Thursday, July 31, 2014


We have a treadle sewing machine but it needs a few parts. If we can figure it out and find them I LOVE the idea of the mending library here in the 'hood. We have the perfect corner.

Often when I am walking Lily from my house through downtown or over to the Harris Pond reservoir I feel as though I am a piece of red thread being sewn into a patchwork quilt. Each day I have a conversation or two and over time my friendships are stitched together.
My friend Sally Larrick sent me this article that she read on a plane to Colorado. It is so inspiring to me. I haven't stopped thinking about doing this here.

I'd like to start with a summer night of ice cream making on my corner. There are so many kids out playing on their tricycles each night, it could be perfect. I have a vintage hand cranked ice cream churn. All I need is salt, ice, cream sugar and vanilla.

Sitting behind his makeshift "sewmobile" for the greater part of a decade, Swaine says he's been able to step out of his professional purview to create connections he otherwise wouldn't have.

Michael Swaine, Free Mending Library, San Francisco, Futurefarmers, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, make do and mend, collaborative consumption, California College of the Arts

Sitting behind his makeshift “sewmobile” for the greater part of a decade, Swaine says he’s been able to step out of his professional purview to create connections he otherwise wouldn’t have. Although he’s viewed as a “social artist” by some and a curiosity by others, Swaine insists he is merely a fellow citizen, a teacher, and a “guy who sews.”

Viewed as “social artist” by some and a curiosity by others, Swaine insists he is merely a “guy who sews.”

“I never like picking just one label…it cuts off conversations with groups of people,” Swaine tells Ecoutere. “From my side of things, once a month is a small effort and there are many other people doing big important things. My small act is mostly a gesture and for some it means a lot but I think the bigger importance is the example of participating, of being a citizen and acting outside of what is normal.”

Michael Swaine, Free Mending Library, San Francisco, Futurefarmers, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, make do and mend, collaborative consumption, California College of the Arts

Swaine’s project began in 2001 under the auspices of the “Generosity Project” for the California College of Art’s Wattis Institute. The lines of the original concept have blurred over the years, attracting not just people who need things repaired but also volunteers who sometimes take over with the sewing and mending.

Swaine considers his setup an ongoing collaboration between himself and the community at large.

There are also customers, many of them regulars, who like to stick around. For them, Swaine brings out chairs so they can linger. Sometimes people don’t need something darned so much as someone to talk to, he says. The term “mending,” he adds, can take on many meanings.

Instead of the one-man performance piece he started with, Swaine now considers his setup an ongoing collaboration between himself and the community at large.

Swaine has many of these life-changing partnerships. An analog designer with Futurefarmers since 1998, Swaine participates with many of the organization’s interdisciplinary projects, which range from fingerprint-based video games to a hand-drawn survey of Toronto’s city center. His work has been featured in exhibitions at New York City’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, as well as San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Folk Art and Exploratorium.

With the breadth of his experience, one can begin to understand why Swaine dislikes labels. “I think ‘doing good’ is a difficult phrase,” he says. “From my side of things, once a month is a small effort and there are many other people doing big important things. My small act is mostly a gesture and for some it means a lot but I think the bigger importance is the example of participating, of being a citizen, and acting out side what is the normal.”
+ Michael Swaine

Petr Sís

On July 31, 1944 was a beautiful day. Saint-Exupéry took off from Borgo (Corsica) to photograph enemy positions east of Lyon. But he never returned... / Přesně před 70 lety vzlétl Antoine de Saint-Exupéry fotografovat nepřátelské pozice. Nikdy se ale nevrátil...
- Petr Sís

Raspberry + Cucumber are Friends

I had a fresh garden cucumber, Francine's home grown raspberries, plain lowfat yogurt and orange juice kicking around, so I combined them in the blender with a sprinkle of kosher salt and 4 ice cubes. It was perfect. Just remember the cucumber is in the melon family.

Royally Screwing Up

Wow, my parents did ALL of these things!

Kim Adonizzio

It's the birthday of poet and novelist Kim Addonizio. I found her books by accident in my library and fell in love with her poetry. Check out her books!


Do you know WHY Batman is my favorite super hero? Cuz of Robin.


He's a sidekick. And sidekicks can read peoples' minds.

-sent by Carolyn Given, spoken by her student who heard side kick as psychic.

Primo Levi

We who survived the Camps are not true witnesses. We are those who, through prevarication, skill or luck, never touched bottom. Those who have, and who have seen the face of the Gorgon, did not return, or returned wordless.

-Primo Levi

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Running to Catch the Train

My step father turned 90 last October. The exercise he got was running 5 minutes to the NYC commuter train.


Hello RI, New Jersey Carousel for Sale!

Maybe Woonsocket needs a carousel!!

4 Movie Quotes

"Anything can be great. I don't care, bricklaying can be great, if a guy knows — if he knows what he's doing and why, and he can make it come off."

—Paul Newman, The Hustler (1961)

"The inches we need are everywhere around us."

"In any fight, it's the guy who's willing to die that's gonna win that inch."

"Because that's what living is! The six inches in front of your face!"

—Al Pacino, Any Given Sunday (1999)

"I'd hate to take a bite outta you. You're a cookie full of arsenic."

—Burt Lancaster, Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

Senator: The war's over. Our side won the war. Now we must busy ourselves winning the peace. And Fletcher, there's an old saying: To the victors belong the spoils.

Fletcher: There's another old saying, Senator: Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.

—The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Wisest Man

The wisest man may be missing teeth.

Stanley Kunitz

My friend painter poet Jacob Knight, (Roger Jaskoviak) knew Stanley Kunitz and painted his portrait.

From Writer's Almanac today:

It's the birthday of poet Stanley Kunitz (books by this author), born in Worcester, Massachusetts (1905). His parents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. His father committed suicide in a public park before Kunitz was born, and his mother, Yetta, erased all traces of Stanley's father from the house, and refused to speak about him. She opened up a dry-goods store and sewed clothes in the back room, working overtime to pay off the debts that her husband had left behind, even though legally she was not obligated to pay them.

One thing his mother did not destroy were the books his father had left behind, books by Tolstoy and Dickens. One of Kunitz's favorite books was the dictionary. He said: "I used to sit in that green Morris chair and open the heavy dictionary on my lap, and find a new word every day. It was a big word, a word like eleemosynary or phantasmagoria — some word that, on the tongue, sounded great to me, and I would go out into the fields and I would shout those words, because it was so important that they sounded so great to me. And then eventually I began incorporating them into verses, into poems. But certainly my thought in the beginning was that there was so much joy playing with language that I couldn't consider living without it."

His first job as a boy was riding his horse down the streets of Worcester and lighting the gas lamps at night. He became a reporter for the Worcester Telegram, went to Harvard, and stayed for his master's degree. He wanted to pursue his Ph.D., but the head of the English department at Harvard told him that Anglo-Saxon students would resent being taught by a Jew.

So he moved to a big farm in Connecticut, and worked as a reporter and farmer. He sold fresh herbs to markets in Hartford. Kunitz was drafted into World War II, and when he came back, he was offered a teaching position at Bennington College. In 1949, the college tried to expel one of his students — Groucho Marx's daughter Miriam — right before her graduation because she had violated a curfew. Kunitz helped organize a protest of the decision, and the president of Bennington showed up at his house and told him to stop immediately. Kunitz took the plant that he was potting and threw it in the president's face, then quit.

He published a second book, but it was barely noticed. He was so unknown that his third book, Selected Poems (1958), was rejected by eight publishers — three of them refused to even read it. When it was finally published, it won the Pulitzer Prize. When someone asked W.H. Auden why nobody knew about Stanley Kunitz, Auden said: "It's strange, but give him time. A hundred years or so. He's a patient man."

It was more than 10 years before he published his next book, The Testing Tree (1971), and slowly but surely, people began to take notice. He was appointed the poet laureate when he was 95 years old. He died at the age of 100.

He said: "It is out of the dailiness of life that one is driven into the deepest recesses of the self."

Double Rainbow

Last night I made tostadas, something I find to be very meditative. When I finished there was a double rainbow. I ran outside and cheered on the corner with all of the neighborhood kids.
Leo asked me if we can have a tea party today out on the sidewalk. All we need is hot water, he said.
I have a teapot, and a folding table, and a tablecloth, I said.
I can bring the bags, he said.
Do you know the story of Alice in Wonderland? I asked.
He smiled.
I'll be the Mad Hatter, I said.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Circus Bicycles and Anthony Santos Songs

My neighbor in the ground floor apartment across the street has made an upside-down tall-handlebar circus bicycle. He also plays amazing Dominican music on his boombox. I am going to ask him for a play list but I need help, he doesn't speak English! Stay tuned.


Jon Frankel

Jon is one of my favorite writers. We went to high school together in Larchmont, N.Y. He is a poet, novelist, reader of everything and a great cook. When Jon writes about food I go crazy. Read his latest post on steamers here.

In high school Jon read everything. As a kid who had been severely restricted to approved reading material, I was inspired. His mom Marge was an amazing lady too. She let me hide out in their big house when I was running away from home. I remember thinking that one of the window fans in the house had "gone crazy" but it was the neighbor starting up his helicopter to commute to NYC, 17 miles away.

Roz Chast Memoir


Around the World Continued

Sunday afternoon we returned to Onisie's church picnic festival.

We met Laurentiu Rotaru, a Romanian opera singer whose wife is from the same little town in Transylvania as Fr. Onisie. He's performing La Bohème in a few weeks. I love opera!

We met Father Anthony Perkins from St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox onion-domed church on Harris Ave. They are still rebuilding from the fire.

Then my lovely niece Rose and I walked down Edgewater Drive to Harris Pond so Lily could swim.

After delicious Romanian picnic leftovers Bill and I watched Bored to Death and laughed until we cried.

A great day. And an amazing weekend.

Poet John Ashbury

from Writers Almanac today:

I don't quite understand about understanding poetry. I experience poems with pleasure: whether I understand them or not I'm not quite sure. I don't want to read something I already know or which is going to slide down easily:
there has to be some crunch, a certain amount of resilience.
-John Ashbury

At North Farm

Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
At incredible speed, traveling day and night,
Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes.
But will he know where to find you,
Recognize you when he sees you,
Give you the thing he has for you?

Hardly anything grows here,
Yet the granaries are bursting with meal,
The sacks of meal piled to the rafters.
The streams run with sweetness, fattening fish;
Birds darken the sky. Is it enough
That the dish of milk is set out at night,
That we think of him sometimes,
Sometimes and always, with mixed feelings?

-John Ashbury

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Around the Block, Around the World

Yesterday was a magical day. Father Dennis Reardon from All Saints Church came down the street to meet Father Onisie Maror of Saint John the Baptist Romanian church at this weekend's outdoor church picnic. I have been telling them about each other and how I wanted them to meet to help the neighborhood. It was a great moment to see. They hugged and talked. They both care about the neighborhood and they are both mesmerizing story-tellers. They laugh when I tell them that my family religion was psychiatry.

We need to continue to heal the 'hood through good connections to improve the lives of the residents. We need to educate the landlords. We have had a lot of incidents requiring emergency assistance from the police force and the fire department, most of which could've been prevented had there been some adult supervision.

Our library is the living room to the City for so many residents. It is summer camp and daily free lunch for the kids and an oasis for the seniors. It is a place to get warm and have community in the winter as well. The librarians are all helpful and kind and passionate about their work. Books are salvation. My wish is that we could expand the library further, expand what works well in our city. My fantasy is that we could add a community pool where kids can learn to swim for free, and learn to lifeguard too. We could add a community kitchen where we can teach cooking of all nations. Maybe we could even have the animal rescue adoptions building here too. If I was a philanthropist I would work to make this happen.

At dusk I gave a copy of Sol A Sol to the owner of the Dominican Mini Mart across the street from my house. She was sitting out front with the other mothers and the gang of five-year-olds. She does not speak much English and I can't speak Spanish but she read the poems aloud in Spanish and the titles in English! I feel like I should learn Spanish as a gift to the neighborhood.

Today I met Tom Thipphavong in the parking lot of the Elks Club when I walked by with Lily. People were dressed up carrying bowls and baskets of food and flowers into the hall. Monks were dressed in orange. He and his friends invited me to join the festivities at noon. They are Lao-Americans and their Buddhist temple is on Railroad Street. Today's celebration was special, Boun Khao Phansa so they had rented the Elks hall. I told him about Fathers Dennis and Onisie meeting at the festival yesterday. I ran home to get Bill, and we went to the hall in time to have a delicious lunch and meet a lot of new people. They blessed us with chrysanthemums dipped in holy water.

The most amazing Woonsocket weekend of going around the world by just going around the block continues . . .

Saturday, July 26, 2014

José Manuel Calderón - First artist to record Dominican Bachata


Anthony Santos ~ Bachata


Here too.

Entre dos Aguas ~ Paco de Lucia



Sometimes I realize how precious life is and how powerful and strong love is.

Brain Age

We are in the dawning age of brain research.
Interesting article on creativity madness and the brain.

In A Beautiful Mind, her biography of the mathematician John Nash, Sylvia Nasar describes a visit Nash received from a fellow mathematician while institutionalized at McLean Hospital. “How could you, a mathematician, a man devoted to reason and logical truth,” the colleague asked, “believe that extraterrestrials are sending you messages? How could you believe that you are being recruited by aliens from outer space to save the world?” To which Nash replied: “Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously.”

Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them creative geniuses. Some people see things others cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill. And some people, like John Nash, are both.

Inspiring Astronaut

Tanzanian astronaut propelled by potato salad.Here

Generous Donation to Psychiatric Research

Son's mental illness prompts generous donation.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Good Omen

Yesterday I found three hundred dollars on the ground in joss paper and five dollars in Monopoly money.

Raymond Carver Poem

What the Doctor Said

by Raymond Carver

He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
Something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong

"What the Doctor Said" by Raymond Carver, from All of Us: Collected Poems. © Harvill Press, 1996.

Bread for Poems

My new hobby is cleaning the Streets of Paris. Did you know Woonsocket is the Paris of New England?

I was out trimming my bushes this morning. It was quiet and the air was clean. I felt like I was giving the Tasmanian Devil a haircut.

My neighbor Eddie crossed the Street and told me a few jokes. We laughed our heads off, a great way to start the day.

Then he ran home to get three new poems he had written and read them to me. They were excellent.

I ran inside to get with one of my fresh baked baby breads, a sourdough wheat oat cornmeal bread with poppy seeds and sunflower seeds.

"Bread for poems," I said, handing him a loaf.

The House that Sweaters Built


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Turn

A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.
– Helen Keller


To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our mind strong and clear. Water surrounds the lotus flower, but does not wet its petals.
– Buddha

John Adams

Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.
- John Adams

Danny Kaye

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.
– Danny Kaye


The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.
– Socrates

Carl Sandburg

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
- Carl Sandburg

Under his Feet

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.
– James Openheim

Paul Hawken

Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous. That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other factor.
– Paul Hawken

Raymond Chandler

The most durable thing in writing is style, and style is the most valuable investment a writer can make with his time. It pays off slowly, your agent will sneer at it, your publisher will misunderstand it, and it will take people you have never heard of to convince them by slow degrees that the writer who puts his individual mark on the way he writes will always pay off.
- Raymond Chandler

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Aimee Bender

On Goodnight Moon by Aimee Bender

Sunlight on the Side of a House

from Writer's Almanac today:
It's the birthday of the painter Edward Hopper, born in Nyack, New York (1882). By the time he was 12, he was already six feet tall. He was skinny, gangly, made fun of by his classmates, painfully shy, and spent much of his time alone drawing.

After he finished art school, he took a trip to Paris and spent almost all of his time there alone, reading or painting. In Paris, he realized that he had fallen in love with light. He said the light in Paris was unlike anything he'd ever seen before. He tried to re-create it in his paintings.

He came back to New York and was employed as an illustrator at an ad agency, which he loathed. In his spare time, he drove around and painted train stations and gas stations and corner saloons.

Hopper had only sold one painting by the time he was 40 years old, but his first major exhibition — in 1933 at the Museum of Modern Art — made him famous. His pieces in that show had titles like Houses by the Railroad, Manhattan Bridge Loop, Room in Brooklyn, Roofs of Washington Square, Cold Storage Plant, Lonely House, and Girl on Bridge. Though his work was more realistic and less experimental than most other painters at the time, he painted his scenes in a way that made them seem especially lonely and eerie.

Edward Hopper said: "Maybe I am slightly inhuman ... All I ever wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house."

Monday, July 21, 2014

Abraham Lincoln

I am an optimist because I don't see the point in being anything else.
-Abraham Lincoln

Blasphemy Martín Espada

from NYT

Martín Espada's most recent collection of poems is "The Trouble Ball." He is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Sam Hamill was born in 1942 or 1943 to unknown parents. Adopted and raised in Utah, he was beaten and abused, a runaway, a petty thief, a heroin user, in trouble with the law, in and out of jail.

In the poem “Plain Dumb Luck,” he writes of being “huddled in a cell in Fredonia, Arizona/ rolling cigarettes from a Bull Durham pouch/ locked up for the crime of being fourteen and homeless.” A sheriff tells him to “Go home, son,” but he would “rather steal than taste that belt again.” And yet, by poem’s end, 40 years later, the poet concludes that he is “the luckiest son-of-a-bitch alive.” It was his “dumb luck” to discover poetry. From the practice of poetry everything else would flow.

In the words of Hayden Carruth, “No one — I mean no one — has done the momentous work of presenting poetry better than Sam Hamill. His editing and publishing, his criticism and translations, his own very strong and beautiful poems have been making a difference in American culture for many years.”

This poem is dedicated to him.

For Sam Hamill

Let the blasphemy be spoken: poetry can save us,
not the way a fisherman pulls the drowning swimmer
into his boat, not the way Jesus, between screams,
promised life everlasting to the thief crucified beside him
on the hill, but salvation nevertheless.

Somewhere a convict sobs into a book of poems
from the prison library, and I know why
his hands are careful not to break the brittle pages.

Natural Chaos

Stop tidying your life, I tell myself.
Chaos is what I love. Not drama, but a cacophony of clutter, my kaleidoscope of kooky prompts.

Just like when baking bread with natural yeast. The natural wild yeast from frequent baking, contribute to the fast acting sourdough.

People appear wired to incur a significant physical cost to eliminate a mental burden.
People who are checking things off the list all the time might look like they’re getting stuff done, he said, but they’re not getting the big stuff done.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Moon Water

Roberto said, When the water barrels fill up at night we call it Moon Water.

Banana Trees

My neighbors in the green-pea-soup-colored Happy House had a yard sale last weekend and they were selling mostly baby items. They had three tablet style cell phones laid out for sale.
How much? I asked.
Ten dollars, Sherry replied.
I only have six dollars, I said.
For you, six, because we like you, Sherry replied.
People laugh at me because I've never owned a cell phone before.
How do I work it?
Press the button to turn it on.
Bruce stepped forward and touched the screen.
You know YouTube he asked? You can go to YouTube.
He touched the screen again and stuff started to move.
My stomach flipped over.
I'll have to take Dramamine to work this thing cuz I get motion sickness looking at the motion on the screen.
Really? Beth asked.
Yup, it's true, I said.
I am from another time.
Whose paying for it? I asked
It's the internet, it's just in the air, Sherry said.
Really, are you sure?
You'll need a charger from the dollar store, and it's only 35 dollars or 55 a month for phone service unlimited, Beth chimed in.
I don't have 35 dollars.
I took out my six dollars from my Emily the Strange - Change Comes from Within change purse and handed it to them. I've carried this six dollars around for six months. I laughed.
Thanks I said.
I was already having buyer's remorse and I hadn't even crossed the street. Was this a misspent six dollars? I was sure it was although it seemed worth the conversation, I told my husband.
Then I let it sit on the kitchen counter.
The next day my change purse was in the foyer on the floor. I must've dropped it on the street and someone must've picked it up and pushed it through my mail slot.
Boy, am I lucky.
I had no idea it was missing.
I went over to tell the Yard Sale family, thank you for dropping off my wallet.
It wasn't us, they said.
Well it's a mystery then.
I noticed the tree towering over their backyard. What a big tree I said. That's a banana tree, Bruce said.
It's a catalpa, I said, smiling.
I was told it was a banana tree, Bruce replied.
Not here, maybe in Jamaica though.


Last night at 7PM I walked to the pond hoping to meet Doreen and her newly adopted rescue dog, Ranger. She wasn't home but I ran into other folks and their dogs. I met a newly adopted puppy Bella the Portuguese water dog on Ethel Street, and Macy the gray mastiff, and Riley the retriever, both on Edgewater Drive, and one mop-headed Pekinese on Miller Street. I got home at 9:30 PM and chatted with Ed and Marlene who were standing around out front. We chatted and laughed, telling stories about why none of us could ever become president due to infractions from our past.

At moments like these I want to block off the street and have a lasagna party with all the neighbors. Maybe we can do it without blocking off the street traffic. A sidewalk buffet, with dancing and live music!

Yesterday Leo and his cousin were dancing a tango out on the sidewalk. I was at my drafting desk and spotted them on the sidewalk below. I smiled as did everyone else who was watching. They are only ten years old, but had all the dance moves, including turning their heads sharply back and forth and Leo dipping his cousin back. She wore a colorful dress and they were having a blast.

Later when I saw Leo I said "You're a great tango dancer!" He was surprised that I knew he'd been dancing. "We just made up the dance," he said. "Well that's how it goes," I said. I suggested we have a dance marathon for Autumnfest, or better yet right here on the sidewalk. "Tomorrow?" Leo asked.

I walked on Social Street and cut over to the garden on Clinton Street, and then went back again when my library books arrived. Later that night I went to Harris Pond, both trips just wearing my flip flops with my dress. (We called them thongs back when we were growing up). It was a five mile day.

I woke up at 2:30 AM unable to breathe. I was dreaming I was to play in a band at RISD with the Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth. She asked why I wasn't playing sax. I told her that I couldn't breathe so I'd have to play snare drum.

Back in real life Bill ran down and got an antihistamine and a decongestant for me. My nose opened and the antihistamine knocked me out. When I woke I was sure today was Sunday. It knocked me to Sunday!

I had my annual physical a few days ago and I said I felt good for 54. The doc said, "You are not 54!" I said "Really?" He said, "You are 53." "Thanks for the extra year," I said, smiling. "The greatest miracle I've performed all day," he replied.

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandella

from Writer's Almanac today:
Today is the birthday of Rolihlahla "Nelson" Mandela (books by this author), born in Mvezo, South Africa (1918). He was the first member of his family to attend school, and that's where his British teachers gave him a new name: Nelson. Since childhood, Mandela had heard stories of his ancestors' courage. When he was 16 and participating in a ritual circumcision ceremony, the speaker lamented the life of oppression Mandela and the other boys would face under the rule of white South Africans. Mandela didn't understand everything that was said, but he later said that the experience formed his resolve to work for an end to apartheid.

He spent 27 years in prison, but refused to carry a grudge against his captors. He later said of his release from prison, "As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison."

He also said: "A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Take Care

Have people forgotten their own ancestors trials? Take care of the children. They are our future!

Agatha Christie

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
― Agatha Christie

Instinct is a marvelous thing. It can neither be explained nor ignored.
― Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

I do not argue with obstinate men. I act in spite of them.
― Agatha Christie, The Mystery of the Blue Train

But surely for everything you love you have to pay some price.
― Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

If you place your head in a lion's mouth, then you cannot complain one day if he happens to bite it off.
― Agatha Christie

The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.
― Agatha Christie

One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.
― Agatha Christie

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jeff Bridges Interview

Bridges himself was a musician before he was an actor — he’s been playing since he was a teenager. His new album, Jeff Bridges, is filled with blues and country tunes, produced by his old friend T Bone Burnett.

Bridges tells Kurt Andersen that performing songs isn’t so different from playing a character on screen: “I’m a character too,” he laughs. “We’re all characters. I don’t really know who the hell I am anyway.”
-Studio 360 Interview with Jeff Bridges

Flirting with French

Adult language learners are, to borrow a phrase used by some psycholinguists, too smart for our own good. We process too much data at once, try to get everything right from the get-go and are self-conscious about our efforts.

. . . We adults have to work our brains hard to learn a second language. But that may be all the more reason to try, for my failed French quest yielded an unexpected benefit. After a year of struggling with the language, I retook the cognitive assessment, and the results shocked me. My scores had skyrocketed, placing me above average in seven of 10 categories, and average in the other three. My verbal memory score leapt from the bottom half to the 88th — the 88th! — percentile and my visual memory test shot from the bottom 5th percentile to the 50th. Studying a language had been like drinking from a mental fountain of youth.
-William Alexander is the author of the forthcoming book “Flirting With French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lessons from the Hood


Lessons from the Hive

Honeybee collapse has much to teach us about how humans can avoid a similar fate, brought on by the increasingly severe environmental perturbations that challenge modern society.

Honeybee collapse has been particularly vexing because there is no one cause, but rather a thousand little cuts. The main elements include the compounding impact of pesticides applied to fields, as well as pesticides applied directly into hives to control mites; fungal, bacterial and viral pests and diseases; nutritional deficiencies caused by vast acreages of single-crop fields that lack diverse flowering plants; and, in the United States, commercial beekeeping itself, which disrupts colonies by moving most bees around the country multiple times each year to pollinate crops.
- Mark Winston


Iris Murdoch

Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.
- Iris Murdoch

Thomas Francis Jr., Microbiologist

Epidemiology must constantly seek imaginative and ingenious teachers and scholars to create a new genre of medical ecologists who, with both the fine sensitivity of the scientific artist and the broad perception of the community sculptor, can interpret the interplay of forces which result in disease.
- Thomas Francis Jr., microbiologist

Monday, July 14, 2014

Painter Francis Bacon

When one is right inside the work … it’s very stimulating and exciting, because that’s when you bring things nearer to the nervous system. You must understand that I don’t paint for anybody except myself. I’m always very surprised that anybody wants to have a picture of mine. I paint to excite myself, and make something for myself. I can’t tell you how amazed I was when my work started selling!
Francis Bacon, painter

Where Mental Illness Meets Brutality


Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Girl who Married a Bear


Computer Crash

Dear Friends, Acquaintances and Readers,
I write about 800 e-mails a week. My computer is Windows 98. LOL. It finally crashed and I lost all of my addresses. Please write me here if you have not heard from me.
Thank you,

Loose Dogs

Last night we saw a man walking a brindle pit bull in the Job Lot parking lot. He explained his dog Hershey was a rescued Chesapeake Bay retriever that had been running loose in North Carolina. I've heard that before, I thought. Later my husband and I were remarking at the absurdity. This dog was full grown weighing 40 pounds with a pit bull face, paws, build and markings. The man said he lived in the woods in Chepachet. People won't adopt a pit bull so the kennels make up a dramatic story and change the dogs lineage. It's always about the loose dogs of North Carolina, Texas or Tennessee or the Puerto Rican Poodle Gangs of San Juan.

Mulberry Moon

We called it the Mulberry Moon because out Mulberry tree has been bursting with berries. We have a huge groundhog in our yard eating the berries, having a blast. We walked Lily last night and admired the moonlight light and cooler temperatures.

Full Moon July: Buffalo (Bull), Hot Sun also called Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon.



Studying the Siberian Hamster

Studying the Siberian hamster, Dr. Fred W. Turek, a professor of neurobiology and physiology at Northwestern University, found that when the rodents were placed under lighting conditions mimicking a summery 15 hours of sunshine, the levels of testosterone in the male would soar.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Emotional Survival

This book reminded me of the highs and lows, the roller coaster of short deadlines in my former newspaper career. And the hyper-vigilance of my childhood upbringing. A very insightful book.

Color of Hope

From Writer's Almanac today:
It's the birthday of poet Pablo Neruda born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto in Parral, Chile (1904). In 1923, when he was 19, he sold all his possessions in order to publish his first book, Crepusculario (Twilight). Because his father didn't approve of his writing poetry, he published it under the pen name Pablo Neruda. In 1924, he published Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada, known in English as Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, which made him famous. Neruda always wrote in green ink, because he believed it was the color of hope.

In 1927, he began a second career as a diplomat. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1971. In his Nobel lecture he said, "All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are."

Paul Krugman

It turns out, however, that using monetary policy to fight depression, while in the interest of the vast majority of Americans, isn’t in the interest of a small, wealthy minority. And, as a result, monetary policy is as bound up in class and ideological conflict as tax policy.
The truth is that in a society as unequal and polarized as ours has become, almost everything is political. Get used to it.

-Paul Krugman

Friday, July 11, 2014

E.B. White

My friend Judy grew up next door to E.B. White, in Maine. She's a lucky duck.

from Writer's Almanac
It's the birthday of the essayist and children's writer E.B. White born Elwin Brooks White in Mount Vernon, New York (1899). After a young pig he was raising got sick and he failed to save its life, he wrote one of his most famous essays, "Death of a Pig." Then he wrote a children's novel in which the pig doesn't have to die: Charlotte's Web (1952). It's the story of a runt pig named Wilbur who is saved the first time by a little girl and the second time by a wise spider. It is one of the best-selling children's books of all time.

E.B. White said: "I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Beat Goes On

At 71, "Officer Wes" is still on the beat

Don't ask Seattle police Officer Wes Ferris if he's planning to retire.

He's not. At 71, he says, he's too young.

Besides, he feels great, loves his job and can't imagine what else he'd do.


Safe Haven for Animals

Directory of Safe Havens for Animals™ Programs
Those fleeing domestic violence may bring pets to these shelters.

Where snowfall continues deep into summer.

Polar bears have taken on the role as the main troublemakers.

“If you want to live here, there is something slightly warped about you,” he said.


How is it that an entire country is being brought to its knees?


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Larry Brown, Fireman + Fiction Writer

from Writer's Almanac
It's the birthday of the novelist Larry Brown (books by this author), in Oxford, Mississippi (1951). He liked school when he was a kid, but read mostly hunting stories and fishing stories and cowboy stories — nothing that qualified as literature. He failed English his senior year in high school. He enlisted in the Marines and was stationed at a barracks in Philadelphia. He spent a lot of time listening to the stories of veterans who'd come back from Vietnam. He went back to Mississippi and joined the Oxford Fire Department in 1973 and loved the job. It didn't pay well, though. He had been reading best-selling novels by Stephen King and Louis L'Amour and thought maybe he could do that too. He wrote a novel about a man-eating bear in Yellowstone Park. It got turned down by everybody. So he went to the library and checked out every how-to book about writing that he could find. He started writing short stories and started reading Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner and Raymond Carver. His first book of stories, Facing the Music, came out in 1988; and the year after, his first novel, Dirty Work, which was based on the stories he had heard from veterans back in the Marines. The book got great reviews. And he went on to become a renowned Southern fiction writer and published three more novels before he died of a heart attack at the age of 53.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Open Notes

When I was seven my mother took me to a psychologist who said very little over the years except "Your Mother is sick, Your sister is sick" He smoked cigars and took notes in 3 different colored pens, red, blue, green, depending on what I was saying to him. One time he had me speak into a tape recorder and another time he had me draw his portrait in pencil during the session. It was all a mystery to me why I was there and why I couldn't stop going. I always wondered what he was writing about me. Over the 8 years my mother drove me to see Mr. Brown the file he had on me got pretty huge.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Prison Archives


Strangers in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein
I think that science fiction, even the corniest of it, even the most outlandish of it, no matter how badly it's written, has a distinct therapeutic value because all of it has as its primary postulate that the world does change.

David McCullough
One night, he was at a party with Harry Sinclair Drago, who had written more than 100 Westerns. McCullough got up the courage to approach him and ask him how he did it, and Drago said he wrote four pages a day, no matter what. McCullough said, "It was the best advice an aspiring writer could be given."

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Our Munroe Dairy Band Plays 11th Bristol Parade

We had a fabulous parade yesterday at Bristol's Fourth of July. The cool cloudy weather made it perfect for our three miles of music making. There were ten of us playing dressed as milkmen in our whites, 8 point hats, and black bow ties. We got rained on as we lined up rendering our outfits translucent. But we had anticipated this and told everyone to wear white underwear!

The always gentlemanly milkmen loaned us their yellow Munroe Dairy wind breakers and dry towels so we could dry off and warm up before we had to play.

We had the best parade ever. My former next door neighbor Lucille handed me a bottle of cold water and I handed it to Bill just as he was in dire need of a drink. Thank you Lucille!

The thunder and lightning and torrential rain arrived after we performed. Not everyone was so lucky. There was a lot of wet wool.

When we got home I simmered a pot of homemade tomato sauce using Jamie's fresh hot Italian sausages, olives, eggplant, celery. The aroma was magnificent when we woke up. This morning I decided to cook pasta. I made two trays adding spinach and pepper jack cheese for an improvised lasagna. My Aunt rose and Aunt Florence are smiling from heaven.

My spotted cow dress and white tights and black leather Mary Jane's and all of the wet towels are drying in the sun.
Thanks to the guest musicians, Maureen's amazing turkey and chicken salad roll-up sandwiches, the adorable milkmen Jay and Victor, it was an exceptional day at Munroe Dairy Summer Camp.

Friday, July 04, 2014


It starts with giving millions of immigrants permission to stay, to work and to live without fear.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

True Acceptance

In the presence of animals, we find true acceptance. Unlike with our peers, we feel no need to explain ourselves. Alone with them, our self-consciousness dissolves.
- Vint Virga

Vint Virga

He has treated severely depressed snow leopards, brown bears with obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobic zebras. “Scientists often say that we don’t know what animals feel because they can’t speak to us and can’t report their inner states,” Virga told me. “But the thing is, they are reporting their inner states. We’re just not listening.”

Russian Cinema Posters