Sunday, February 27, 2011

Graham Greene

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.
-Graham Greene

When we are not sure, we are alive.
-Graham Greene

A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.
-Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.
-Graham Greene

I have never understood why people who can swallow the enormous improbability of a personal God boggle at a personal Devil.
-Graham Greene

Hate is a lack of imagination.
-Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory


The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
-William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

It is not my deeds that I write down, it is myself, my essence.

We should probably all pause to confront our past from time to time, because it changes its meaning as our circumstances alter.
-Karen Armstrong, The Spiral Staircase

Life is tough and brimming with loss, and the most we can do about it is to glimpse ourselves clear now and then, and find out what we feel about familiar scenes and recurring faces this time around.
-Roger Angell, Let Me Finish

Augusten Burroughs

I've always felt like a tourist because I have never fit in anywhere.
-Augusten Burroughs

My only ritual is to just sit down and write, write every day.
-Augusten Burroughs

George Meredith

Memoirs are the backstairs of history.
-George Meredith

John Steinbeck

It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Life passes by in a wink so try to never miss a moment of it.
-John Steinbeck

Time is the only critic without ambition.
-John Steinbeck

Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.
-John Steinbeck

All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal.
-John Steinbeck

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.
-John Steinbeck

But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not."
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

When two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you've got two new people.
-John Steinbeck

I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.
-John Steinbeck

The basic rule given us was simple and heartbreaking. A story to be effective had to convey something from the writer to the reader, and the power of its offering was the measure of its excellence. Outside of that, there were no rules.
-John Steinbeck

It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.
-John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

All great and precious things are lonely.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Anything that just costs money is cheap.
-John Steinbeck

I guess there are never enough books.
-John Steinbeck

And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.
-John Steinbeck

You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.
-John Steinbeck

Don't worry about losing. If it is right, it happens - The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
-John Steinbeck

A man without words is a man without thought.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Do you take pride in your hurt? Does it make you seem large and tragic? ...Well, think about it. Maybe you're playing a part on a great stage with only yourself as audience.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

It is one of the triumphs of the human that he can know a thing and still not believe it.
-John Steinbeck

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
-John Steinbeck

My imagination will get me a passport to hell one day.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

A book is like a man — clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. For every flowering thought there will be a page like a wet and mangy mongrel, and for every looping flight a tap on the wing and a reminder that wax cannot hold the feathers firm too near the sun.
-John Steinbeck

I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.
-John Steinbeck

I've lived in good climate, and it bores the hell out of me. I like weather rather than climate.
-John Steinbeck

I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.
-John Steinbeck

If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones.
-John Steinbeck

In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.
-John Steinbeck

It has always seemed strange to me... the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.
-John Steinbeck

It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.
-John Steinbeck

The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
-John Steinbeck

The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.
-John Steinbeck

Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.
-John Steinbeck

Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.
-John Steinbeck

We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it.
-John Steinbeck

No one who is young is ever going to be old.
-John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Friday, February 25, 2011

Every Grain

Every grain of experience is food for the greedy growing soul of the artist.
-Anthony Burgess

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Are you not ashamed of caring so much for the making of money and for fame and prestige, when you neither think nor care about wisdom and truth and the improvement of your soul?

Three Thoughts

The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars. Every place is the center of the world.
-John Burroughs

To hear, one must be silent.
-Ursula K. LeGuin

To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.
-Robert Pirsig

William Burroughs

Anything that can be done chemically can be done by other means.
-William Burroughs

Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage.
-William Burroughs

How I hate those who are dedicated to producing conformity.
-William Burroughs

I am getting so far out one day I won't come back at all.
-William Burroughs

In deep sadness there is no place for sentimentality.
-William Burroughs

In my writing I am acting as a map maker, an explorer of psychic areas, a cosmonaut of inner space, and I see no point in exploring areas that have already been thoroughly surveyed.
-William Burroughs

Language is a virus from outer space.
-William Burroughs

Perhaps all pleasure is only relief.
-William Burroughs

Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.
-William Burroughs

The face of evil is always the face of total need.
-William Burroughs

The way to kill a man or a nation is to cut off his dreams, the way the whites are taking care of the Indians: killing their dreams, their magic, their familiar spirits.
-William Burroughs

There couldn't be a society of people who didn't dream. They'd be dead in two weeks.
-William Burroughs

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.
-William S. Burroughs

Love? What is it? Most natural painkiller. What there is . . . love.
-William S. Burroughs

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dylan Thomas

He who seeks rest finds boredom. He who seeks work finds rest.
-Dylan Thomas

My education was the liberty I had to read indiscriminately and all the time, with my eyes hanging out.
-Dylan Thomas

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Sometimes you just need to hold and kiss a member of the dog species even when humans are available.
Julie Klam, You Had Me At Woof

Rural Dream

Sometimes I fantasize about moving to a rural area and having a cow, a goat, and chickens to supplement my menagerie. I love farm animals, fresh air, trees, and quiet. But what stops my fantasy is realizing that I would need a car to get around. I love walking everywhere, traveling by dog, and I appreciate the energy and diversity of the city.

Winter Hibernation

The past few weeks when I wake up I have felt depleted, more exhausted than when I went to bed, like a wooden marionette whose body parts have been strewn around the room during the night and needing to be strung back together. Maybe it's just winter hibernation. A walk in the sunlight brings me back.

Appreciating Silence

Everybody should have his personal sounds to listen for - sounds that will make him exhilarated and alive or quite and calm.... One of the greatest sounds of them all - and to me it is a sound - is utter, complete silence.
-Andre Kostelanetz

All noise is waste. So cultivate quietness in your speech, in your thoughts, in your emotions. Speak habitually low. Wait for attention and then your low words will be charged with dynamite.
-Elbert Hubbard

Now all my teachers are dead except silence.
-W.S. Merwin

The Arctic expresses the sum of all wisdom: Silence.
-Walter Bauer

True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.
-William Penn

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation. . . tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.
-Jean Arp

Presence of the Literary

Literature transforms and intensifies ordinary language, deviates systematically from everyday speech. If you approach me at a bus stop and murmur, "Thou still unravished bride of quietness," then I am instantly aware that I am in the presence of the literary.
-Terry Eagleton

Monday, February 21, 2011

Biscotti di Vino - Wine Biscotti

These are my favorite cookie because they are not too sweet, and perfect with a cup of hot English tea. I am allergic to wine but I love to cook with it!

I first found this recipe in my favorite cookbook We Called it Macaroni by Nancy Verde Barr, published by Alfred Knopf. The recipe has also appeared in Gourmet magazine.

In a large bowl combine the 4 cups of the flour, the sugar, the salt, and the baking powder and make a well in the center. Pour in the oil and the wine, combine the mixture, incorporating the flour mixture gradually, until it forms a soft dough, and knead in enough of the remaining 1/2 cup flour to keep the dough from sticking. Divide the dough into 40 pieces, roll each piece into a 5-inch rope, curl the ends and form them into hearts. Bake the hearts slightly apart on baking sheets in preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300F and bake the biscuits for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are golden. Let the biscuits cool on racks and store them in airtight containers. Makes 40 biscotti.

The flavor blooms and develops over the week.

I make these with cheap port, Marsala, or any strong, sweet red wine left at our house.

I like to use corn oil in the recipe, and whole wheat flour. I also shape the cookies into hearts so they don't resemble dog droppings.

Sometimes rather than shape the dough into ropes I flatten the dough with my rolling pin and, since the dough is very crumbly, I also press down on the dough with my hands. Then I use a small scalloped-shaped cookie cutter to shape the cookies. I transfer them to cast iron skillets and bake them. The heavy iron pans serve as baking stones, regulating the heat.

4½ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt (more if using whole wheat flour)
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1 cup corn oil
1 cup full-bodied red wine or port or Marsala wine

Anaïs Nin

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
-Anaïs Nin

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
- Anaïs Nin

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
-Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1

People living deeply have no fear of death.
-Anaïs Nin

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.
-Anaïs Nin

The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.
-Anaïs Nin

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it.
-Anaïs Nin

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.
-Anaïs Nin

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lawrence Weiner

I don’t do lunch. I don’t like lunch, I don’t understand it. It seems to completely break your day, and things I do seem to take weeks, and if you start working on something, you want to continue to work. So I sort of work and work and the other people go out to lunch and they do things, and I just work my way through. It’s not very exciting.
-Lawrence Weiner, Paris Review

John McPhee

The thing about writers is that, with very few exceptions, they grow slowly—very slowly. A John Updike comes along, he’s an anomaly. That’s no model, that’s a phenomenon. I sent stuff to The New Yorker when I was in college and then for ten years thereafter before they accepted something. I used to paper my wall with their rejection slips. And they were not making a mistake. Writers develop slowly. That’s what I want to say to you: don’t look at my career through the wrong end of a telescope. This is terribly important to me as a teacher of writers, of kids who want to write.
-John McPhee, Paris Review

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Julie Klam

I started to see that there was a strong learning curve, and the rhythm of rescue involved expecting anything at any time. But being part of a group helping hundreds of dogs a year was so amazingly rewarding. I felt like I was more than a drop in the bucket; I was on a team of superheros. Doing the work helped me to figure out that giving was a crucial part of my fabric. It was only when I began to help give voice to these creatures who cannot speak or ask for help themselves that I felt the balance come into my own life.
-Julie Klam, You Had Me At Woof


Don't allow your inward being to be hurt by what
You have or have not. Be glad, because every
Perfect thing is on its way to nonexistence.

-Hafez, translated by Robert Bly


I opened the back door and there was a grizzly bear. Bill was beside me just outside the door. I said hurry up, get inside. Someone analyzing the dream as it was happening said "It's your mother." Still, I didn't want to take any chances.

Homer Hickam

I don't look for inspiration. If I did, I'd probably never sit down in front of the word processor. The first thing to do is to go ahead and write and not worry too much about the style and format or anything like that. Get the story down and then go back - what I really love is to go back and rewrite.
-Homer Hickam

Friday, February 18, 2011


Many times in poems I have escaped - from myself. I sit for hours and at last see a pinhole in the top of a pumpkin, and I slip out that pinhole, gone! The genie expands and is gone; no one can get him back in the bottle again; he is hovering around a car cemetery somewhere.
-Robert Bly, Reaching Out to the World

A Dialogue on Impossible Nostalgia

by Vanessa Valliere

Her – I am feeling nostalgic for the country.

Him – What country?

Her – Out in the country. With the air and the warm bread with butter and honey and tea.

Him – When?

Her – Now. I’d love to go back.

Him – But…

Her – Remember the wooden table we had outside and the sand underneath and the bees nest in the bushes? I wish we could make a fire in the fireplace. I like to think about the night we went out looking for firewood in the dark and I could hear your feet crunching along – my fingers were aching with cold but it was so sharp and beautiful out. And in the morning we folded up the extra quilts and padded down to the kitchen in the slippers my mother bought and we cracked open the living room window so we could hear the birds better.

Him – Was it winter?

Her – Sometimes. And sometimes we were sweating and walking with towels over our arms and little pebbles skipping out around our feet. We went swimming and you took a shower while I cut us a plate of kiwi and apples and cheddar. When you came out we ate it on the porch in the rocking chairs and you surprised me with that crisp white wine you’d been saving in the basement and we drank it in those funny glasses we found the summer before – with the dancing ladies painted on them. You threw your head back and laughed and we tapped a little song on the arms of our chairs.

Him – I’m sorry. I don’t think. I don’t think I remember.

Her – We watched a lot of movies. All of your favorites and all of my favorites and then we made steak with fat mushrooms and we talked about our favorite parts. Sometimes we felt like we were still in the movie and we walked around each other carefully- savoring and respecting. Other times we looked at each other like two people who were not us, but who were still in love, just like in the movie, and we smiled and kissed and pulled a blanket over our heads.

Him – I remember watching movies.

Her – Yes! Yes. And there was candlelight at dinner always. The stars were so easy to see! I wore that dress nearly every day, it was so comfortable and colorful and you seemed to like it so much.

Him – I love all of your dresses sweet. But we were never there. We’ve never been to the country.

Her – Of course we have.

Him – No.

Her – Why not though? Why haven’t we? When we’ve had such lovely times there? I miss it so much I think about it all day sometimes – the days we had there and how long they were – how they stretched out in front of us like one small lifetime after another. And here we blink the weeks away and only get to remember the future.

-Vanessa Valliere

Vanessa Valliere

Mary’s Forgotten Part

Mary’s top half proceeds her into every room and around every corner. Her head and torso conspire to get there first, to get the job done, to avoid catastrophe. Her bottom has gotten large behind her. If for once it sensed that Mary believed it capable of catching up, it might finally believe it too. But there’s never been any indication and so it lives in a left-behind dragged-along place thinking about four tier sandwiches and dark chocolate truffles.

-Vanessa Valliere

M.F.K. Fisher

I am a junkie about writing, I have to have it. That's my way of screaming primally.
-M.F.K. Fisher, Conversations With M.F.K. Fisher page 163

I Dreamed

I dreamed I saw Robert Bly in a maroon Ford Escort in the parking lot of the Woonsocket Library. I could see his two young grandchildren, a boy and a red-haired girl in the back seat.

Then I remembered that my father's father was called Grandpa Red, because of his hair. When I knew him, his hair was white, but his skin was red. He gave us M&M's out of a glass canister he kept high up on a dusty shelf.

Today I feel love in my heart for no particular reason,
Like the sun coming out after a week of clouds.

Toni Morrisson

My books are always questions for me. What if? How does it feel to ...? Or what would it look like if you took racism out? Or what does it look like if you have the perfect town, everything you ever wanted? And so you ask a question, put it in a time when it would be theatrical to ask, and find the people who can articulate it for you and try to make them interesting. The rest of it is all structure, how to put it together.
-Toni Morrisson

I was a radio child. You get in the habit of gathering information that way, and imagining the rest.
-Toni Morrisson

I was in a place where I knew I was not going to be for a long time; I didn't have any friends and didn't make any, didn't want any because I was on my way somewhere else. So I wrote as a thing to do. If I had played the piano, I think I would have done that — but I didn't have a piano and don't play. So I wrote.
-Toni Morrisson

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sai Baba

You must pass your days in song. Let your whole life be a song.
-Sai Baba

Jean Houston

We all have the extraordinary coded within us, waiting to be released.
-Jean Houston

Norman MacFinan

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
-Norman MacFinan

R. Buckminster Fuller

Don't fight forces, use them.
-R. Buckminster Fuller

Marcus Cole

Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair and all the terrible things that happen to us, come because we actually deserve them?
-Marcus Cole

Maria Robinson

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
-Maria Robinson

Tehyi Hsieh

To be natural means not to force things. When you act natural, you get what you need, but to know what is natural, you have to cultivate tranquility.
-Tehyi Hsieh

Wendell Berry

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

Oscar Wilde

We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.
-Oscar Wilde

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
-Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan

Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music. Your days are your sonnets.
-Oscar Wilde

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.
-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Each of us has heaven and hell in him...
-Oscar Wilde

A good friend will always stab you in the front.
-Oscar Wilde

Henry David Thoreau

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods & making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious enterprising citizen.
-Henry David Thoreau

Nikki Giovanni

Art Sanctuary

by Nikki Giovanni

I would always choose to be the person running
rather than the mob chasing
I would prefer to be the person laughed at
rather than the teenagers laughing
I always admired the men and women who sat down
for their rights
And held in disdain the men and women who spat
on them
Everyone deserves Sanctuary a place to go where you are
Art offers Sanctuary to everyone willing
to open their hearts as well as their eyes

-Nikki Giovanni, Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hypnotic Chocolate Pudding

A few years ago my husband hypnotized me to remember the delicious chocolate pudding from Leo's a famous bar restaurant where we would often meet on a Friday night. Leo's was on Chestnut Street in downtown Providence. I worked in the kitchen as a prep chef twenty five years ago and loved it. Tonight I dug out the recipe and made a whole wheat oil crust sweetened with sugar and pre-baked it at 350 for 20 minutes and then poured the chocolate pudding inside and refrigerated it.

Leo's Pudding
Melt 2 oz unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler. When fully melted slowly stir in 1/3 cup of sugar. Then in a large measuring cup combine a cup of milk and a cup of coffee and hold back 1/4 of the liquid. Slowly add the (nearly) two cups mixture to the double boiler while stirring. Add 1/8 teaspoon of salt and one tablespoon of butter. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the withheld 1/4 cup of coffee milk. Then stir slowly adding cornstarch mixture to the liquids in the double boiler. Cook for ten minutes stirring constantly. Then cover and cook another ten minutes. Uncover. Turn off heat. Add one teaspoon vanilla, stirring gently. Pour into one pre-baked crust or a few small glass bowls. Refrigerate. I am going to try this recipe again with even more unsweetened chocolate.

Oil pie crust for two sweet wholesome crusts (withhold the sugar for a savory crust)
2 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup corn oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Mix flour and salt and sugar together. Pour milk and oil in, stir with fork and fingers press with fingers into two pie pans. Bake for 20-30 minutes at preheated 350 degree oven.

All I Ask For

All I ask for is everything I have.

M.F.K. Fisher

The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight...
-M.F.K. Fisher

It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.
-M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

All men are hungry. They always have been. They must eat, and when they deny themselves the pleasures of carrying out that need, they are cutting off part of their possible fullness, their natural realization of life, whether they are rich or poor.
-M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf

Dining partners, regardless of gender, social standing, or the years they've lived, should be chosen for their ability to eat - and drink! - with the right mixture of abandon and restraint. They should enjoy food, and look upon its preparation and its degustation as one of the human arts.
-M.F.K. Fisher, Serve It Forth

That night I not only saw my Father for the first time as a person. I saw the golden hills and the live oaks as clearly as I have ever seen them since; and I saw the dimples in my little sister's fat hands in a way that still moves me because of that first time; and I saw food as something beautiful to be shared with people instead of as a thrice-daily necessity.
-M.F.K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me

I am more modest now, but I still think that one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, I with my brain and my hands, have nourished my beloved few, that I have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world.
-M.F.K. Fisher

When shall we live if not now?
-M.F.K. Fisher

Oscar Wilde

Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.
-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

It takes great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.
-Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband

Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?
-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.
-Oscar Wilde

Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
-Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

Sunday, February 13, 2011

M.F.K. Fisher

I cannot count the good people I know who, to my mind, would be even better if they bent their spirits to the study of their own hungers. There are too many of us, otherwise in proper focus, who feel an impatience for the demands of our bodies, and who try throughout our whole lives to deafen ourselves to the voices of various hungers.
-M.F.K. Fisher

Monkey Boy

Next week Sammy gets part two of his distemper booster. He is happy and healthy and feeling right at home, and he and Lily-dog are friendly. Sammy has his open cat hut, lined with a towel, next to the boiler, and his food bowl is way inside so Lily can't poke her head in and eat from it. The hut (which is just a cat carrier) is draped with a purple towel, and Sammy loves to lounge on top. His orange and white fur against the purple towel is beautiful! There is a hemp-rope wrapped pillar in the basement that he climbs and claws like a tree. He is a happy, curious, and playful boy. He runs freely all over the house. He loves to climb on the paper piles in my studio. He and Lily follow each other around and are beginning to play. Lily is very protective of the kitchen though! They have even slept together on the cushion in front of the heater in Bill's office.

Last night Sammy was fascinated by a stream of water I ran in the yellow bathroom sink. He put his paw under it and drank from it. I watched him playing with the water for twenty minutes. He is a fabulous cat. He's a monkey boy!

Norton Juster

No one paid any attention to how things looked, and as they moved faster and faster everything grew uglier and dirtier, and as everything grew uglier and dirtier they moved faster and faster, and at last a very strange thing began to happen. Because nobody cared, the city slowly began to disappear.
-Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

How many times have you walked down the street and thought, How long has that been there? You realize, or someone will tell you, that it's always been there. It's been there for the last twenty or thirty years!
-Norton Juster

You anesthetize yourself to a place with over-familiarity. And that's the battle in life, to keep yourself fresh to those things so you're always aware.
-Norton Juster

I think really good books can be read by anybody. Sometimes I have a problem labeling a children's book as if it were some lesser form. There are good books and there are bad books, period, that's the distinction. A good book written for children can be read by adults.
-Norton Juster

I write best in the morning, and I can only write for about half a day, that's about it. I run out of juice and I have to refuel for the rest of the day. That refueling can be the most mundane sort of thing, sitting in front of the television set or taking a walk. Vegetating, really.
-Norton Juster

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Naked North Iceland Farmers

Naked North Iceland Farmers Go for the Full Monty
Farmers from Hörgárdalur in north Iceland are preparing to stage a localized version of The Full Monty in the local hobby theater, Leikfélag Hörgdaela, which will premiere on March 3. The farmers promise to live up to the play’s title.

In conjunction with the play, the farmers will also issue a calendar which will be sold at petrol stations in north Iceland. “I’d say it’s perfect for work places, especially female work places,” Thórdarson said.

To book tickets or order the calendar, call (+354) 865-8114 or email

Friday, February 11, 2011

Margaret Mead

There is no more creative force in the world than a menopausal woman with zest.
-Margaret Mead

Carl Gustav Jung

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
-Carl Gustav Jung

The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.
-Carl Gustav Jung

If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.
-Carl Gustav Jung

Albert Camus

Always go too far, because that's where you'll find the truth.
-Albert Camus

Jack Kerouac

Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken.
-Jack Kerouac

My witness is the empty sky.
-Jack Kerouac

John le Carré

Writing is like walking in a deserted street. Out of the dust in the street you make a mud pie.
-John le Carré

Carl Sagan

In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
-Carl Sagan

Dalai Lama

Sleep is the best meditation.
-Dalai Lama

There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.
-Dalai Lama

In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.
-Dalai Lama

William Shenstone

A miser grows rich by seeming poor; an extravagant man grows poor by seeming rich.
-William Shenstone

A liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth, and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood.
-William Shenstone

The best time to frame an answer to the letters of a friend, is the moment you receive them. Then the warmth of friendship, and the intelligence received, most forcibly cooperate.
-William Shenstone

The lines of poetry, the period of prose, and even the texts of Scripture most frequently recollected and quoted, are those which are felt to be preeminently musical.
-William Shenstone

Stephen Elliot

It’s a common misperception that for some reason we should be telling stories about other people instead of ourselves.
-Stephen Elliot

Glasgow Poet John Nolan's Police Log

3:56 p.m. — A lady calls to say her boyfriend is attacking her with kitchen utensils. The Peelers respond.
-Rochester NH police log

Peel; definition (Law) Brit dated slang another word for policeman
[from the founder of the police force, Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), British Conservative statesman]

Joy Williams

I was miserable, of course. But it was all very good for my writing. It's good to be miserable and a little off-balance.
-Joy Williams

Good writing never soothes or comforts. It is no prescription, neither is it diversionary, although it can and should enchant while it explodes in the reader's face. Whenever the writer writes, it's always three or four or five o'clock in the morning in his head. Those horrid hours are the writer's days and nights when he is writing.
-Joy Williams

The writer doesn't trust his enemies, of course, who are wrong about his writing, but he doesn't trust his friends, either, who he hopes are right. The writer trusts nothing he writes — it should be too reckless and alive for that, it should be beautiful and menacing and slightly out of his control. It should want to live itself somehow.
-Joy Williams

Pico Iyer

The less conscious one is of being 'a writer,' the better the writing. And though reading is the best school of writing, school is the worst place for reading. Writing should ... be as spontaneous and urgent as a letter to a lover, or a message to a friend who has just lost a parent ... and writing is, in the end, that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.
-Pico Iyer

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Woody Allen

If they could figure out a way to channel my anger, they could solve the energy crisis.
-Woody Allen

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Charles Seymour

We seek the truth, and will endure the consequences.
-Charles Seymour

François de La Rochefoucauld

To listen closely and reply well is the highest perfection we are able to obtain in the art of conversation.
-François de La Rochefoucauld


Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.
-Lao Tzu

A man who is very busy seldom changes his opinions.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn't know why they choose him and he's usually too busy to wonder why.
-William Faulkner

We all need to look into the dark side of our nature - that's where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we're busy denying.
-Sue Grafton

He who's not busy being born is busy dying.
-Bob Dylan

Alice Walker

Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book, If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for.
-Alice Walker

Don't wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you've got to make yourself.
-Alice Walker

Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.
-Alice Walker

For in the end, freedom is a personal and lonely battle; and one faces down fears of today so that those of tomorrow might be engaged.
-Alice Walker

Helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.
-Alice Walker

I think we have to own the fears that we have of each other, and then, in some practical way, some daily way, figure out how to see people differently than the way we were brought up to.
-Alice Walker

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful.
-Alice Walker

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.
-Alice Walker

Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence.
-Alice Walker

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Crazy Animals

Lily-dog is biting at dust motes! Sammy-cat is chasing the little plastic strip from the lid of the milk jug. What would we do without our beloved animals?

On my way home today from the baker's supply I looked over at a van beside me in traffic. The driver had white speckles covering his face. I laughed myself to tears realizing he must have been painting a ceiling and probably had no idea that he was now a speckled man.

Official Forecast

Tomorrow will have 2 minutes and 30 seconds more of daylight.
- The Weather Underground

Carolyn Knapp

Spend too much time without people and the simplest social activities - meeting someone for coffee, going out to dinner - begin to seem monumental and scary and exhausting, the interpersonal equivalent of trying to swim to France.
-Carolyn Knapp

Monday, February 07, 2011

Circus Proverbs

I am thinking of including Proverbs as an inspirational part of my Circus Tarps Class.

He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.
-Arabian Proverb

It is not the horse that draws the cart, but the oats.
-Russian proverb

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.
-Chinese Proverb

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Keep A-Knockin'

Keep A-Knockin' (But You Can't Come In)

Keep knockin' and you can't come in,
Keep knockin' and you can't come in,
Keep knockin' and you can't come in,
I guess you better let me be.

Kinda busy and you can't come in,
Kinda busy and you can't come in,
Kinda busy and you can't come in,
I guess you better let me be.

Got your daddy and you can't come in,
Got your daddy and you can't come in,
Got your daddy and you can't come in,
I guess you better let me be.

Yes, yes, I know you want to come in. I'm so sure you can't come in 'cause I ain't even botherin'.

You can open the transom but you can't come in.
You can open the transom but you can't come in.
You can open the transom but you can't come in.
I guess you better let me be.

I hear you tippin' but you can't come in.
I hear you tippin' but you can't come in.
I hear you tippin' but you can't come in.
I guess you better let me be.

Knock, knock, knock. I know you're worried, big boy.

Shake my doorknob but you can't come in.
Shake my doorknob but you can't come in.
Shake my doorknob but you can't come in.
I guess you better let me be.

I know you're worried, but you can't come in.
I know you're worried, but you can't come in.
I know you're worried, but you can't come in.
I guess you better let me be.

Knock, knock, knock! You can't come in here!

recorded by Louis Jordan
possibly written by Perry Bradford


Strategies don't have a gender.


I dreamed I was waiting to catch a bus and a friend came and said people are going to eat whatever they want so it's no use trying to change them.

Michael Pollan

Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.
-Michael Pollan

Terry Tempest Williams

Remember fear for what it is; a resistance to uncertainty.
-Terry Tempest Williams

Yusef Komunyakaa

Don't write what you know. Write what you are willing to discover.
-Yusef Komunyakaa

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Three Tons

Another night at the shovel lodge!! We shoveled the roof of the garage for hours. Bill says it was three tons of snow.

Super Bowl

I know nothing about sports but I have a strong desire to smoke cigars and watch the game and yell a lot just like my stepfather and grandfather did during football season.


Solitude is in the mind. One might be in the thick of the world yet maintain perfect serenity of mind. Such a person is always in solitude. Another, who may stay in the forest but still be unable to control the mind, cannot be said to be in solitude. One who is non-attached is always in solitude.
-Ramana Maharshi

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
-Martin Luther King

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.

Roof Work

Today we have to shovel the roof of the garage. I am not looking forward to it. For starters I have no idea how we'll get up there!

Small Planet

Our neighbor Nagla is Egyptian and her whole family lives in Cairo. She owns the Moonlight Wieners restaurant on our street. She has lived here in America for 11 years. I stopped in on my way to the library to see how she and her relatives were holding up. They are very scared, especially scared about tomorrow! Then a tall big man in a Dunkin Donuts pullover came in and ordered 26 wieners all the way, for himself. I watched her prepare them with no wasted motion, lining them up on her arm up to her shoulder, adding chopped onions and relish to each one. My heart goes out to your family. It's a small planet and we're all under the same moon, I said as I was leaving. She had wrapped up two wieners for me to give to Lily. When I got home from the library, Lily was overjoyed. She could smell them as soon as I came in the door.

Planet Snow

As I walk around, with three feet of snow covering the cars and roads, I wonder about how I would describe what snow is like to someone who has never experienced it.

There's this stuff that falls out of the sky and it's pure white and frozen and it piles up fast. You can get trapped or buried in it, and have to shovel paths through it to get in and out of your house! The sunlight bouncing off the snow it so bright you have to wear sunglasses. Dogs and kids love to play in it, and once upon a time Eskimos used to live in igloos made of it. People have to shovel it off their roofs so they don't cave in from the weight, and motorized plows have to clear the roads and sidewalks made slippery by it.

John Callahan

I'm happiest when I'm offensive. I have a desire to tear people in half. I want to move people out of the suburbs of their mind. I want them to suffer, to feel something real. I have a lot of anger. I want to hurt people. At least a little.
-John Callahan

Jon Katz

Our society doesn’t like the Winter World much. Mostly we see photos of trapped cars, snow-covered commuters, big and expensive trucks deploying salt and sand.. I think the Winter World is also eerily beautiful, the bluest of skies, wide expanses of side, in contrast the ribbons of roads. And the quiet.
-Jon Katz

Friday, February 04, 2011

A.S. Neill

The spoiled child very often represents for the parents their second chance in life. I have made little of life because so many people thwarted me; but my son will have every chance to succeed where I failed.
-A.S. Neill, Summerhill

Then there is the spoiled child whose mother doesn't want him ever to grow up. Motherhood is a job - but not a lifetime job.
-A.S. Neill, Summerhill

I would never consciously influence children to become pacifists, or vegetarians, or reformers or anything else. I know that preaching cuts no ice with children. I put my trust in the power of freedom to fortify youth against sham, and against fanaticism, and against isms of any kind.
-A.S. Neill, Summerhill

Every opinion forced on a child is a sin against that child. A child is not a little adult, and a child cannot possibly see the adults point of view.
-A.S. Neill, Summerhill

Thursday, February 03, 2011


The human race has only one effective weapon, and that is laughter.
-Mark Twain

Laugh at yourself for a man is most comical when he takes himself too seriously.
-Og Mandino

Artificial hearts are nothing new. Politicians have had them for years.
-Mack McGinnis

I never even knew pain until I got into comedy.
-Orny Adams

Glass Trees

Today the trees are made of glass and they creak in the wind. In the house it is fifty degrees. We're working wearing fleece hats and long-johns under our regular clothes. The snow is so high our four foot picket fence is nearly completely buried in snow and ice. I love winter. I like the darkness and the cold air. I am almost sorry that the daylight hours are expanding.

Pumpkin Pudding

Last night during the ice storm, I decided to make a pumpkin pie. I discovered my 100 pound stash of flour was used up. So I made pumpkin pie anyway but without the crust. I baked it in a glass Pyrex bowl. It was a delicious pumpkin pudding. I will make it on purpose sometime.

Horace Greeley

Common sense is very uncommon.
-Horace Greeley

Gertrude Stein

Take any piece of land. Let alone the farmer and the real estate agent or the picnicker, one painter will see it flat, another painter will see it in depth, another as structure, another as fluffy, another as dark and light, another as spots and lines, another as still, another as changeable, another as full of its detail, another as a general expression or mood, and so on. But it is all the time the same commonplace piece of land. Likewise people and ideas are normally just as commonplace, but they are irregular since they do contain what is from the practical point of view an excess of aspects and qualities. If it were not for this excess nobody probably would go on living, because in it is all possibility and all novelty and all freedom.
-Gertrude Stein

James Michener

I think the bottom line is that if you get through a childhood like mine, it's not at all bad. Obviously, you come out a pretty tough turkey, and you have had all the inoculations you need to keep you on a level keel for the rest of your life. The sad part is, most of us don't come out.
-James Michener

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Art of Conversation

Years ago I was with a group of friends walking along a Rhode Island beach at dusk. One of our group, newspaper photographer Andy Dickerman, approached a guy who was fishing and started up a conversation. He developed an instant rapport with this total stranger. I was so blown away, and I remember it vividly to this day. I had never considered it possible to be so bold and open. Now when I walk through the city I always am ready to have a little conversation with a complete stranger. Most of the time it makes my day, and certainly gives me a lot to think about.

Dancing Lady

There's a lady in a dress dancing
on my bedroom ceiling.
I have known her all the years I've lived here.
When I am lazily gazing up I see her,
lit by the morning light.
She has been here longer than I
and she dances
as the house settles
and the plaster walls slowly split apart,
sharpening her outline.


What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
-Helen Keller

The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
-Henry Miller

Imagination is the living power and prime agent of all human perception.
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire.
-Cesar Chavez

All speech, action, and behavior are fluctuations of consciousness. All life emerges from, and is sustained in, consciousness. The whole universe is the expression of consciousness. The reality of the universe is one unbounded ocean of consciousness in motion.
-Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end, you don't come to an achievement, you don't come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.
-J. Krishnamurti

Grizzly Bears

Bears seem to experience moods much like we do; they can be shy, curious, pushy, or aggressive, and can possess other attributes that we can identify as humanlike. Each time you get close to a bear, you encounter a specific individual that may behave differently from any other individual you have ever met before or will ever meet again.

Grizzly attack victims are often not aware of why they were attacked. Many attacks are caused by close encounters, where the bear has been surprised and feels threatened by human presence. A female with cubs will be especially aggressive and will defend her cubs from any possible threat. Many attacks can be avoided if the bear sees a way out of the situation.

Bears are basically solitary animals. Each has its zone of danger, or personal space, which varies from animal to animal. If something or someone penetrates this zone, a response in the form of a bluff charge, bodily contact, or outright attack may result. Often times grizzly bears will essentially ignore people until a person enters into a bear's "personal space". Even groups as large as 100 people have been ignored by grizzly bears until one of the group gets too close. Most bears are timid enough to flee a possible encounter if they sense the presence of something or someone soon enough to leave the area undetected. On the other hand, when a bear is surprised, the bear may see you as a threat, forcing an immediate response.

-Mark Matheny

The Animals

The intuitive connection children feel with animals can be a tremendous source of joy. The unconditional love received from pets, and the lack of artifice in the relationship, contrast sharply with the much trickier dealings with members of their own species.
-Frans De Waal, The Ape and the Sushi Master; Cultural Reflecions by a Primatologist

Children show no trace of the arrogance which urges adult civilized men to draw a hard-and-fast line between their own nature and that of all other animals. Children have no scruples over allowing animals to rank as their full equals. Uninhibited as they are in the avowal of their bodily needs, they no doubt feel themselves more akin to animals than to their elders, who may well be a puzzle to them.
-Sigmund Freud

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


The small man
Builds cages for everyone

While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the

-Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Animal Farm

Yesterday I boiled lamb bones I had in the freezer, and today I skimmed the waxy fat off the top and am baking lentils in the stock with olive oil. It smells fabulous. I have leftover egg nog that I am defrosting and might pour over snow to make snow ice cream. I made corn tortillas from instant masa for lunch. I'm getting faster at using the tortilla press and cellophane. My new orange cat is crazy about corn, just like our former orange cat was. Lily tried to leap into my lap on all fours while I was sitting in the cozy chair. She's a dog who thinks she's a lap cat (and I only encourage it). The cat sits like a meatloaf on the cold kitchen linoleum. He thinks he's a dog. I am not sure I'm a person. I know I am part Labrador, but my scalp wants to be scratched like a cat's.

I am thinking of painting the cat crate to look like a motorcycle shop so when the cat sits inside purring, it will sound like a Harley repair shop. As it is we've strung up all the hair ties and little figurines we've collected over the decades to dangle for our new cat. Anyone visiting will think we're living in a gigantic cat toy. Perhaps we are! Sammy has played the piano and tapped the typewriter and been hypnotized by the snow falling out the window. He absolutely loves to chase the tennis ball and pounce on it, but he has to compete with 75 pound Lily if she sees him. They are getting quite intimate. Sammy gently bats Lily like a boxer. Before long I'm sure they will be whirling each other around like dancers.


I sold my painting titled Baroque!

See it here.


In two weeks, our kitten has become a cat!


I dreamed I was speaking to a group of people about how America was like K-Mart, brightly, and artificially lit. We need to embrace the authentic darkness to counter-balance the manufactured brightness.

Langston Hughes

Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas.
-Langston Hughes