Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I dreamed I found an orange kitten in my house. He was wearing a blue collar. I thought about who has a key to my house, suspecting they may have dropped the kitten off. The day I found him he grew into a full sized tabby and I fell in love with him. I was worried about keeping up with the expense of two cats when my dog woke me up.

Monday, March 26, 2012

You Can't Grab a Cloud

Flannery O'Connor

Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.

-Flannery O'Connor

The Process

The process consists of the spewer of water (the writer), the plumber (the editor), and the water tester (the publisher).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Oboe Poisoning

Today during lunch I was listening to my favorite classical station and they played a piece featuring the oboe and although I normally don't dislike the instrument I felt as though the balance was wrong. I felt as though I was eating an apple pie without apples but instead made exclusively of ground cloves and I was going to die of oboe poisoning.

The Moth Radio Hour

Today I was listening to the stories told on The Moth Radio Hour. They were so compelling that I stood and listened completely mesmerized.

The Forsythia

The Forsythia is so yellow, I can hardly keep my eyes off her.


I had a nightmare the night before last about boys playing basketball in an industrial neighborhood. They had lowered a wrecking ball to weigh down a big white plastic garbage can on top of a building right next to where they were playing. It was meant as a marker for other kids to be able to find them. At one point they stopped playing basketball and started to play with the pulley and the wrecking ball and it came loose from the cables flying off into the residential neighborhood. I thought that's dangerous, it might hit someone. Then I heard a scream and knew someone had been hit and killed by it. All the kids ran away and I woke up horrified.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lucy Lippard

An Eskimo custom offers an angry person release by walking the emotion out of his or her system in a straight line across the landscape, the point at which the anger is conquered is marked with a stick, bearing witness to the strength or length of the rage.
-Lucy Lippard, Overlay

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rebecca Solnit

For some people, the alternative to hope is to surrender to the horrible things that menace them. The alternative to hope for the upper-middle class is to stay home and watch television or whatever. These alternatives don’t involve death, torture, annihilation, starvation, exploitation, or slavery. So despair is easy, or at least low cost.
-Rebecca Solnit

There’s also bitter American optimism—nothing bad is supposed to happen to you and, therefore, when something bad does happen, there’s a sense of betrayal and shock. On the other hand, there’s a Buddhist paradigm I find much more useful, which is that suffering is inherent. A certain amount of suffering is a given in this world: old age, sickness, and death are built into it. So the question is not how you avoid it, which is what Americans are always trying to do, but how you are going to respond to it. Paradise lies in forming a meaningful and even a beautiful response.
-Rebecca Solnit

I love being an American because it’s this great, messy experiment. It’s tedious and failing in a lot of ways, but it’s also full of enormous possibility that calls for participation in shaping the future.
-Rebecca Solnit


Monday, March 19, 2012

Yo-Yo Ma

One needs to constantly remind oneself to play with the abandon of the child who is just learning the cello, because why is that kid playing? He is playing for pleasure.
-Yo-Yo Ma

Today is Lily's Birthday

She is five. I took Lily to swim and wanted to swim with her. The pond was cold but it was perfect for her. A swan approached our cove and started swimming menacingly towards Lily. Lily started swimming towards the swan rather than the floating stick. I tried to remember what I've heard about swans, were they vicious? I shouted Lily! and she turned away from the swan and swam to the stick, clamping it in her mouth at one end like it was a cigar, and swam to shore with it. Believe it or not we still have a favorite stick from last season. It is a particularly sturdy stick from a sycamore tree. I always place it in the special stick pile so we'll find it again. So far so good.

On the way home I told a woman who lives on the pond that today was Lily's birthday. She said she had bought filet mignon for her dog on his birthday and he loved it! Labradors are certainly not picky eaters. I could draw a picture of a steak and she'd eat it, I said. When I got home I made another dog toy by wrapping an old piece of black denim around a heavy plastic Gatorade bottle I found in the park, and I sewed it closed. Lily loved it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nothing to Fear

I am so saddened that nearly everyone I know is afraid of food. I bake nearly every day and I love to share food. There is nothing to fear except joy! I am not fat. I am quite fit, too. I walk or ride my bike everywhere. I agree with the runners who say "listen to your body." If I want chocolate I eat it. If I want apple pie or scones I make them and eat them and share them. I love vegetables, cheese, meat, everything is good! I love to listen to my body and fulfill its wishes.

I used to be afraid of food, mostly because I got stomach aches all the time as a child and didn't know why. We were a family of hypochondriacs, and I learned to be afraid of my body. I was sure I wouldn't live to be 16. It has been a long haul for me. But I have overcome the fears of food and the body. I wish I could convince people to rejoice in their cravings and satisfy them. Put your love of life into creating, sharing, and eating good food! The effort and the sharing is part of the reward.

Many of the women I know don't trust themselves to have good food or leftovers in the house. They fear they will not stop eating. I think of a friend who thought being self-employed meant I would just sit home and read all day. Maybe you need to do that for a spell, but you will get down to work. What's wrong with that? Maybe when you bake your first pumpkin pie you'll eat more than usual, but not forever. The act of making a pie will energize you. Maybe it will inspire you to take a long walk. You will adjust to having good pies in your home. You will learn to trust yourself, but it will take time, like raising a child or a puppy. If you can't listen to and trust yourself, how can you trust anything in life? Isn't that what we are here to do? What do we want to pass along to our children, fear, or a love of life?

Tony Shaloub

I think, if I had to choose one thing, I would say that I would want people to take away this idea that sometimes people’s problems or neuroses are really the things that are kind of a blessing in disguise, and even though there’s, you know, sometimes there’s pain associated with these things that sometimes in the face of adversity with obstacles to overcome, people can really kind of soar and find their higher selves and I think that’s what we’ve tried to do on the show is we’ve portrayed this character as someone who turns his liability, his liabilities into assets per his life. And that there’s – and I hope that when we get to the end – I don’t know this for sure, but I hope when we get to the end of season eight that we’ll have seen some real healing from Monk, and I believe in that. I believe that there is healing and that there is change, and that all of those things are – they are just really, really key to all of our lives.
-Tony Shaloub

Saturday, March 17, 2012

G. K. Chesterton

No man demands what he desires; each man demands what he fancies he can get. Soon people forget what the man really wanted first; and after a successful and vigorous political life, he forgets it himself. The whole is an extravagant riot of second bests, a pandemonium of pis-aller.
-G. K. Chesterton

Rick Perlstein

. . . there will always be millions of Americans who are terrified of social progress and of dispossession from whatever slight purchase on psychological security they've been able to maintain in a frightening world. And . . . there will always be powerful economic actors for whom exploiting such fear, uncertainty and doubt pays.
-Rick Perlstein

Peter Behrens

This March 17, on this side of the water, we ought to be celebrating immigration, not just Irishness.
-Peter Behrens

Actor Ted Levine


Friday, March 16, 2012

Round Up


Dog Toy

I just made a dog toy. I took an empty plastic bottle and sewed it inside a an old denim pant leg. Hours of fun for Lily. She loves the crinkle sound!

The Merry Recluse

The Merry Recluse: A Life in Essays by Carolyn Knapp

Alice K's Guide to Life: One Woman's Quest for Survival, Sanity, and the Perfect New Shoes by Carolyn Knapp

Drinking: A Love Story by Carolyn Knapp

Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs by Carolyn Knapp

Appetites: Why Women Want by Carolyn Knapp

Keep Going

For a child, wandering around and exploring is a good thing. In grade school I walked home for lunch each day. I was sure Daddy Tom was following me, spying on me. I rarely saw him because he had started a new family, but I was sure he was the man in the forest-green Ford Galaxie who would drive by slowly whenever I was out walking my dog Teddy around the brook. He's probably just looking at the dog, my mother said, pointing at our Scottish Deerhound. But just in case, get the license plate number.

My mother gave me good advice for avoiding creeps. She told me to switch subway cars, cross the street, change direction, walk on the double yellow line, walk up to a house and pretend that I lived there. Don't be afraid to suddenly walk away, she'd say. So, I did. I ran away from home.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I measure both my writing and walking in miles.

Saving Face

by Lisa McKenzie
God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another.
William Shakespeare
Act 3, Scene 1 of Hamlet

The Cold Keeps the Riff-Raff Out

by Lisa McKenzie

Margaret Mead

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

Distancing and Concealment


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Dunk

Today I met two people sitting on the steps of their triple decker porch. The man said I'm 91 and I was born in the room I live in on the second floor. The woman said she is French and Italian but only learned to speak French. I wish I learned Italian too. She told me she has a 5 year old grandchild that her daughter adopted from China. They both loved Lily and we chatted in the warm sun for a while. When Lily and I got to Edgewater Drive Zowie was running loose so I kept Lily on her leash. We went to the secret swim spot and Lily chased after Zowie pulling me into the pond!

Pi Day

Today is Pi day and Table Talk Pie (of Worcester) donated 150 pies to Spirit of Knowledge Charter High School. Table Talk Pies donated 16,000 pies to schools in Worcester and surrounding towns in Massachusetts.

Larry Shaw created Pi Day in 1988. The holiday was celebrated at the San Francisco Exploratorium, where Shaw worked as a physicist,with staff and public marching around one of its circular spaces, then consuming fruit pies. The Exploratorium continues to hold Pi Day celebrations.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Why do we need to make weapons of mass destruction when we have cat urine.

Non Linear Career Paths



Today thinking about our minds and lives as labyrinths.

Lisa McKenzie

I am not about getting bored. I am all about joy. Did I say exercise is about burning calories? That’s a boring way to look at it. Exercise, at its best, is about celebrating the body, at its best. Exercise is an act of joy.
-Lisa McKenzie, Ms. Lab Rat

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Voice

This morning I flicked on the classical radio station at 2:30 am, the handsome voice speaking about Chopin was so delicious I practically jumped into the radio to embrace him. I wondered how many middle of the night radio station hosts have been proposed to by charmed listeners.

Albert Einstein

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.
-Albert Einstein

César Chávez

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.
-César Chávez

Dalai Lama

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
-Dalai Lama

Ram Dass

If you think you're enlightened go spend a week with your family.
-Ram Dass

Douglas Adams

To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.
-Douglas Adams

Havelock Ellis

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
-Havelock Ellis

John Burroughs

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

Desmond Tutu

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
-Desmond Tutu

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Without Bread

Without bread everyone is an orphan.

-Italian Proverb

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Phrase Generator

They need one for Art Speak.

Upton Sinclair

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
-Upton Sinclair

Human beings suffer agonies, and their sad fates become legends; poets write verses about them and playwrights compose dramas, and the remembrance of past grief becomes a source of present pleasure - such is the strange alchemy of the spirit.
-Upton Sinclair, Dragon's Teeth

Into this wild-beast tangle these men had been born without their consent, they had taken part in it because they could not help it; that they were in jail was no disgrace to them, for the game had never been fair, the dice were loaded. They were swindlers and thieves of pennies and dimes, and they had been trapped and put out of the way by the swindlers and thieves of millions of dollars.
-Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

A large section of the idling classes of England get their incomes by believing that Jesus was born of a virgin and that Jonah swallowed a whale; and with the progress of science they were naturally finding this more and more difficult. A school of ingenious Bible-twisters arose, to invent symbolical and literary meanings for fairy tales, in order that people who no longer believed could continue with good conscience to collect the salaries of belief.
-Upton Sinclair, Mammonart: An Essay in Economic Interpretation

All day long this man would toil thus, his whole being centered upon the purpose of making twenty-three instead of twenty-two and a half cents an hour; and then his product would be reckoned up by the census taker, and jubilant captains of industry would boast of it in their banquet halls, telling how our workers are nearly twice as efficient as those of any other country. If we are the greatest nation the sun ever shone upon, it would seem to be mainly because we have been able to goad our wage-earners to this pitch of frenzy.
-Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

I, the driver of this car, that used to be Jim Ross, the teamster, and J.A. Ross and Co., general merchandise at Queen Centre, California, am now J. Arnold Ross, oil operator, and my breakfast is about digested, and I am a little too warm in my big new overcoat because the sun is coming out, and I have a new well flowing four thousand barrels at Los Lobos river, and sixteen on the pump at Antelope, and I'm on my way to sign a lease at Beach City, and we'll make up our schedule in the next couple of hours, and 'Bunny' is sitting beside me, and he is well and strong, and is going to own everything I am making, and follow in my footsteps, except that he will never make the ugly blunders or have painful memories that I have, but will be wise and perfect and do everything I say.
-Upton Sinclair

At last Paul went on. "I know how it is, son. You won't do it, you haven't the nerve for it-you're soft." He waited, while those cruel words sank in. "Yes, that's the word, soft. You've always had everything you wanted- you've had it handed to you on a silver tray, and it's made you a weakling. You have a good heart, you know what's right, but you couldn't bear to act, you'd be too afraid of hurting somebody."
-Upton Sinclair


Let life happen to you. Believe
me: life is in the right, always.
-Rainer Marie Rilke

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been given to us, the ultimate, the final problem and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.
-Rainer Maria Rilke, The Selected Poetry Of Rainer Maria Rilke

Do not assume that he who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, he would never have been able to find these words.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
-Rainer Maria Rilke

We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it.
-Rainer Maria Rilke, Translations from the Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, March 09, 2012

Emo Philips

I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.
-Emo Philips

When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.
-Emo Philips

Henry Miller

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

Hellen Keller

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

Thich Nhat Hanh

While you are walking, smile and be in the here and now, and you will transform that place into paradise.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Martin Buber

To be old can be glorious if one has not unlearned how to begin.
-Martin Buber

Philip Whalen

The world needs more sages than anything else right now - more prayer wheels, more visions, more poems, more magic.
-Philip Whalen, in a letter to Gary Snyder, 1955.

Rebecca Solnit

Musing takes place in a kind of meadowlands of the imagination, a part of the imagination that has not yet been plowed, developed, or put to any immediately practical use ... time spent there is not work time, yet without that time the mind becomes sterile, dull, domesticated. The fight for free space--for wilderness and public space--must be accompanied by a fight for free time to spend wandering in that space.
-Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

The question then is how to get lost. Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to deconstruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery.
-Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

For [Jane Austen and the readers of Pride and Prejudice], as for Mr. Darcy, [Elizabeth Bennett's] solitary walks express the independence that literally takes the heroine out of the social sphere of the houses and their inhabitants, into a larger, lonelier world where she is free to think: walking articulates both physical and mental freedom.
-Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.
-Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

Roads are a record of those who have gone before.
-Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Many people nowadays live in a series of interiors...disconnected from each other. On foot everything stays connected, for while walking one occupies the spaces between those interiors in the same way one occupies those interiors. One lives in the whole world rather than in interiors built up against it.
-Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Language is like a road, it cannot be perceived all at once because it unfolds in time, whether heard or read. This narrative or temporal element has made writing and walking resemble each other.
-Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

A lone walker is both present and detached, more than an audience but less than a participant. Walking assuages or legitimizes this alienation.
-Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

In a sense the car has become a prosthetic, and though prosthetics are usually for injured or missing limbs, the auto-prosthetic is for a conceptually impaired body or a body impaired by the creation of a world that is no longer human in scale.
-Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

The magic of the street is the mingling of the errand and the epiphany.
-Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

In her novel Regeneration, Pat Barker writes of a doctor who 'knew only too well how often the early stages of change or cure may mimic deterioration. Cut a chrysalis open, and you will find a rotting caterpillar. What you will never find is that mythical creature, half caterpillar, half butterfly, a fit emblem of the human soul, for those whose cast of mind leads them to seek such emblems. No, the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay.
-Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

If gold has been prized because it is the most inert element, changeless and incorruptible, water is prized for the opposite reason -- its fluidity, mobility, changeability that make it a necessity and a metaphor for life itself. To value gold over water is to value economy over ecology, that which can be locked up over that which connects all things.
-Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

Home is everything you can walk to.
-Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

David Byrne

Certain worker ants (all of whom are female) have designated tasks. A quick smell, via an antennae brush, identifies what a specific worker is best at doing—foraging, cleaning debris elimination, guarding­—and no one tries to “tell them” how to do their jobs. There are no bosses. It is possible for the worker ant to switch jobs, but usually, as with humans, that opportunity arises when the colony is relatively young. After that, the job pool, one’s career, is more or less set. Though, there are always reserves of other ants underground that are recruited if a new food source suddenly becomes available (Thank you Deborah Gordon’s TED talk 2003).
-David Byrne, David Byrne's Journal

Sue Williams

I don't know about you, but I often feel rather lost in this world. I'm an introvert who has a talent for expressing feeling on the page, but when it comes to life's bigger emotions I'm a genius at hiding them...not only from others, but from myself. The result is that I swing between feeling lost and losing. You know what many of us artists are like. Wise when it comes to others, lost when it comes to our selves.
-Sue Williams, Wet Ink

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Death of a Salesman

read review

Solar Storm

Biggest Solar storm in years now bombarding the earth.

Sue Williams

When my father died, it was a while before I was able to handle his things without pain. But once I could, his books were important. They had been touched by his fingers, his memories, and sometimes, his notes. Books are tactile possessions, items we treasure and make our own.
-Sue Williams, Wet Ink

reposted from Sue Williams' blog Wet Ink

My five cents on a writer's truth:

Tonight, I wittered on to one of my classes about truth in fiction writing. I'm not talking about factual truth, but imaginative truth. What we see, feel, hear in our mind's eye. Our stories are a part of us, and a reader can tell when we're bluffing. Orwell wrote, "Good prose is like a windowpane," a line I appreciate on so many levels. Yes, our prose is often best when it's invisible rather than flamboyant, so that the story itself seems uncluttered by words. But the other reason why good prose is like a windowpane, is because it allows us to see into one another. It gets out of the way, and lets me look into you, and glimpse what you hold in your mind, your heart. Good prose almost makes us psychic. It removes our boundaries and merges our imaginings.

The last thing I told the writers in my class was this: When I look back on my writing life, back to before I was published, I remember people telling me to follow my own heart, listen to my own instincts. I wish, now, I had done so sooner. Because the most useful thing I have ever learned about writing is this: Though my readers are so helpful, I must first listen to what is inside me -- be it a voice, a longing, or a fantastical scene. And I must be faithful to that.

When I was a child, at Christian Science Sunday School (I am definitely not a Christian Scientist now, I might add!), we sang a hymn about a "still, small voice of calm." It's a Biblical reference, if I remember rightly, and though it's meant to allude to God, I think it's also a great way of speaking about writing. The calm voice we hear inside is often our deep, quiet truth. Listen to that. Always.

Foster it. Love it. And be grateful that it's there.

-Sue Williams, Wet Ink

Joan Didion

Writing fiction is for me a fraught business, an occasion of daily dread for at least the first half of the novel, and sometimes all the way through. The work process is totally different from writing nonfiction. You have to sit down every day and make it up.
Joan Didion, Paris Review

Flying Man


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Two Pumpkin Pies

Two pumpkin pies baking. Two orange circles in my oven on a March Full Moon.

Fernando Botero

An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it.
-Fernando Botero

Galway Kinnell

In a Parlor Containing a Table

by Galway Kinnell

In a parlor containing a table
And three chairs, three men confided
Their inmost thoughts to one another.
I, said the first, am miserable.
I am miserable, the second said.
I think that for me the right word
Is miserable, said the third.
Well, they said, it's quarter to two.
Good night. Cheer up. Sleep well.
You too. You too. You too.

-Galway Kinnell

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Gabriel García Márquez

What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.
-Gabriel García Márquez

People spend a lifetime thinking about how they would really like to live ... I wish my life could have been like the years when I was writing Love in the Time of Cholera. I would get up at 5:30 or 6 in the morning. I need only six hours of sleep. Then I quickly listened to the news. I would read from 6 to 8, because if I don't read at that time I won't get around to it anymore. I lose my rhythm. Someone would arrive at the house with fresh fish or lobster or shrimp caught nearby. Then I would write from 8 till 1. By midday, Mercedes would go to the beach and wait for me with friends. I never quite knew who to expect; there were always people coming and going. After lunch I had a little siesta. And when the sun started going down I would go out on the street to look for places where my characters would go, to talk to people and pick up language and atmosphere. So the next morning I would have fresh material I had brought from the streets.
-Gabriel García Márquez

Square Bird

A man went into a pet shop and said 'have you got any birds?' the shop keeper replied 'Yes, we have three birds, a square bird, a circle bird and a triangle bird.' 'I think I'll take the square bird.' 'OK, here's your bird but keep it away from other shapes.' So the man took the bird to a square home in a square car. Then he found the bird a square cage and put it in a square room with square objects in it. Soon the bird learned to talk so his master had a party in the bird's favour. When everyone was quiet the bird gave a little talk so everyone gave it a round of applause and the bird died!

Peter, Peter

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had another and didn't love her;
Peter learned to read and spell,
And then he loved her very well.

-Nursery Rhyme

Ice Picnic

I made my first pumpkin pie last night before bed. We cooled it in the cold kitchen in front of the tiny antique fan so we could each have a slice before bed. It was delicious this morning cold, with hot coffee. The flavors landed as we slept.

I think pie is my new best friend. I am in love with the single press in pie crust - perfect for an intimidated beginner and I have a thing for triangles. When we first bought our house one cupboard was accidentally left full of glassware. Inside it was amongst the kitcheny things was a Tupperware triangular one-slice pie container. We have used it to carry raisins and almonds and sunflower seeds on car trips. Now I will use it for what it was built for. I'll have an ice picnic on the Pothier Monument.

Ice picnic pie, with pooch?

Maybe I'll fill my next pie with live frogs or song birds.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Desmond Tutu

We are fundamentally good. When you come to think of it, that's who we are at our core. Why else do we get so outraged by wrong? When we hear of any egregious act, we are appalled. Isn't that an incredible assertion about us? Evil and wrong are aberrations. If wrong was the norm, it wouldn't be news. Our newscasts wouldn't lead with the latest acts of murder or mayhem, because they would be ordinary. But murder and mayhem are not the norm. The norm is goodness.
- Desmond Tutu, Made For Goodness

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Our Boiler Man's Farm

Our boiler man and his wife live on his grandfather's 100-acre former dairy farm on the top of Woonsocket Hill Road. We went over today and met his wife and their pet black and white turkey, and saw their 15 red and white-faced cattle. There was a gorgeous view in every direction. He showed us the barn and hay loft and invited us to come back to walk the land with him. He told us about his peacock who would occasionally wander off and live a few days with the neighbors but would come back home. They also had a 1,000 pound pig named Lester who would also wander off to stay with neighbors now and again. One Autumn day Lester ate all of the fallen apples under the apple tree and died. They buried him on the hill. It felt like we were in Maine or New Hampshire when standing on the land but we were only three miles from home.

Saturday, March 03, 2012


The way you handle adversity tells the deeper story of your character.

William James

Percepts and concepts interpenetrate and melt together, impregnate and fertilize each other. Neither, taken alone, knows reality in its completeness. We need them both, as we need both our legs to walk with.
-William James

Daniel Dennett

The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn't need its brain anymore, so it eats it! It's rather like getting tenure.
―Daniel C. Dennett

If you can approach the world’s complexities, both its glories and its horrors, with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you have seen, you have only just scratched the surface, you will find worlds within worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane preoccupations will shrink to proper size, not all that important in the greater scheme of things.
―Daniel C. Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

Every living thing is, from the cosmic perspective, incredibly lucky simply to be alive. Most, 90 percent and more, of all the organisms that have ever lived have died without viable offspring, but not a single one of your ancestors, going back to the dawn of life on Earth, suffered that normal misfortune. You spring from an unbroken line of winners going back millions of generations, and those winners were, in every generation, the luckiest of the lucky, one out of a thousand or even a million. So however unlucky you may be on some occasion today, your presence on the planet testifies to the role luck has played in your past.
―Daniel C. Dennett, Freedom Evolves

Not a single one of the cells that compose you knows who you are, or cares.
―Daniel C. Dennett, Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness

If I know better than you know what I am up to, it is only because I spend more time with myself than you do.
―Daniel C. Dennett, Freedom Evolves

Some years ago, there was a lovely philosopher of science and journalist in Italy named Giulio Giorello, and he did an interview with me. And I don’t know if he wrote it or not, but the headline in Corriere della Sera when it was published was Sì, abbiamo un'anima. Ma è fatta di tanti piccoli robot – Yes, we have a soul, but it’s made of lots of tiny robots. And I thought, exactly. That’s the view. Yes, we have a soul, but in what sense? In the sense that our brains, unlike the brains even of dogs and cats and chimpanzees and dolphins, our brains have functional structures that give our brains powers that no other brains have - powers of look-ahead, primarily. We can understand our position in the world, we can see the future, we can understand where we came from. We know that we’re here. No buffalo knows it’s a buffalo, but we jolly well know that we’re members of Homo sapiens, and it’s the knowledge that we have and the can-do, our capacity to think ahead and to reflect and to evaluate and to evaluate our evaluations, and evaluate the grounds for our evaluations.

It’s this expandable capacity to represent reasons that we have that gives us a soul. But what’s it made of? It’s made of neurons. It’s made of lots of tiny robots. And we can actually explain the structure and operation of that kind of soul, whereas an eternal, immortal, immaterial soul is just a metaphysical rug under which you sweep your embarrassment for not having any explanation.
―Daniel C. Dennett

Musing Aloud

read here and here.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Death of a Salesman

Play by Arthur Miller

Keep Moving, Keep Eating

Read here, and here.

School is Prison

School is prison. School is slavery. I love to learn but I've always hated school, and still do, with a PASSION! That said, I adored nearly all of my teachers and I feel grateful that I was not home-schooled. I grew up in a privileged community during the alternative education movement of the 70's and it saved my life. What choices do the public school kids have today?

Lucien Zell

Your work is not what gives you your food, it's what gives you your hunger.
―Lucien Zell

Thursday, March 01, 2012


Lately every part-time job I've had has been about begging for and fighting for crumbs. On one recent job the supervisor held me captive in her office every time I went to pick up my measly check. Mailing my check was out of the question - she got hours of free entertainment from me each week while collecting her salary. I was her pet monkey until the day she asked me to shine her shoes with my tongue. I declined and was promptly fired. She immediately found twelve others who were willing shoe-lickers and promoted one of them to head monkey. Bananas all around!