Friday, November 30, 2012


Information is so important - I saved up my allowance and sent away for The Boys and Girls Book about Divorce when I was 12. I was always looking for information.

Unfortunately there was no such thing in my family. All messages were coded and coated in smarm and fish hooks.

In sixth grade they separated us by gender for sex education. I was curious about what they told the boys and the boys were curious about what they told us girls. So after school I read the Encyclopedia Brittanica human sexuality pages aloud to my boyfriend Alex Stein, over the phone. My step-father thought that was a hoot! He still tells that story.

Social Street

Social Street is truly a social place. I ran into four friends in a half block all of us on foot. As we stood there chatting a car turned left from the right lane causing a wreck and we were the first ones to call the police.

My friend's grandmother used to say "Watch out for the machines". She had witnessed the birth of the car, the airplane and electricity. One day a vacuum cleaner salesman came to her Mattapoisett farm house out on the cranberry bog, and emptied a bag of soot on her braided rug in front of the fireplace.

"What the heck are you doing," she said.

"Don't worry Ma'm," he said confidently.

"Where can I plug this in?"

"Plug? We have no electricity."


I dreamed a tree fell on Bill's leg while he was in bed. He had it amputated. We decided to move to Savannah Georgia. I will miss new England I thought. And there will be too many bugs. Luckily Lily woke me up. Bill has both legs working fine and thank goodness because we're marching in a Christmas parade tomorrow in Fall River at noon! Come see us!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ray Bradbury Humor and Work


You were married for fifty-six years before your wife passed away in 2003. What was the secret to the longevity of your relationship?


If you don’t have a sense of humor, you don’t have a marriage. In that film Love Story, there’s a line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. Love means saying you’re sorry every day for some little thing or other. You make a mistake. I forgot the lightbulbs. I didn’t bring this from the store and I’m sorry. You know? So being able to accept responsibility, but above all having a sense of humor, so that anything that happens can have its amusing side.


The week after your wife passed away, you got back to writing. How were you able to do that?


Work is the only answer. I have three rules to live by. One, get your work done. If that doesn’t work, shut up and drink your gin. And when all else fails, run like hell!

-Ray Bradbury, The Paris Review

Ray Bradbury and Mr. Electrico

Circuses and carnivals were always passing through Illinois during my childhood and I was in love with their mystery. One autumn weekend in 1932, when I was twelve years old, the Dill Brothers Combined Shows came to town. One of the performers was Mr. Electrico. He sat in an electric chair. A stagehand pulled a switch and he was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Lightning flashed in his eyes and his hair stood on end.

The next day, I had to go the funeral of one of my favorite uncles. Driving back from the graveyard with my family, I looked down the hill toward the shoreline of Lake Michigan and I saw the tents and the flags of the carnival and I said to my father, Stop the car. He said, What do you mean? And I said, I have to get out. My father was furious with me. He expected me to stay with the family to mourn, but I got out of the car anyway and I ran down the hill toward the carnival.

It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I was running away from death, wasn’t I? I was running toward life. And there was Mr. Electrico sitting on the platform out in front of the carnival and I didn’t know what to say. I was scared of making a fool of myself. I had a magic trick in my pocket, one of those little ball-and-vase tricks—a little container that had a ball in it that you make disappear and reappear—and I got that out and asked, Can you show me how to do this? It was the right thing to do. It made a contact. He knew he was talking to a young magician. He took it, showed me how to do it, gave it back to me, then he looked at my face and said, Would you like to meet those people in that tent over there? Those strange people? And I said, Yes sir, I would. So he led me over there and he hit the tent with his cane and said, Clean up your language! Clean up your language! He took me in, and the first person I met was the illustrated man. Isn’t that wonderful? The Illustrated Man! He called himself the tattooed man, but I changed his name later for my book. I also met the strong man, the fat lady, the trapeze people, the dwarf, and the skeleton. They all became characters.

Mr. Electrico was a beautiful man, see, because he knew that he had a little weird kid there who was twelve years old and wanted lots of things. We walked along the shore of Lake Michigan and he treated me like a grown-up. I talked my big philosophies and he talked his little ones. Then we went out and sat on the dunes near the lake and all of a sudden he leaned over and said, I’m glad you’re back in my life. I said, What do you mean? I don’t know you. He said, You were my best friend outside of Paris in 1918. You were wounded in the Ardennes and you died in my arms there. I’m glad you’re back in the world. You have a different face, a different name, but the soul shining out of your face is the same as my friend. Welcome back.

Now why did he say that? Explain that to me, why? Maybe he had a dead son, maybe he had no sons, maybe he was lonely, maybe he was an ironical jokester. Who knows? It could be that he saw the intensity with which I live. Every once in a while at a book signing I see young boys and girls who are so full of fire that it shines out of their face and you pay more attention to that. Maybe that’s what attracted him.

When I left the carnival that day I stood by the carousel and I watched the horses running around and around to the music of “Beautiful Ohio,” and I cried. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I knew something important had happened to me that day because of Mr. Electrico. I felt changed. He gave me importance, immortality, a mystical gift. My life was turned around completely. It makes me cold all over to think about it, but I went home and within days I started to write. I’ve never stopped.

Seventy-seven years ago, and I’ve remembered it perfectly. I went back and saw him that night. He sat in the chair with his sword, they pulled the switch, and his hair stood up. He reached out with his sword and touched everyone in the front row, boys and girls, men and women, with the electricity that sizzled from the sword. When he came to me, he touched me on the brow, and on the nose, and on the chin, and he said to me, in a whisper, “Live forever.” And I decided to.
-Ray Bradbury, Paris Review

Ray Bradbury College

You can’t learn to write in college. It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices. They may like Henry James, but what if you don’t want to write like Henry James? They may like John Irving, for instance, who’s the bore of all time. A lot of the people whose work they’ve taught in the schools for the last thirty years, I can’t understand why people read them and why they are taught. The library, on the other hand, has no biases. The information is all there for you to interpret. You don’t have someone telling you what to think. You discover it for yourself.
Ray Bradbury, Paris Review

Ray Bradbury Library

I’m completely library educated. I’ve never been to college. I went down to the library when I was in grade school in Waukegan, and in high school in Los Angeles, and spent long days every summer in the library. I used to steal magazines from a store on Genesee Street, in Waukegan, and read them and then steal them back on the racks again. That way I took the print off with my eyeballs and stayed honest. I didn’t want to be a permanent thief, and I was very careful to wash my hands before I read them. But with the library, it’s like catnip, I suppose: you begin to run in circles because there’s so much to look at and read. And it’s far more fun than going to school, simply because you make up your own list and you don’t have to listen to anyone. When I would see some of the books my kids were forced to bring home and read by some of their teachers, and were graded on—well, what if you don’t like those books?

I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school.
-Ray Bradbury, Paris Review

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread

The use of leavening in a cake is first recorded in a recipe for gingerbread from Amelia Simmons's American Cookery, published in Hartford in 1796; I guess you could say it is the original great American cake. Early-19th-century cookbooks included as many recipes for this as contemporary cookbooks do for chocolate cake. This recipe, from Claudia Fleming, pastry chef at New York City's Gramercy Tavern, is superlative—wonderfully moist and spicy.


* 1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
* 1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 2 tablespoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* Pinch of ground cardamom
* 3 large eggs
* 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* Confectioners sugar for dusting
* a 10-inch (10- to 12-cup) bundt pan

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.

Cooks' notes:
- This recipe was tested with Grandma's brand green-label molasses.
- Like the chocolate decadence cake, the gingerbread is better if made a day ahead. It will keep 3 days, covered, at room temperature.

-Gourmet Magazine

Henry Gould


Mark Bittner

I think being nervous on stage comes from two things. For one, you’re worried about your ego—how you’re coming across, and whether people are liking you.

The other thing has to do with being on stage and having all of that energy directed at you. If you’re not selfish with it, if you’re feeding it back to the audience, and it’s continually going back and forth, you shouldn’t be nervous.

I always use the moment that I’m on stage to try to focus. And if people are giving you a lot of energy, it makes it easier to focus. And when you’re focused, and you’ve gotten rid of all the crap that’s in your mind, then you can give people back something that’s more real.

-Mark Bittner

Humor Saves the World

Read Carolyn Given's new blog.

Dolly Parton

I hated school. Even to this day, when I see a school bus it's just depressing to me. The poor little kids.
-Dolly Parton

You'll never do a whole lot unless you're brave enough to try.
-Dolly Parton

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.
-Dolly Parton

I'm not going to limit myself just because people won't accept the fact that I can do something else.
-Dolly Parton

It's a good thing I was born a girl, otherwise I'd be a drag queen.
-Dolly Parton

Pico Iyer

I’ve slowly learned, the hard way, that my best writing comes when I’m not thinking about writing and am far from desk or conscious intention.
-Pico Iyer, NYT

Writing is, in the end, that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.
-Pico Iyer

As Thoreau famously said, it doesn't matter where or how far you go - the farther commonly the worse - the important thing is how alive you are. Writing of every kind is a way to wake oneself up and keep as alive as when one has just fallen in love.
-Pico Iyer

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.
-Pico Iyer

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Robert Bly

Taking the Hands

by Robert Bly

Taking the hands of someone you love,
You see they are delicate cages . . .
Tiny birds are singing
In the secluded prairies
And in the deep valleys of the hand.

- Robert Bly, from Silence in the Snowy Fields, Wesleyan University Press.

Erika Lutzner's New Book

Some Stories Are True That Never Happened

An Anthology

By Nin Andrews, J.P. Dancing Bear, Sean Edgely, Johannes Huppi, Sara Lefsyk, Emily Lisker, Erika Lutzner, Kate Lutzner, Jillian Mukavetz, Coriel Gaffney O’Shea, Nicole Peyrafitte


My Other Mantra

One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

-Annie Dillard

Herman Hesse

I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

One must find the source within one's own Self, one must possess it. Everything else was seeking -- a detour, an error.
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else ... Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Fall River Christmas Parade

We've been invited to perform as The Munroe Dairy Marching Milkman Band in the annual Fall River Children's Christmas Parade this Saturday. It should be fun.

Thanks to Gerry Heroux's arrangements we're rockin' out to Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Jingle Bells . . . originally named One Horse Open Sleigh.

We blasted out Santa Claus and Jingle Bells at rehearsal last night. Sooo coool!

We have two trombones, trumpet, sousaphone, bari sax, cow-bell-o-phone and drums.

Here are the details: Fall River's 28th annual Children's Christmas Parade December first

Step off is at 12:30 PM Kennedy Park - down South Main Street to Central Street.

Santa will be flying in by helicopter -- with Mrs. Claus !!

Parade is short, it's one mile - all down hill!

(see poster )

Monday, November 26, 2012

Judy Blume

The best books come from someplace deep inside. You don't write because you want to, but because you have to. Become emotionally involved. If you don't care about your characters, your readers won't either.

Those of us who write do it because there are stories inside us burning to get out. Writing is essential to our well-being. If you're that kind of writer, never give up! If you start a story and it isn't going well, put it aside. (We're not talking about school assignments here.) You can start as many as you like because you're writing for yourself. With each story you'll learn more. One day it will all come together for you, as it did for me with Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I'd published two books and several short stories before Margaret, but I hadn't found my voice yet. I hadn't written from deep inside. With Margaret I found my voice and my audience.

Once I begin a new book, the most important part of the process is perseverance. I try to write seven days a week, if only for an hour or two, until I have a first draft.

I'm a morning person — not the kind who rises at 4:00 a.m. and writes for hours before breakfast—but an ordinary morning person. I try to sit down to work somewhere around 9:00. I like to be dressed for the day, as if I'm going out to work, even though my office is just a few steps away. It's all part of my fantasy about having a regular job.

Once, I actually rented an office. We had just moved to New Mexico and I was having trouble getting started on a new book. I convinced myself that if I left the house each morning with the rest of the family, I would solve my problem. But the office space I rented was above a bakery and the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries drove me wild. Every day at noon I would rush downstairs to buy two glazed donuts and by three o'clock I would crave another round. After a few months and a few pounds I moved home again.

During the first draft of a book, which is the hardest time for me, I check my watch a lot and hope the phone will ring — anything to make the time go faster because I am determined to sit at my desk all morning. If my writing is going well, I may return to my desk after lunch to read over what I have written, to scribble on the printout, or to make notes in the little notebook I keep for each book (so that when an idea or a bit of dialogue comes to me I won't forget it).

When I'm rewriting I work much more intensely and for longer hours. Toward the end of the third draft the urge to finish is so strong that it becomes harder and harder to leave the story and return to real life. Once I'm truly finished with a book and the corrected galleys are in the publisher's hands, I feel sad. It's like having to say good-bye to a close friend. The best therapy is becoming involved with a new project. But that may take months.

For me, writing has its ups and downs. After I had written more than ten books I thought seriously about quitting. I felt I couldn't take the loneliness anymore. I thought I would rather be anything than a writer. But I've finally come to appreciate the freedom of writing. I accept the fact that it's hard and solitary work. And I worry about running out of ideas or repeating myself. So I'm always looking for new challenges.

-Judy Blume


William Stafford

I love this poem! It was featured on Writer's Almanac today.

Any Morning

by William Stafford

Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.

People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can't
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won't even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.

"Any Morning" by William Stafford from The Way It Is.
© Graywolf Press, 1999.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stage Set

I grew up on a stage set. Only once was I able to show up unannounced and catch my parents 'back stage' having chicken soup at home and not entertaining.

In My Neighborhood

In my neighborhood the tenants don't have curtains. They hang pillowcases, bedsheets and towels deliberately caught in the storm windows in order to have privacy. People here don't have winter coats. They wear sweatshirts pulled tightly over their heads and hands.

Exercise and the Brain

Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning, says Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Ratey, author of the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.

Mary Oliver

Wage Peace

by Mary Oliver (written at 9/11/01)

Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,

Breathe out whole buildings
and flocks of redwing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists, breathe out
sleeping children and freshly mown fields.

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen

And breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening:

Hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:

Flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.

Play music, learn the word for thank you
in three languages.

Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,

Imagine grief as the out-breath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.

Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don't wait another minute.


Costume design is important because it immediately supports the characters in the story being told. It helps an actor find his/her character. And when it comes right down to it, if the actors are not believable as their characters then the audience won’t suspend their disbelief. No matter the production, I personally believe design, all design, should be one of the first things to be considered. The design of a production supports the story and the visual story should mold seamlessly together with the action. This overall vision for the piece, in my opinion, should be the very first thing to be considered.
– Sabrina Evertt
Artistic producer of Vancouver’s Twenty-Something Theatre

Brenda Ueland

Everybody is original, if he tells the truth, if he speaks from himself. But it must be from his true self and not from the self he thinks he should be.
― Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

The imagination needs moodling,--long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering.
― Brenda Ueland

I learned...that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.
― Brenda Ueland

When Van Gogh was a young man in his early twenties, he was in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. he sat in his cheap little room writing a letter to his younger brother in Holland, whom he loved very much. He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lamppost, a star, and he said in his letter something like this: it is so beautiful I must show you how it looks. And then on his cheap ruled note paper, he made the most beautiful, tender, little drawing of it.

When I read this letter of Van Gogh's it comforted me very much and seemed to throw a clear light on the whole road of Art. Before, I thought that to produce a work of painting or literature, you scowled and thought long and ponderously and weighed everything solemnly and learned everything that all artists had ever done aforetime, and what their influences and schools were, and you were extremely careful about design and balance and getting interesting planes into your painting, and avoided, with the most astringent severity, showing the faintest acedemical tendency, and were strictly modern. And so on and so on.

But the moment I read Van Gogh's letter I knew what art was, and the creative impulse. It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others, by drawing it.

And Van Gogh's little drawing on the cheap note paper was a work of art because he loved the sky and the frail lamppost against it so seriously that he made the drawing with the most exquisite conscientiousness and care.
― Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit


I have been blessed to have a number of close friends who are professional performers. They have taught me a lot and everything I have learned from them applies to writing, teaching, having art shows, performing and being a good neighbor. I recommend this book: Stage Performance by Livingston Taylor
Some quotes from Stage Performance by Livingston Taylor

On nervousness:

Remember that your audience means a lot more to you than you mean to them. Your performance is more than likely one small part of their whole time out. They may have been out to dinner, may be celebrating a birthday, may be talking closely with friends. If you don't perform at your all-time best, it will not matter to the audience, especially not nearly as much as it matters to you.

Sometimes the worst does happen, and is spite of your best efforts and wishes, you wind up being absolutely awful. This is normal. Don't be so hard on yourself.

On the audience:

They want attention, and they want to feel that their presence is special to you, that it makes a difference in the course of events that make up your show. They want to believe you are glad to be with them. If you're focused on yourself and caught up in nervousness, you're taking attention away from your audience- the attention they want and deserve...Their attention is a gift. Don't throw it away. Even if you think you don't deserve it, receive it graciously.

Look at, and pay attention to, your audience.

If you are tense, your audience will be tense too, and will become exhausted.

Expect that the unexpected will often happen. Work with material that is basic enough to your skill level that, if an unexpected event occurs, you will be able to respond to the event, while still maintaining your composure.

The performer has the absolute right to be on stage. The audience also has the right to not like what the performer is doing. Sometimes people will love what you do, other times not like it at all. Just do your best at the time, and be patient, and enjoy performing to the end of your show.

Ask yourself where you can add to the audience's enjoyment. If you do something once and the audience likes it, do it again. If they don't like it, don't do it again.

Be patient.

Let your audience know when it's time to respond.

Periodically you need to be still, or at least slow down, as with dancers, or your audience will become tired out.

It's okay to be human on stage...They love you to be normal, to make a mistake, acknowledge it, smile, shake your head slightly, forgive yourself, and move on.

The key to your success lies in making your audience comfortable.

Do not beat yourself up for not being 100 percent. Do the best you can with what you have at the time.

Do not rush the music. This tells the audience you are nervous.

Accept compliments graciously.


My step father was a retoucher for advertising photographs in his own agency on Madison Ave in NYC. He used a tiny brush to fatten up the models.


I dreamed I accidentally parked my bicycle in front of a free tree and it got stolen.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Daniel Ladinsky

Once a young woman asked Hafiz, "What is the sign of someone knowing God?" Hafiz remained silent for a few moments and looked deep into the young person's eyes, then said, "Dear, they have dropped the knife. They have dropped the cruel knife most so often use upon their tender self and others."

“Drop the knife. Those are profound words to me, for they encapsulate and distill the essence and goal of spiritual aspirants, and anyone who has entered a recovery program. Surely every human wants to avoid suffering, though self caused afflictions are complex. Most everyone is a kid in God's chocolate factory (this earth) with a belly and soul ache and gas. There is a poem in "The Gift" where Hafiz says "I have found the power to say no to any actions that might harm myself or another." Think about that a moment. My take is that one's experience of God - one's joy, one's creative potential - is in direct proportion to the ability to no longer harm oneself and others physically, mentally, emotionally spiritually."

-Daniel Ladinsky, The Subject Tonight is Love

Lazy Day

Today we walked a bit on the bike path. The soccer field was full of geese separated on either end as if they were two teams having a match. I wished I could've let Lily run loose but I know what she would've done; feasted on goose poop.

We took the main street home and ran into Chris and Jake, Jake is Lily's black Lab dog-friend. Chris recently moved and we hadn't seem him or Jake in a few months. We were all happy so see each other. Jake was barking and wagging. He was freshly bathed and wearing a red bandanna.

When we got home I noticed Lily smelled like a skunk. She must've gotten a few molecules of spray on her. I am the only one who smells it and I am feeling too lazy to wash her right now. Sweet dreams.

Bill Cunningham

It isn’t what I think, it’s what I see, I let the street speak to me. You’ve got to stay on the street and let the street tell you what it is.
-Bill Cunningham, NYT photographer

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I dreamed I was given a tempura tongue to eat but I left it on my plate.

Aubrey White: The Lobsterman's Trap

It takes a lobsterman as tough as Julie Eaton to make it through the Maine winter and a season of record low lobster prices.

Driving her boat, the 'Catsass' out to sea, mascara-clad eyes squinting at the sunrise, a 100 cigarette dangling from her mouth, Julie declares, "I'm not a lobsterwoman or a lobsterlady." She exhales a puff of smoke. "I'm a lobsterman. I've earned that, you know. I do just what the boys do. I've earned that."

As Julie and Sid pull their traps from the water for the final time this season, their earnings are $55,000 shy of last year's. With an income source that disappears with the warm weather, the priority rests on pre-paying for the winter. Julie and Sid pay their bills a year in advance, drain their bank accounts of almost everything in order to stock up. "[I buy] everything that I can possibly buy a year ahead so that when we're all done fishing, the oil barrel is full, so we know we'll have heat. Our pantry is stocked, along with any other cubbyhole I can tuck anything into, so I know that we're gonna eat." Their pantry is filled with five-pound bags of pasta and stewed tomatoes; stacked in the spare bedroom are pallets of canned goods and root beer.

Julie's fought plenty to make a living. At the age of 23, she studied aeronautical science with dreams of becoming a pilot. Just before those dreams came to fruition, she was struck by a cement truck while driving to work in a wretched snowstorm. After several comatose months, Julie faced a long recovery to bring back her ability to speak, her ability to walk properly, and her memory. After a year of intensive therapy at her parents' house, Julie found herself ready to leave. "Now, whether I was actually ready or not, it's hard to tell... When I cut the apron strings I probably had the mental ability of a 16 year-old... But I was in a body much older than that, so, I did it... Somehow I needed that to keep growing."

To keep growing, Julie started to fish. Living on the island of Vinalhaven, Maine for eight years, Julie learned to lobster from locals while living in a small boathouse lacking both heat and running water. "A lot of times it would be colder in the winter in my boat house than it would be outside because it held the cold... It was just brutal. But I survived it and I learned so much about what I need, and what I want."

Today, the pull of the lobster industry leaves Julie and Sid with lives revolving around their traps. Their home, a double-wide prefab with ocean decor throughout, is far from Deer Isle's tourist-inundated town of Stonington; it is tucked away from the beaten path of art galleries and bed and breakfasts. The shoreline is reserved for those with summer homes and, according to Julie, those who complain about the sound of boat engines in the early morning. During fishing season, Julie and Sid rise around 6:00 am to check the weather and watch for wind as the sun comes up. Julie prepares a 44-ounce mug of coffee and they leave their house by 7:00 am.

Neither eats breakfast; neither brings a lunch. They work through the day with only the catch on their minds. It isn't until after they've sold their lobster, parked the boat, and returned home that they both realize how famished they've become. Julie serves up heaping plates of American chop suey, a cheap way for both to take in the day's calories in a single meal. During the lobster season, each loses about 40 pounds, only to put it back come winter.

Julie generally lobsters alone aboard her boat, and Sid aboard his. Working apart helps double their household income, but also allows each to captain their own boat. When the two first married, Sid asked Julie to serve as sternman for his boat. "To which I replied, smiling, 'Hell no.' And I said to him, 'Would you like to stern for me?' And he smiled and me and said 'Not a chance in hell.'"

But the two are bound together by fishing. Julie shares, fondly, the line that made her fall for Sid. "Come aboard dear. And make yer dory fast." Translation: Come aboard dear, and tie your dingy up next to mine. A man at a seafood restaurant can kneel and impress a mate with the luxury of a lobster, but it takes the language of the sea to win a fellow fisherman.

-Aubrey White, Salt Institute for Documentary Studies


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chatting with a Young Prostitute at the Four Way Stop.

She was eying the traffic and even approaching a few cars before Lily and I got to the intersection. She said to me Didn't you have two dogs, Edgewater Drive? Yes, 13 years ago I had two dogs. She must've been a kid then. She looked at me again. You had a brown one? Yes, I did, and she died of kidney nephritis from Lyme disease. That's why. . . She interrupted me; You pick them off? No, the ticks are the size of a freckle, too tiny to see. She eyed a green truck and yelled MASS! - did she mean Massachusetts? - and ran up to the truck window, three guys in the cab. Then she came back. I watched her eyes as I continued to tell her about Lyme disease. I give my dog a Lyme prevention shot once a year and the pest prevention goop on the back of the neck once a month. Her eyes were on the traffic the whole time. She was working. More than you wanted to know? She nodded yes. I walked away. I felt so sorry for her.

Wendell Berry

What We Need Is Here

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

-Wendell Berry

My Mantra

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better.
- Anne Lamott

Toy Room

We had a toy room and it was located in the most distant part of the house. Except for putting on an occasional puppet show my siblings and I didn't hang out there. We wanted to be near our father.

One day I came home from school and searched for my favorite toy, my view master. I had a super-deluxe model that was battery powered and lit up under the covers. I asked my mother where it was. She said she gave my toys away to the maid's family because "They don't have anything".

Michael Sims

I remembered my own grandfather's death when I was 7, how my memory of him merged with a late-night horror movie I had seen, how he kept coming back in my nightmares. In one dream, he limped up the gravel road from our family cemetery and tapped on my bedroom window. He wanted me to join him.

Of course he did; the dead always want us to join them. They frighten us because we know that someday we will see the view from a grave.

- Michael Sims, All the Dead are Vampires

Urban Farm

My neighbor flagged me down from her picture window as I walked by with Lily. She asked me if I would like home made apple juice from her trees and some pumpkin from her pumpkins. Yes, thank you, I said. She is from Quebec and has a strong accent. She has chickens bunnies ducks and cats and dogs - an urban farm - down the street, just a few houses over the RI line opposite the cemetery. She invited me to their New Hampshire land way up, close to Canada where the bears roam free. Maybe I should go.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To love is to suffer and there can be no love otherwise.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

Nowadays, almost all capable people are terribly afraid of being ridiculous, and are miserable because of it.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don't bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he's a good man.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To go wrong in one's own way is better then to go right in someone else's.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Man is a mystery. It needs to be unravelled, and if you spend your whole life unravelling it, don't say that you've wasted time. I am studying that mystery because I want to be a human being.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Joyce Carol Oates

Of course, writing is only one activity out of a vast number of activities that constitute our lives. It seems to be the one that some of us have concentrated on, as if we were fated for it. Since I have a great deal of faith in the processes and the wisdom of the unconscious, I have learned from experience to take lightly the judgments of the ego and its inevitable doubts. Life is energy, and energy is creativity. And even when we as individuals pass on, the energy is retained in the work of art, locked in it and awaiting release if only someone will take the time and the care to unlock it.
-Joyce Carol Oates

Simone de Beauvoir

I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish.
- Simone de Beauvoir

Galway Kinnell

. . . sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
-Galway Kinnell

Daniel Asa Rose

Today is the birthday of writer, Daniel Asa Rose. His most recent book is "LARRY'S KIDNEY: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China With my Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant ... and Save His Life" (Morrow, 2009) which was named “one of the top books of the year” by Publishers Weekly. He has won many awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in writing. His novel, “FLIPPING FOR IT,” a black comedy about divorce written from the man’s point of view, was a New York Times New and Notable Paperback.

His short story collection, “SMALL FAMILY WITH ROOSTER,” included stories selected for two PEN Awards and for inclusion in the O. Henry Prize Stories. His memoir, “HIDING PLACES: A Father and his Sons Retrace Their Family's Escape From the Holocaust,” earned starred reviews in both Publishers Weekly (“brilliant”) and Kirkus (“remarkable”), as well as the New England Booksellers Discovery Award and inclusion in “Best Jewish Writing 2003.”

Formerly the arts & culture editor of the Forward newspaper, he has published in The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, Vanity Fair, The New York Observer, New York Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Playboy, Ploughshares, North American Review, Partisan Review, Southern Review, et al.


Stepped Out

Sunday I stepped out and there was a guy in a wife beater. I thought he must be cold Then I saw he was holding a white terricloth rag, with red spots, blood, over his left hand. He was getting into a little white car. He cut himself on a vase, his boyfriend said, his boyfriend wore those earrings that widen holes in the earlobe with discs and had blond-orange highlights on his spiky brown hair. We're on the way to the emergency room, he said.
We have URGENT CARE right downtown,
I said wanting to help. I pointed to the only tall building around. Does that cost money?, he asked.
I don't know. Good luck. Hold your hand up.
They sped off.

When I arrived at the cemetery yesterday a lady praying on Sister Rose's grave beside her new Mercedes SUV. It made me angry seeing this monster Mercedes and the little white-haired woman on her knees praying, for more?

Everybody wants to go to heaven
Nobody wants to die.

This morning I stepped out with Lily after trying to put my pants on over my leggings and lace shoes and getting stuck.

I love frozen sunshine. The frost outlined each leaf and blade of grass. Like a strange MAN RAY photograph. The shadows cast from telephone poles remained frozen but defrosted the grass lit by the sun.

Lily ate cat shit and I dropped the leash in anger walking away. She looked puzzled and stopped chewing knowing I will open her jaws and shake her head until it falls out. But I didn't. I didn't feel like getting my black gloves stinky. It's her ONLY flaw and I can't get over it on some days. This is one of those days.

Superstorm Sandy, Nor'Easter, Patreaeus, Thanksgiving Flashbacks, Fiscal Cliff, Christmas Flashbacks, Hang yourself, Start a New Year huddled in Blankets.

Carolyn Given

The brilliant hilarious Carolyn Given has a blog! HURRAY!!

Protecting Yourself

You keep protecting yourself from losses that have already happened. You keep trying to shield yourself from the catastrophes of your childhood, from what I call the three A's of childhood:
addiction, abuse, and abandonment.
- Jean, teacher of Geneen Roth

Leo Tolstoy

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

-Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line.

Michael Sims

I am reading The Story of Charlotte's Web: E. B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and The Birth of An American Classic. It is such a great book I want to read Sims' other books: In the Womb: Animals (2009), Apollo’s Fire (2007), Adam's Navel (2003), and Darwin's Orchestra (1997).


And so I was scared. I was scared of my own sexual hunger, which felt so secretive and uncharted, and I was scared of the sexual hunger of boys, which felt so vivid and overt, and I was terribly uncertain of the relationships between sex and power and value, which seemed so merged and hard to tease apart. In the midst of all that, I didn't exactly loathe my body, or feel ashamed of it, but I was deeply ashamed of my fear, which felt disabling and immature and woefully, painfully uncool, a terrible secret, evidence of some profound failing and ignorance on my part. Other girls, or so I imagined, knew what to do, how to use their power, how to derive pleasure from it, and in contrast, I felt not only freakish but isolated, as though I was standing outside a vital, defining loop.”
― Caroline Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want

Holidays are Traumatic

All holidays are traumatic for me even Flag day and Secretaries Day The triggers from my previous life are built in and run deep.The only cure is to lower my expectations (impossible), walk a lot, and hug Lily the dog-god! Perhaps I should get down on all fours and share a meal with her out of one bowl, but she eats too fast. I cook and bake to stay warm while thinking of people struggling. I do not picture Normand Rockwell's famous Thanksgiving painting called Freedom from Want, I instead picture Picasso's Guernica or Hiernonymus Bosch's painting The Sounds of Gounod's Faust.

Construction of a Self

The freedom to choose...means the freedom to make mistakes, to falter and fail, to come face-to-face with your own flaws and limitations and fears and secrets, to live with the terrible uncertainty that necessarily attends the construction of a self.
― Caroline Knapp

Caroline Knapp

The real struggle is about you: you, a person who has to learn to live in the real world, to inhabit her own skin, to know her own heart, to stop waiting for life to begin.
― Caroline Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want

Caroline Knapp

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

Nadine Gordner

Truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is.
-Nadine Gordimer

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bake and Simmer or This is not a Soup it is a Gloop

I just baked a basket load of sourdough rolls and while the oven was still hot I decided to bake a batch of lentil and carrot soup. I could've boiled them but baking them slowly in my big cast iron pot warms the kitchen and smells spectacular. Home is where the oven is. In a few minutes the scent will climb the stairs and grab me by the ankles like an octopus

I used to feel guilty that I constantly took breaks from my work - dish washing, letter writing, dog walking, baking, cooking and laundering but now I see it is the secret to my productivity. I need to switch things up. I probably would've been considered ADD or ADHD because I have to MOVE while I work.

I still shutter when I go to a school and see rows of desks in classrooms.

I work standing and I need to move to think. I write notes while I walk and most of my distillation happens while I am asleep.

Here comes the octopus, right up my nose!

I've added onions and celery and kale from my friends garden. I also added 2 cups of frozen lentil soup with lamb scraps from last time I made lentil soup and defrosted my leftover cooked barley and wheat berries. Delicious! I ate it with thin slices of my fresh sourdough bread with butter and freshly ground black pepper on top, followed by clear tea and dried cranberries. The sun is in the window! Lily is at my feet. The house smells magnificent. This is not a soup it is a gloop!

Tea Party

I found some vintage teacups I was given over the years but never used. We dug them out and had a tea party with old friends who had never been here. The sun was in the window shining on our big round table. We drank many cups of tea in our dainty cups. We made a few pots. We ate coconut cake. I will do this again!

A friend wrote:
I had a tea party yesterday too. I used to be part of a poetry group that met monthly. It was three older women, in their late 60’s and early 70’s, Carolyn, a poet friend ten years younger than me, and, well, me. I learned more from these ladies about poetry than any other group I had been in. Two have died since of cancer, which leaves Anita. Anita is about 85, blind and an awesome poet. She has been in mourning for the loss of our group. We didn’t meet for many years, as Carolyn had two children, and I was busy raising my family. This summer Anita had to have a tumor removed from her colon. We were very worried she was going to die of cancer but it all turned out OK, the cancer is gone. I went up to visit her with Carolyn, she lives with her woman friend Betty-Sue, in an old, 1830’s Quaker farmhouse, surrounded by woods and fields. It is beautifully restored. Betty-Sue and Anita are from Mississippi and have old southern manners. Anyway, we decided to start meeting once a month to discuss and read poetry again, just the three of us. We meet in a sun room, a glassed in porch with warps in the old panes, with a view of an old stone smokehouse and a garden and bird feeders. We drink tea and eat cookies and read poems and talk about our childhoods, our families, our travels and the world. It energizes Anita and it feels wonderful, sitting in the warm sun on a cold day with a view of leafless trees and the broken stems of harvested fields, blazing cardinals hopping on and off the feeder. Tea parties are the best!

Advertising People

My bio dad would say We're not holiday people,

We're not the kind of parents who go to parents weekend
My mother would say.

The problem with being a child of advertising people
is they never stop talking to an imagined audience.
They never stop advertising to each other.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Laundry Gallery

My mother hung a Picasso drawing over the washing machine. It came from my step father's NYC bachelor apartment, before he met her. He bought it at an auction along with a few bullfighting lithographs and African masks. She hated this drawing and said so occasionally. She hung Picasso where nobody would see him, except the maid and me.

Green Mug

I had these exceptionally bulky broad-based forest green mugs which struck me as hideously ugly and I finally dropped them at the Salvation Army. I think they were from my bio dad. I can't remember. All I know is my dad once gave me mugs that had his wife's name, Liz, on them, with roses and horses. I gave those away with the mugs that had his old advertising clients' names on them: Lums, Goldberg's Bagels, etc. To this pile I added the ugly green mugs.

Yesterday I found a stray bulky green mug in the back of my cupboard, and I realize now that these were shaving mugs. I feel terrible that I got rid of the others because now I have a context for appreciating them. But they are still the wrong green for coffee and tea.

I console myself that this mug is singularly special and unique to my house. I am nonetheless sorry I gave away its siblings.

Mind Age Five

I used to think, at age 5, that I could jump into the TV and end up in ROMPER ROOM.


Bricolage is a term used in several disciplines, among them the visual arts, to refer to the construction or creation of a work from a diverse range of things that happen to be available, or a work created by such a process. The term is borrowed from the French word bricolage, from the verb bricoler, the core meaning in French being, "fiddle, tinker" and, by extension, "to make creative and resourceful use of whatever materials are at hand (regardless of their original purpose)". In contemporary French the word is the equivalent of the English do it yourself, and is seen on large shed retail outlets throughout France. A person who engages in bricolage is a bricoleur.

Phantom Appendages

How phantom phones are like phantom limbs.

Sherry Turkle

Instead of real friends, we “friend” strangers on Facebook. Instead of talking on the phone (never mind face to face), we text and tweet. Technology . . . makes it easy to communicate when we wish and to disengage at will.
-Sherry Turkle, from ‘Friends’ Without a Personal Touch, NYT review

Nancy Carlsson-Paige

New book: Taking Back Childhood

Alice in Wonderland

I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

But I don’t want to go among mad people, Alice remarked.
Oh, you can’t help that, said the Cat: we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.
How do you know I’m mad? said Alice.
You must be, said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Mad Hatter: Why is a raven like a writing-desk?
Have you guessed the riddle yet? the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
No, I give it up, Alice replied: What’s the answer?
I haven’t the slightest idea, said the Hatter
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Holiday Anxiety

Dear Eloise,

I have a sister-in-law, Gertie, who for over 40 years has refused my cooking and my home-made bread and rolls at family gatherings but she looks for my compliments for all of the things she makes.

She even assigned me to bake loaves for her wedding. Last summer I was paid in bread for playing the piano on Sunday afternoons at my local bakery, so I brought that assortment of breads to the reception with a few loaves of my own. Gert was not happy and let me know she was disappointed. I was horrified at her rudeness.

Now she has the nerve to assign me the baking of a pie she hates, mincemeat, for the family Thanksgiving meal. So I am planning to stay home and watch the ducks on the pond and make my favorites, spinach pie and pumpkin pie.

Am I over-reacting? Or is Gert afraid of me?


From a friend:
Dear Edith
I'm sure you figured out by now that Gertie is a very sick person who is extremely jealous of you so she tries to set you up for failure whenever she can. Your plan to stay home and enjoy your own company (or visit friends who love you; if you let them know you are available from now on and not stuck going to sick relatives' houses) is an excellent one.
p.s. If you are stuck seeing Gertie now and then, feel free to define yourself, just as you did with the bread. Do what you please, as there is no pleasing Schmertie.

Becomes Feral

A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. . . it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, ‘Simba!’
- Annie Dillard

Brenda Ueland

1) Know that you have talent, are original, and have something important to say.
2) Know that it is good to work. Work with love and think of liking it when you do it.
3) Write freely, recklessly in first drafts.
4) Tackle anything you want to: novels, plays, anything.,
5) Don't be afraid of writing bad stories. To discover what is wrong with a story, write two new ones and then go back to it.
6) Don't be ashamed of what you've written in the past.
7) Try to discover your true self.
8) Think of yourself as incandescent power.
9) If you are never satisfied with what you write, that is a good sign. It means your vision can see so far that it is hard to come up to it.
10) Quote from Van Gogh: If you hear a voice within you saying: You are no painter, then paint by all means lad, and that voice will be silenced, but only by working.
11) Don't be afraid of yourself when you write.
12) Don't always be appraising yourself, wondering if you are better or worse than other writers.

-Brenda Ueland, If you Want to Write

Angelou Paris Review

Maya Angelou, The Art of Fiction No. 119 PARIS REVIEW

I have kept a hotel room in every town I’ve ever lived in. I rent a hotel room for a few months, leave my home at six, and try to be at work by six-thirty. To write, I lie across the bed, so that this elbow is absolutely encrusted at the end, just so rough with callouses. I never allow the hotel people to change the bed, because I never sleep there. I stay until twelve-thirty or one-thirty in the afternoon, and then I go home and try to breathe; I look at the work around five; I have an orderly dinner—proper, quiet, lovely dinner; and then I go back to work the next morning.

Sometimes in hotels I’ll go into the room and there’ll be a note on the floor which says, Dear Miss Angelou, let us change the sheets. We think they are moldy. But I only allow them to come in and empty wastebaskets. I insist that all things are taken off the walls. I don’t want anything in there. I go into the room and I feel as if all my beliefs are suspended. Nothing holds me to anything. No milkmaids, no flowers, nothing. I just want to feel and then when I start to work I’ll remember. I’ll read something, maybe the Psalms, maybe, again, something from Mr. Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson. And I’ll remember how beautiful, how pliable the language is, how it will lend itself. If you pull it, it says, OK.” I remember that and I start to write. Nathaniel Hawthorne says, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” I try to pull the language in to such a sharpness that it jumps off the page. It must look easy, but it takes me forever to get it to look so easy.

I write in the morning and then go home about midday and take a shower, because writing, as you know, is very hard work, so you have to do a double ablution. Then I go out and shop—I’m a serious cook—and pretend to be normal. I play sane—Good morning! Fine, thank you. And you? And I go home. I prepare dinner for myself and if I have houseguests, I do the candles and the pretty music and all that. Then after all the dishes are moved away I read what I wrote that morning. And more often than not if I’ve done nine pages I may be able to save two and a half or three. That’s the cruelest time you know, to really admit that it doesn’t work. And to blue pencil it. When I finish maybe fifty pages and read them—fifty acceptable pages—it’s not too bad.

I’ve had the same editor since 1967. Many times he has said to me over the years or asked me, Why would you use a semicolon instead of a colon? And many times over the years I have said to him things like: I will never speak to you again. Forever. Goodbye. That is it. Thank you very much. And I leave. Then I read the piece and I think of his suggestions. I send him a telegram that says, OK, so you’re right. So what? Don’t ever mention this to me again. If you do, I will never speak to you again. About two years ago I was visiting him and his wife in the Hamptons. I was at the end of a dining room table with a sit-down dinner of about fourteen people. Way at the end I said to someone, I sent him telegrams over the years. From the other end of the table he said, And I’ve kept every one! Brute! But the editing, one’s own editing, before the editor sees it, is the most important.

Maya Angelou, PARIS REVIEW

Lo and Behold!

I woke up with the phrase Lo and Behold in my head.

Getting Close to Books

My father died just before I turned six years old, so I've been to a considerable degree on my own. I was a latchkey kid before there were any latchkey kids, and I liked it. Cast on my own resources, I began to read very early and with great pleasure. [...] Getting close to books, and spending time by myself, I was obliged to think about things I would never have thought about [...]

-Shelby Foote

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

Friday, November 16, 2012

John Thorne

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

Eyes and Memory

Today I wrote my writer friend who grew up here about my big walk through town and he replied.

Nothing says East Woonsocket like the words "Cass Ave." My grandfather lived off Cass Ave when I was born and throughout most of my life. Campeau Street, to be exact. Hook a left on Beacon, go up the hill and Campeau is on the right. If you walk straight down the road, you cross Nursery Ave (where my uncle once lived) onto Blvd LeFrancois which will take you all the way up to Mendon Road (it parallels Cass Ave).

My grandfather had a cottage red house. It must have left an impression on me because when I bought a house of my own, I wanted a red one most of all. And, in a rare stroke of luck, the house I bought was indeed cottage red -- and still is.

He kept his yard painfully neat. I know, because as soon as I was old enough to push a lawnmower he had me mowing and weeding his split-level two-acre yard. The bushes were always manicured, petunias lined the driveway (I remember droplets of water glistening on the velvety petals because he always had the sprinkler running). A rail ranch fence enclosed the yard. The obligatory cement bird bath coated with flat white paint sat in front of the house.

My grandfather was a gruff, rather self-absorbed man, but he did the right things when I was little, so I am fortunate to have memories of sitting on the front stairs of his house with him, drinking Coke out of green glass bottles or eating Milky Ways from his refrigerator. It really is the little things we remember.

He died in the 90s (and in his nineties). He hadn't lived in the house for some time. I drove by there for old times sake the last time I was in Woonsocket. The house is a shambles now. Slathered in ugly blue paint, run down, the grass overgrown, broken-down cars in the driveway, an above-ground pool full of mossy water ...

But that's what I think about when I hear "Cass Ave."

Marcel Duchamp

The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.
- Marcel Duchamp

Letter to a Friend

Dear Deirdre,

Please keep up with your art. The sensitive MUST use their PAIN or it eats us ALIVE. Don't let money worry decide your choices. Let ART decide!! Read any biography of a writer and you see this to be true. Roald Dahl, Pat Conroy, etc.

I send Paula poems that remind me of her writing but I fear she has tucked that chapter away. She wants to be NORMAL. I have too many talented WOMEN artist friends who want to be normal. What a shame. I never had that desire or chance or interest. Which now I see is a BLESSING. Bill tells me its about tribal belonging. I never had that. But I love the company of sincere working artists and ordinary people especially the mentally ill and poor--which my town is full of. I am not joking. I loathe Westchester County NY and all affluent communities get on my nerves after a few minutes. Like my hero poet Charles Simic says he'd rather be in Harlem than Westchester County and I felt that way as a child.

I kick myself for not giving you two loaves! You must return soon.
Love you both.

My mantra (ART or DIE) and cooking, writing, filming, dancing, all of it counts. You don't have to be Mozart, Einstein, Julia Child, you just have to SUBMIT to the FLOW a little bit each day. And lo and behold it adds up to a LIFE!! (I could go on for years on this topic).

Share this with Micheal. I hope we can get a photo of Bill and Micheal. I want to hear more stories about your mom.

Sorry to lecture. Love you madly.

A Croon

We deposited a check into the after hours bank machine accidentally writing a smaller number on the deposit envelope.

We had to call the customer service at our bank to clarify the discrepancy.

They put me on hold.

What's happening? my husband asked.

They're playing dentist office male-crooning music,
I said.

A croon for your tooth, he replied.

John Thorne

Perfection is as false an economy in cooking as it is in love, since, with carrots or potatoes as with lovers, the perfectly beautiful are all the same; the imperfect, different in their beauty, every one.
-John Thorne, Simple Cooking

Caught Red-Handed

Meaning of Caught red-handed

To be caught in the act of committing a misdemeanor, with the evidence there for all to see.


The Red Hand has long been a heraldic and cultural symbol of the northern Irish province of Ulster. One of the many myths as to its origin is the tale of how, in a boat race in which the first to touch the shore of Ulster was to become the province's ruler, one contestant guaranteed his win by cutting off his hand and throwing it to the shore ahead of his rivals. The potency of the symbol remains and is used in the Ulster flag, and as recently as the 1970s a group of Ulster loyalist paramilitaries named themselves the Red Hand Commandos.

Red-handed doesn't have a mythical origin however - it is a straightforward allusion to having blood on one's hands after the execution of a murder or a poaching session. The term originates, not from Northern Ireland, but from a country not so far from there, socially and geographically, i.e. Scotland. An earlier form of 'red-handed', simply 'red hand', dates back to a usage in the Scottish Acts of Parliament of James I, 1432.

Red-hand appears in print many times in Scottish legal proceedings from the 15th century onward; for example, this piece from Sir George Mackenzie's A discourse upon the laws and customs of Scotland in matters criminal, 1674:

"If he be not taken red-hand the sheriff cannot proceed against him."

Caught red-handed The earliest known printed version of 'red-handed' is from Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, 1819:

"I did but tie one fellow, who was taken redhanded and in the fact, to the horns of a wild stag."

Scott was an avid student of Scottish history and folklore, which he relentlessly mined for inspiration in his novel writing. He is certain to have heard 'redhand' before writing Ivanhoe. The step from 'redhand' to 'redhanded' isn't large, so calling Scott the originator of the term is perhaps being over generous to him. Nevertheless, the enormous popularity of his books certainly brought 'red-handed' to a wide audience and, without him, the term might now be long forgotten.

16th and 17th century Scottish sources provide various examples of 'apprehended redhand', 'taken with redhand' etc. but the earliest known citation of the currently used 'caught red-handed' phrase is in the English novelist George Alfred Lawrence's work Guy Livingstone; or, 'Thorough', 1857:

My companion picked up the object; and we had just time to make out that it was a bell-handle and name-plate, when the pursuers came up - six or seven "peelers" and specials, with a ruck of men and boys. We were collared on the instant. The fact of the property being found in our possession constituted a 'flagrans delictum' - we were caught "red-handed."


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Saint Petting

I have never grown up with religion but I experienced a strange erotic pleasure walking through the cemetery imagining all of the gowned saints with more saints under their gowns doing sexual things. At one point I was almost unable to walk.

My guy friends say, Oh, silly, that happens to us every day!

Another friend said:
This is a dream, a waking dream. In Iran prostitutes frequent graveyards. And there are examples around the world of saint statues frequented by by women for various reasons. Beneath the gown of religion lies the land of eros...

I found a pink strapless bra there once and took it home and sewed the strap so it fits me. For us it is a view of the pond and dog recreation. For others it is kitten and drug drop offs and romantic rendez vous.

My neighbor told me hippies were living in their family crypt in the 60's.

My friend said:
I went to a Chinese graveyard in Manila. It was a little city of the dead, a necropolis. There were narrow 'streets' and the crypts were like houses. Families on certain days would come and eat dinner. When I was a child my father would bring us to this cemetery where there was a rope swing. We loved swinging on that rope, over the rolling green hills with white headstones. Here in Ithaca, the old city cemetery isn't kept up. It has huge mausoleums. Woodchucks have taken up residency and plough through the old graves. A friend with a macabre sense of humor likes to walk there, but he is shocked to discover old human bones dug up by the woodchucks. It upset him so much he called the mayor, who is looking into it.

Charles Simic

Isn't there a story about a man in prison who drew a keyboard on a piece of cardboard paper, the white and black keys in proper order, and then spent hours playing the silent piano?
Charles Simic and the art of Joseph Cornell, Dime-Store Alchemy

What the Gypsies Told my Grandmother while She was Still a Young Girl

by Charles Simic

War, illness and famine will make you their favorite
You'll be like a blind person watching a silent movie.
You'll chop onions and pieces of your heart
into the same hot skillet.
Your children will sleep in a suitcase tied with a rope.
Your husband will kiss your breasts every night
as if they were two gravestones.

Already the crows are grooming themselves
for you and your people.
Your oldest son will lie with flies on his lips
without smiling or lifting his hand.
You'll envy every ant you meet in your life
and every roadside weed.
Your body and soul will sit on separate stoops
chewing the same piece of gum.

Little cutie, are you for sale? the devil will say.
The undertaker will buy a toy for your grandson.
Your mind will be a hornet's nest even on your
You will pray to God but God will hang a sign
that He's not to be disturbed.
Question no further, that's all I know.

-Charles Simic, Walking the Black Cat by Charles Simic. Harcourt Brace & Company.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Charles Simic

In New Hampshire, where I live, with five months of snow and foul weather, one has a choice of dying of boredom, watching television, or becoming a writer. If not in bed, my next writing-place of choice is the kitchen, with its smells of cooking. Some hearty soup or a stew simmering on the stove is all I need to get inspired. At such moments, I‘m reminded how much writing poetry resembles the art of cooking. Out of the simplest and often the most seemingly incompatible ingredients and spices, using either tried-and-true recipes, or concocting something at the spur of the moment, one turns out forgettable or memorable dishes. All that’s left for the poet to do is garnish his poems with a little parsley and serve them to poetry gourmets.

- Charles Simic

A rusty old station wagon with wheels gone in a yard choked with weeds and other partially dismantled vehicles outside a house in need of paint and overall repair. There is a plastic sheet draped over one of the windows of the house where a beer bottle went through—or was it a gunshot the neighbors heard one night? The police inquiry, as you may guess, has been proceeding at a snail’s pace. In the meantime, the gray-haired owner, who wears a ponytail and has the upper body of a former weight-lifter over a huge belly, got rid of the chickens and the rooster he had pecking in the yard and acquired instead a bad-tempered black and white mutt, whose main purpose seems to be to guard the man’s junk, keep his ROMNEY Believe in America sign company, and bark at nosy people like me who slow down to take a closer look and make sure their eyes are not deceiving them.

- Charles Simic

Charles Simic

What worked yesterday in poetry won’t work today, so a poet has no choice but to find means to confront the times he lives in. What doesn’t change, however, is that we are still what we were centuries ago, minds reading themselves for clues to the meaning of their existence, astonished now and then to be alive, while being acutely aware of their own mortality.

In relation to the future, a poem is like a note sealed in a bottle and thrown into the sea. Writing one is an act of immense, near-irrational hope that an image, a metaphor, some lines of verse and the voice embodied in them will have a long, posthumous life. “The poem wants to reach an Other, it needs this Other,” Paul Celan has said. And it happens sometimes.

- Charles Simic, Poetry and Utopia


James Baldwin

A child cannot be taught by anyone who despises him, and a child cannot afford to be fooled.
- James A. Baldwin

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.
- James A. Baldwin

Everybody's journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.
- James A. Baldwin

There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.
- James A. Baldwin

It is very nearly impossible... to become an educated person in a country so distrustful of the independent mind.
- James A. Baldwin

James Baldwin

Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.
- James A. Baldwin

I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
- James A. Baldwin

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
- James A. Baldwin

People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.
- James A. Baldwin

Charles Simic

In a country that now regards money as the highest good, doing something for the love of it is not just odd, but downright perverse.

-Charles Simic


Community Means . . .

Community means when the car breaks down and your tooth breaks or the boiler shuts off you are calling people you love to help fix the problems and then the cost isn't so painful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ana Castillo

Sanity remains defined simply by the ability to cope with insane conditions.

-Ana Castillo, Massacre of the Dreamers

Michael Blumenthal

and we must go on
laughing it right in the face
until it learns to sing again

-Michael Blumenthal, Sadness from No Hurry: Poems 2000-2012

When I Grow Up

When I was five I remember thinking "When I grow up I (too) will poison my children". I had stomach aches all the time and I must've presumed this is what mothers did.

World Peace Fantasy

I am grinding my hard red winter wheat berries by hand to tooth up my whole wheat Price Rite flour. I visited a friend and bringing bread is always nice.

If we all made food and music for each other we'd have world peace. Orchestras instead of Armies. Football fields of flat breads, mountains of broccoli and ponds of yogurt and hummus, could be nation building.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Joesph Mills

The Guardian

by Joseph Mills

I don't think my brother realized all
the responsibilities involved in being
her guardian, not just the paperwork
but the trips to the dentist and Wal-Mart,
the making sure she has underwear,
money to buy Pepsis, the crying calls
because she has no shampoo even though
he has bought her several bottles recently.
We talk about how he might bring this up
with the staff, how best to delicately ask
if they're using her shampoo on others
or maybe just allowing her too much.
"You only need a little, Mom," he said,
"Not a handful." "I don't have any!"
she shouted before hanging up. Later
he finds a bottle stashed in her closet
and two more hidden in the bathroom
along with crackers, spoons, and socks.
Afraid someone might steal her things,
she hides them, but then not only forgets
where, but that she ever had them at all.

I tease my brother, "You always wanted
another kid." He doesn't laugh. She hated
her father, and, in this second childhood,
she resents the one who takes care of her.
When I call, she complains about how
my brother treats her and how she hasn't
seen him in years. If I explain everything
he's doing, she admires the way I stick up
for him. Doing nothing means I do nothing
wrong. This is love's blindness and love's
injustice. It's why I expect to hear anger
or bitterness in my brother's voice, and why
each time we talk, no matter how closely
I listen, I'm astonished to hear only love.

"The Guardian" by Joseph Mills, from Love and Other Collisions.

From Sewage to Skating

I hope they can do it again this year!
Synagro Donates $5,000 to Woonsocket, Rhode Island River Island Park Ice Skating Rink 02/13/12

Company’s Contribution to Support Maintenance of Free Community Facility

Houston, TX – February 13, 2012 – Synagro Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of waste capture and conversion services, announced today it made a donation of $5,000 to the River Island Park Ice Skating Rink in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Synagro’s contribution will be used toward general maintenance of the rink, helping it to remain a free facility for residents and visitors to enjoy all winter.

Common Scents

The gray shirt I found and washed is great. Its an extra large gray tunic. I normally wear a medium but it is cozy baggy, like a thin sweatshirt. When I put it on I experienced a faint scent of sandalwood cologne from it's previous inhabitant. I do love the scent of sandalwood but still, maybe I will give it to Bill or Lily to wear for a while. I am like a dog I need my scents.

I had a boyfriend long ago who drank fenugreek tea and it made his sweat smell exotic like a spicy maple syrup. He said it was from drinking fenugreek tea. So I tried drinking it too and it was true, immediately.

We buy groceries at Price Rite and we never know what they will have in the dish soap department. I absolutely love to hand wash my dishes and even once had a dishwasher in an apartment I rented, but never used it. Washing dishes is a warm bath for my hands and meditation for my mind. Recently we bought green apple dish soap and I am crazy in love with the scent.

Once when the store was out of my brand of deodorant I bought a different scent and I was unable to concentrate all day because I smelled like my grandfather's Old Spice cologne.

I once bought leather-scented incense! I didn't even light it. I kept it in my car on the dash and the scent of ice skates permeated my car. My associations of skating at Bear Mountain as a kid came flooding back.


Amazing article in NYT today: The Science and Art of Listening
Listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload.

And yet we dare not lose it. Because listening tunes our brain to the patterns of our environment faster than any other sense, and paying attention to the nonvisual parts of our world feeds into everything from our intellectual sharpness to our dance skills.

Luckily, we can train our listening just as with any other skill. Listen to new music when jogging rather than familiar tunes. Listen to your dog’s whines and barks: he is trying to tell you something isn’t right. Listen to your significant other’s voice — not only to the words, which after a few years may repeat, but to the sounds under them, the emotions carried in the harmonics. You may save yourself a couple of fights.

“You never listen” is not just the complaint of a problematic relationship, it has also become an epidemic in a world that is exchanging convenience for content, speed for meaning. The richness of life doesn’t lie in the loudness and the beat, but in the timbres and the variations that you can discern if you simply pay attention.

Seth S. Horowitz is an auditory neuroscientist at Brown University and the author of The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gretel Ehrlich

Autumn teaches us that fruition is also death; that ripeness is a form of decay. The willows, having stood for so long near water, begin to rust. Leaves are verbs that conjugate the seasons.
― Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces

All through autumn we hear a double voice: one says everything is ripe; the other says everything is dying. The paradox is exquisite. We feel what the Japanese call "aware"--an almost untranslatable word meaning something like "beauty tinged with sadness.
― Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces

Love life first, then march through the gates of each season; go inside nature and develop the discipline to stop destructive behavior; learn tenderness toward experience, then make decisions based on creating biological wealth that includes all people, animals, cultures, currencies, languages, and the living things as yet undiscovered; listen to the truth the land will tell you; act accordingly.”
― Gretel Ehrlich, The Future of Ice: A Journey Into Cold

True solace is finding none, which is to say, it is everywhere.
― Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces

Like water, I have no skin...only surface tension.
― Gretel Ehrlich

From the clayey soil of northern Wyoming is mined bentonite, which is used as filler in candy, gum, and lipstick. We Americans are great on fillers, as if what we have, what we are, is not enough. We have a cultural tendency toward denial, but being affluent, we strangle ourselves with what we can buy. We gave only to look at the houses we build to see how we build *against* space, the way we drink against pain and loneliness. We fill up space as if it were a pie shell, with things whose opacity further obstructs our ability to see what is already there.
― Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces

Thich Nhat Hanh

The man Martin Luther King Jr. called "an apostle of peace and nonviolence" has been a teacher, writer and vocal opponent of war.

Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice... No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.

Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive—that you can touch the miracle of being alive—then that is a kind of enlightenment.

Many people are alive but don't touch the miracle of being alive.

It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don't have to run into the future in order to get more.

People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don't suffer anymore.

Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.

Life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.

When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?

To be loved means to be recognized as existing.

Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.

We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.

- Thich Nhat Hanh


Compassionate Listening

An enemy is one whose story we have not heard.
– Gene Knudsen Hoffman


Social Street

Social Street was very social yesterday!

Yesterday I met a woman from Japan who just moved here. I had met her recently walking Lily. She is very sweet and she looks like Yoko Ono wearing a wide brim hat and sunglasses. She loves Lily. Yesterday we met again and this time we walked together. I told her I was walking whichever way Lily wanted to take me so we both had a tour of the city following Lily. I showed her some of my favorite buildings and she showed me a plaque on a house on Harris Ave that said something about Jimmy Carter but we both couldn't quite read it without going on the property. It turns out we have mutual friends. What an amazing day.

I ran into the lady who makes desserts at Chelo's and asked her about her NY Staten Island family after the storm. I ran into my neighbor who is the groundskeeper for the four buildings surrounding us. We talked about shoveling snow and drinking hot cocoa at three am. He was wearing skinny jeans -- I said "You're gonna have to stand in one place twice to make a shadow!" He always has aphorisms for me. So he was especially happy that I had one for him.

Precious Wisdom

Our body is precious. It is a vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.

Wisdom makes light the darkness of ignorance.

Three things cannot be long hidden: The Sun, The Moon and The Truth.

As solid rock remains unmoved by the wind, so the wise remain unmoved by blame and praise.


The Man Who . . .

The man who conquers himself is superior to him who conquers a thousand men in battle.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

First Thoughts

At 4 AM I woke up, I had this dialogue in my head

Contact the best part of the person even when there are other parts you do not agree with. It is not our job to give a wholesale summary of each person.

Gustavo Pérez Firmat

Friends of mine tell me that I'm striking a pose when I say that I'm not a writer but only a man who writes, but it's not a pose. I'm not comfortable being—or being called—a writer. It doesn't seem like what I was cut out for. It's vaguely embarrassing. I can't explain it to my father. In spite of my success, I have the abiding sense that I've ended up in a place where I wasn't meant to be. Two roads diverged in a wood, and the one I took was the garden path. These feelings of vocational misplacement—vocación as equivocación—haunt me, and they arise as much from my career as a professor as from my career as a writer—I mean, as a man who writes. Sometimes I'm angry at myself for not having made more conscious and conscientious decisions when I was young. You're twenty years old, in college, feeling worthless; you don't know what to do after you graduate, all you want to do is hide, and so you find a hiding place in an MA program in Spanish, not realizing that you've just signed over your life to literature. Then, thirty years later, still hiding, you sit in front of a computer making a living from literature by bitching about it. Even though my writerly signature is Firmat, I'm really un Pérez cualquiera, Spanish for an average yo.
-Gustavo Perez Firmat



This morning I was admiring my gray T shirt thinking I love gray. I love wearing black and white and gray. When it comes to clothing I am easily distracted by wearing other colors.

In winter I walk towards the sun to get warm and cheery. This morning while walking Lily I was remembering different walks make new pathways in the brain. So I took a different walk.

I looked down and found a muddy gray long sleeved Gap shirt on the sidewalk, in front Soucy Insurance company. I picked it up and put it in a plastic bag. I am washing it now.

Our friend Hector's family would pile into the car going on vacation and he'd drive to the corner and say to his family, Okay left or right. The whole vacation was improvisation.

Once I was talking to a new friend when I was living in North Carolina. I had never been to her house. As we spoke on the telephone I had a vision of her being in an olive green hallway. When I arrived at her home for a party I nearly fainted. The telephone hall was was military green.

I used to play a game in 2nd grade in which we stare into each others eyes and guess three colors in each others bathrooms. I loved it and had good luck with it.

I used the same technique playing 'go fish' when I was 7 years old. I would look very intently at my much older step sister and brother and decide if they looked like a king of hearts or an ace of spades or a 3 of diamonds. It was about resembling the symbol.

People look like their cars too.


When I was a child I thought my Italian step father Tony was Cuban because he loved music dancing and had the same hairstyle as Ricky Ricardo.
I sat behind him when he drove to the train station in the morning. He had a scar on the back of his neck. I asked him what it was from. He said a bullet went though and he opened his mouth and it came out the back of his neck. A fiction.

Rebecca Solnit


Friday, November 09, 2012

Inspired Invention


Knot Spot

I rarely saw my bio dad. One day he came to pick me up. When we were on the highway he pointed out that he didn't have an inspection sticker instead he put a green leaf in the same spot on the windshield. "They see the green and it works" he said. My stomach was in knots.


I get very excited when someone is coming to visit. Suddenly I vacuum under the bed and around the boiler and all surfaces in between. I merrily cook and bake all day intoxicated by the good smells.

When the doorbell rings my Lily and I both jump up on our visitor wagging our tails and drooling. We stand in the kitchen chatting and I forget things like serving spoons and bowls, forks, plates, and napkins, because I have worked myself into such a state of excitement. But at least there's no dust under the bed.

Spending and Refusals

The billionaires spend gobs to try to "buy" the white house but cry over an uptick in their taxes.

This reminds me of my parents spending decades on psychotherapy and extensive country house renovations but refusing me a winter coat.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Edward Gorey

This is the theory… that anything that is art… is presumably about some certain thing, but is really always about something else, and it’s no good having one without the other, because if you just have the something it is boring and if you just have the something else it’s irritating.
-Edward Gorey


Unabridged Journal

I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love’s not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I’ll ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time…
-Sylvia Plath, Unabridged Journal


Thich Nhat Hanh

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

-Thich Nhat Hanh, from poem Call Me By My True Names

Beatle Brain


Wednesday, November 07, 2012


I am celebrating with a piece of the Wrentham Trappist nuns dark chocolate! I was asleep by 8PM so the wake up was joyous!!

Warmth and Hope

My neighborhood is poor and urban and it breaks my heart when my neighbors align with the forces that harm them: voting Republican, Burger King, cable TV, pit bull breeding, illegal drugs, shady auto sales.

The children are always BRIGHT LIGHTS - and that gives me hope.

Nate Silver was my guru through the presidential race. His NYT column 538 was my obsession. Having access to good information is so important.

My house is 45 degrees but I have many layers on and a quartz heater. The trick is changing my socks and shoes often (to keep feet dry) and walking many miles.

I was wondering if riding a horse is nice and warm? Back when people kept farm animals on the ground floor they benefited from the heat rising into the residential areas of the home. I also learned yesterday that canopy beds were insulation too, keeping the warm air from drifting away.