is the tyranny of your next-door neighbor.

The real essence of work is concentrated energy.

We must not let daylight in upon the magic.

Writers like teeth are divided into incisors and grinders.

The whole history of civilization is strewn with creeds and institutions which were invaluable at first, and deadly afterwards.

It is often said that men are ruled by their imaginations; but it would be truer to say they are governed by the weakness of their imaginations.

Nothing is more unpleasant than a virtuous person with a mean mind.

A man's mother is his misfortune, but his wife is his fault.

All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality - the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape.

One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea.

An inability to stay quiet is one of the conspicuous failings of mankind.

A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.

Business is really more agreeable than pleasure; it interests the whole mind . . . more deeply. But it does not look as if it did.

Poverty is an anomaly to rich people: it is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell.

To a great experience one thing is essential - an experiencing nature.

The habit of common and continuous speech is a symptom of mental deficiency. It proceeds from not knowing what is going on in other people's minds.

Swinging Door

Last night I dreamt that a porch door on a neighboring tenement had swung in the wind hard enough to be torn off the building. It looked like the entire door frame had been ripped out, taking bits of wall with it and leaving a ragged hole in place of a doorway. The house looked like it had been bombed. I know I had this dream because the tenement house four feet away from ours is being re-roofed, and they have stripped off all the slate shingles and the underlying wooden support, revealing a skeletal structure that is quite frightening to see. The house was built as a twin of ours in 1885. Maybe that was the last time the wooden underskin was exposed to viewing eyes.

Justin Richardson

About asparagus my only quip
Is that, though dear, it does include the tip.
-Justin Richardson

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kevin Broccoli

Have a peek at these amazing poems!

http://thekevinbroccoliblog.blogspot.com/

Ballad Of A Thin Man

Ballad of a Thin Man
by Bob Dylan

You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, "Who is that man?"
You try so hard
But you don't understand
Just what you'll say
When you get home.

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You raise up your head
And you ask, "Is this where it is?"
And somebody points to you and says
"It's his"
And you says, "What's mine?"
And somebody else says, "Where what is?"
And you say, "Oh my God
Am I here all alone?"

But something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You hand in your ticket
And you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you
When he hears you speak
And says, "How does it feel
To be such a freak?"
And you say, "Impossible"
As he hands you a bone.

And something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You have many contacts
Among the lumberjacks
To get you facts
When someone attacks your imagination
But nobody has any respect
Anyway they already expect you
To all give a check
To tax-deductible charity organizations.
You've been with the professors
And they've all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You've been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
You're very well read
It's well known.

But something is happening here
And you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you
And then he kneels
He crosses himself
And then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice
He asks you how it feels
And he says, "Here is your throat back
Thanks for the loan."

And you know something is happening
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word "NOW"
And you say, "For what reason?"
And he says, "How?"
And you say, "What does this mean?"
And he screams back, "You're a cow
Give me some milk
Or else go home."

Because something is happening
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, you walk into the room
Like a camel and then you frown
You put your eyes in your pocket
And your nose on the ground
There ought to be a law
Against you comin' around
You should be made
To wear earphones.

Does something is happening
And you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

-Bob Dylan

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Moose Farm

My favorite web site is the Kostroma Moose Farm. Have a peek. Read the site in Russian or English but the moose only understand Russian.

Click here.

Wadlopen

Trudging through muck is a pastime for the Dutch, who call it wadlopen. A popular route is across a shallow stretch of the Wadden Sea to Ameland island.
-David Corn, NYT

Dominique Browning

Spring blew in so wildly that year that it seemed unnatural, or perhaps I just noticed what spring feels like once I wasn’t sealed in a climate-controlled building all day. Weather — the actual experience of it, not the forecast — is one of the more dramatic discoveries to come with a slower pace of life. There were days at the office when I didn’t know whether it was muggy or cool, or if it had rained. It dawned on me that there was something unsavory about having been so cut off from nature that I was surprised by the golden hue in the slant of light at four in the afternoon — on a weekday, no less.
-Dominique Browning, Slow Love

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gandhi

When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Octalingual

I just ran to the post office with Lily to catch the five o'clock pickup. On the ground in front of the mailboxes was a WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Superfoods coloring book. It's in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Lao, and Cambodian. Sounds like my neighborhood! On the way home there was moisture falling from the heavens, like a plant mister. I saw guys hitting baseballs in the wet field. I love when it's cool and gray out. I wish it never got hot in the summer.

Louis Pasteur

In the field of observation, chance favours only the prepared mind.
-Louis Pasteur

Prison Dream

Last night I watched my favorite BBC drama Cold Case and then I dreamt I was in prison in NYC for going 15 dollars over my credit limit on my credit card. When I got there I saw three artist friends in my bunker wearing orange jump suits. I missed my dog but I saw other people had their dogs. They told me to read young adult books because the Judge loves young adult books and I can go home in a few days. I was hungry but I had no money to buy prison meals. They offered me a job in the kitchen where I could probably find something to eat. But I decided not to take it. Instead, I wanted to stare into space or read and write.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Love Mud

I was given a few herbs for my garden: cilantro, dill, loveage, rosemary, oregano, and so far they have taken! So I am going to get a few more plants at Bileau's, and seeds for spinach, kale, collards, and carrots at Job Lot. I am moving really slowly so I won't become overwhelmed. I want the garden to be a pleasure and a delight and not a prison. I love playing with dirt and water because it makes MUD! I used to make pottery - I love MUD like I love dough!

Last night I finally met the neighbors whose menagerie I have admired from afar, the family that has chickens, bunnies, a dog, an orange cat, and a vegetable garden. We traded stories about urban farming. They gave us a dozen eggs from their chicken coop. The husband said they heat the coop in the winter with an electric blower to keep the chickens warm so the chickens will lay eggs all year. We all wished we could have milking cows. The husband told me he once got a baby bull for twenty bucks and kept him for a while in the garage! He said the bull was sweet and gentle. His wife, smiling, said, "I told him to get rid of it!" I think she is from Poland, she has a strong accent. They are an adorable couple. They have a house in the mountains they love to escape to. She said she has to wear bells out in the wilderness when she picks berries to keep the bears away.

I have connected with three gardeners in my town this weekend. My three heroes of urban farming!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Al Giordano

The danger for everyone comes if we begin to consider that online representation to be “the real me.” But I'm not really “Al Giordano.” I just play him on the Internet. And a very few people have ever gotten in close enough, in daily life outside the screen, to know the real Al, because that guy does have borders and visas to be stamped before somebody can enter.

Truth is – as every artist and creator knows – exhibitionism is fun! And extremely satisfying: It is, in fact, a basic human need that is experiencing a renaissance, which has democratized the artist’s impulse beyond the smaller circle of those of us who obsessively develop our arts as a craft.

-Al Giordano, The Field blog

Susana Ventura

A lot of younger people who'd work with me would see me talk directly to the audience, and they'd go, ‘Oh, I can do that.’ But they didn't understand the level of integrity you have to bring to talking directly to the audience. Because …it doesn't work unless you're really at risk.
-Susana Ventura aka Penny Arcade

Adrienne Rich

Poetry is an art of translation, a connective strand between unlike individuals, times, and cultures.
-Adrienne Rich

Raspberries and Rhubarb

This morning I made a raisin rhubarb cardamom cake from Robert's rhubarb. While it was baking I transplanted raspberry bushes, dill weed, cilantro, lemon balm, and tarragon, all gifts from Armand's garden.

Rhubarb

I met Robert the rhubarb farmer last night when walking by his garden with Lily on the way to Cass Park. His family has lived in the same house for three generations. He told me it was built before any of the neighborhood houses were built. He picked 33 stalks of red ripe rhubarb for me! I carried it home, chopped it up and boiled it. It's delicious with a bit of sugar.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hair of the Dog

If dog hair is the way to clean up the oil spill, we can do it! We'll send down our vacuum cleaner bags chock full!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Twig Pile

Tonight the kids from Hazel Street played jump rope with Lily's extra long leash. I took it off of her and held her by the collar so they could jump a few rounds. Then I showed them Lily's circus dog trick of sitting still and then catching a tossed ball. She caught it nearly every time. The kids began saying "circus dog, circus dog," and then when Lily's attention finally waned she let the ball bounce off her forehead.

Then the kids ran and got a stick for Lily from their backyard wood pile and she eagerly chewed it, holding it gracefully between her front paws. Then all the kids ran back and each got a stick from the twig pile for Lily. She sat and chewed them all.

I made my first iced coffee of the season using coffee ice cubes and I am wearing flip-flops. Summer is in the air.

Greek Proverb

An artist lives everywhere.
-Greek Proverb

Ice Cream Cone Tree

I walked to the library with Lily and decided to keep walking to the North End. The horse chestnut trees are in bloom and look like ice cream cone trees! I walked through Cold Spring Park and a four-year-old boy and his mom loved meeting Lily. They joined me in the fenced-in baseball field. The boy threw my day-glow softball and Lily chased it. It was fun. I kept the long leash on Lily so the boy could run up and stop Lily from running by standing on the leash and then he'd jump off it and throw the ball again. It was delightful to watch. On the way home Lily wanted to swim in the pollywog pond. I threw the board and Lily fetched it like she did yesterday. When we got home I patted her dry. She is exhausted. For lunch I put hot and spicy salsa on my peanutbutter sandwich.

Strapless And Pink

Yesterday while walking Lily, I found a bright pink strapless push-up bra in the cemetery, just my size! I would never own a bra like that, with lacy edging and a plastic jewel hanging from the little bow in the center. So of course I took it home and washed it. It's a real mermaid item. And anyway how many dead people need bras?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

John Thorne

Traditionally, Matt and I get Chinese takeout for Thanksgiving, a holiday I actively dislike. Despite its name, Thanksgiving is really the Family Holiday. Even Christmas pales beside it: that day's focus is on giving and receiving even more than togetherness. Strangely though, being alone on Christmas is to be almost hauntingly empty; you feel like a ghost. But being alone on Thanksgiving is rather wonderful, like not attending a party that you didn't want to go to and where no one will realize you're not there. At Thanksgiving, you gather with your family and stuff yourself with food as if it were love—or the next best thing —then stagger back to your regular life, oversatiated and wrung out. Christmas, however, creates expectations that are never met, so you leave hungry and depressed, with an armload of things you didn't want and can't imagine why anyone would think you did.
-John Thorne

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

H. H. Hardware

I went to Pulaski State Park a few years ago. It's a nice park with huge pine trees and a clean cold pond for swimming in. There are picnic benches and trails, and it's open and free 365 days a year. When I went to the ladies room, I noticed on the door latch the name of the manufacturer: Hiny Hider Hardware. I thought that was a riot! Picture the guy at this company answering the phones; "Hiny Hider Hardware, Hank speaking. How may I help you?"

Amy Freed

A writer's voice is like a fingerprint of the mind, conscious and unconscious -- and it's dangerous to know too clearly what makes you tick. But when I sneak a peek between my fingers at my own process and voice, this much I see.

I wrote my first play, "Still Warm," standing up at the cash register in the hotel bar where I was working as a waitress. After some pretty crushing years, it was becoming clear to me that my talents were too frail and my courage too limited to ever fulfill my dreams of being an actress. And time was running out. The first image of the first play I ever wrote was that of a woman in Hell crawling out of an overturned car where she'd just drowned in 6 inches of muddy water. She could get out of Hell if only she could renounce her ambition.

My play was about the newscaster Jessica Savitch, of course, not me. Although the piece was incredibly flawed, wild and ugly, it was alive. Painful, sure. But because it was born of a need to expose -- and because exposure is bringing darkness to light -- it had a macabre exuberance to it, and was, in its weird way, celebratory. Comedy always moves toward the light, even when a character might be moving into the dark.

In comedy, we deal with the unmanageable person within -- the posturing ego, the inner crazy person, the howling child, the monster. When you write comedy, you must surrender your grandiosity and your aspiration to be thought important and beautiful, even though every person on the face of the Earth wants to be exactly that.

-Amy Freed

Traveling By Dog

I love to do my chores on foot, traveling by dog. Today I walked to the butcher shop and tied Lily up and ran in and bought a half-pound of Provolone. Then I walked to the produce market but they were closed. So I walked a few miles to the Bellingham Shop 'n' Save and tied Lily up outside in front of the service desk window. I pointed Lily out to the woman at the desk and then ran in quick and got a package of spinach. I thanked the lady for keeping an eye on Lily and then I walked home, admiring the colorful gardens and historic and ornate homes of Woonsocket's North End. As we walked down East School Street Lily pulled me towards the pollywog pond. There were no sticks but I found a wooden board and she dove in after it a few times, attached to the extra long leash. Having had her swim and her drink of water, Lily was fully satisfied. Now she's tired, lying on the floor of the kitchen, and I am baking the spinach and provolone into "spinach brownies". The recipe is on my food blog, The Insomniacs Kitchen.

Bread Bartering

I have had great luck lately bartering my fresh sourdough loaves for roto-tilling my garden, mowing our patch of grass, and freshly-hatched chicken eggs. I love to bake bread, cakes, muffins and scones. Someday I would love to try using a wood-fired oven. Once, years ago when I was traveling with my musician friends in the mountains of Cullowee North Carolina I saw a wood stove with a warming oven built into the top of the stovepipe. I'll never forget it. And to add to my amazement the woman who lived there had the same first grade teacher as I had at Murray Avenue School in New York, Mrs. Haggerty. She was a million years old and she had taught us both how to read. Small world, cute stove.

Doctor Of Thinkology

Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma. Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitatus Committiartum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of ThD. Doctor of Thinkology.
-Lyman Frank Baum, The Wizard Of Oz

Thomas Moore

The soul presents itself in a variety of colors, including all the shades of gray, blue and black. To care for the soul, we must observe the full range of all its colorings, and resist the temptation to approve only of white, red, and orange - the brilliant colors.
-Thomas Moore, Care of The Soul

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Paul Acampora

I spent the day reading a fabulous young adult novel called Defining Dulcie, by Paul Acampora.

Rhubarb

I recently passed my favorite garden off of Cass Avenue that has freshly-planted vegetables and a row of giant rhubarb. This family grows so many vegetables it looks like a small farm nestled into the packed-in city neighborhood. I am tempted to leave a note asking if they would trade their rhubarb stalks for my fresh bread. Steamed rhubarb with honey is so good and it makes your teeth itch like spinach does from the oxalic acid.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lyman Frank Baum

I'm afraid you've made rather a bad enemy of the Wicked Witch of the West. The sooner you get out of Oz, the better you'll sleep at night.
-Lyman Frank Baum, The Wizard Of Oz

Kenneth Levin

Abused children . . . almost invariably blame themselves for their predicament, ascribe it to their being "bad," and nurture fantasies that by becoming "good" they can mollify their abusers and end their torment.
-Kenneth Levin

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Wizard Of Oz

Dorothy: Weren't you frightened?
Wizard of Oz: Frightened? Child, you're talking to a man who's laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe . . . I was petrified.
-Lyman Frank Baum, The Wizard Of Oz

Soft Mouth

Every time I watch TV on the big screen I am mesmerized by the faces. I notice the male newscaster's lipstick and the long necks of all the women from the tribe where long necks are a cultivated trait, like the boxy heads of purebred Labradors.

Yesterday my pal Anita came for tea. She is 94. She loved Lily and wanted to know all about her. I explained that Lily is a Labrador retriever, which means when I throw the stick she brings it back, even in the water. I took out my dog books and showed her the photos of a hunter's dog bringing back a fallen duck. This is what they are bred for, I told her. They have a soft mouth so they won't puncture the bird. I told her about my friend with chickens and how his Labrador retriever will pick up a chicken and walk around with it dangling in his mouth. My friend says "drop it," and he drops the chicken and the chicken walks away unharmed. "Soft mouth!" says Anita, and we laugh.

Anne Bernays

I can't remember how many times I advised students to stop writing the sunny hours and write from where it hurts.
-Anne Bernays

And there's this to teaching: It's a public act. You're on, people listen to you, watch you, endow you with an authority you don't deserve. Most good teachers have a streak of the theatrical, myself not excluded.
-Anne Bernays

May Sarton

A house that does not have one warm, comfy chair in it is soulless.
-May Sarton

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Anita

Today my pal Anita came over for tea. It was great to see her. She wore bright pink slacks and her hair was gathered into a small white bun. She is 94 this year and is as sparkly as ever.

Lyman Frank Baum

You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you're confusing courage with wisdom.
-Lyman Frank Baum, The Wizard Of Oz

Green Food Bank

Next Saturday May 15th 9 AM until 2 PM people are planting at the community garden in Woonsocket located next to the Woonsocket Harris Public Library. Vegetables are being grown for the RI community food bank.

The Breeze At Dawn

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

-Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Friday, May 07, 2010

Pond Puddles Pollywogs

Today when I walked Lily through the park she wanted to drink out of the shallow pond, which is basically the city's largest puddle. She pulled and I had to let go of her leash. She lay down in the shallow water, and I couldn't get her to come out when I called her name. So I took off my shoes and walked into the water in my pedal pushers to get her. Then we went across the street to the pollywog pond where she could really swim on the long leash without pulling me in. She loved chasing the pollywogs. We both love the water.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Johnny Cash

When I was a boy on the farm in Arkansas, not very far from here, an oncoming storm meant that soon I could run from the toil in the fields to the magic in the house - turn on the radio, listen to the music made far away, let it take me where it pleased. Now I'm often content, more content, to listen to the storm itself.
- Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash The Autobiography

Grow Your Own Soufflé

Mike the locksmith on my street just gave me a dozen eggs. He has 12 chickens and they lay a dozen eggs a day. I can see why people are growing their own soufflés.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Loose Bunnies

I just saw two big plump white bunnies loose on Hazel Street. They were on a neighbor's bright green lawn nibbling away at the grass. At first I thought they were lawn ornaments made of stone and then they started hopping away. The UPS man saw them too. He drove by really slowly.

Sam Shepard

It`s one of the great tragedies of our contemporary life in America, that families fall apart. Almost everybody has that in common.
-Sam Shepard

Urban Opera

The neighborhood is ripening in the heat. Each morning there's six households making appearances on the three-decker porches in the yellow brick apartment building opposite us. An Urban Opera on cell phones. It's a great study in body language and costumes.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Rainbow

This afternoon while walking through the cemetery we watched the dark clouds get hit with sun and then a double rainbow appeared in the east. The outer one was more faint. We climbed to the highest point and noticed the rainbow had colored the hills too where it touched land. It looked like a magic spell.

Look

Look as long as you can
at the friend you love
No matter whether that friend is moving away from you
or coming back toward you.

-Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of it's furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
-Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Herb Garden

Yesterday evening when I walked Lily to the reservoir my pal Armand stopped and gave me herbs from his garden; lovage, rosemary, oregano, chives, to transplant into mine. I carried them home in plastic bags in my gray cotton shoulder bag that is filled with Lily's toys. The sky looked like mashed potatoes with orange and yellow sherbet as the sun was setting. This morning I planted the herbs and watered them. They look happy. Armand has offered to give me baby raspberry plants too as he thins out his bushes.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Sam Shepard

You can't force a thing to grow. You can't interfere with it. It's all hidden. It's all unseen. You just gotta wait til it pops up out of the ground. Tiny little shoot. Tiny little white shoot. All hairy and fragile. Strong enough. Strong enough to break the earth even. It's a miracle.
-Sam Shepard, Buried Child

You're never going to see the truth. [It's] what you're shooting for always and you always miss it. Every once in a while, you catch an edge of it. That's what's you hope for, I think, as an artist.
-Sam Shepard

Film acting is really the trick of doing moments. You rarely do a take that lasts more than 20 seconds. You really earn your spurs acting onstage. I needed to do that for myself. I would hate to say at the end of everything that I never did a stage play.
-Sam Shepard

You're still much more afraid of the audience, and yet, on the other hand, you desperately want to plunge into new territory. So every once in a while, the opportunity to make this leap gets handed to you. It's like jumping into cold water.
-Sam Shepard

There are places where writing is acting and acting is writing. I'm not so interested in the divisions. I'm interested in the way things cross over.
-Sam Shepard

I'm a writer. The more I act, the more resistance I have to it. If you accept work in a movie, you accept to be entrapped for a certain part of time, but you know you're getting out. I'm also earning enough to keep my horses, buying some time to write.
-Sam Shepard

David Mamet

The perfect medium . . . is not the meeting, but the concise note.
-David Mamet

Pete Seeger

I have sung for Americans of every political persuasion, and I am proud that I never refuse to sing to an audience, no matter what religion or color of their skin, or situation in life.
-Pete Seeger

I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other.
-Pete Seeger

May Sarton

One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being.
-May Sarton

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.
-May Sarton

The garden is growth and change and that means loss as well as constant new treasures to make up for a few disasters.
-May Sarton

I Cultivate A White Rose

I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand frankly.

And for the cruel person who tears out
the heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:
I cultivate a white rose.

-José Martí

In the Heart of the Beast

The best way to make change in the world is to seek beauty and work for justice in our backyard.

-In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre

Urban Farmer

Yesterday my pal Kip drove up here from Providence in his red truck with his red roto-tiller and made my vegetable garden ready for planting. The dirt smelled so good! Now with freshly tilled soil, it looks like a farm outside my kitchen window in the middle of the city! Kip brought his ten-year-old daughter and her friend who just moved here from Trinidad. We had a water fight to cool off and then a tea party. I gave Kip's daughter the teacup that has a cow hidden in the bottom and the girls went wild. Lily was happy to lie down on the cool linoleum in the center of things. I was ready to keep the girls here for a day or two longer. They felt the same way.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Quintessential Rhode Island

There's a little pale blue duplex probably a hundred years old on the corner near Precious Blood Cemetery. Cars pass it every day taking a shortcut to Diamond Hill Road. They all like to take the left off Privilege Street at Marchand's Auto Body. At the end of the street on the left corner is this quintessential Rhode Island house. Everything is meticulously kept up. There's a grape arbor in back over a picnic table which is behind the tool shed made of old storm windows. A clothesline is strung with a cotton sack of clothes pins hanging from it. There are handmade flowered curtains with matching ties in each of the five garage-door windows. The wooden clapboards of the house are painted light blue, the porches white with lovely Victorian detail in the corners. The lawn is trimmed; a green haircut. White wooden duck pins are assembled into a fence bordering a garden where tomatoes and sunflowers are planted each year. I can't help smiling when I pass this house. My librarian friend used to live here with her husband and two small boys. One September they gave me fresh sunflower heads to dry, and I kept them as subjects for sketching. The house mice nibbled at the seeds when I was asleep. I wonder if my friends in Texas ever see houses like this down there?

Tree Hugging House

My red maple tree is the last one in our ghetto to blossom and leaf. I was worried when it looked bare and dead a few weeks ago and all the other trees were fully flowering and bursting with color along the school and in the cemetery and behind the baseball field. My tree was still in black and white. It meant that I could sit in the early morning sun, writing, with Lily at my feet chewing on grass. But now our tree is finally budding, and soon it will cast a morning shadow over my garden bench.

Our quaking aspen is fully leafed out and shimmers and shakes like a 1920's sequined dancing dress. We planted that tree 15 years ago and now she is a cloud of green outside my office window absorbing the city street sounds of car alarms and people walking up and down the sidewalks.

The hemlock has grown so tall and wide it scrapes along my studio window, sounding like a witch's fingernails on the glass, but I love its magnificence. It is now hugging our house. When I was a child I told my parents I wanted to live in a house covered in bushes and trees. Now I do, and it is green out of every window, in the middle of the city!

A Postcard Memoir

I just found A Postcard Memoir by Lawrence Sutin published by Graywolf Press. I love this book! The writing is delicious.