Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jim Harrison

Easter Morning
by Jim Harrison

On Easter morning all over America
the peasants are frying potatoes in bacon grease.

We're not supposed to have "peasants"
but there are tens of millions of them
frying potatoes on Easter morning,
cheap and delicious with catsup.

If Jesus were here this morning he might
be eating fried potatoes with my friend
who has a '51 Dodge and a '72 Pontiac.

When his kids ask why they don't have
a new car he says, "these cars were new once
and now they are experienced."

He can fix anything and when rich folks
call to get a toilet repaired he pauses
extra hours so that they can further
learn what we're made of.

I told him that in Mexico the poor say
that when there's lightning the rich
think that God is taking their picture.
He laughed.

Like peasants everywhere in the history
of the world ours can't figure out why
they're getting poorer. Their sons join
the army to get work being shot at.

Your ideals are invisible clouds
so try not to suffocate the poor,
the peasants, with your sympathies.
They know that you're staring at them.

"Easter Morning" by Jim Harrison, from Saving Daylight.

Easter Morning Woonsocket

Red male cardinal sits on the electric wire this Easter morning
in view from the picture window.

I go out to sweep the front sidewalk
trying not to wake the neighbors with my metal dustpan.
The early morning sweeping sound is soothing,
the piles of salt, sand, and dead leaves.

Two toddlers are hunting Easter eggs with their parents
in the front yard across the street,
the pistachio-colored house with the picket fence.

The dad is tall, wearing camouflage pants,
the two kids in pink and white carry mickey mouse baskets.
Daffodils bloom against the brick foundation in the sun.

The last time I saw my brother was Easter 17 years ago
when he came to see my new house,
bearing yellow daffodils in a red flowerpot.

He sat on my couch for two hours telling me
how I've ruined the family; I just listened.
He left to drive to his mom and dad's country house
for a gourmet Easter banquet.

Not much has changed in 17 years.
I still get complaints from my family,
how I'm ruining their lives.
They still have gourmet banquets, and I still just listen.

I may live on bread and water
but it's the best bread and water in the world.
I may have no heat but I wrap myself in a blanket.
It's the best blanket in the world.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Scapegoat Review

Find 3 of my paintings and 2 of my poems here.

Paul Verlaine

A poem is really a kind of machine for producing the poetic state by means of words.
- Paul Verlaine

Il pleure dans mon coeur
Comme il pleut sur la ville.

Tears are shed in my heart
like the rain on the town.

- Paul Verlaine, One Hundred and One Poems by Paul Verlaine: A Bilingual Edition

Albanian Bunkers

There are reportedly over 750,000 abandoned concrete bunkers scattered throughout Albania, remnants of Communist dictator Enver Hoxha and his policies of paranoid xenophobia. Though some have been destroyed, most of the bunkers remain today. Graduate students Gyler Mydyti & Elian Stefa studing at Milan’s Politecnico di Milano have developed a plan called Concrete Mushrooms that would turn these structures into a network of habitable eco-hostels, cafés, gift shops and more.

View here.

Peace Pilgim

In order for the world to become peaceful, people must become more peaceful. Among mature people war would not be a problem — it would be impossible. In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war. However, people can mature just as children grow up. Yes, our institutions and our leaders reflect our immaturity, but as we mature we will elect better leaders and set up better institutions. It always comes back to the thing so many of us wish to avoid: working to improve ourselves.

I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace; walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.

I deal with spiritual truth which should never be sold and need never be bought. When you are ready it will be given.
-Peace Pilgrim

Thursday, March 28, 2013

School Bus

The school bus is a very powerful image to me. I’m not sure why. I’ll probably keep on recycling it until it no longer has resonance for me. I think that is what poets do. Perhaps less overtly, novelists keep going back to images that retain power for them and recycling them, reusing them in another context, coming at them from another angle to see what they suggest from there. In that sense, I was trying to take what had been a vehicle for death in The Sweet Hereafter and see if it could possibly be a source of life for Bone. It took doing. But as you can see from my collection of toy school buses, it’s still an obsession with me.

-Russell Banks, Paris Review

Russell Banks Paris Review Interview

With a short story, I never know where I’m going until I get there. I just know where I entered. That is what comes to me—the opening, a sentence or phrase, even. But with a novel it’s like entering a huge mansion—it doesn’t matter where you come in, as long as you get in. I usually imagine the ending, not literally and not in detail, but I do have a clear idea whether it’s going to end with a funeral or wedding. Or if I am going to burn the mansion down or throw a dinner party at the end. The important question—the reason you write the novel—is to discover how you get from here to there.
-Russell Banks


Russell Banks

What happened to me, and I suspect it has happened to a lot of writers—is that there comes a point when the work starts to shape your life. Early on you intuit and start to create patterns of images and narrative forms that are bound to be central to American mythology. If you start to plug the imagery and sequences of your personal life into these patterns and forms, then they are going to feed the way you imagine your own life. Before long, writing will turn out for the writer to be a self-creative act. The narrative that early on attracted me was the run from civilization, in which a young fellow in tweeds at Colgate University lights out and becomes a Robin Hood figure in fatigues in the Caribbean jungle. That fantasy is a story for myself. It also happens to be a very basic American story as well as a basic white-male fantasy. A wonderful reciprocity between literature and life evolves. It seems to be inescapable.
-Russell Banks


Russell Banks

The distinction between high and low culture depresses me, dividing all culture like Gaul into high, middle, and low. It’s a very comforting way to think about culture, so long as you think of yourself as highbrow. I think it speaks to, and speaks out of, anxiety about class, especially in the United States, as people from the lower classes begin to participate in the literary arts and intellectual life in an aggressive way. Then folks start claiming there is high, middle and low culture—so know your place, please, and stay there. I don’t think it would have made much sense to Whitman. Some of the distinctions between high and low culture wouldn’t make much sense to someone like John Brown of Harpers Ferry, for example, who thought that Milton and Jonathan Edwards were as available to him as penny broadsides.
-Russell Banks, Paris Review

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Claudine Langille

The one and only amazing Claudine Langille has a new project. Read about it here.

Alice Carrier


Nell Van Noppen


Robert Frost


by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

Kent Nerburn

Let me quote Ohiyesa again. “All who have lived much out of doors, whether Indian or otherwise, know that there is a magnetic and powerful force that accumulates in solitude but is quickly dissipated by life in a crowd.” We should all seek the healing and clarifying power of nature so that our spiritual focus and power is not allowed to dissipate.
-Kent Nerburn

Difficult People

Helpful hints on dealing with difficult people.

Marge Piercy

Interviewer: You have said that the best gifts you can give a poet are field guides to rocks, stars, birds, amphibians, and wildflowers. Why would these be particularly helpful to a poet?

Marge Piercy: Imagery comes directly out of your own core. It comes from how you perceive the world, how carefully you look and listen, how well you remember, how your mind works. What we have to draw on is largely dependent on how much attention we've paid to what's within and outside of us. Learning to pay attention: looking at shades of green. Not all trees are green, and even those that are differ wildly. How many birds can you identify? In other words, how many times have you looked carefully at a bird? Can you tell by the weeds and wildflowers growing in a meadow if it is dry or wet, good soil or scanty, sweet or acid? How does the bark of a beech differ from the bark of an elm? The bark of a black cherry? The bark of a Scotch pine from that of a pitch pine?

The more precise the attention you pay to the world around you, the more you will rejoice in, the more stuff will be in you that rises as real metaphor and simile, expressive, precise, powerful, felt. Anything we truly experience and take in is the stuff of metaphor. Primo Levi, the great Italian writer, has a book of short stories called The Periodic Table, from chemistry. Each of the tales is a different element. Metaphors out of physics are often powerful and fresh. As a poet or a novelist, you are a generalist in the old sense, and you ought to know everything you can. The wider your curiosity ranges, the more interesting metaphors will rise. Memory and observation can be trained to precision and retention.

It is the ability to produce the precise detail that makes a seashore not simply a flat stage setting that evokes nothing, but a real shore that brings with it a little of the power of the sea. It is the observation of what kind of shell is on a particular beach — quite different on Cape Cod than at Daytona Beach. The sand itself is different. Knowledge as well as memory blend with imagination to produce fresh and powerful imagery.

Interviewer: The writer Grace Paley said that when you are a poet, you speak to the world, and when you are a story writer, you get the world to speak to you. Would you agree? Is poetry more personal than other kinds of writing?

Marge Piercy: Definitely. Of course, it does not make the least bit of difference to the power of a poem if it is truly autobiographical or an amalgamation of persons and events or you are speaking in the persona of a friend or historical or mythological being. If I am writing as my cat Sugar Ray, nonetheless, I am writing out of my life and experience.

Walton Ford

Audubon’s father was a ship’s captain and used to bring exotic animals home to France. Audubon himself was born out of wedlock: the captain had a mistress in Haiti, and after Audubon was born, the captain brought the young boy home to his wife in France who raised him. One day, his mother’s monkey came and strangled his favorite parrot. I thought, how Freudian! I made it hypersexualized. The incident actually traumatized him and led to him painting birds.
- Walton Ford

It’s not about man being destructive to nature, but about exploring the relationship, which often is violent. The pet monkey is chained… they are supposed to be surrogate humans, like court jesters. I studied this 19th-century book of gun traps, snares and the tricks of trapping. They are fables on the costs of pleasure and instant gratification.
- Walton Ford


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Mantras:

It's a big world
What is the lesson?
Breathe deeply
Blow your brains out - on the sax
Poetry and libraries are free!
Keep walking, keep writing
Keep doodling and daydreaming
incubating, simmering, and fermenting
and dancing


Look what I found on Web MD. . .
Caffeine from tea or coffee can act like antihistamine in the body, according to Leopold, but the tea and coffee need to be of high quality and freshly brewed. Hot liquid in general will have soothing effects on the throat and sinus congestion.

Horseradish not only offers the mucus-thinning benefits of other “hot” spices, but studies have indicated that some horseradish constituents may have antibiotic activity. The hot sauce will also help clear the sinuses.


Teddi Scobi

Making Life Easier for Those You Love

by Teddi Scobi

I want to be a bodhisattva
and devote my life
to others.

So Jake can be
reborn as a human
and use a fork
and knife to eat.

Then he won’t have to lick
from the side
of the bowl.

-Teddi Scobi

Dutch Baby

I made a gigantic seven cup sourdough whole wheat bread in my Dutch oven yesterday. It is a shiny mahogany with air bubbles bursting up. It is the most glorious bread I have ever seen. My cat Sammy thought so too and he jumped up on the kitchen stool to reach the bread. He nibbled the top crust while we were around the corner sitting at the table.

After 37 years of bread baking I still try to cultivate a beginners mind.

The Man Who Ate Rhode Island

the man who ate Rhode Island
is under my window

after washing automotive titles all day
his customers coming and going
parked in my driveway
with hoods open and engines revving

he sets up a basketball hoop
for his daughter
the bouncing ball
on the asphalt
smacks my migraine

move over buddy
15 years of driving me batty
every day
is too long

My Grandma

my grandma kept a crisp 20 in an empty handiwipe envelope
just in case
her wallet was stolen
or she left it accidentally at home

the next time I get paid I will decorate the house with dollar bills
hide them like easter eggs
in books and couch cushions
just in case
I can't buy milk,
flour, or toilet paper

Ástor Pantaleón Piazzolla

This morning the radio played Ástor Piazzolla's album Oblivion.

Piazzolla was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 1921, the only child of Italian immigrant parents, Vicente "Nonino" Piazzolla and Asunta Manetti. His grandfather, a sailor and fisherman named Pantaleón Piazzolla, had immigrated to Mar del Plata from Trani, a seaport in the southeastern Italian region of Apulia, at the end of the 19th century.

In 1925 Ástor Piazzolla moved with his family to Greenwich Village in New York City, which in those days was a violent neighborhood inhabited by a volatile mixture of gangsters and hard-working immigrants. His parents worked long hours and Piazzolla soon learnt how to take care of himself on the streets despite having a limp. At home he would listen to his father's records of the tango orchestras of Carlos Gardel and Julio de Caro, and was also exposed to jazz and classical music, including Bach, from an early age. He began to play the bandoneón after his father spotted one in a New York pawn shop in 1929.

After their return to New York City from a brief visit to Mar del Plata in 1930, the family went to live in Little Italy in lower Manhattan, and in 1932 Piazzolla composed his first tango La catinga. The following year Piazzolla took music lessons with the Hungarian classical pianist Bela Wilda, a student of Rachmaninov, who taught him to play Bach on his bandoneón. In 1934 he met Carlos Gardel, one of the most important figures in the history of tango, who invited the young bandoneón player to join him on his current tour. Much to Piazzolla's dismay, his father decided that he was not old enough to go along, although the following year he did play a cameo role as a young paper boy in Gardel's movie El día que me quieras. This early disappointment of not being allowed to join the tour proved to be a blessing in disguise, as it was on this tour that Gardel and his entire orchestra perished in a plane crash in 1935. In later years, Piazzolla made light of this near miss, joking that had his father not been so careful, he would now be playing the harp, rather than the bandoneón.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mike Avery's Sourdough Passion

Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread. remade all the time, made new.
- Ursula K. LeGuin

Make do with bread and butter till God brings the jam.
- Berber saying

It isn't bread that feeds you; it is life and the spirit that feed you through bread.
- Angelus Silesius, in Der Cherubinische Wandersmann

And we feel there is no better bread than bread made with sourdough. As Dr. Ed Wood summed it up: "10,000 years later, and there's no better way to raise bread!"

We have learned to see in bread an instrument of community between men - the flavor of bread shared has no equal.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tavis Smiley

Poverty threatens our democracy, a democracy with a deficit dilemma that the poor are not responsible for, yet they pay the price.

There are nearly 150 million poor and near-poor people in America who are not responsible for the damage done by the Great Recession.

Nearly one-third of the American middle class - mostly families with children - have now fallen into poverty.

The magnitude of the Great Recession confirms that poverty is no longer a personal calamity; it is, rather, a societal crisis.

The time is now to once again reawaken American democracy. It is time for righteous indignation against the fleecing of America's poor, given the indifference toward the poor that has infected our social, political and economic discourse. In short, it's time to make poverty a priority.

Where there is no hope for the future, there is no power in the present.

-Tavis Smiley

Upton Sinclair

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

Judith Shaechter

Judith normally works in stained glass but today she posted childhood doodles. Have a peek at her amazing doodles here.


My jolly neighbor on Hazel Street was throwing out a little round garden table with legs that looked like my drawings - I had to rescue it! Its a small table. The laminated top had layers warped and and rotting off. I let it sit in the snow all winter rotting more completely. Yesterday I peeled off the remains of the round plywood top, and flipped it over so the curlicue legs are on top and the brackets are feet. I love the resulting metal sculpture! My first readymade!
Readymades are everyday manufactured goods that are deemed to be art
merely by virtue of the artist's selection of them as such.

Poet Julia Hartwig

Article here.

Bohumil Hrabal

Today's Gypsies, who have lived in Prague for only two generations, light a ritual fire wherever they work, a nomads' fire crackling only for the joy of it, a blaze of rough-hewn wood like a child's laugh, a symbol of the eternity that preceded human thought, a free fire, a gift from heaven, a living sign of the elements unnoticed by the world-weary pedestrian, a fire in the ditches of Prague warming the wanderer's eye and soul.
-Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude

I can be by myself because I'm never lonely, I'm simply alone, living in my heavily populated solitude, a harum-scarum of infinity and eternity, and Infinity and Eternity seem to take a liking to the likes of me.
-Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude

I was always lucky in my bad luck.
-Bohumil Hrabal

... whichever of my friends was and is sensitive, touchy even, had to choose... emigration... and I emigrated inwardly, here to the pub for example...
-Bohumil Hrabal, Total Fears: Letters to Dubenka

Suddenly the door opened and in stomped a giant reeking of the river, and before anyone knew what was happening, he had grabbed a chair, smashed it in two, and chased the terrified customers into a corner. The three youngsters pressed against the wall like periwinkles in the rain, but at the very last moment, when the man had picked up half a chair in each hand and seemed ready for the kill, he burst into song, and after conducting himself in "Gray Dove Where Have You Been?" he flung aside the halves of the chair, paid the waiter for the damage, and, turning to the still-shaking customers, said, "Gentlemen I am the hangman's assistant," whereupon he left, pensive and miserable. Perhaps he was the one who, last year at the Holesovice slaughterhouse, put a knife to my neck, shoved me into a corner, took out a slip of paper, and read me a poem celebrating the beauties of the countryside at Ricany, then apologized saying he hadn't found any other way of getting people to listen to his verse.
-Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude

Bohumil Haribal

No book worth its salt is meant to put you to sleep, it's meant to make you jump out of your bed in your underwear and run and beat the author's brains out.
- Bohumil Hrabal

My education has been so unwitting I can't quite tell which of my thoughts come from me and which from my books, but that's how I've stayed attuned to myself and the world around me for the past thirty-five years. Because when I read, I don't really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.
- Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude

He was a gentle and sensitive soul, and therefore had a short temper, which is why he went straight after everything with an ax...
- Bohumil Hrabal, I Served the King of England

Sometimes when I get up and emerge from the mists of slumber, my whole room hurts, my whole bedroom, the view from the window hurts, kids go to school, people go shopping, everybody knows where to go, only I don't know where I want to go, I get dressed, blearily, stumbling, hopping about to pull on my trousers, I go and shave with my electric razor - for years now, whenever I shave, I've avoided looking at myself in the mirror, I shave in the dark or round the corner, sitting on a chair in the passage, with the socket in the bathroom, I don't like looking at myself any more, I'm scared by my own face in the bathroom, I'm hurt even by my own appearance, I see yesterday's drunkenness in my eyes, I don't even have breakfast any more, or if I do, only coffee and a cigarette, I sit at the table, sometimes my hands give way under me and several times I repeat to myself, Hrabal, Hrabal, Bohumil Hrabal, you've victoried yourself away, you've reached the peak of emptiness, as my Lao Tzu taught me, I've reached the peak of emptiness and everything hurts, even the walk to the bus-stop hurts, and the whole bus hurts as well, I lower my guilty-looking eyes, I'm afraid of looking people in the eye, sometimes I cross my palms and extend my wrists, I hold out my hands so that people can arrest me and hand me over to the cops, because I feel guilty even about this once too loud a solitude which isn't loud any longer, because I'm hurt not only by the escalator which takes me down to the infernal regions below, I'm hurt even by the looks of the people travelling up, each of them has somewhere to go, while I've reached the peak of emptiness and don't know where I want to go.
- Bohumil Hrabal, Total Fears: Letters to Dubenka

Julia Hartwig

Demand It Courageously

by Julia Hartwig

Make some room for yourself, human animal.
Even a dog jostles about on his master's lap to
improve his position. And when he needs space he
runs forward, without paying attention to commands
or calls.

If you didn't manage to receive freedom as a gift,
demand it as courageously as bread and meat.
Make some room for yourself, human pride and

The Czech writer Hrabal said:
I have as much freedom as I take.

- Julia Hartwig, In Praise of the Unfinished.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Histamine High

A few years ago our doctor told me I had a histamine high. Today I found an article about it. read here.

The Circus of Lost Dreams

by Nin Andrews & Emily Lisker. View the announcement on my painting blog here.

Martín Espada

The Republic of Poetry: Hampshire College Commencement Address
read here.

Tara Brach

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns...We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.
- Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Imperfection is not our personal problem - it is a natural part of existing.

Pain is not wrong. Reacting to pain as wrong initiates the trance of unworthiness. The moment we believe something is wrong, our world shrinks and we lose ourselves in the effort to combat the pain.
- Tara Brach

We are uncomfortable because everything in our life keeps changing -- our inner moods, our bodies, our work, the people we love, the world we live in. We can't hold on to anything -- a beautiful sunset, a sweet taste, an intimate moment with a lover, our very existence as the body/mind we call self -- because all things come and go. Lacking any permanent satisfaction, we continuously need another injection of fuel, stimulation, reassurance from loved ones, medicine, exercise, and meditation. We are continually driven to become something more, to experience something else.
- Tara Brach

I recently read in the book My Stroke of Insight by brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor that the natural life span of an emotion—the average time it takes for it to move through the nervous system and body—is only a minute and a half. After that we need thoughts to keep the emotion rolling. So if we wonder why we lock into painful emotional states like anxiety, depression, or rage, we need look no further than our own endless stream of inner dialogue.
- Tara Brach

While the bodies of young children are usually relaxed and flexible, if experiences of fear are continuous over the years, chronic tightening happens. Our shoulders may become permanently knotted and raised, our head thrust forward, our back hunched, our chest sunken. Rather than a temporary reaction to danger, we develop a permanent suit of armor. We become, as Chogyam Trungpa puts it, “a bundle of tense muscles defending our existence.” We often don’t even recognize this armor because it feels like such a familiar part of who we are. But we can see it in others. And when we are meditating, we can feel it in ourselves—the tightness, the areas where we feel nothing.
- Tara Brach

The great gift of a spiritual path is coming to trust that you can find a way to true refuge. You realize that you can start right where you are, in the midst of your life, and find peace in any circumstance. Even at those moments when the ground shakes terribly beneath you—when there’s a loss that will alter your life forever—you can still trust that you will find your way home. This is possible because you’ve touched the timeless love and awareness that are intrinsic to who you are.
- Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

Each time you meet an old emotional pattern with presence, your awakening to truth can deepen. There’s less identification with the self in the story and more ability to rest in the awareness that is witnessing what’s happening. You become more able to abide in compassion, to remember and trust your true home. Rather than cycling repetitively through old conditioning, you are actually spiraling toward freedom.
- Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

The intimacy that arises in listening and speaking truth is only possible if we can open to the vulnerability of our own hearts. Breathing in, contacting the life that is right here, is our first step. Once we have held ourselves with kindness, we can touch others in a vital and healing way.
- Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

Awakening self-compassion is often the greatest challenge people face on the spiritual path.
- Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

After several days, I had a pivotal interview with my teacher. When I described how I’d become so overwhelmed, she calmly asked, “How are you relating to the presence of desire?” I was startled into understanding. Her question pointed me back to the essence of mindfulness practice: It doesn’t matter what is happening. What matters is how we are relating to our experience. For me, desire had become the enemy, and I was losing the battle. She advised me to stop fighting my experience and instead investigate the nature of my wanting mind. Desire was just another passing phenomenon, she reminded me. It was attachment or aversion to it that was the problem.
- Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Suffering is our call to attention, our call to investigate the truth of our beliefs.
- Tara Brach, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

Nothing is wrong—whatever is happening is just “real life.”
- Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Topping off the Toast

Yesterday I made home-grown yogurt. Then I strained it through a white cone coffee filter to make yogurt cheese and separate the whey to use later in soup or bread. I sliced green pimento olives and added them and a few twists of fresh black pepper. It was a great topping on sourdough toast.

When I stepped outside there was a camera crew filming the latest drug raid. I say blame the plethora of slumlords! They are the ones who turn a blind eye to the drugs, pit-bull breeding and automotive title scrubbing going on daily in our beloved city neighborhood.

Monster Corporations!

CVS is telling its employees they need to reveal their height, weight, body fat percent and other personal information for health insurance purposes.

In CVS's case, workers not comfortable getting the review done will have to pay a $600 annual penalty.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Leo Tolstoy

Running into the marsh among the familiar scents of roots, marsh plants, and slime, and the extraneous smell of horse dung, Laska detected at once a smell that pervaded the whole marsh, the scent of that strong-smelling bird that always excited her more than any other.
-Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Denise Duhamel

Buddhist Barbie

by Denise Duhamel

In the 5th century B.C.
an Indian philosopher
Gautama teaches "All is emptiness"
and "There is no self."
In the 20th century A.D.
Barbie agrees, but wonders how a man
with such a belly could pose,
smiling, and without a shirt.

-Denise Duhamel

Philip Roth

You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion. ... The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that -- well, lucky you.
-Philip Roth, American Pastoral

The only obsession everyone wants: 'love.' People think that in falling in love they make themselves whole? The Platonic union of souls? I think otherwise. I think you're whole before you begin. And the love fractures you. You're whole, and then you're cracked open.
-Philip Roth, The Dying Animal

Everybody else is working to change, persuade, tempt and control them. The best readers come to fiction to be free of all that noise.
-Philip Roth

He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach - that it makes no sense.
-Philip Roth, American Pastoral

I don’t ask writers about their work habits. I really don’t care. Joyce Carol Oates says somewhere that when writers ask each other what time they start working and when they finish and how much time they take for lunch, they’re actually trying to find out, "Is he as crazy as I am?" I don’t need that question answered.
-Philip Roth

Stop worrying about growing old. And think about growing up.
-Philip Roth, The Dying Animal

Literature takes a habit of mind that has disappeared. It requires silence, some form of isolation, and sustained concentration in the presence of an enigmatic thing.
-Philip Roth

How easy life is when it's easy, and how hard when it's hard.
-Philip Roth, The Professor Of Desire

You go to someone and you think, 'I'll tell him this.' But why? The impulse is that the telling is going to relieve you. And that's why you feel awful later--you've relieved yourself, and if it truly is tragic and awful, it's not better, it's worse---the exhibitionism inherent to a confession has only made the misery worse.”
Philip Roth, American Pastoral

There are no uncontaminated angels.
-Philip Roth

Just Out!

The Circus of Lost Dreams by Nin Andrews & Emily Lisker
link here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Woody Allen

I could never write female characters when I started out. And when I met Diane Keaton, and got friendly with her, and lived with her for a few years, I became so enamoured of her, I just fell in love with her. I became so enamoured of her as a human being, so in awe of her, that I started to write for her. I wrote Annie Hall for her, and then after that I could almost only write for women characters.

-Woody Allen


Woody Allen

I can't listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland.
-Woody Allen

I spend a lot of time idly. I go to sporting events, play my clarinet. I practice. But if you work every day, a certain amount on a steady basis, the work accumulates.
-Woody Allen

I like writing. It keeps my mind off grim subjects. It's therapeutic in the same way a patient in an institution is given fingerpaints.
-Woody Allen

Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once.
-Woody Allen

Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought – particularly for people who cannot remember where they left things.
-Woody Allen

Asthma and Running

Take Your Meds

Asthma medications work by relaxing the muscles around your airways. It's when these muscles constrict (an occurrence known as bronchospasm) that asthmatics experience wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.

Quick-relief asthma medications such as Albuterol, which are often prescribed as rescue inhalers—so called because they are designed to ease symptoms within minutes—can also be used as prophylactic or preventive medication, says Roberts. So, runners with asthma can take a dose as directed a few minutes before a run to help manage symptoms.

If you have chronic asthma (that is, your symptoms aren't triggered solely by physical exertion), you'll probably need to be on a daily control medication, like an inhaled steroid, in addition to having a rescue inhaler.

Protect Against Pollen

Pollen allergies can trigger asthma symptoms for some sufferers of exercise-induced asthma, so it's smart to run when pollen counts are at their lowest, which is usually in the early morning. Roberts also recommends checking your local pollen count online (try or and running on the days when the count is lowest. Afterward, shower as soon as possible to get the pollen off your hair and skin, and toss your workout clothes directly into the hamper.

If the pollen count is high even in the morning, do what Roberts does: Consider substituting an indoor activity for running, or doing something outdoors that doesn't make you breathe as hard, such as kayaking, biking, or walking.

Cover Your Face

Even people without asthma find themselves coughing during runs in cold temperatures. Why? Breathing cold, dry air results in cold, dry airways—a trigger for bronchospasm.

Roberts suggests covering your nose and mouth while running so the moist air you exhale will help humidify the air you inhale. Stay away from cotton bandanas, which can freeze against your face in cold temperatures. "Fleece balaclavas or neck gaiters are probably the best," Roberts says. "They maintain a fair amount of warmth even when they're wet, and they'll stay thawed pretty easily."

Be Smart

* Always carry your rescue inhaler. And not just while running. "There's no reason not to have it," Roberts says. "You can slip it in a lot of places, like the pockets in running shorts." You may never need to use your rescue, but if you do, you'll be very glad you have it.

* Have a game plan. Confirm with your doctor the steps you should take if you have an asthma attack. Should you call the doctor's office so they can determine the severity of the attack? Or should you see if you can get relief from your rescue inhaler? Create an action plan that both you and your doctor are comfortable with.

Roberts' advice for when you get into trouble: "You want to clear this with your physician, but what I tell my patients to do is to take as many puffs of your inhaler as it requires to stop the attack, or until you start to shake so much [a side effect of the medication] that you can't hold your inhaler. For some people, that's four to six puffs every five minutes for several minutes. I start shaking after two puffs."

* Consider wearing a medical alert tag. A bracelet or tag that indicates you have asthma can save first responders valuable time. "Giving the right medication quickly could be lifesaving," says Roberts.

* Take extra precautions if you have severe asthma. If you've ever had what Roberts calls a "flash attack," in which you quickly go from feeling good to being in severe distress, you should either run with a friend or carry your cell phone—or both.


Dancing Cows!

Cows belong in fields. We have known it for a long time. And the cows agree!

In March 2012, we visited a farm in the UK to film cows being released from their indoor winter housing to their fresh pasture for spring and summer grazing.

Some dairy cows never get to leave the confines of their sheds, but instead are kept indoors all year round in intensive zero-grazing systems.

Zero-grazing is already common in the USA and we do not want to see this practice become commonplace in Europe or anywhere else.

We believe that all cows should be given access to pasture and want to see an end to the practice of zero-grazing.


Allison Croggon

In all its unstageable recklessness, Peer Gynt is a pitiless self-portrait of a man fleeing the most essential conflicts within himself, endlessly seduced by his own trolls. Ibsen wasn't admired by people like James Joyce or Sigmund Freud for no reason: he was one of the first modern writers to externalise the demons of the unconscious, and Peer Gynt was the first of his extended explorations of the potent truths of nightmare and fantasy, the trolls beneath the skin of mundane reality.
-Allison Croggon

Allison Croggon

We all know that theatre is an impure artform, a form in which economic necessity rubs up against artistic ideals. It is impossible to pretend that theatre is not imprinted by its time and place; in other artforms, this can be less obvious, or even completely hidden. Theatre takes place in real time and in real space, and is made by real bodies. It costs money to make and to see. And yet, what crucially happens is an exchange: something is offered by the artists who make it. When I sit in a theatre and watch a show, I am the other half of that exchange. I am not a critic. I am a member of an audience.

"Exchange is creation," says the American poet Muriel Rukeyser. "In poetry, the exchange is one of energy. Human energy is exchanged, which is consciousness, the capacity to produce change in existing conditions. But the manner of exchange, the gift that is offered and received - these must be seen according to their own nature."

She is speaking of poetry, but what Rukeyser says applies equally to theatre. When I watch a show, I am receiving a gift. And no matter what it is, I do my best to receive that gift openly and without fear or prejudice, to offer in exchange the gift of my attention. I do my best, within my limitations, to perceive a show for what it is: not to expect a tragedy when I am watching the circus, not to let my own biases or expectations blind me to the gift that being offered.

Sometimes the exchange is not a happy one. Sometimes the exchange fails in the space between the auditorium and the stage. Theatre doesn't always live up to its ideals, and neither do I. But all my critique, positive or negative, stems from that experience in the theatre, during which I pay all the attention of which I am capable. My later intellectual response - the intellect is always later - is totally conditioned by what I feel in my body when I walk out of a theatre.

My qualitative responses - whether I think a piece "works" - rely on something utterly inarticulate. There are shows that I have not understood at all, or which have aesthetically or intellectually challenged every belief I have: but if I leave the theatre feeling light, excited, stimulated, alive, well then: I will have to rethink my ideas. Or, on the other hand, if I leave the theatre feeling depressed, heavy, trapped, then something is not working. The exchange is compromised; the gift is not received.

In truth, I know of nothing else to work with. "Reason," says the philosopher Gillian Rose in her beautiful book Love's Work, "is forever without ground". And the same might be said of my critique. What is most important to its formation is not at all defensible. That is just how it is: experience is incorrigible and unarguable.

-Allison Croggon

Henrik Ibsen

To live is to war with trolls in heart and soul.
To write is to sit in judgment on oneself.
-Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt

Was the majority right when they stood by while Jesus was crucified? Was the majority right when they refused to believe that the earth moved around the sun and let Galileo be driven to his knees like a dog?

It takes fifty years for the majority to be right. The majority is never right until it does right.
-Henrik Ibsen

Money may be the husk of many things but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintance, but not friends; servants, but not loyalty; days of joy, but not peace or happiness.
-Henrik Ibsen

You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.
-Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nin Andrews

The Dancers, read by author Nin Andrews, with my painting Trio, here.

Anthony Russo

Listen to Anthony read his poem, Darkness accompanied by his art, here.

Nin Andrews

Nin's poem, Just the Chillies, read with my painting, Embrace.

Anne Lamott

About a month before my friend Pammy died, she said something that may have permanently changed me. We had gone shopping for a dress for me to wear that night to a nightclub with the man I was seeing at the time. Pammy was in a wheelchair, wearing her Queen Mum wig, the Easy Rider look in her eyes. I tried on a lavender minidress, which is not my usual style. I tend to wear big, baggy clothes. People used to tell me I dressed like John Goodman. Anyway, the dress fit perfectly, and I came out to model it for her. I stood there feeling very shy and self-conscious and pleased. Then I said, ‘Do you think it makes my hips look too big?’ and she said to me slowly, ‘Annie? I really don’t think you have that kind of time.’
-Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Anne Lamott

I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.
-Anne Lamott

You can either practice being right or practice being kind.
-Anne Lamott

Your problem is, how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you're going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.
-Anne Lamott

Jon Frankel

It’s a Cold Rain

It’s a cold rain
Tarnished silver flakes
Off the clouds and stains
A puddle by the rake
The flat grey mirror breaks
When water drills the drains
And the thawing earth over slakes
It’s a cold rain

It’s a cold rain
Knuckles and umbrella freeze
Not many hours remain
It rushes down and turns to tease
A purple crocus brought to its knees
By a shaking window pane
And the wind jangles jail keys

-Jon Frankel


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Obituary for Harry Stamps

Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on Saturday, March 9, 2013.
Harry was locally sourcing his food years before chefs in California starting using cilantro and arugula (both of which he hated). For his signature bacon and tomato sandwich, he procured 100% all white Bunny Bread from Georgia, Blue Plate mayonnaise from New Orleans, Sauer’s black pepper from Virginia, home grown tomatoes from outside Oxford, and Tennessee’s Benton bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription. As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life.
The women in his life were numerous. He particularly fancied smart women. He loved his mom Wilma Hartzog (deceased), who with the help of her sisters and cousins in New Hebron reared Harry after his father Walter’s death when Harry was 12. He worshipped his older sister Lynn Stamps Garner (deceased), a character in her own right, and her daughter Lynda Lightsey of Hattiesburg. He married his main squeeze Ann Moore, a home economics teacher, almost 50 years ago, with whom they had two girls Amanda Lewis of Dallas, and Alison of Starkville. He taught them to fish, to select a quality hammer, to love nature, and to just be thankful. He took great pride in stocking their tool boxes. One of his regrets was not seeing his girl, Hillary Clinton, elected President.
He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna [Vi-e-na] sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread.
He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on. He loved to use his oversized “old man” remote control, which thankfully survived Hurricane Katrina, to flip between watching The Barefoot Contessa and anything on The History Channel. He took extreme pride in his two grandchildren Harper Lewis (8) and William Stamps Lewis (6) of Dallas for whom he would crow like a rooster on their phone calls. As a former government and sociology professor for Gulf Coast Community College, Harry was thoroughly interested in politics and religion and enjoyed watching politicians act like preachers and preachers act like politicians. He was fond of saying a phrase he coined “I am not running for political office or trying to get married” when he was “speaking the truth.” He also took pride in his service during the Korean conflict, serving the rank of corporal--just like Napolean, as he would say.
Harry took fashion cues from no one. His signature every day look was all his: a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom, his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam’s on Highway 49, and a pair of old school Wallabees (who can even remember where he got those?) that were always paired with a grass-stained MSU baseball cap.
Harry traveled extensively. He only stayed in the finest quality AAA-rated campgrounds, his favorite being Indian Creek outside Cherokee, North Carolina. He always spent the extra money to upgrade to a creek view for his tent. Many years later he purchased a used pop-up camper for his family to travel in style, which spoiled his daughters for life.
He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words “veranda” and “porte cochere” to put on airs, eating grape leaves, Law and Order (all franchises), cats, and Martha Stewart. In reverse order. He particularly hated Day Light Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil’s Time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest.
Because of his irrational fear that his family would throw him a golf-themed funeral despite his hatred for the sport, his family will hold a private, family only service free of any type of “theme.” Visitation will be held at Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street, Gulfport on Monday, March 11, 2013 from 6-8 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jeff Davis Campus) for their library. Harry retired as Dean there and was very proud of his friends and the faculty. He taught thousands and thousands of Mississippians during his life. The family would also like to thank the Gulfport Railroad Center dialysis staff who took great care of him and his caretaker Jameka Stribling.
Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Day Light Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord’s Time.

V.S. Naipaul

The only lies for which we are truly punished are
those we tell ourselves.
-V.S. Naipaul

All the details of the life and the quirks and the friendships can be laid out for us, but the mystery of the writing will remain. No amount of documentation, however fascinating, can take us there.
-V.S. Naipaul

Whatever extra there is in me at any given moment isn't fully formed. I am hardly aware of it; it awaits the next book. It will - with luck - come to me during the actual writing, and it will take me by surprise.
-V.S. Naipaul

Friday, March 15, 2013

Walking and Waking

After my three hour nap yesterday I walked Lily to the pond. She might be thirsty I thought and we went to the shoreline. I dunked a stick into the edge of the pond and Lily daintily stepped in and retrieved it. The water was ice cold. We kept walking with Lily carrying the stick. As I walked down the street I started to cry thinking about Armand's garden. I ran into a man with a tall wire-haired puppy - a liver-colored terrier that looked like a wolf-hound. He was a sweet dog only 9 months old but already he's as big as Lily. We chatted about Armand and how we'll miss him. Then we said goodbye. As I approached Armand's garden--I stood at the gate. The raspberry bushes were trimmed and the beds were all perfect mounds of clean dirt, ready for planting. I sobbed. Lily was still carrying her wet stick. We resumed walking and turned the corner. B was sweeping the porch of the mashed potato house with a push broom. I told him about Armand's passing. He was shocked and he opened the front door and told his wife who was standing right there. Lily continued to shred the stick while we chatted. B's daughter came out with her pup, Spud the min pin. She sang me a song. Then her sister M poked her head out and said she's having her birthday party tonight! It cheered me up.

At 12:20AM I woke up to the sounds of Lily barfing on the floor on my side of the bed. Bill mumbled - I turned on the light. There's not much actually, I reported snapping the light back off-- Now she's licking it back up! I said. I was too tired to move. She's a self cleaning dog, I said, rolling over. I couldn't fall back to sleep. Finally I got up at 2:00 AM. I saw bits of stick on the floor. I'll sweep it up later I thought, grabbing my clothes and heading downstairs with Lily.

Soup and Sourdough

This has been a crazy week. We've been to two memorials - my Texas nephew and my neighbor. The juniper and cedar pollen count is through the roof. It wakes me up! I feel like a walking allergy indicator. My skin crawls my stomach is unhappy, and I have to take my inhaler but it's okay-- I am alive and glad to have a good mood after a long sad winter. I am making lentil soup. I've added chopped sweet potatoes, cabbage leaves, a whole bulb of garlic, red chilies, and black radish. I've got ten sourdough whole wheat boules rising. My office door is open so I can smell everything wafting up the stairs.

Charles Simic

The Road In The Clouds

by Charles Simic

Your undergarments and mine,
Sent flying around the room
Like a storm of white feathers
Striking the window and ceiling.

Something like repressed laughter
Is in the air
As we lie in sweet content
Drifting off to sleep
With the treetops in purple light

And the sudden memory
Of riding a bicycle
Using no hands
Down a steep winding road
To the blue sea.

-Charles Simic, Walking the Black Cat

Robert Bly Poem

The Night Abraham Called to the Stars

Do you remember the night Abraham first saw
The stars? He cried to Saturn: "You are my Lord!"
How happy he was! When he saw the Dawn Star,

He cried, "You are my Lord!" How destroyed he was
When he watched them set. Friends, he is like us:
We take as our Lord the stars that go down.

We are faithful companions to the unfaithful stars.
We are diggers, like badgers; we love to feel
The dirt flying out from behind our back claws.

And no one can convince us that mud is not
Beautiful. It is our badger soul that thinks so.
We are ready to spend the rest of our life

Walking with muddy shoes in the wet fields.
We resemble exiles in the kingdom of the serpent.
We stand in the onion fields looking up at the night.

My heart is a calm potato by day, and a weeping
Abandoned woman by night. Friend, tell me what to do,
Since I am a man in love with the setting stars.

-Robert Bly

The Tao. . .

The Tao of Bipolar: Using Meditation and Mindfulness to Find Balance and Peace
by C. Alexander Simpkins In stores April. 1. 2013

C. Alexander Simpkins, PhD, and Annellen M. Simpkins, PhD, are psychologists specializing in meditation, hypnotherapy, and neuroscience. The Simpkins are authors of twenty-seven books, including a number of titles on Taoism: Simple Taoism, Tao in Ten, and most recently, The Dao of Neuroscience. They also have authored many books on the therapeutic application of meditation, including Zen Meditation in Psychotherapy, Meditation and Yoga in Psychotherapy, and Meditation for Therapists and Their Clients. In addition, they have a newly released book on neuroscience, Neuroscience for Clinicians.

Robert Bly

The most powerful enemies of men's openness are the corporate men. Three or four years ago there were hundreds of posters in New York one spring saying, "You don't need to beat a drum or hug a tree to be a man." At the bottom: "Dewar's Whiskey." The corporate world dares to say to young men, knowing how much young men want to be men, that the only requirement for manhood is to become an alcoholic. That's disgusting. It's a tiny indication of the ammunition aimed at men who try to learn to talk or to feel. I think that the best result of the men's work so far, beyond the emphasis on grief, is the concept of mentoring, that is, providing older men for men who have no fathers. Bob Roberts has started up Project Return in New Orleans, and that project provides older ex-cons as mentors to young men coming out of prison. The return rate to prison for these young men is 15%, compared with 85% in the ordinary government programs. The major difference is the use of mentors in Bob Roberts's program.
-Robert Bly

Robert Frost

Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting.

-Robert Frost

Robert Bly

Donald Hall and I have been sending poems back and forth twice a week for forty years. At one time, we had a 48-hour rule: the other had to answer within 48 hours. My generation did a lot with letters. Galway Kinnell and Louis Simpson and Don and I and James Wright would often send five- and six-page typed letters commenting on and arguing with each others' poems. I'm amazed we had the time for that. Tranströmer and I exchanged hundreds of letters. The gist of it is that no one writes alone: One needs a community.
-Robert Bly

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Charles Bukowski

dogs and angels are not
very far apart

-Charles Bukowski

great writers are indecent people
they live unfairly
saving the best part for paper.

-Charles Bukowski

Robert Bly

Read Poetry Foundation article.
Upcoming April appearances and new book of letters! Here.

Tao of Willie

Let the jerks of the world serve as the perfect example of what you don't want to be. You'll be a heck of a lot happier, and in the long run, there's a chance that other person at work will end up asking what your secret is. Why are you the happy one? In other words, don't let your thoughts think you. Besides, if you're really gonna get pissed, don't waste it on your family, friends, or coworkers, save it for something that really matters.
Willie Nelson, The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart

God has blessed you richly, so get down on your knees and thank him. Don’t forget the less fortunate or God will personally kick your ass. I’d love to do it for him, but I can’t be everywhere.
-Willie Nelson

You will never find happiness until you stop looking for it.
-Willie Nelson, The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart

A lot of people make money off of fear and negativity and any way they can feed it to you is to their benefit in a lot of ways. You can't avoid it completely; you have to be open enough that shit doesn't stick on you, it goes through, because you are gonna be hit and bombarded all the time with negativity... You just let things go on through without trying to stop them or block them.
-Willie Nelson

As adults we try to relax from the never-ending quest for reason and order by drinking a little whiskey or smoking whatever works for us, but the wisdom isn't in the whiskey or the smoke. The wisdom is in the moments when the madness slips away and we remember the basics.
-Willie Nelson, The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.
-Willie Nelson

Life and water are inseparable. Three quarters of the earth's surface is covered by water, just as three quarters of your body is made up of water. Even in the driest desert where rain may come just once every few years, the cycles of life are based on waiting for the arrival of water. Our bodies are not so patient.

Every cell in your body needs water to survive, and that means that drinking plenty of clean, fresh water can make you stronger healthier and smarter. Water carries oxygen and fuel to your cells, lubricates your joints, regulates your body temperature, and plays a key roll in just about every function of your body.

My number one roadie, POODIE, says, "You can't make a turd without grease."
-Willie Nelson, The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart

Fortunately, we are not in control.
-Willie Nelson

I believe in looseness.
-Willie Nelson

If you’re not crazy there’s something wrong with you.
-Willie Nelson

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Anne Lamott

God's provenience does not mean No Storms, which I hate hate hate. I would not agree to this, given a choice. By the same token--given a choice--I would not have agreed to grow four inches when I was 13, as my knees and elbows ached sharply for most of a year. And anyway, I've shrunk an inch--so I want my money back. Growing in body and spirit is hard.
-Anne Lamott

RIP Armand

Spring has hit this week along with Juniper and Cedar and Elm pollen! My gardener friend Armand just passed away Saturday. I found out yesterday from the neighbors, when I walked by. I am in shock. Feb 14th Armand raced out of his house when I walked by with Lily to give me rosemary and fresh basil from his kitchen flowerpots. He was only 64 and married 42 years. He lived a mile and a half a way - on the pond - but I would see him almost daily when Lily and I would walk along the reservoir passing his house. He grew grapes raspberries potatoes tomatoes lemon balm oregano garlic you name it - all the herbs and vegetables. We became friends about ten years ago when I admired his plants one day when I was walking by with Honey. He was a wealth of knowledge wrapped in a crabby but very affectionate package. We would talk about making vats of soup - and canning with pressure cookers and our favorite wholesale places "on the hill" (Little Italy of Providence) He was surrounded by family - nieces nephews sons daughters all living next door on both sides etc - but they were not into baking and cooking like him. So this was what Armand and I shared - a love of making food and sharing it. He gave me white raspberry plants and sage and flowers - that are still in my garden! I will miss him terribly - I might have to walk a different road for a while. Who will tend the magnificent garden!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Martin Amis

What did Nabokov and Joyce have in common, apart from the poor teeth and the great prose? Exile, and decades of near pauperism. A compulsive tendency to overtip. An uxoriousness that their wives deservedly inspired. More than that, they both lived their lives 'beautifully'--not in any Jamesian sense (where, besides, ferocious solvency would have been a prerequisite), but in the droll fortitude of their perseverance. They got the work done, with style.
-Martin Amis, Experience: A Memoir

My life looked good on paper - where, in fact, almost all of it was being lived.
-Martin Amis, Experience: A Memoir

Fiction is the only way to redeem the formlessness of life.
-Martin Amis, Essays

Everyone is right up there at the very brink of their pain limit.
-Martin Amis

He was an artist when he saw society: it never crossed his mind that society had to be like this; had any right, had any business being like this. A car in the street. Why? Why cars? This is what an artist has to be: harassed to the point of insanity or stupefaction by first principles.
-Martin Amis

Martin Amis

Life is made of fear. Some people eat fear soup three times a day. Some people eat fear soup all the meals there are. I eat it sometimes. When they bring me fear soup to eat, I try not to eat it, I try to send it back. But sometimes I'm too afraid to and have to eat it anyway.
-Martin Amis, Other People

Love is an abstract noun, something nebulous. And yet love turns out to be the only part of us that is solid, as the world turns upside down and the screen goes black.
-Martin Amis

Closure is a greasy little word which, moreover, describes a nonexistent condition. The truth, Venus, is that nobody gets over anything.
-Martin Amis, House of Meetings

Vanessa Veselka

We’re narrative-making machines…so the stories we tell ourselves about what is happening shape our actions. Nothing is as dangerous as a story.
-Vanessa Veselka

Antonio Gaudí

Martinell also relates a story of how Gaudí often carried a raw egg around in his pocket, as an instant snack, boasting its shell was the strongest form nature had to offer. He gave up the practice when Mayor Alberto Bastardas slapped him jovially after celebrating Mass, leaving the egg’s contents to dribble down his leg.

Raja Ravi Varma


Ruby Tuesday

by songwriters:
Mick Jagger Keith Richards

She would never say where she came from
Yesterday don't matter if it's gone
While the sun is bright
Or in the darkest night
No one knows
She comes and goes

Goodbye, ruby tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I'm gonna miss you...

Don't question why she needs to be so free
Shell tell you it's the only way to be
She just can't be chained
To a life where nothings gained
And nothings lost
At such a cost

There's no time to lose, I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams
And you will lose your mind.
Aint life unkind?

Goodbye, ruby tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I'm gonna miss you...

F. Scott Fitzgerald

All good writing is like swimming underwater and holding
your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Naomi Shihab Nye

To me the world of poetry is a house with thousands of glittering windows. Our words and images, land to land, era to era, shed light on one another. Our words dissolve the shadows we imagine fall between.
-Naomi Shihab Nye

Monday, March 11, 2013


I have lost too many friends and acquaintances to suicide.
International Bipolar Foundation
8895 Towne Centre Drive
Suite 105-360
San Diego, CA 92122

David Shiner + Bill Irwin

Geniuses paired again!

OLD HATS now playing
Tickets phone: (212)244-7529

Signature Theatre Company
The Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036

Pollen Euphoria


Saturday, March 09, 2013

Vladimir Nabokov

Let all of life be an unfettered howl. Like the crowd greeting the gladiator. Don't stop to think, don't interrupt the scream, exhale, release life's rapture.
-Vladimir Nabokov

Toska - noun /ˈtō-skə/ - Russian word roughly translated as sadness, melancholia, lugubriousness.

No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.
-Vladimir Nabokov

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.
-Vladimir Nabokov

Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards.
-Vladimir Nabokov

Our imagination flies -- we are its shadow on the earth.
-Vladimir Nabokov

Literature was not born the day when a boy crying "wolf, wolf" came running out of the Neanderthal valley with a big gray wolf at his heels; literature was born on the day when a boy came crying "wolf, wolf" and there was no wolf behind him.
-Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Literature

Helen Mirren

Whenever I see the queen, I always think, Oh, there I am!

I'm a get-a-dress-at-the-thrift-shop-but-open-a-bottle-of-champagne kind of person.

The first time you taste something spectacular, it's never quite the same again.

Being the daughter of a cabbie, I really do appreciate a good back route.

Patience can be a good thing — but not necessarily. Sometimes it's not so bad to be impatient. I'm a little bit too polite.

The best compliment? Right after winning the Oscar, when everyone was going home, they let these little gold Oscary shapes flutter down from the ceiling. Leonardo DiCaprio came over, bowed down, and kissed my hand. It was the most fabulous moment — such a lovely gesture. He didn't say anything.

Being directed by your husband is difficult. But it's fabulous to go home and sleep with the director.

I drink just as much tea when I'm in Los Angeles as I do when I'm in London. I take my tea bags with me wherever I go. PG Tips.

We're all idiots when we're young. We don't think we are, but we are. So we should be.

Shakespeare was writing at a time of great censorship. You couldn't say certain things or you'd literally have your head chopped off. But within those parameters he found great freedom.

The whole thing of clothes is insane. You can spend a dollar on a jacket in a thrift store. And you can spend a thousand dollars on a jacket in a shop. And if you saw those two jackets walking down the street, you probably wouldn't know which was which.

I don't throw a lot of parties. I find throwing parties a bit intimidating. What makes a good one? Loads and loads of drink, I suppose. But that can be a disaster as well.

While you're doing it, it's utterly, utterly, obsessively absorbing. Nothing is more important to you at that time and you can't believe anyone could be interested in anything else. I used to come out of the theater and wonder: How can the world be going on? The only thing that matters is this play.

Chemistry is an absolute mystery. People who really don't like each other can have fantastic chemistry onscreen. And people who adore each other can have absolutely no chemistry onscreen. It's totally weird — lightning in a bottle.

There's no good way to waste your time. Wasting time is just wasting time.

Time accelerates, doesn't it?

The hardest period in life is one's twenties. It's a shame because you're your most gorgeous and you're physically in peak condition. But it's actually when you're most insecure and full of self-doubt. When you don't know what's going to happen, it's frightening.

It would be wrong to think that you're always right and correct and perfect and brilliant. Self-doubt is the thing that drives you to try to improve yourself.

The world of politics never spoke to me because it always seemed to be a world of compromise and pragmatism. That didn't fit in with my rather soppy idealism.

Very often I've done the unexpected just to shake things up a bit. That's been a good way to work.

I am quite spiritual. I believed in the fairies when I was a child. I still do sort of believe in the fairies. And the leprechauns. But I don't believe in God.

It's such a crapshoot, and very often the talented people get lost by the wayside and the people with less talent are successful, and you don't know why. It's all such a mysterious random thing, so it's very hard to give people advice.

You don't want to mislead people. They'll say, "Oh, it's my dream. I just have to believe in myself and it'll happen." It's just not true. Some people throw away their lives following a dream and a dream is all it was. On the other hand, you do have to believe in yourself for anything to happen.

I'm in London watching the wind blow through a tree, and it's a wonderful thing to see.

Some people are brilliant at dying. It's hard to stop breathing, and inevitably you get an itchy nose or something. The trick of dying onstage is to make sure you do it behind the sofa or in a dark corner.

-Helen Mirren

Writer and Receiver

Reading Calvino, I had the unnerving sense that I was also writing what he had written; thus does his art prove his case as writer and reader become one, or One.
-Gore Vidal

This reminds me of when we learned to play Leonard Cohen's songs. His poetry and music combined felt inevitable--like it couldn't be any other way.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

New Painting


Corina del Carmel

Contemporary Mexican Surrealist Painter
view here.


I've never played the lottery for fear I might win.

Italo Calvino

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

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

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.
-Italo Calvino

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

The things that the novel does not say are necessarily more numerous than those it does say and only a special halo around what is written can give the illusion that you are reading also what is not written.
-Italo Calvino

Don't be amazed if you see my eyes always wandering. In fact, this is my way of reading, and it is only in this way that reading proves fruitful to me. If a book truly interests me, I cannot follow it for more than a few lines before my mind, having seized on a thought that the text suggests to it, or a feeling, or a question, or an image, goes off on a tangent and springs from thought to thought, from image to image, in an itinerary of reasonings and fantasies that I feel the need to pursue to the end, moving away from the book until I have lost sight of it. The stimulus of reading is indispensable to me, and of meaty reading, even if, of every book, I manage to read no more than a few pages. But those few pages already enclose for me whole universes, which I can never exhaust.
-Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

The struggle of literature is in fact a struggle to escape from the confines of language; it stretches out from the utmost limits of what can be said; what stirs literature is the call and attraction of what is not in the dictionary.
-Italo Calvino

Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined?
-Italo Calvino

This is what I mean when I say I would like to swim against the stream of time: I would like to erase the consequences of certain events and restore an initial condition. But every moment of my life brings with it an accumulation of new facts, and each of these new facts bring with it consequences; so the more I seek to return to the zero moment from which I set out, the further I move away from it. . . .
-Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

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

What harbor can receive you more securely than a great library?
-Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

I will start out this evening with an assertion: fantasy is a place where it rains.
-Italo Calvino, Six Memos For The Next Millennium

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

Your house, being the place in which you read, can tell us the position books occupy in your life, if they are a defense you set up to keep the outside world at a distance, if they are a dream into which you sink as if into a drug, or bridges you cast toward the outside, toward the world that interests you so much that you want to multiply and extend its dimensions through books.
-Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

Reading is going toward something that is about to be, and no one yet knows what it will be.
-Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler

V. S. Naipaul

The only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves.
-V.S. Naipaul, In a Free State

After all, we make ourselves according to the ideas we have of our possibilities.”
-V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River

Most people are not really free. They are confined by the niche in the world that they carve out for themselves. They limit themselves to fewer possibilities by the narrowness of their vision.
-V.S. Naipaul

Non-fiction can distort; facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies.”
-V.S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River

Albert Camus

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
-Albert Camus

In the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.
-Albert Camus

Robert Harris

I think a novel is like a car, and if you buy a car and grow flowers in it, you're forgetting that the car is designed to take you somewhere else.
-Robert Harris

Faith Shearin

In high school I was lucky enough to study with a writer who loved to read poetry aloud, his mouth full of image and sound.

. . . years in a cottage on Cape Cod with a stray cat and the wind shifting in my window helped me learn how to make a space for writing.

-Faith Shearin


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Kay Redfield Jamison

I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been midly manic. When I am my present "normal" self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.
-Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you're high it's tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others, a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one's marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends' faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against-- you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.
-Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces within our minds. In whatever way we do this--through love, work, family, faith, friends, denial, alcohol, drugs, or medication, we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime.
-Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Kurt Vonnegut

After our family lost almost all of its money in the Great Depression, my mother thought she might make a new fortune by writing for the slick magazines. She took short-story courses at night. She studied magazines the way gamblers study racing forms.
-Kurt Vonnegut

I guarantee you that no modern story scheme, even plotlessness, will give a reader genuine satisfaction, unless one of those old-fashioned plots is smuggled in somewhere. I don’t praise plots as accurate representations of life, but as ways to keep readers reading. When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away—even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time. One of my students wrote a story about a nun who got a piece of dental floss stuck between her lower left molars, and who couldn’t get it out all day long. I thought that was wonderful. The story dealt with issues a lot more important than dental floss, but what kept readers going was anxiety about when the dental floss would finally be removed. Nobody could read that story without fishing around in his mouth with a finger. Now, there’s an admirable practical joke for you. When you exclude plot, when you exclude anyone’s wanting anything, you exclude the reader, which is a mean-spirited thing to do. You can also exclude the reader by not telling him immediately where the story is taking place, and who the people are—
-Kurt Vonnegut, Paris Review

Henry Horenstein

Read Paris Review interview here.

Gabriel García Márquez

The more power you have, the harder it is to know who is lying to you and who is not. When you reach absolute power, there is no contact with reality, and that’s the worst kind of solitude there can be. A very powerful person, a dictator, is surrounded by interests and people whose final aim is to isolate him from reality; everything is in concert to isolate him.
-Gabriel García Márquez, Paris Review

Leaf Storm was written for my friends who were helping me and lending me their books and were very enthusiastic about my work. In general I think you usually do write for someone. When I’m writing I’m always aware that this friend is going to like this, or that another friend is going to like that paragraph or chapter, always thinking of specific people. In the end all books are written for your friends.
-Gabriel García Márquez, Paris Review

I read the weirdest things. I was reading Muhammad Ali’s memoirs the other day. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a great book, and one I probably would not have read many years ago because I would have thought it was a waste of time. But I never really get involved with a book unless it’s recommended by somebody I trust. I don’t read any more fiction. I read many memoirs and documents, even if they are forged documents. And I reread my favorites. The advantage of rereading is that you can open at any page and read the part that you really like. I’ve lost this sacred notion of reading only “literature.” I will read anything. I try to keep up-to-date. I read almost all the really important magazines from all over the world every week. I’ve always been on the lookout for news since the habit of reading the Teletype machines. But after I’ve read all the serious and important newspapers from all over, my wife always comes around and tells me of news I hadn’t heard. When I ask her where she read it, she will say that she read it in a magazine at the beauty parlor. So I read fashion magazines and all kinds of magazines for women and gossip magazines. And I learn many things that I could only learn from reading them. That keeps me very busy.
-Gabriel García Márquez, Paris Review

I’m absolutely convinced that I’m going to write the greatest book of my life, but I don’t know which one it will be or when. When I feel something like this—which I have been feeling now for a while—I stay very quiet, so that if it passes by I can capture it.
-Gabriel García Márquez, Paris Review

Interviewer: Why do you think fame is so destructive for a writer?
Primarily because it invades your private life. It takes away from the time that you spend with friends, and the time that you can work. It tends to isolate you from the real world. A famous writer who wants to continue writing has to be constantly defending himself against fame. I don’t really like to say this because it never sounds sincere, but I would really have liked for my books to have been published after my death, so I wouldn’t have to go through all this business of fame and being a great writer. In my case, the only advantage in fame is that I have been able to give it a political use. Otherwise, it is quite uncomfortable. The problem is that you’re famous for twenty-four hours a day and you can’t say, “Okay, I won’t be famous until tomorrow,” or press a button and say, “I won’t be famous here or now.”
-Gabriel García Márquez, Paris Review

Interviewer: What about the solitude of the writer? Is this different?
It has a lot to do with the solitude of power. The writer’s very attempt to portray reality often leads him to a distorted view of it. In trying to transpose reality he can end up losing contact with it, in an ivory tower, as they say. Journalism is a very good guard against that. That’s why I have always tried to keep on doing journalism, because it keeps me in contact with the real world, particularly political journalism and politics. The solitude that threatened me after One Hundred Years of Solitude wasn’t the solitude of the writer; it was the solitude of fame, which resembles the solitude of power much more. My friends defended me from that one, my friends who are always there.
-Gabriel García Márquez, Paris Review

I’ve got a photography book that I’m going to show you. I’ve said on various occasions that in the genesis of all my books there’s always an image. The first image I had of The Autumn of the Patriarch was a very old man in a very luxurious palace into which cows come and eat the curtains. But that image didn’t concretize until I saw the photograph. In Rome I went into a bookshop where I started looking at photography books, which I like to collect. I saw this photograph, and it was just perfect. I just saw that was how it was going to be. Since I’m not a big intellectual, I can find my antecedents in everyday things, in life, and not in the great masterpieces.
-Gabriel García Márquez, Paris Review

One thing that Hemingway wrote that greatly impressed me was that writing for him was like boxing. He took care of his health and his well-being. Faulkner had a reputation of being a drunkard, but in every interview that he gave he said that it was impossible to write one line when drunk. Hemingway said this too. Bad readers have asked me if I was drugged when I wrote some of my works. But that illustrates that they don’t know anything about literature or drugs. To be a good writer you have to be absolutely lucid at every moment of writing, and in good health. I’m very much against the romantic concept of writing which maintains that the act of writing is a sacrifice, and that the worse the economic conditions or the emotional state, the better the writing. I think you have to be in a very good emotional and physical state. Literary creation for me requires good health, and the Lost Generation understood this. They were people who loved life.
-Gabriel García Márquez, Paris Review

I’m convinced that there is a special state of mind in which you can write with great ease and things just flow. All the pretexts—such as the one where you can only write at home—disappear. That moment and that state of mind seem to come when you have found the right theme and the right ways of treating it. And it has to be something you really like, too, because there is no worse job than doing something you don’t like.
-Gabriel García Márquez, Paris Review

One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily. In the first paragraph you solve most of the problems with your book. The theme is defined, the style, the tone. At least in my case, the first paragraph is a kind of sample of what the rest of the book is going to be. That’s why writing a book of short stories is much more difficult than writing a novel. Every time you write a short story, you have to begin all over again.
-Gabriel García Márquez, Paris Review

Interview Gabriel García Márquez

I am reading Paris Review interview of Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- I am crazy over it.

Painters are not always eloquent -- I love that the writers write, especially when poetry is their first love.

Read it here.