Wednesday, August 31, 2011

René Magritte

The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.
-René Magritte

Charles Simic

How strange the cities are with their sand-grain manyness.
-Charles Simic, A Fly in the Soup

Poems are other people's snapshots in which we recognize ourselves.
-Charles Simic, A Fly in the Soup

There's truth with eyes open, and there's truth with eyes closed, and they often do not recognize each other on the street.
-Charles Simic, A Fly in the Soup

I'm a connoisseur of paradox. All the good-looking oxymorons are in love with me and come visit me in my bed at night.
-Charles Simic, A Fly in the Soup

Linda Pastan

September

by Linda Pastan

it rained in my sleep
and in the morning the fields were wet

I dreamed of artillery
of the thunder of horses

in the morning the fields were strewn
with twigs and leaves

as if after a battle
or a sudden journey

I went to sleep in the summer
I dreamed of rain

in the morning the fields were wet
and it was autumn

-Linda Pastan, from Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Storm Supper

This afternoon the trees were down everywhere, from the hurricane. Even the dairy farm was deserted. The corrugated metal roof of their utility barn was ripped open and flapping in the wind. Down the road the Super Stop and Shop supermarket had lost power hours ago. Their lights were dim, there was no milk, fish, meat, vegetables or frozen items on the shelves. Very weird. We bought a big bag of pretzels and then went to the beer store and bought a pint bottle of Beck's beer.

Martin Luther King Jr

I choose to identify with the underprivileged. I choose to identify with the poor. I choose to give my life for the hungry. I choose to live for and with those who find themselves seeing life as a long and desolate corridor with no exit signs. This is the way I'm going. If it means suffering a little bit, I'm going that way. If it means sacrificing, I'm going that way. If it means dying for them, I'm going that way. Because I heard the voice saying: do something for others.

-Martin Luther King Jr

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Corn Pillow

Last night before going to sleep I brought in the laundry from the line and made up the bed. When I woke up a few times in the night I noticed my pillowcase smelled like corn tortillas for no particular reason.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Walking Cure

I took a walk because this is always the thing to do when feeling blue and I ran into Francine the lady on my street from Quebec. She lives a few blocks away on the Blackstone Massachusetts side. She came out with two dozen eggs for me. She and her husband have a bunch of chickens, ducks and two young adorable dogs and a few big brave cats. I thanked her and gently tucked the loaded egg cartons into my purple shoulder bag and proceeded to walk to Harris Pond where I threw the stick and Lily swam out a few times to fetch it. On the way home Lily met the Doberman who lives on the corner and they wanted to play. The sky got very dark but it didn't rain.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rochester New Hampshire Police Log

6:28 p.m. — At Brookfarm Village, a "highly impaired female" is stumbling. She is protected by the patron saint of stumblers, and is gone when police arrive.

7:54 p.m. — On South Main Street a man and a woman throw boxes at each other. Some are in the road, and one hit a vehicle.

10:58 p.m. — Three masked men are hanging around downtown.

11:41 p.m. — Three men, no mention of masks, are walking down the middle of South Main Street.

12:23 a.m. — A man is walking on Lafayette Street towards the fairgrounds with a shotgun. To blend in, he is not wearing a shirt.

3:02 a.m. — Yelling and screaming disturb folks on Henry Street.

4:42 a.m. — Three men with flashlights are peering into Sampson Road woods.

8:18 a.m. — A flagger on Chestnut Hill Road says a female driver just blazed through the construction site, hollering obscenities at everyone.

Makaw

Today I saw a man with a blue and yellow Macaw parrot sitting on his left shoulder while he was riding his bicycle down Social Street.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On My Way to the Library

On my way to the library everyone was out milling about in parking lots. Some people were wearing scrubs, holding clipboards. There were fire trucks and police and blocked off roads. I asked some people sitting outside on the benches at Kennedy Manor what was happening. They said there was an earthquake and now they're checking the buildings. The mood was festive because it was a beautiful afternoon and everyone was chatting. Most people knew they would probably have the rest of the day off.

At the community garden I picked my fresh basil and flat leaf Italian parsley. A big black lady came in with her daughter and a little white poodle. I held onto Lily so the dogs wouldn't start wrestling. She had a basket of okra. I love okra, I said and ate it when I lived in North Carolina but nobody seems to know about it around here. The woman said she finds it for sale at Price Right. She said she was born in South Carolina. She gave me all of her freshly picked okra. They look like shooting stars to me, I said. I told her that what I thought was going to be cucumbers has turned out to be little watermelons the size of party balloons, growing in my plot.

I came home and made a partial pesto out of the pile of basil using olive oil and salt and garlic because I didn't have walnuts and cheese. Then I sliced the okra into disks and sauteed them in olive oil and onions and mushrooms and pea pods. Then I added some leftover water from steaming carrots (for my carrot cake) and I added corn that I cut off the cob. I sprinkled it all with soy sauce. It was a spectacular supper.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wendell Berry

If you don't know where you are, then you don't know who you are.
-Wendell Berry

Apollonia Poilâne

Bread!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Decision Fatigue

Do you suffer from decision fatigue?

Canine False Pregnancies

My neighbor told me when he worked in animal rescue there was a Great Dane with a false pregnancy. They set her up to nurse the newborn Doberman Pincher puppies and a Terrier puppy that had been rescued for whatever reason, without their lactating mothers. I had never heard of such a thing but did some research.

Interestingly, the phenomenon of non-pregnant bitches developing milk and actually lactating may have had some functional importance in evolution, when mature canine bitches (such as wolves) without puppies had to nurse orphaned litters in the wild.
-http://www.petwave.com

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dreams

I dreamed of two zebra-striped kittens, one was the reverse pattern of the other. I fell in love with them and wanted to take them home.

I dreamed a woman from India was baking large thin sheets of Indian breads in a big kitchen. When I looked closely I saw she had scored the dough into little figures the size of worry dolls and other shapes resembling small houses. All of this was happening at a large urban party.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Elephant

WARNING: If you don't have room in your livingroom for an elephant - don't make friends with the elephant trainer . . .

-Sufi Mystic, Be Here Now by Ram Dass

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Speedy Weenie

George Devol Inventor of the "Speedy Weeny" dies at 99.

Mr. Devol said that new technology should be simple and practical.

We should take refuge in the fact that very crude systems can accomplish an awful lot, he once said. Elegant capabilities are nice, but often unnecessary.

-New York Times

Speedy Weenie

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

Stop

Monday, August 15, 2011

Michelle Markel

Michelle Markel: For New Writers

TOP 10 Ways to get published

* Take a class in children’s literature at a local college. Some classes are offered on-line. Learn about the elements of fiction: character, plot, setting, point of view. Learn about literary language. If you can’t take a class, read books on children’s literature – Nancy Lamb’s The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children is one of my favorites.

* Read 100 books in the genre you write in (picture book, easy read, middle grade, young adult). Study how the authors used the elements of fiction you’ve learned about.

* If you write picture books, type the text and do a word count. This forces you to pay closer attention to every word of the text. If you write for older readers, type some of your favorite passages- then use the same parts of speech, same sentence structure, and write about a different topic.

* Keep a journal in which you record events/sights that caught your attention, even if you don’t know why. Write down the most vivid sense experience you had. Months later you can go back and mine the journal for story ideas.

* Choose a subject you’re passionate about, then write as often as you can. Allow yourself to have crummy days, but write!

* Wait at least a week (two is even better) after you’ve written your story, then read it again. Revise it as needed. Most revision is through elimination, though it can also involve changing the chronology of events, showing instead of telling, and other fine-tuning

* Join a critique group. Sometimes you can form one with students from your writing class. You can also find one on-line.

* Wait a month before sending out your manuscript. You may find some last minute tweaking is needed.

* Learn about children’s publishing. Go to bookstores and see what’s being published. Read the spring and fall children’s book issues of Publishers Weekly. Go to conferences where editors are speaking. Visit authoritative children's book websites such as www.underdown.org.

* Join the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), which offers an informative website, a newsletter and many regional and state conferences.

Rich Gann

Amazing Encaustic Paintings

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Daddy Jack

How some adopted children meet their biological parents.

Mom it's daddy Jack. He wants to friend me on Facebook!!!

Safari Cadillac

A rusted out big blue 1960's Convertible Cadillac for sale in our neighborhood. The roof is duck taped together. The body is rusty but I would like to paint yellow zebra stripes with a matching blue and yellow zebra-striped safari hat and drive around for a day.

Inverted Duck

Lily our Labrador Retriever carries her water bottle in her mouth.
It's her inverted duck!

Lara Herscovitch

Lara Herscovitch is SolarFest Singer-Songwriter Showcase Winner!!! Congrats Lara!!

Penelope Manzella

Artist Penelope Manzella makes amazing paintings. Henri Rousseau and Georgio DeChirico inspired work. Have a look!

Garden Metaphors

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
-Robert Louis Stevenson

We can identify the positive seeds that we want to water every day, and train ourselves not to water the negative ones.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

My Mother the Car

Children With Autism, Connecting via Transit By Christine Haughney, NYT

When young children with autism spent 15 minutes a day watching animated videos of vehicles with human faces on them, their ability to recognize emotions improved after one month.

Introverts

Contrary to what most people think, an introvert is not simply a person who is shy. In fact, being shy has little to do with being an introvert! Shyness has an element of apprehension, nervousness and anxiety, and while an introvert may also be shy, introversion itself is not shyness. Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people.

Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to "recharge."

When introverts want to be alone, it is not, by itself, a sign of depression. It means that they either need to regain their energy from being around people or that they simply want the time to be with their own thoughts. Being with people, even people they like and are comfortable with, can prevent them from their desire to be quietly introspective.

Being introspective, though, does not mean that an introvert never has conversations. However, those conversations are generally about ideas and concepts, not about what they consider the trivial matters of social small talk.

By Carol Bainbridge

Swimming with Seals

Yesterday I swam with the big black seals in the ocean off the elbow of Cape Cod. They looked like black Labradors. I was in heaven. The water was ice cold and tingly from the salt. There was a rainbow ring around the sun and sun dogs in the sky and a shocking pink sunset. I had a whole summer holiday packed into one day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

How Many Times?

How many times can you break out?
or break through?
or break down?

Every time you exhale.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Victor Frankl

The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.
-Victor Frankl

When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves.
-Victor Frankl

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality.
-Victor Frankl

What is to give light must endure burning.
-Victor Frankl

Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.
-Victor Frankl

Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how.'
-Victor Frankl

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
-Victor Frankl

For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment.
-Victor Frankl

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique as his specific opportunity.
-Victor Frankl

Spam Poem


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Abraham Lincoln

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
-Abraham Lincoln

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new at all.
-Abraham Lincoln

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.
-Abraham Lincoln

If there is anything that a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.
-Abraham Lincoln

If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.
-Abraham Lincoln

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
-Abraham Lincoln

You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.
-Abraham Lincoln

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
-Abraham Lincoln

You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.
-Abraham Lincoln

When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.
-Abraham Lincoln

When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion.
-Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Horses Cost Money

I can make more generals, but horses cost money.
-Abraham Lincoln

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

For I can raise no money by vile means.
-William Shakespeare

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.
-Mother Teresa

Dog Years

A memoir by Mark Doty

Mark Doty

Description is made both more moving and more exact when it is acknowledged that it is inevitably incomplete.
-Mark Doty


Dorothy Parker

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
-Dorothy Parker

I hate writing, I love having written.
-Dorothy Parker

That woman speaks eighteen languages, and she can’t say 'No' in any of them.
-Dorothy Parker

She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.
-Dorothy Parker

I'm never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of those who-do-things. I don't do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails. But I don't even do that anymore.
-Dorothy Parker

His voice was as intimate as the rustle of sheets.
-Dorothy Parker

Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.
-Dorothy Parker

You can't teach an old dogma new tricks.
-Dorothy Parker

Sometimes I think I'll give up trying, and just go completely Russian and sit on a stove and moan all day.
-Dorothy Parker

Now, look, baby, 'Union' is spelled with 5 letters. It is not a four-letter word.
-Dorothy Parker

I wish, I wish I were a poisonous bacterium.
-Dorothy Parker

If you wear a short enough skirt, the party will come to you.
-Dorothy Parker

If wild my breast and sore my pride,
I bask in dreams of suicide,
If cool my heart and high my head
I think 'How lucky are the dead.'
-Dorothy Parker

You think You're frightening me with Your hell, don't You? You think Your hell is worse than mine.
-Dorothy Parker

The House Beautiful is the play lousy.
-Dorothy Parker

I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours.
-Dorothy Parker

Resumé
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

-Dorothy Parker

Backyard Tourist

Yesterday I went to Purgatory Chasm in Sutton MA for the fist time. I felt like I was inside an Ansel Adams photograph. I was awed by the gorgeous rock formations and loved the cool air that collected in the valley. There were lots of young kids in brightly colored clothing having fun clambering around with their parents. A number of courageous chipmunks were scurrying along the rocks everywhere, as if greeting us with "Welcome to Massachusetts." Then we went to Whittier Farm and saw the view from the hilltop. We pet the two ponies out back and bought some fresh tomatoes and corn and a bottle of root beer.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

William Shakespeare

And oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.
-William Shakespeare

Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.
-William Shakespeare

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
-William Shakespeare

A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age.
-William Shakespeare

Greens Goats and Soap

http://www.greensandgoats.com/

Pedal Pusher

I'd like to be pedaling one of these around the state all year. I could bring my dog. I could decorate it!

http://www.pedicab.com/

Morning Revolutions

Morning Revolutions (Bicycle Love)
Cycle commuting across the Golden Gate Bridge, by Tara Weaver


Deborah Tannen

We tend to look through language and not realize how much power language has.
-Deborah Tannen

When you feel that the people you are dealing with day to day don't have manners, it gives you the feeling that the world is somehow coming apart. It makes you feel that everything is out of control.
-Deborah Tannen

If you come from, say, the northeastern part of the United States when you're listening you need to show you're alive. You need to talk along. That's the way you show you're interested. But in many parts of the United States if you talk along, that's rude, that's interruption. Now, we all agree interruption is rude. But we don't agree on what constitutes an interruption.
-Deborah Tannen

Communication is a continual balancing act, juggling the conflicting needs for intimacy and independence. To survive in the world, we have to act in concert with others, but to survive as ourselves, rather than simply as cogs in a wheel, we have to act alone.
-Deborah Tannen

Each person's life is lived as a series of conversations.
-Deborah Tannen

Each underestimates her own power and overestimates the other's.
-Deborah Tannen

For most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships.
-Deborah Tannen

The biggest mistake is believing there is one right way to listen, to talk, to have a conversation - or a relationship.
-Deborah Tannen

It's our tendency to approach every problem as if it were a fight between two sides. We see it in headlines that are always using metaphors for war. It's a general atmosphere of animosity and contention that has taken over our public discourse.
-Deborah Tannen

Tara Weaver

There have been times I’ve been so paranoid about entertaining I didn’t just clean the house before people came over—I painted it (wish I were kidding). I spent years wanting everything to be perfect. Which of course it never is. Life is messy, perhaps mine more than most, and letting anyone in the door brings that vulnerability to the surface.

-Tara Weaver, teaandcookiesblog.com

Monday, August 08, 2011

Anne Lamott

Every single day I try to figure out something I no longer agree to do. You get to change your mind—your parents may have accidentally forgotten to mention this to you.
-Anne Lamott

You are probably going to have to deal with whatever fugitive anger still needs to be examined—it may not look like anger; it may look like compulsive dieting or bingeing or exercising or shopping. But you must find a path and a person to help you deal with that anger. It will not be a Hallmark card. It is not the yellow brick road, with lovely trees on both sides, constant sunshine, birdsong, friends. It is going to be unbelievably hard some days—like the rawness of birth, all that blood and those fluids and shouting horrible terrible things—but then there will be that wonderful child right in the middle. And that wonderful child is you, with your exact mind and butt and thighs and goofy greatness.
-Anne Lamott

Oscar Hijuelos

I am reading Oscar Hijuelos' memoir - THOUGHTS WITHOUT CIGARETTES - it's great.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Orphans

An orphan (from the Greek) is a child permanently bereaved of his or her parents. In common usage, only a child (or the young of an animal) who has lost both parents is called an orphan. However, adults can also be referred to as orphans, or "adult orphans".

In certain animal species where the father typically abandons the mother and young at or prior to birth, the young will be called orphans when the mother dies regardless of the condition of the father.

-from Wikipedia

Bread and Bicycles

If I were king I'd have a communal beehive oven to bake bread for free, and provide bicycles for everyone.
The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread
By Russell Shorto NYT

Greed

We are all lab rats with hand held devices, feeding the corporate greed machine.
Greed, like the love of comfort, is a kind of fear.
-Cyril Connolly

All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.
-Edgar Allan Poe

An intriguing paradox of the 1990s is that it isn't called a decade of greed.
-Paul Samuelson

Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.
-P. J. O'Rourke

Greed has taken the whole universe, and nobody is worried about their soul.
-Little Richard

Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.
-Erich Fromm

Greed is the inventor of injustice as well as the current enforcer.
-Julian Casablancas

For greed all nature is too little.
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Eric Schlosser

The history of the twentieth century was dominated by the struggle against totalitarian systems of state power. The twenty-first will no doubt be marked by a struggle to curtail excessive corporate power.

—Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Dryer Sheets

I have no idea if this article is accurate but I hope so because I hate not being able to open my windows due to the scent of dryer sheets. As an asthmatic I suffer the effects of these laundering perfumes. Here's another article.

New Year's Resolutions

My New Year's resolutions this year were to brush up on my French and get back to learning to read music. It's August now and the year is approaching undertow - my word for the rush of Autumn to the winter holidays and year's end. I'm afraid that I'll have to carry my resolutions into the next year.

A Vancouver Artist's Favorites

Favorite Artists
i heart painting, a blog by Rebecca Chaperon.

Taunting Voices

Learning to Cope With a Mind’s Taunting Voices
By Benedict Carey, New York Times

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Do it Yourself Dog Toys

We have an endless supply of orphan socks and a dog who loves them. I found great dog toy ideas on this site.

http://www.make-and-build-dog-stuff.com/

Stanley Kunitz

I can scarcely wait till tomorrow
when a new life begins for me,
as it does each day,
as it does each day.

from the poem "The Round" by Stanley Kunitz

Friday, August 05, 2011

Book Review

I have one problem with this book and one problem only. It is too short. It is too short because I want to read it forever. I want to tear each page out and eat it. I want to digest it. I want to make the fabulous paper into bedsheets and stain them with my blood, sweat and tears. I want to fall asleep reading it and wake up with the words printed backwards on my face for someone to squint at and try to understand.

I want them to understand.

-Overqualified by Joey Comeau
Reviewed by C. Howell

Ice Bikes

Bikes on ice. A lovely thought in summer.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Dear Classmates

by Bill Calhoun

Important Book

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Dr Ruby Payne
Dr. Payne's book, which has sold over one million copies, deals heavily with the concept of "hidden rules", characteristics that a member of one of the three main social classes (upper, middle and lower) possesses that makes communicating and relating to members of the other classes difficult.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Italo Calvino

Your first book is the only one that matters. Perhaps a writer should write only that one. That is the one moment when you make the big leap; the opportunity to express yourself is offered that once, and you untie the knot within you then or never again.

—Italo Calvino


What makes lovemaking and reading resemble each other most is that within both of them times and spaces open, different from measurable time and space.

—Italo Calvino

Light Like A Bird

One should be light like a bird and not like a feather.

—Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium

Two Faces

The ultimate meaning to which all stories refer has two faces: the continuity of life, the inevitability of death.

— Italo Calvino

The City

The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand.

—Italo Calvino

Give Them Space

The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.

—Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

To Fly

To fly is the opposite of traveling: you cross a gap in space, you vanish into the void, you accept not being in a place for a duration that is itself a kind of void in time; then you reappear, in a place and in a moment with no relation to the where and when in which you vanished.

— Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

Italo Calvino

In politics, as in every other sphere of life, there are two important principles for a man of any sense: don't cherish too many illusions, and never stop believing that every little bit helps.

—Italo Calvino, The Watcher and Other Stories

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I am not sure that I have lived since my childhood.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Night Flight

A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

How could there be any question of acquiring or possessing, when the one thing needful for a man is to become - to be at last, and to die in the fullness of his being.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I know but one freedom, and that is the freedom of the mind.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

When you give yourself, you receive more than you give.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Library is My Church

Yesterday at our promised time my neighbors Zukeily, Nuni, Genesis, Pedro, and Luis showed up at my back door. We all walked to Woonsocket Harris Library for our watercolor session in the Children's Room. Luis and Pedro signed up for library cards and hung out reading books. The art room was hot, but nice and quiet. It was so fun to paint that the girls and I stayed longer than we had planned. We were sitting opposite each other, painting each other's portraits, noticing ear lobes, lips, nostrils, and laughing. Then we all went next door to the community garden and nibbled on my basil and arugula and took turns dunking our heads in the big plastic rain barrels. It cooled us off! We explored the garden. We saw eggplants and tomatoes and zucchinis growing. Zukeiley ran over to examine a CD dangling on a string, meant to scare the woodchucks. She had run over to see what music was on it! "Nothing good," she said.

We all walked home together. It threatened rain. The three girls were chilly, so they locked arms for warmth, huddling under my black and white umbrella. Luis was carrying Bill's big black umbrella open over his head. He kept jumping off low walls, hoping to fly like Mary Poppins. Pedro walked beside me, his hands in his pockets pushing his pants low to show his boxers. We passed a white step van serving as a homemade lunch wagon. The handwritten cardboard menu was tied to a nearby tree, listing all of the Spanish food, but nobody was in the truck. "What's chimi?" I asked. Instead they wanted to buy candy, and ran in to Walgreen's. While they were standing in the candy aisle deciding what to choose, I said goodbye and kept on walking home. A few minutes later I heard a bunch of yelling; they were calling my name, running to catch up with me. I stopped and waited. "You walk fast!" Pedro said, out of breath. "I'm hungry too!" I explained. When we got home, we said goodbye and I came inside. I made toast with fresh basil and slices of hard Romano cheese for supper and fell fast asleep. It was still light out.

Losing My Sunglasses and My Mind

Yesterday I walked over to the public library to return my stack of books. That's where I lost my sunglasses. I felt them slip off my head while I was in the shade of the tree with Lily, talking to two young kids. I thought I recognized one of the boys, the one who was clearly autistic. Their mom was there, too, and we were all ducking the sun. The boy who looked familiar told me he had met a dog that looked exactly like my dog and who was named Lily and who also had a purple collar. "This IS Lily!" I said. Then the boy remembered that I had been in his class as a guest at Harris School, in the art room. "Yes, I met you," I said, now remembering. "I knew you looked familiar." The boy went on; "You brought Lily and we drew pictures." His eyes were bright blue and he wanted to talk. "I could climb this tree," he said. "It's a perfect tree for climbing," I replied. "Alright, time to go Nate," the mom said. "See you around!" I called after him.

I went to my garden plot next door to water my basil and cucumber plants and hose my hair to cool off when I realized my sunglasses were gone. I searched my purple shoulder bag twice, sure that I had put them in there when they had fallen off in front of the library. I panicked. I returned to the shade tree but they were not there. I asked at the library's front desk, but no luck. The sunglasses must have been quickly adopted. Oh well. They were destined for a new life on another face! This was clearly a pattern - I had gotten them as a gift from a friend last summer, and she had found them in her office desk. Nonetheless I grieved the loss.

I normally keep things forever. I have held on to my winter sunglasses for 26 years. I was a little crazed about having lost my relatively new summer shades. When I got home I dug around searching for a pair of Ray-Bans I had found on Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum twenty years ago. I had found them, broken, under a lilac bush. Now they were held together by a wire. I've kept them as back-up in my kitchen drawer through three moves.

Later in the day, when I was wheeling in the trash and recycle barrels from the curb, I saw my neighbor on his third floor porch. Jeremy makes fingerboards - skateboards for your fingers. They look like skateboards for mice. He showed me how to do tricks with them using his fingers. I noticed that the wheels were attached with tiny screws, like the kind that hold glasses together. I asked him if he had a couple of extra tiny screws I could use to fix my sunglasses. He did, and he fixed them on the spot! So all is restored.

Rapunzel Syndrome

I have been thinking about the mothers of the adolescent girls I know who project their own insecurities and fantasies onto their budding daughters, rendering them emotionally, medically, and socially crippled. I have nicknamed it Rapunzel Syndrome. It seems to be prevalent in my local community. This unfair bargain in these teens' lives creates an archetypal scenario well known to me: the daughter will lose her mother's love if she grows up. It's a poisonous bargain.

Here's a refresher on the Rapunzel story (from Wikipedia):
Rapunzel

A lonely couple that wants a child lives next to a walled garden belonging to an enchantress. The wife, experiencing the cravings associated with the arrival of her long-awaited pregnancy, notices a rapunzel plant (or, in some versions of the story, rampion radishes or lamb's lettuce) planted in the garden and longs for it, desperate to the point of death. On each of two nights, the husband breaks into the garden to gather some for her; on a third night, as he scales the wall to return home, the enchantress, "Dame Gothel," catches him and accuses him of theft. He begs for mercy, and the old woman agrees to be lenient, on condition that the then-unborn child be surrendered to her at birth. Desperate, the man agrees. When the baby girl is born, the enchantress takes her to raise as her own, naming her Rapunzel. When Rapunzel reaches her twelfth year, the enchantress shuts her away in a tower in the middle of the woods, with neither stairs nor door, and only one room and one window. When the witch visits Rapunzel, she stands beneath the tower and calls out:

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair.


Upon hearing these words, Rapunzel would wrap her long, fair hair around a hook beside the window, dropping it down to the enchantress, who would then climb up the hair to Rapunzel's tower room.

One day, a prince rides through the forest and hears Rapunzel singing from the tower. Entranced by her ethereal voice, he searches for the girl and discovers the tower, but is naturally unable to enter. He returns often, listening to her beautiful singing, and one day sees Dame Gothel visit, and thus learns how to gain access to Rapunzel. When Dame Gothel is gone, he bids Rapunzel let her hair down. When she does so, he climbs up, makes her acquaintance, and eventually asks her to marry him. Rapunzel agrees.

Together they plan a means of escape, wherein he will come each night (thus avoiding the enchantress who visits her by day), and bring her silk, which Rapunzel will gradually weave into a ladder. Before the plan can come to fruition, however, Rapunzel foolishly gives the prince away. In the first edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Rapunzel innocently says that her dress is getting tight around her belly (indicating pregnancy); in subsequent editions, she asks the witch (in a moment of forgetfulness) why it is easier for her to draw up the prince than her. In anger, Dame Gothel cuts short Rapunzel's braided hair and casts her out into the wilderness to fend for herself. When the prince calls that night, the enchantress lets the severed braids down to haul him up. To his horror, he finds himself staring at the witch instead of Rapunzel, nowhere to be found. When she tells him in anger that he will never see Rapunzel again, he leaps from the tower in despair and is blinded by the thorns below. In another version, the witch pushes him and he falls on the thorns, thus becoming blind.

For months he wanders through the wastelands of the country. One day, as Rapunzel sings while she fetches water, the prince hears Rapunzel's voice again, and they are reunited. When they fall into each others' arms, her tears immediately restore his sight. In another variation, it is said that Rapunzel eventually gives birth to twin boys (in some variations, a girl and a boy). The prince leads her to his kingdom, where they live happily ever after.

In another version of the story, the story ends with the revelation that the witch had untied Rapunzel's braid after the prince leaps from the tower, and the braid slipped from her hands and landed far below, leaving her trapped in the tower.

The witch is called "Mother Gothel", a common term for a godmother in German. She features as the overprotective parent, and interpretations often differ on how negatively she is to be regarded.

Folkloric beliefs often regarded it as quite dangerous to deny a pregnant woman any food she craved. Family members would often go to great lengths to secure such cravings. Such desires for lettuce and like vegetables may indicate a need on her part for vitamins.

I Dreamed

I dreamed that my friend David had invited me to swing on the trapeze and do back flips in his circus show. So I was boarding a train to NYC to perform in Cirque du Soleil! But I was worried because I had no experience in trapeze acrobatics, and I would be making it up during the performance.

I dreamed that I was swimming in the ocean in North Carolina with Lily and there was a family swimming with their pet bunny, and a young deer was swimming in the ocean, too.

I dreamed of a theater game where you could only use the language that is printed on an aspirin bottle to communicate.

Look Again

An important moment for Baldwin came when he and his friend, the modernist painter Beauford Delaney, were standing on a street corner in the Village, waiting for the light to change. Baldwin recounts in The Paris Review that Beauford "pointed down and said, 'Look.' I looked and all I saw was water. And he said, 'Look again,' which I did, and I saw oil on the water and the city reflected in that puddle." In that moment, Baldwin felt he'd been taught how to see, and how to trust what he saw, felt that from that moment on he could see the world differently than he had before.
-Writer's Almanac, on James Baldwin's Birthday

Ira Eisenstein

We are engaged in a process of determining what makes life worthwhile. 'What is the meaning of life?' I don't know. Nobody knows. Especially not with a capital M, capital L. But if you ask me--How can I lead a meaningful life?--then I have a lot to say.
-Ira Eisenstein