Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nourishing Life

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
-Marcus Aurelius

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because some day in life you will have been all of these.
-George Washington Carver

Nothing else matters much - not wealth, nor learning, nor even health - without this gift: the spiritual capacity to keep zest in living. This is the creed of creeds, the final deposit and distillation of all important faiths: that you should be able to believe in life.
-Harry Emerson Fosdick

A man may fulfill the object of his existence by asking a question he cannot answer, and attempting a task he cannot achieve.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wherever a man may happen to turn, whatever a man may undertake, he will always end up by returning to the path which nature has marked out for him.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Family life is full of major and minor crises - the ups and downs of health, success and failure in career, marriage, and divorce - and all kinds of characters. It is tied to places and events and histories. With all of these felt details, life etches itself into memory and personality. It's difficult to imagine anything more nourishing to the soul.
-Thomas Moore

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


We have a new member of our Munroe Dairy Band; composer and sousaphone player Chris Adams, just in time for our Bristol Parade Monday July 5th. We had rehearsal last night here in Bill's piano room: 1 trumpet, 3 trombones (including another new member, Bill's brother Jeff!), 1 sousaphone, 1 baritone sax, 1 bass drum, 1 snare drum, and cymbals! What a sound! Most of our tunes are homemade, written by Gerry Heroux, Keith Munslow and Chris Adams.
This is our 7th year of being a band!
Have a happy 4th + 5th.

Viktor Frankl

Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
-Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

Monday, June 28, 2010


When one sense grows into freedom,
all the other senses change as well.
When one sense perceives the hidden,
the invisible world becomes apparent to the whole.


When the remedy you have offered
only increases the disease,
then leave him who will not be cured,
and tell your story
to someone who seeks the truth.

Painters With Words

I love to communicate and it's the poets who validate me just by being so great at what they do. They too are painters but with words. Making a living as a poet is equal to trying to survive as a painter. We breathe the same air. We need each other.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Charles Simic

There are always such men in cities. Solitary wanderers in long-outmoded overcoats, they sit in modest restaurants and side-street cafeterias eating a soft piece of cake.
-Charles Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy The Art of Joseph Cornell

His great hero was Gérard de Nerval, famous for promenading the streets of Paris with a live lobster on a leash.
-Charles Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy The Art of Joseph Cornell

Bulgarian Proverb

Every frog must know its pond.
-Bulgarian Proverb

Plum Trees!

Friday night we walked to the North End of Woonsocket and found two plum trees dropping plums onto the sidewalk. We had no shame, we picked a few and ate them, and even ate a few off the sidewalk! One of the neighbors pulled in and we chatted about the plums. He said "Help yourself". I started dreaming of plum pie. I love living in a city where plums grow on trees.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Li Po

You ask why I make my home in the mountain forest,
and I smile, and am silent,
and even my soul remains quiet:
it lives in the other world
which no one owns.
The peach trees blossom.
The water flows.

-Li Po, Translated by Sam Hamill


One instant is eternity;
eternity is the now.
When you see through this one instant,
you see through the one who sees.


The Great Way has no gate;
there are a thousand paths to it.
If you pass through the barrier,
you walk the universe alone.


Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Layman P'ang

Who cares about wealth and honor?
Even the poorest thing shines.

-Layman P'ang

Layman P'ang

When the mind is at peace,
the world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
not getting stuck in the void,
you are neither holy or wise, just
an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.

-Layman P'ang

Li Po

The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.

-Li Po, Translated by Sam Hamill

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stephen Dunn

I think one of my early motivations for writing was that other people's versions of experience didn't gel with my own. It was a gesture toward sanity to try to get the world right for myself. I've since learned that if you get it right for yourself, it often has resonance for others.
-Stephen Dunn

Emily Stamps

I have made six stamps of my paintings so far.

Cactus Flower
Robot with Green Ball
Perishables and Tangibles

You can see and purchase the stamps at:
View the paintings at

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Self Employment

Keep a schedule. Wear a uniform. Have a goal.

Love, Trust and Listening

You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.
-Dr. Seuss

Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.
-Dr. Joyce Brothers

Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.
-Dr. Joyce Brothers

The best proof of love is trust.
-Dr. Joyce Brothers

Trust your hunches. They're usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.
-Dr. Joyce Brothers

Paul Valery

The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.
-Paul Valery

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.
-Paul Valery

A poem is never finished, only abandoned.
-Paul Valery

Mead Moon

Tonight is Midsummer Night's Eve, also called St. John's Eve. St. John is the patron saint of beekeepers. It's a time when the hives are full of honey. The full moon that occurs this month was called the Mead Moon, because honey was fermented to make mead. That's where the word "honeymoon" comes from, because it's also a time for lovers. An old Swedish proverb says, "Midsummer Night is not long but it sets many cradles rocking." Midsummer dew was said to have special healing powers. In Mexico, people decorate wells and fountains with flowers, candles, and paper garlands. They go out at midnight and bathe in the lakes and streams. Midsummer Eve is also known as Herb Evening. Legend says that this is the best night for gathering magical herbs. Supposedly, a special plant flowers only on this night, and the person who picks it can understand the language of the trees. Flowers were placed under a pillow with the hope of important dreams about future lovers.
-The Writer's Almanac

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Lily and I swam with an otter last night. This morning I harvested berries from our mulberry tree and raspberries from our bushes to eat for breakfast. Summer has arrived!

Monday, June 21, 2010

River Otter!

Tonight I swam with Lily and an otter! He was doing flips in the water. At first I thought it was a person throwing large rocks into the water but then I spotted his head poking up out of the river.

Family Myth

The Family Myth is a well-rehearsed notion, wholly false, about the nature of the family unit. The Family Myth dictates that surface appearance is more important than individual happiness: that what "ought" to be true must squelch what IS true. The Family Myth is the presumption that every family member is compatible, possesses the same goals and loves one another. The Family Myth is a fantasy predicated on a like-it-or-not unified "we" -- a contract that no one seems to remember signing.
-Mark Sichel

Joseph Cornell

An art monk, Cornell was determined to repent, for what sin he was not quite sure. Of one thing, however, he was sure: he was drawn to a vision of chasteness for himself, a vision that governed the arc of his life as well as his work. Paradoxically, the same impulse that condemned him to lacerating aloneness would lead to romantic rapture in his art.
-Debora Solomon, Utopia Parkway The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell

Summer Solstice Swim

It's hot in my office but I refuse to put on the air conditioner because I get terrible sinus headaches if I do and besides it's bad for the planet and expensive. So instead I sip ice coffee out of a stainless steel thermos mug filled with six ice cubes and I aim the fan at my bare feet. I spritz my hair with water and tie it into a bun. I promise myself that when the sun goes down I'll walk over and dunk into the nearby reservoir and swim in the dim light with Lily and the bull frogs.

Art Is. . .

Art is unthinkable without risk and spiritual self-sacrifice.
-Boris Leonidovich Pasternak

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
-Pablo Picasso

Art is the proper task of life.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Art is a lie which makes us realize the truth.
-Pablo Picasso

Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.
-Francis Vincent “Frank” Zappa, Jr.

It's Sweet to Be Remembered

by Charles Wright

No one's remembered much longer than a rock
is remembered beside the road
If he's lucky or
Some tune or harsh word
uttered in childhood or back in the day.

Still how nice to imagine some kid someday
picking that rock up and holding it in his hand
Briefly before he chucks it
Deep in the woods in a sunny spot in the tall grass.

Two Inches of Ivory

What should I do with your strong, manly, spirited Sketches, full of Variety and Glow? - How could I join them on to the little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory on which I work with so fine a Brush, as produces little effect after much labour?
-Jane Austen, in a letter to her nephew.

Work Space

I work standing and the windows are covered with thin white muslin. The fan runs to keep the air moving and drown out the noisy neighborhood. Sometimes I even cover the clocks! Work is my desire to connect with myself and the world. It is about giving, exploring, freedom, love and all of the emotions. My studio is my refuge. I cherish my solitude for writing, painting, reading, and sinking in deeply. Only my dog is allowed in here with me.

Folk Song

by Tomaž Šalamun

Every true poet is a monster.
He destroys people and their speech.
His singing elevates a technique that wipes out
the earth so we are not eaten by worms.
The drunk sells his coat.
The thief sells his mother.
Only the poet sells his soul to separate it
from the body that he loves.

-Tomaž Šalamun, Translated by Charles Simic

Again the Roads are Silent

by Tomaž Šalamun

Again the Roads are Silent
again the roads are silent, dark peace
again there are bees, honey, silent green fields
willows by the rivers, stones at the bottom of the valleys
hills in the eyes, sleep in the animals

again the children are restless, blood in the whistles
again there is bronze in the bells, an aura in the tongue
travelers greet one another, the plague strengthened the joints
wild deer are in the palm, the snow shines

I see the morning, how I hurry
I see skin in the pious dust
I see shrieks of joy, how we head toward the south
Toledo man, two little hitchhikers

the images are clear, the flowers are timid
dark sealed sky, I hear a scream
the time for love awaits, time of tall statues
silent clear hinds, dreamy linden trees

-Tomaž Šalamun

Monday Morning Mandolin Dream

I was playing a mandolin in our friend's band. I had never played one before. I said, I am left-handed, this is backwards! B gave me a credit card to use as a pick. The credit card split in half! I was given another one, thicker and sturdier.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Anthony Bourdain

Bad food is made without pride, by cooks who have no pride, and no love. Bad food is made by chefs who are indifferent, or who are trying to be everything to everybody, who are trying to please everyone ... Bad food is fake food ... food that shows fear and lack of confidence in people’s ability to discern or to make decisions about their lives. Food that’s too safe, too pasteurized, too healthy – it’s bad! There should be some risk, like unpasteurized cheese. Food is about rot, and decay, and fermentation….as much as it is also about freshness.
-Anthony Bourdain

Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one's life.
-Anthony Bourdain

Leon Britton Jr

My relationship with my real dad has been spotty. And, I'll never forget this: he said, ‘If something was to ever go wrong with you, if I felt that, you know, you just messed up completely, I'll make another one of you.' You know, he has five kids, so I was a complete reject.
-Leon Britton Jr

Physical Comedy

Bill and I were channel-surfing recently and landed momentarily on the TV show where people get squirted with colorful paint while trying to leap through an obstacle course of squishy colorful shaped things, getting bopped and knocked by yellow robotic arms into a pool of water. The contestants were sincerely trying to navigate the course yet continually getting doused with paint, slipping down or falling into the water. I laughed so hard every muscle ached and tears were running down my face.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Need Stamps?

I made stamps of my painting Perishables and Tangibles!

They are public and you can order any size, and any postage amount!

Click here:

Warm Raspberries

This morning I picked and ate two raspberries warmed by the sun.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mulberry Season

Every morning we wake up to birdsong. Our mulberry tree is loaded with delicious juicy purple mulberries. The birds are ecstatic. I can hear cardinals high pitched chirps from the open window. Euell Gibbons says in his book Stalking The Wild Asparagus, to shake the mulberries off the branches of the Mulberry tree onto a large sheet. My cream-colored Labrador has purple spots on her paws and belly from lying down on the berries. She loves them too but I have to stop her before she eats herself sick. We have blackberries and raspberries too, all in our urban backyard.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Leonardo Da Vinci

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.
-Leonardo Da Vinci

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mary Oliver

Have You Ever Tried To Enter The Long Black Branches?
by Mary Oliver

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches
of other lives –
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey,
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early summer,
feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over
the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left –
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,

nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,

to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,

to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened
in the night.

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb. I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

Marie Howe

by Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days,
some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous,
and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called.
This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue,
and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat's on
too high in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries
in the street, the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday,
hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee
down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush:
This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold.
What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come
and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss -
we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse
of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped
by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat
that I'm speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

-Marie Howe

My Biological Father

Thomas Leonard Lisker
born October 20, 1928 - died June 15th, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fun Field Trial

“That’s the problem with our domesticated dogs,” said Mr. Stern, a psychologist from Long Island. “They smell our pizza. They don’t smell the rabbits anymore,” he said, adding, “If we had put a steak in the woods, that might have worked.”
-Robbie Brown, NYT article Putting The Pounce Back in Your Pup

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rabindranath Tagore

And because I love this life
I know that I shall love death as well.
The child cries out when
From the right breast the mother
Takes it away, in the very next moment
To find the left one
Its consolation.
-Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

George Bernard Shaw

There may be some doubt as to who are the best people to have children, but
there can be no doubt that parents are the worst.
-George Bernard Shaw

Harmon Killebrew

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass"; "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys".

-Harmon Killebrew (American Baseball Player, b.1936)


Those who trust us educate us.
-T.S. Eliot

Isaac Bashevis Singer

A good writer is basically a story teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

A story to me means a plot where there is some surprise. Because that is how life is - full of surprises.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

For those who are willing to make an effort, great miracles and wonderful treasures are in store.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

I am thankful, of course, for the prize and thankful to God for each story, each idea, each word, each day.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

I did not become a vegetarian for my health, I did it for the health of the chickens.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

If Moses had been paid newspaper rates for the Ten Commandments, he might have written the Two Thousand Commandments.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

Kindness, I've discovered, is everything in life.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

Life is God's novel. Let him write it.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

Originality is not seen in single words or even in sentences. Originality is the sum total of a man's thinking or his writing.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

Our knowledge is a little island in a great ocean of nonknowledge.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

Sometimes love is stronger than a man's convictions.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

The analysis of character is the highest human entertainment.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

The New England conscience doesn't keep you from doing what you shouldn't - it just keeps you from enjoying it.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

The second half of the twentieth century is a complete flop.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

The very essence of literature is the war between emotion and intellect, between life and death. When literature becomes too intellectual - when it begins to ignore the passions, the emotions - it becomes sterile, silly, and actually without substance.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

The waste basket is the writer's best friend.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

There is great treasure there behind our skull and this is true about all of us. This little treasure has great, great powers, and I would say we only have learnt a very, very small part of what it can do.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

We have to believe in free-will. We've got no choice.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

We know what a person thinks not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

We write not only for children but also for their parents. They, too, are serious children.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

What nature delivers to us is never stale. Because what nature creates has eternity in it.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

When I was a little boy, they called me a liar, but now that I am grown up, they call me a writer.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer

When you betray somebody else, you also betray yourself.
-Isaac Bashevis Singer


About families; I cannot only view the leaf I must also view the tree.

Dylan Thomas

Don't be too harsh to these poems until they're typed. I always think typescript lends some sort of certainty: at least, if the things are bad then, they appear to be bad with conviction.
-Dylan Thomas, letter to Vernon Watkins, March 1938

Sharon O'Brien

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.
-Sharon O'Brien

Toni Morrison

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.
-Toni Morrison

Richard Wright

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.
-Richard Wright, American Hunger

Norbet Platt

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.
-Norbet Platt

Viktor Frankl

The attempt to develop a sense of humor to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.
-Viktor Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning

Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.
-Viktor Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Street Leak

Last evening when we were coming back from walking Lily we saw water coming out of a huge crack in our street and it was leaking in a steady stream. It was late in the day. I called the police and said I think a water pipe on my street may have broken. They showed up and blocked off the street with police cars and then the public works guys came with big bright lights so they could illuminate the problem. We went to bed and just as we turned off the lights and put our heads on the pillows we heard jack hammers right outside our bedroom window. It was hilarious. They worked late into the night.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

My Canine Horse

On my way home from the library today I saw the head farmer working at Woonsocket's Community Garden. He was wearing a straw hat walking around watering the plants and working the soil with his hoe. I watched him for a minute and then walked over to Jamie Sullivan's butcher shop on North Main Street and tied up my canine horse out back. I bought beans, tofu, and milk. My butcher's shop has become a little-bit-of-everything grocery shop. Now I can do even more of my food shopping by dog!

Retrieving Community

Yesterday when I was walking Lily I ran into my neighbor who had just sprained her ankle. Her ankle was badly swollen. She needed immediate help so we hobbled over to Urgent Care five blocks away. The doctors let me bring Lily into the waiting room with my neighbor, and also allowed her into the consultation room with us. This is a special town, and dogs are great healers.

David Ignatow

I lifted him into my arms
and hugged him as I would have
wanted my father to hug me,
and it was as though satisfying
my own lost childhood.
-David Ignatow, from the poem Lost Childhood

Monday, June 07, 2010

Louise Erdrich

My father used to give me a nickel for every story I wrote, and my mother wove strips of construction paper together and stapled them into book covers. So at an early age I felt myself to be a published author earning substantial royalties.
-Louise Erdrich

Al Giordano

Projects that really are free of any worry over offending the gatekeepers and that succeed at building an authentic relationship with the public without dependence on the media are immensely important to the freedom of society.
-Al Giordano, The Field (blog)

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Joan Didion

Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaningless itself.
-Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Caroline Knapp

The dog's agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want. "I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you." There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied.
-Caroline Knapp, Pack of Two

I'm 38 and I'm single and I'm having my most intense and gratifying relationship with a dog. But we all learn about love in different ways, and this way happens to be mine.
-Caroline Knapp, Pack of Two

. . . the gospel of femininity, which is essentially self-negating may explain why a quality of guilt and murkiness can so easily leak into a woman’s experience of appetite, a profound uncertainty about entitlement, even a sense that desire itself is indefinable or inappropriate.
-Caroline Knapp, Appetites

Starving, like all disorders of appetite, is a solution to a wide variety of conflicts and fears, or at least it starts out resembling a solution: Something feels perversely good, or right, or gratifying about it, some key seems to slide into place, some distress is assuaged, and the benefits of this are strong enough to outweigh whatever negative or painful feelings are aroused, such as shame, confusion or physical hunger.
-Caroline Knapp, Appetites

. . . [appetites] exist in a very murky context, and an inherently unstable one, consistently pulled between the opposing poles of possibility and constraint, power and powerlessness.
-Caroline Knapp, Appetites

I steered the boat into the dock and sat for a moment looking out at the water, a wide ribbon of blue, glassy as a mirror in patches, rippled and glinting with diamonds of sunlight in others. I thought about that young woman with her cat and her pile of blankets, and I thought about how sculling had served a similar purpose, reintroducing me to beauty and grace, reframing the body as a source of pleasure. Defining desire in new ways is achingly complicated, painstaking work; it requires developing a vision that runs counter to consumerism, counter to a corporate and political culture that's still tightly structured to meet male needs, perhaps even counter one's own deeply-ingrained assumptions...But new visions do get forged, and if they're not political in a large social sense, they certainly involve shifts in personal politics, in defining what works, what fits, what matters...The public battlefields may be private ones today, but the dynamics are largely the same. Anything that connects you - to the body, to the self, to other women - can free. Anything that frees may also feed.
-Caroline Knapp, Appetites

Barry Schwartz, a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, has written about what he calls “the tyranny of freedom,” arguing that the sheer volume of choices in American life has come to feel oppressive and overwhelming: the proliferation ratchets up expectations and anxieties (there’s always something better around the corner) and overloads the psyche...
-Caroline Knapp, Appetites

The mathematics of desire mitigates precisely that anxiety. A woman - particularly a woman who feels fundamentally disempowered and uncertain - makes up new rules, replaces external constraints with internal ones, installs systems of mastery that operate from the inside out, the tyranny of freedom reconfigured as the tyranny of self.

-Caroline Knapp, Appetites

Plant Dreaming Deep

I knew, from having watched my father hack down the incredible amount of work he accomplished day by day year by year, how supportive a routine is, how the spirit moves around freely in it as it does in a plain New England church. Routine is not a prison, but the way into freedom from time. The apparently measured time has immeasurable space within it, and in this it resembles music.
-May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep

Fascinating Phobias

Telephonophobia- Fear of telephones.
Thermophobia- Fear of heat.
Tyrannophobia- Fear of tyrants.
Athazagoraphobia- Fear of being forgotton or ignored or forgetting.
Asymmetriphobia- Fear of asymmetrical things.
Aulophobia- Fear of flutes.
Aerophobia- Fear of drafts, air swallowing, or airbourne noxious substances.
Syngenesophobia- Fear of relatives.
Basophobia-Fear of gravity

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I like writers. If you speak to a writer, you often get an answer.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack Up

Madame de Staël

Politeness is the art of choosing among your thoughts.

The voice of conscience is so delicate that it is easy to stifle it; but it is also so clear that it is impossible to mistake it.

The mystery of existence is the connection between our faults and our misfortunes.

Search for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty.

Sow good services: sweet remembrances will grow from them.

The greatest happiness is to transform one's feelings into action.

The human mind always makes progress, but it is a progress in spirals.

The desire of the man is for the woman, but the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man.

The sense of this word among the Greeks affords the noblest definition of it; enthusiasm signifies God in us.

Madame de Staël defined exile as "a tomb in which you can get mail."

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Michael Chabon

Writing is about getting your work done and getting your work done every day. If you want to write novels, they take a long time, and they're big, and they have a lot of words in them.... The best environment, at least for me, is a very stable, structured kind of life.
-Michael Chabon


My mother enjoyed claiming direct descent from Genghis Khan. Having asserted that one eighth of her blood was Tartar and only seven eighths of it "ordinary Russian," with a panache that no one else could have pulled off she proceeded to drop a few names in the chronology of our lineage: Kublai Kahn, Tamerlane, and then the great Mogul monarch Babur, from whose favorite Kirghiz concubine my great grandmother was descended, and voilà!, our ancestry was established.

-Francine du Plessix Gray, Them

Formation of a Black Hole

A massive collapsing star spins ever more rapidly, growing smaller and dimmer. When it shrinks below its critical radius, nothing can escape; space-time folds inward, and the star disappears from the universe.

-Will Kyselka & Ray Lanterman, North Star To Southern Cross

Friday, June 04, 2010


Today it was hot so I took Lily right to the polliwog pond. I saw that the polliwogs had grown since last time, they now had legs and arms! Lily dove in and swam and the tadpoles disappeared into the deep water. On the way home she rolled on the cool grass in the shade of the elderly high rise building. It must feel like a super terrycloth towel!

The roofers who have been working next door for two weeks are packing up today. I told them it's like the last day of summer camp. I'll miss them. I enjoyed knowing they were working nearby each morning beginning at 7am. I felt comforted by their presence, like I wasn't the only person at work here.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Charles Simic

In the smallest theater in the world the bread crumbs speak.

-Charles Simic, Dime-Store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell

Sigmund Freud

Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.
-Sigmund Freud

No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human beast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.
-Sigmund Freud

What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.
-Sigmund Freud

It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.
-Sigmund Freud

Religion is an attempt to get control over the sensory world, in which we are placed, by means of the wish-world, which we have developed inside us as a result of biological and psychological necessities.
-Sigmund Freud

I do not doubt that it would be easier for fate to take away your suffering than it would for me. But you will see for yourself that much has been gained if we succeed in turning your hysterical misery into common unhappiness.
-Sigmund Freud

The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is "What does a woman want?"
-Sigmund Freud

Rainer Maria Rilke

Rose, oh pure contradiction, joy
of being No-one's sleep under so many

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Antonio Machado

Between living and dreaming
there is a third thing.
Guess it.

-Antonio Machado


The man pulling radishes
pointed the way
with a radish.

-Issa, translated by Robert Hass

Flying out from
the Great Buddha's nose:
a swallow.


In the cherry blossom's shade
there's no such thing
as a stranger.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Tell us, Poet, what it is you do? —I praise.
But the deadly and the monstrous,
How do you bear them, how do you accept them? —I praise.
But the nameless, the anonymous,
How do you, Poet, call upon it? —I praise.
What gives you the right to be true,
In every disguise and beneath every mask? —I praise.
And how is it that both calm and violent things,
Like star and storm, know you so well? —I praise.

Louise Bourgeois

An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing.
-Louise Bourgeois

It is a woman who hides. She believes that she can hide, which is foolishness; nobody can hide anything. And secondly, nobody would present herself naked the way she does. You have to be high to do this. This woman is obviously nice-looking, but she does not realize the effect she has on us. She does not know that she is half naked, and she does not know that she is trying to hide. That is to say, she is totally self-defeating, because she shows herself at the very moment that she thinks she is hiding.
-Louise Bourgeois

Once I was beset by anxiety but I pushed the fear away by studying the sky, determining when the moon would come out and where the sun would appear in the morning.
-Louise Bourgeois

Art is manipulation without intervention.
-Louise Bourgeois

Art is a guarantee of sanity. That is the most important thing I have said.
-Louise Bourgeois

I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands.
-Louise Bourgeois

I have been to Hell and back and let me tell you it was wonderful.
-Louise Bourgeois

The grid is very peaceful. Nothing can go wrong. Everything is complete.
-Louise Bourgeois

Everywhere in the modern world there is neglect, the need to be recognized, which is not satisfied. Art is a way of recognizing oneself, which is why it will always be modern.
-Louise Bourgeois

It is a great privilege to be able to work with, and I suppose work off, my feelings through sculpture.
-Louise Bourgeois

Sometimes it is necessary to make a confrontation – and I like that.
-Louise Bourgeois

In real life, I identify with the victim. . . . In my art, I am the murderer. I feel for the ordeal of the murderer, the man who has to live with his conscience.
-Louise Bourgeois

It is not so much where my motivation comes from but rather how it manages to survive.
-Louise Bourgeois

My work disturbs people and nobody wants to be disturbed. They are not fully aware of the effect my work has on them, but they know it is disturbing.
-Louise Bourgeois

My mother was a restorer, she repaired broken things. I don't do that. I destroy things. I cannot go the straight line. I must destroy, rebuild, destroy again. My rhythm is not the same. My mother moved in a straight line: I go from one extreme to the other.
-Louise Bourgeois

What interests me is the conquering of the fear, the hiding, the running away from it, facing it, exorcising it, being ashamed of it, and, finally, being afraid of being afraid.
-Louise Bourgeois

For me, sculpture is the body. My body is my sculpture.
-Louise Bourgeois

When I was born my father and mother were fighting like cats and dogs. And the country was preparing for war, and my father who wanted a son got me, and my sister had just died. Please let me breathe.
-Louise Bourgeois

My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama.
-Louise Bourgeois

Tell your own story, and you will be interesting. Don't get the green disease of envy. Don't be fooled by success and money. Don't let anything come between you and your work.
-Louise Bourgeois