Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Clothesline

The clothesline had pale green dishtowels hanging casting a twin shadow on the red brick house next door. At six pm the shadow hung perfectly between the neighbor's two diamond-shaped windows. I stood there with my dog, admiring the picture using the camera of my eyes.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rainer Maria Rilke

Everything terrible is something that needs our love.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

Something Odd

A local gas station owner alerted police about something odd at the home: fresh cement poured under the deck after it was already built.

Make the Call

I heard screaming one day. Her screams were so disturbing my two dogs barked. I called the police and they came right away. A nine year old girl had twisted her leg in the porch railing and snapped a bone. I remember being surprised that nobody else had called; not her parents or neighbors in the apartment building. At that moment I realized always make the call. You might be the only one brave enough to do so. You may even save a life.

Olivier Adam: Compassionate Eye



Love is the most transformative medicine. For Love slowly transforms you into what psychedelics only get you to glimpse.
― Ram Dass

Costumes of Identity

In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.
― Ram Dass

Illusion of Separateness

We're here to awaken from the illusion of separateness.
― Ram Dass, How Can I Help? Stories and Reflection on Service

The Next Message

Our whole spiritual transformation brings us to the point where we realize that in our own being, we are enough.
― Ram Dass

Everything in your life is there as a vehicle for your transformation.
Use it!
― Ram Dass

Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God.
― Ram Dass

It's only when caterpillarness is done that one becomes a butterfly. That again is part of this paradox. You cannot rip away caterpillarness. The whole trip occurs in an unfolding process of which we have no control.
― Ram Dass, Be Here Now

The next message you need is always right where you are.
― Ram Dass

Your problem is you are too busy holding on to your unworthiness.
― Ram Dass

Soul and Ego

It's very different because the Indians live as if they are their souls and Americans live as if they are their egos.
― Ram Dass

Henry David Thoreau

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.
― Henry David Thoreau

Be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be.
― Henry David Thoreau

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
― Henry David Thoreau

Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.
― Henry David Thoreau

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
― Henry David Thoreau

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.
― Henry David Thoreau

Horace Bush

After a lifetime of abusing drugs, Horace Bush decided at age 62 that getting clean had become a matter of life or death. So Mr. Bush, a homeless man who still tucked in his T-shirts and ironed his jeans, moved to a flophouse in Brooklyn that was supposed to help people like him, cramming into a bedroom the size of a parking space with three other men.

Mr. Bush signed up for a drug-treatment program and emerged nine months later determined to stay sober. But the man who ran the house, Yury Baumblit, a longtime hustler and two-time felon, had other ideas.

Mr. Baumblit got kickbacks on the Medicaid fees paid to the outpatient treatment programs that he forced all his tenants to attend, residents and former employees said. So he gave Mr. Bush a choice: If he wanted to stay, he would have to relapse and enroll in another program. Otherwise, his bed would be given away.


Two Dreams

I dreamed my brother-in-law Jeff sewed a beautiful green wool jacket for a niece I had never met. It was so lovely. It was a ladies suit jacket, form fitting and with little details. He told us he paid a hundred dollars for the pattern. I suggested he make more in a larger size for our band and we could wear them for St. Patrick's Day.

My friend Bella had a second house walking distance from us and was complaining that the contractors worked at night.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Only the Dreamers

Heaven and earth conspire that everything which has been, be rooted and reduced to dust. Only the dreamers, who dream while awake, call back the shadows of the past and braid nets from the unspun thread.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

I LOVE Ram Dass

To use your daily life and work as a conscious spiritual path means relinquishing your attachment to the fruits of the actions, to how they come out. Instead of doing it for a reward or a result, you do your work as an offering, out of love for God. Through love for God, your work becomes an expression of devotion.
― Ram Dass, Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart

And suddenly I realized that he knew everything that was going on in my head, all the time, and that he still loved me. Because who we are is behind all that.
― Ram Dass, Be Here Now

Ram Dass: Spaces Between the Words

When we're identified with Awareness, we're no longer living in a world of polarities. Everything is present at the same time.
― Ram Dass

Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is a supreme creative act.
― Ram Dass

Emotions are like waves. Watch them disappear in the distance on the vast calm ocean.
― Ram Dass, Be Here Now

To him who has had the experience no explanation is necessary, to him who has not, none is possible.
― Ram Dass, Be Here Now

Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts.. if we can keep them open to God, will find their own intuitive way.
― Ram Dass

We're being trained through our incarnations--trained to seek love, trained to seek light, trained to see the grace in suffering.
― Ram Dass

I don't really believe anything I say. Because the nature of my work concerns the spaces between the words, rather than the words themselves.
― Ram Dass

Ram Dass

The question we need to ask ourselves is whether there is any place we can stand in ourselves where we can look at all that's happening around us without freaking out, where we can be quiet enough to hear our predicament, and where we can begin to find ways of acting that are at least not contributing to further destabilization.
― Ram Dass

There's much more in any given moment than we usually perceive, and that we ourselves are much more than we usually perceive. When you know that, part of you can stand outside the drama of your life.
― Ram Dass

I would say that the thrust of my life has been initially about getting free, and then realizing that my freedom is not independent of everybody else. Then I am arriving at that circle where one works on oneself as a gift to other people so that one doesn't create more suffering. I help people as a work on myself and I work on myself to help people.
― Ram Dass


Kindness, I’ve discovered, is everything in life.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Isaac Bashevis Singer on Life and Writing

Life is God's novel. Let him write it.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

The wastepaper basket is the writer’s best friend.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Isaac Bashevis Singer: Children and Story

“What do these children do without storybooks?" Naftali asked.
And Reb Zebulun replied: "They have to make do. Storybooks aren't bread. You can live without them."
"I couldn't live without them." Naftali said.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer, Naftali the Storyteller and His Horse, Sus: And Other Stories

Children have no use for psychology. They detest sociology. They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff. When a book is boring, they yawn openly. They don't expect their writer to redeem humanity, but leave to adults such childish allusions.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Isaac Bashevis Singer

When you betray somebody else, you also betray yourself.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

No doubt the world is entirely an imaginary world, but it is only once removed from the true world.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Every human character appears only once in the history of human beings. And so does every event of love.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer, Love and Exile

If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet.
― Isaac Bashevis Singer

Amy Tan: A Gift

Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone.
- Amy Tan

Protecting the Pollinators


Paul Krugman

But while things could be worse, they could also be better. There is no such thing as perfect security, but American families could easily have much more security than they have. All it would take is for politicians and pundits to stop talking blithely about the need to cut “entitlements” and start looking at the way their less-fortunate fellow citizens actually live.

G.K. Chesterton

The sane man knows that he has a touch of the beast, a touch of the devil, a touch of the saint, a touch of the citizen. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman. But the materialist's world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane.
- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 1908

The Traveler Sees

The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.
― G.K. Chesterton

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.
― G.K. Chesterton

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
― G.K. Chesterton

There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.
― G.K. Chesterton

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.
― G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Gertrude Ederle: Queen of the Waves

Gertrude Caroline Ederle (October 23, 1905 – November 30, 2003) was an American competition swimmer, Olympic champion, and former world record-holder in five events. In 1926, she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Among other nicknames, the press sometimes called her "Queen of the Waves."

What People tell Me

We met on the ward. We had both attempted suicide. I had convinced myself that my kids were better off without me.

I was one of those 5 AM swimmers for two and a half years, and 7 AM on weekends. Eve, the lady at the front desk texted me on snow days. She's so great. I lost 85 pounds. I gained 35 of it back, I fell off the wagon.

My grandmother had us draw straws on who could go with her to Utah, in her camper for the summer. I never won.

I lost 35 pounds. I work with food 55 hours a week. I almost lost my finger too. I got a little cut then it swelled. I went to Urgent Care and they said we can't help you go to Landmark Hospital. When I got to Landmark they said we can't help you, go to Rhode Island Hospital, by then it swelled to triple. Wanna see a picture, I have pictures on my phone? Luckily I had just bought insurance because I ended up having a fever, chills and I was out of work for three weeks. (cell phone rings) I gotta take this, hon, it's my daughter. Love you!

She Staged her own Death

She staged her own death, I'm not kidding you. The coroner pulled up and parked in front of her house and everyone thought she had died but all the while she was inside her house writing, finishing her novel. The coroner was her second cousin's son, or something like that and she paid him lots of money to just sit there for 45 minutes so it looked real authentic. There was even a body taken away under a white sheet. It was her. She was alive, of course, probably holding her breath. Then, that night her obituary went to press, one that she wrote about herself. By the next week she had reinvented herself as a man, pretending to be a long lost brother who was a Los Angeles police detective. He fit the part perfectly. He always wore a trench coat, man's hat and polished policeman's shoes even when watering the lawn. Nobody suspected a thing. Not for many years after he died did the story come out. My grandmother told me this story, and her mother told it to her. It's legendary in these parts.

Writing Can Change Your Brain

Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing.

Henry's Choice

That silo you never saw until today was yours the day you were born.
– Richard Hugo

Why don’t you make a mistake and do something right.
– Sun Ra


Stuart Blazer, RI Poet

Dive from leaves to root.
Rise to taste the branch's fruit.
Books let us be birds.

-Stuart Blazer

Dig into earth
just by standing still,
deep spaces open
where air is diamond-hard,
the purest gem you can own.

-Stuart Blazer, A Paper Life

A leaf is that part of wood
that gets away, botanical
bird, a
grain in air.
* *
* *
Trees are their own understudies
whose silence gathers force,
unfolds yet more leaves
in all their frayed near transparency.
Each role lives on as a ring
worn deep within, shining through
as everything does once
ploughed under.
* *
* *
And so with grieving.

-Stuart Blazer

Days are funnels
narrowing to what happens
to us; my mother's mother,
born in Odessa, sits
with her daughter listening
to me read poems.
We are three translations
from the Russian.
* *
* *
Reaching to kiss
this smoothly wrinkled cheek
my lips brush an apple
from another world.

-Stuart Blazer

Back-roads in Fall

At 60 miles per hour
wood ripples
along the sides of barns;
at 30 it slows
to a painterly grain.
That hazy greenish white
is mountain laurel.
Braking to a stop
bright circles are nailheads
in the sun;
you can tell how worn
the clapboards are.

-Stuart Blazer

Ignition of mind & air,
reminder that we are
fallen ash, rising smoke.

-Stuart Blazer


Henry Gould

The poetic culture of our time seems to toss and turn, uneasy and restless on the couch. . .
- Henry Gould

Hilary Mantel: Scripts are like Earthworms

I had imagined my work enacted under a fierce light, myself passive in the dark. But Tudors keep talking to me. I sit and tap out the missing scene: Rome, revenues, joke, church courts, joke. No one keeps tally or track of who writes what. Anything written is undone within minutes. It’s like sieving water. I become less of a scholar, more of a choreographer. Those scenes before the birth of Elizabeth ... why don’t we dance this bit of the story?

Language must be spare. It must be clear, vital. Sometimes I scuff bits out: “Sounds like a historical novel,” I say apologetically. I am glad when real Tudor words make the cut. Cardinal Wolsey’s ghost narrates his own death: “A pain as cold as a whetstone.” Anne Boleyn accuses a courier: “You look for dead men’s shoes.” Snipped from the record, processed into a novel, recycled into script, sieved through 10 drafts, through 20, they stick because they’re the best words. The dead are speaking to us, hand on our arm.

There is a script reading. It takes place in midwinter, in a freezing hired hall, with only the pop and hiss of paraffin heaters to stop us turning to ice; we are as cold as Tudors. Each play seems to go on for a week. More drafts ensue. The scripts are like earthworms. You cut them in half but they regenerate. I think they write themselves by night.

How do you put Henry VIII onstage? How do you play Bluebeard, the wife-slayer? The expectations would crush the most robust actor. When Nat Parker comes into the rehearsal room, he is a gold and amber presence, voice as rich as brocade. But there is something in his gaze, a look of ingenuousness, that suggests he thinks the world was made that morning, and just for him. His eyes are warm and brown, unlike the little blue eyes of Henry Tudor. He walks to the front of the stage and tells the audience how much he wants a son. “This is how I’m fixed,” he says. “You see how I’m fixed? How would you feel, in my place?”

Not those words, exactly. “What does God want of me?” he asks. It seems such an impossible question. And he, so eager to please. I say to the cast, “Henry didn’t know he was going to have six wives. Each time he thought, here’s the girl for me.” People smile, but they grasp the essential thing. The characters don’t know their own fates. They can’t learn a lesson from themselves, and draw a moral. We have scripts, but they don’t. They are trapped in 50 years of improvisation, called life.


Her Story

It was two years ago the anniversary of his father's death January ninth and he was acting crazy. I locked myself in the bedroom. I programmed my phone so it would call 9-1-1 at one hit of a button. He kept trying to get me to come out, 'I've got all of my friends coming over to beat you up,' he shouted at the door. I said 'Oh yeah, I'm staying right here.' Then the room began filling with smoke. I hit the button on my phone and the police came. He had doused a rag with gasoline and lit it, tossing it onto the couch. The stove's gas pilot light was on. The whole place could've blown up. He went to jail. He's got schizophrenia, bipolar and something else. He came back to me and said he's changed but I just listen to him talk and I know he hasn't changed. I told him no way am I going to let you back into my life. You tried to blow up the house! I don't want any more high drama people in my life. It's too stressful. Guess what? I am much happier.


A graduation had just let out and Benefit Street was full of people walking home. I was in the crowd with my dogs thinking about how I never attended my college graduation. A man ran down a grassy slope to tell me "Vinny* will be at the bar but he's allergic to dogs."
I lost track of my dogs in the crowd and walked into the bar empty handed.
Vinny was there sitting at the bar. I remembered that he's allergic to dogs.
"I'm covered in dog hair" I said apologetically. "I've lost track of my dogs," I said.
Bill showed up out of breath, "I found the dogs, JV had them captured and locked in cages in the cellar, cages that they just clawed hundreds of dollars worth of damage to."
This was a set up, I knew it, I thought.
I looked out the window of the bar and saw a cute historic house for sale, it was painted orange and had a realtor sign in the front yard.
"If you lived here you'd be home," I said to Vinny.

*Vincent D'Onofrio

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Paula Ganzi Licata

How did I become a widow? It began in our basement, where Robert holed up with his Dewar’s bottles. One night he fell asleep in his recliner watching TV, and eventually sleeping two floors apart became the norm. Initially, the basement was his home office, but it mutated into something dangerous and ugly — rock bottom. The Jekyll-and-Hyde personae were happily married college professor by day, passed-out drunk at night.
- Paula Ganzi Licata

Tony Simmons

You must start with yourself. Get up, get going, no excuses. That's what I tell myself every morning after prayer 'cause every time I help one person, I get a little part of me back.
- Tony Simmons

One thing I try not to do is tell them what to do. I just give them the avenues - these are the resources that's out there. Choose something that's right for you, and I will help you navigate through that system.
- Tony Simmons


Ruby Corado: Courageous Visionary

If you're transgender in America, you're far more likely than other people to be unemployed, homeless and poor. And there's a 4 in 10 chance you've tried to kill yourself.

It can be a confusing and lonely life.

One woman who's been through it all is Ruby Corado. She's a 45-year-old transgender woman in Washington, D.C., who is now trying to help others along the difficult path.

Forty-year-old Kiera Atkins says she'd probably be dead without Corado. Atkins says after she came out as a woman last year, she went from being a software engineer earning a six-figure salary to being homeless and suicidal.

"First off, I was fired from my job for being transgender. Then after that, I was evicted. And then it just kind of went downhill from there," says Atkins.

She says today she's found hope at Casa Ruby, a nonprofit agency located in a yellow brick rowhouse in the nation's capital.



Her voice has muted tones, as if coming from behind her nose. His voice is low wide blue, brown, green and maroon and round like a bell. He's pushing his son on the swing. His son is singing. I hear the same red, blue and green in his son's voice.


“Comedians are the best people to talk to,” he explained. “But if there’s an audience there, they’re going to play to the audience. So let me get them away from a studio, and maybe I can show how interesting they are.”
-Jerry Seinfeld

Box Fan

Last night it was hot and humid. Our box fan was overdue for a major cleaning. "Let's do it right now, we can work on it outside," I said. It was still light out. Bill got a bucket and the phillips head screwdriver for taking apart the white plastic grills. I got the dish soap and sponges and the scrub brush. I worked on scrubbing the grills and rinsing them with the hose and Bill worked on wiping the blades. "The blades need to be smooth so they can slice through the air," Bill said. The blades had been very fuzzy from dust. Bill went inside and got the special tiny oil can with the long skinny nozzle for oiling the motor. Then Bill attached the plastic grills and I tightened the screws. We brought the fan inside. When I plugged her in she pushed so much air she fell backwards! I had to lower the speed and I noticed that this time she didn't rattle anymore.


"I just finished a seven chapter book that I wrote on the computer," he said smiling, "and the last chapter is a cliffhanger."
"That's great news, and this way you can do a sequel." I said. He smiled and held out his fist to bump mine.
"Ernest Hemingway always ended his day's work in a spot where he new what was going to happen next, so he could pick up where he left off." I told him.
"Ernest Hemingway," Jeremy said smiling.
He was wearing red and black shirt, and black slacks, with red and black sneakers. He sat down to greet Lily and she licked his face and glasses. He laughed.
"What a greeting!" I said. As he pet her I saw a dozen white lines on his tan arms, scars.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Circle

Leah feeds all of the stray cats in her yard and has a smile like a Jack-o'-lantern. She walks for miles each day carrying her gigantic purple plastic thermos mug of black coffee and a pack of cigarillos. One day she told me that growing up she was placed in twenty-five different foster homes. "Wow, Leah, You've survived that, you can survive anything," I told her and she smiled. I love running into her. Recently I told her she's Lily-dog's godmother and she was delighted.

When I was a child, weekends meant my stepfather wore suede slip-on sneakers and listened to his favorite records while watering the plants. Then he would do the NY Times crossword puzzle while lounging in his big black leather Eames chair. Grandma and Grandpa would drive up from Brighton Beach in their beige Buick Skylark convertible with the red interior. Grandpa seemed to always have a trunk full of boxes: lightweight shoes for dad to try on and a few cases of Wrigley's Spearmint gum for himself so he'd never run out.

When I visited Grandma and Grandpa I was surprised at how much food they had in their fridge. Their cupboards overflowed with saltine and graham cracker packages wrapped in blue rubber bands. When I asked my mom why they had so much food for just the two of them, she said Grandpa lived through the Great Depression and it was traumatic. He never wants to run out of food or go hungry again.

We've lived through a few recessions and this one is the Great Recession. Now I am traumatized. I don't like to run out of food or go hungry either. My fridge is full of packages of flour and grains and nuts wrapped in blue rubber bands.

Ruth H. Livingston

Poetry Kept my Patient Alive

At Midnight

Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself into our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.
-John Wayne

Dorthea Lange a Visual Life

One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind. To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable. I have only touched it, just touched it.
-Dorthea Lange


This morning when I woke up I realized I had recurring dreams about my neighbor's pancake griddle left in the backyard on the pile of stuff they were leaving behind. Natalie had told me, "We used this all the time for pancakes, eggs, bacon. There used to be metal tray that caught the grease," she said as I turned it over. It was missing its cord and had a broken foot. It had been loved to death.

Nat worked in a restaurant in Medway so she never cooked at home. This was from another life when she worked at the hardware store down the street. I used to see her through the window and wave when I walked by with my dog. Then she became my next door neighbor and I was thrilled. The shouts and screams and squad cars became a way of life but I liked them nonetheless. I worried about them. When their electricity went out, I asked her if she needed anything. Nat only wanted a cup of coffee. "How do you like it?" I asked. "With milk and sugar, thanks," she said handing me her mug.

Friday and Saturday her daughter were moving things into Nat's tiny silver Toyota. Sam was away with his dad. He showed up last night to the empty apartment and the abandoned pile of stuff on the lawn. His friend stood outside on the sidewalk as Sam ran in and quickly threw everything he owned into his friend's blue pickup truck. He left the apartment door wide open. It was like a Sam Shepard play, reminding me of all the abandonment and rage I felt at that age.

Diana Spechler

I have little identity outside of my work. When I’m not immersed in my writing, I feel frantic and distracted, guilty and aimless. I suppose, in this way, writing, at least when it’s going well, is itself medication — an evasion of bad feelings, a retreat from reality. When I’m in the “writer’s trance,” nothing bothers me because the world looks like a pretend world. I can pet a dog, but it’s not a real dog. I can walk over a bridge, but it’s not really a bridge. The Radiohead song “Fake Plastic Trees,” though it’s supposed to be about the artificiality of modern life, captures the writer’s trance — “Her green plastic watering can for her fake Chinese rubber plant in the fake plastic earth that she bought from a rubber man…”

Another great article by Diane Spechler here.
and another in the in the Paris Review.


I dreamed a friend had a letter for me from Robert Bly. In the note he had doodled an illustration of himself with the letter written in strands of hair, and down his neck and in the creases of his vest, just like Hirschfeld and the Nina's*.

*Hirschfeld is known for hiding the name of his daughter, Nina, in most of the drawings he produced after her birth in 1945.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Harris Rosen Turns a Community Around

One Man’s Millions Turn a Community Around in Florida


ORLANDO, Fla. — Two decades ago, Harris Rosen, who grew up poor on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and became wealthy in the Florida hotel business, decided to shepherd part of his fortune into a troubled community with the melodious sounding name of Tangelo Park.


The community is small - with only 3,000 people – and filled with homeowners, a compactness that is unusual for an urban area. Tangelo has organized leaders who were fighting the drug trade even before Mr. Rosen’s arrival. And it has had Mr. Rosen’s focus and financing over 21 years.

“It’s not inexpensive,” Mr. Rosen said. “You stay until the neighborhood needs you.”

But, he added, there are a lot of wealthy people with the resources to do the same thing if they choose.

Sitting with his feet propped up on his old, weathered wooden desk, Mr. Rosen, 75, fit, trim and not given to formalities (his shelter dogs are known to wander about the room), said the program was rooted in an element absent in many American neighborhoods.

“Hope,” Mr. Rosen said. Why devote countless hours to school if college, with its high cost, is out of reach? “If you don’t have any hope,” he added, “then what’s the point?”

Courage: Confront the Dark Parts of Yourself

Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.
― August Wilson

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
― Nelson Mandela

All happiness depends on courage and work.
― Honoré de Balzac

Don't be afraid of your fears. They're not there to scare you. They're there to let you know that something is worth it.
― C. JoyBell C.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
― Anaïs Nin

Everyone has talent. What's rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.
― Erica Jong

Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.
― Maya Angelou

Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.
― Nora Ephron

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
― Winston S. Churchill

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
― Lao Tzu

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
― Winston S. Churchill

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
― E.E. Cummings

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.
― Coco Chanel

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
- Atticus Finch
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently.
― Maya Angelou

Bran thought about it. 'Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?'
'That is the only time a man can be brave,' his father told him.
― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.
― William Faulkner

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that
something else is more important than fear.
― Ambrose Redmoon

A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.
― William G.T. Shedd

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.
― Mark Twain

There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.
― Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.
― Margaret Mitchell

Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.
― Rumi, The Essential Rumi

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.
― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Screenplay

There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.

But sometimes it doesn't.

Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.

That is the sort of bravery I must have now.
― Veronica Roth, Allegiant

Freedom lies in being bold.
― Robert Frost

Courage is found in unlikely places.
― J.R.R. Tolkien

The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.
― Paulo Coelho, Veronika Decides to Die

Give Him a Mask

It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.
― Oscar Wilde

You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.
― Oscar Wilde

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
― Oscar Wilde

A good friend will always stab you in the front.
― Oscar Wilde


Each time you look at a tangerine, you can see deeply into it. You can see everything in the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, it’s wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy.

― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Every Book

Every book is a message in a bottle, thrown into the sea; a letter to a complete stranger that I write to a friend.

I LOVE Ralph Waldo Emerson

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Complete Prose Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Always do what you are afraid to do.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance

The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make the most of yourself....for that is all there is of you.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

The earth laughs in flowers.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is a journey, not a destination.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Covered with Trees

When I was about five or six I wanted to live in a house covered with trees.

One morning, when I was six or seven, I realized that the world had turned overnight. I said "I am breathing Chinese air!"

My favorite neighborhood kid LeeAnn is moving away in July. She and her grandmother are moving south to Cranston. My friend Violet, who lives in LeeAnn's building, heard LeeAnn one day instructing the other children: "Don't step on the ants, they are God's children too!"

When my brother was four, he thought neon tetras were flying inside the fish tank. The water was invisible to him.

Sometimes I want to get a fish-tank again to just sit and stare at it for hours in the dark, like I did as a child.

The people in the apartment next door are moving out and they have made a huge pile. There's a blue couch, a Lazyboy recliner, a shocking pink plastic Adirondack chair fit for a toddler, toys, housewares, with FREE STUFF scrawled on a piece of paper . Whole families came into the yard and poked through things. This morning the big blue sofa is gone. The baking pans, plastic pasta grabber, and blue silverware drawer are what's left in the yard. Doesn't anyone like to bake or cook?

I dreamed about the vacant apartment this morning. I dreamed it had a huge living room with a working fireplace and a view of green grass. In the dream I was napping on the porch and a nice lady looking at the apartment had to step over me.

The neighborhood bodega has closed again and is reopening under a new name. It will now be called L's Mini Mart + Botanica.

My three sourdough boules have just baked. The aroma is magnificent.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Botánicas cater to the Latino community and sell folk medicine alongside statues of Catholic saints, candles decorated with prayers, lucky bamboo, and other items.

A botánica (often written botanica and less commonly known as a hierbería or botica) is a retail store that sells folk medicine, religious candles and statuary, amulets, and other products regarded as magical or as alternative medicine. They also carry oils, incense, perfumes, scented sprays (many of which are thought to have special properties) and various brand name health care products.

No One’s Remembered Much Longer than a Rock

It’s Sweet to Be Remembered

by Charles Wright

No one’s remembered much longer than a rock
          is remembered beside the road
If he’s lucky or
Some tune or harsh word
          uttered in childhood or back in the day.

Still how nice to imagine some kid someday
          picking that rock up and holding it in his hand
Briefly before he chucks it
Deep in the woods in a sunny spot in the tall grass.

- Charles Wright from Sestets. © Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

It Made the City Human

He liked the fact that Venice had no cars. It made the city human. The streets were like veins, he thought, and the people were the blood, circulating everywhere.
― Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley

John Steinbeck

Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.
- John Steinbeck

Mastering the art of Vulnerability and Increasing our Essential Tolerance for Uncertainty

As we get older it is our short-term memory that fades rather than our long-term memory. Perhaps we have evolved like this so that we are able to tell the younger generation about the stories and experiences that have formed us which may be important to subsequent generations if they are to thrive.

. . . positive outlook is a practice — and one that requires mastering the art of vulnerability and increasing our essential tolerance for uncertainty:

Be careful which stories you expose yourself to.

The trick is to increase your tolerance for vulnerable feelings, rather than avoid them altogether.

. . . being optimistic enough to sow some seeds in the hope that some of them will germinate and grow into flowers.

If we practice detachment from our thoughts we learn to observe them as though we are taking a bird’s eye view of our own thinking. When we do this, we might find that our thinking belongs to an older, and different, story to the one we are now living.

How To Stay Sane
: The Art of Revising Your Inner Storytelling
by Maria Popova

Oliver Sacks

A magnificent article on Oliver Sacks here.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Save a Life

When things are going wrong, I often ask myself what's the good that can come of this bad. I've had to ask myself this numerous times in my life. Recently when problems in my neighborhood got out of hand the good that came from it was better communication with neighbors and the city.

Now we as a nation are facing a heroin + drug epidemic and I have to ask once again what is the gift here?

I've lost friends to drugs and mental illness. I am always trying to educate myself on these topics. I try to stay open and listen to people I meet on the street when I'm out walking my dog. I have to put aside the blaming and shaming and try to really understand in order to help people. How can we grow stronger and wiser? And possibly save the life of a fellow man.

Cheers to Ireland!

The referendum changes Ireland’s Constitution so that marriages between two people would be legal “without distinction as to their sex.”

“Last night felt like Christmas Eve.”

“It’s a great day for Ireland,” he added.

In downtown Dublin, people wore their Yes buttons, and the atmosphere was happy. The sun was out, the brightest it had been in days.

Nick O’Connell, 42, who comes from a rural area in County Kilkenny in the Irish Midlands, was cradling a celebratory drink in a Dublin bar, the Back Lounge. He said he had been too afraid to come out as gay until his mid 20s.

“Today I’m thinking of all those young people over the years who were bullied and committed suicide because of their sexuality. This vote was for them, too.”

He added: “This is different from other countries because it was the people who gave it to us, not a legislature.”


Merely a Spanking to Banks

In a memo to employees this week, the chief executive of Citi, Michael Corbat, called the criminal behavior “an embarrassment” — not the word most people would use to describe a felony but an apt one in light of the fact that the plea deals are essentially a spanking, nothing more.

Mission District: You Cannot Have the Art Without the Artists

Another complaint is that the influx of newcomers is bleaching out the Latino culture that drew them here. “People who come here say, ‘I love these murals,’” Mr. Campos said, adding, “You cannot have the art without the artists. We are losing this neighborhood.”

This is a Story of Redemption

I would never have guessed, in a million years, that my son, who watched me go through a horrendous opiate addiction — I mean, I hit bottoms that had trapdoors with more trapdoors.
- Tatum O'Neil

To me, the great achievement of the novel is how sympathetically you treat the crazy interior life of an addict.
- Philip Galanes

Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink.
- Tatum O'Neil

There’s no good parenting if you’re under the influence of drugs. I knew that. So I couldn’t say: “But I had the most horrific childhood you can imagine.” I hated the way I felt inside. I had this exterior life in Hollywood that looked great. Little girls wanted to be me, boys wanted to date me. But I was being treated like the most terrible daughter that ever lived. All I wanted was my mom, and she wasn’t there. So when I finally met John and that didn’t work out, I had such a hole in my gut. I didn’t know what to fill it with. It was so empty. I kept filling it with heroin, then stopping, then going back. But I got clean. And I did two years of urine-testing, and I did get my kids back, damn it!
- Tatum O'Neal

I did have one psychiatrist, Dr. Beatriz Foster. She’s the only one who told me, when I was about 14, “I don’t think your father is a good influence on you.” I’d never heard that before, even though he’d been hitting me and beating me and head-butting me for years. By the time I hit puberty, Ryan didn’t like me. Period. But he wouldn’t let me go. So he left me at the beach house [in Malibu] and went off with Farrah [Fawcett]. But I had this funny survival instinct.
- Tatum O'Neil

There were times when Kevin said to me, “Just be a mom.”
- Tatum O'Neil

What I’ve seen in my father is his desire to be great at something. I want to be a great writer, and I want to work hard at it. I’ve seen the discipline it takes from him. Put your head down and work and shut up.
-Kevin McEnroe


Friday, May 22, 2015

Heroin Epidemic Exacts a Savage toll in Massachusetts Town

By Brian Macquarrie

The Boston Globe
Posted: 05/22/2015 07:31:28 PM EDT

PLYMOUTH (AP) >> Fire Chief G. Edward Bradley carries Narcan, the drug that reverses heroin overdoses, nearly everywhere he goes around this sprawling town. Even to the Little League field when he watches T-ball games.

It's part of a personal mission, gnawing and never-ending, that Bradley sees as the greatest challenge of his long career.

"You see all the alarms around town for the nuclear plant we have here. I wish we had one for heroin," Bradley said last week.

Plymouth counted 15 drug-related deaths last year and 313 overdoses, a total 50 percent greater than Taunton's, a city of similar size that once had been considered the face of the drug epidemic.

This year, Plymouth is on track to smash its own grim record. By Saturday, the town had recorded 136 overdoses— an average of exactly one a day — and 10 related deaths.

It's a tally that has risen so quickly, so stunningly, that many Plymouth leaders did not realize the town had an opioid crisis until it overwhelmed them. That includes Police Chief Michael Botieri.

"It took time for me to become a believer in this epidemic," Botieri said. Now, nearly everyone believes.

"It's not getting any better, obviously," Bradley said. "We realized we're as bad as some of the biggest cities in the state, if not worse."

Plymouth's per-capita overdose rate is significantly higher than hard-hit Worcester's, a city three times its size that saw a 59 percent rise in overdoses last year.

While the numbers grow, so has Plymouth's response.

A task force has been formed, a new squad of plainclothes police has made more than 200 drug arrests in the last six months, and the local hospital is making drug-abuse prevention and treatment a critical priority.

"There is no solution to this unless everybody works together," Bradley said. "Don't be afraid. Don't hide. Jump up and down and scream."

The task force is meeting regularly and draws together officials from the schools, courthouse, district attorney's office, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, legislators, Town Hall, clergy, and the YMCA.

Plymouth officials cannot yet document that the effort is bearing fruit, in terms of fewer overdoses and deaths, but officials say progress has begun. Leaders from all levels of government— and residents, too —are talking with each other about the drug crisis in ways they never had before.

Information is shared, and strategies are taking shape.

"Sometimes I think I spend more time with these people than I do with my doctors and my medical staff, and that's because it's such a huge social issue," said Peter Holden, president of Beth Israel Deaconess in Plymouth. "It's been an amazing evolution, and it's been in some regard a terrible eye-opener."

The hospital is bringing social workers and behavioral health specialists into the emergency room to help addicts in crisis find a path to treatment and sobriety. And Holden has shown a wake-up video about opioid use, produced by Plymouth North High School students, to the board of trustees of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, which he leads as chairman.

Since then, the Plymouth video has been shown to nearly 1,000 hospital executives around the country.

At home, the battle received a resounding boost when Town Meeting voted last year to hire seven police officers to focus on drug and street crimes. Police Sergeant Chris Butler, an Army veteran of the 82d Airborne Division, volunteered for the group.

"It was a real opportunity to give this a try and make a difference," Butler said.

The plainclothes unit was an easy sell, said Town Manager Melissa Arrighi. Every time Plymouth's department heads meet, the latest overdose numbers are a jolting reminder of the need for action, she said.

"It's been absolutely devastating to me," the school district's superintendent, Gary Maestas, said. "It's devastating when I walk down a sidewalk in our community and see a syringe on the sidewalk. My heart skips a beat."

The opioid crisis has swept through cities and towns all across Massachusetts, accounting for more than 1,000 deaths last year, state officials said. The crisis does not discriminate, but finding a reason for Plymouth's uncommon level of suffering has been elusive.

"Why here? I have absolutely no answer for you," Arrighi said.

The overdoses occur at all times of day in Plymouth, in neighborhoods throughout the town's 134 square miles, and across income levels.

In December, a motorist stopped abruptly at Fire Department headquarters to drop off an unconscious 32-year-old man who had overdosed on heroin. The driver sped away, and his companion survived.

In January, an overdose prompted a 911 call from a distraught girl who found her grandmother unconscious in the home.

The 56-year-old woman, who was revived by a Fire Department crew, had been caring for the girl and her 9-year-old brother.

Some townspeople blame drug dealers from Boston and Providence for the heroin epidemic; others suspect the influence of addicted transients.

Bob and Bonnie Sullivan, who live near the Cape Cod Canal, have devastating firsthand knowledge of the crisis, which affected all four of their sons, now ranging in age from 23 to 29. They went from alcohol to marijuana, and then painkillers to heroin; opioid addiction has ravaged their household.

When their sons were in the drug's grip, they stole thousands of dollars from the home. Jewelry and tools, too. One son overdosed in the room above the kitchen, Bob Sullivan recalled while fingering the kind of Narcan syringe he used to save him.

The owner of a used-car dealership, Sullivan estimated that he and his wife have spent more than $100,000 on treatment for the boys. Three of them are clean now, and the fourth is navigating his way through the court system.

"I would wake up every single morning thinking, 'What next?'?" Sullivan said. "But regardless of the problems we have, we are so lucky that our kids are alive."

Sullivan said he knows of 20 young people in Plymouth who have died of overdoses.

With every death, officials here are reminded that the fight will be long— perhaps decades long, perhaps generations. They insist they are committed.

"For me, it's kind of personal," Bradley, the fire chief, said while driving through the town. "I have six grandchildren."

Information from: The Boston Globe,

Improve Communication, Improve Relationships


Ancient Hawaiian Saying

In the word there is life; in the word there is death.

—Ancient Hawaiian saying

Your Catfish Friend

by Richard Brautigan

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, “It's beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,”
I'd love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, “I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them.

― Richard Brautigan, The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster

Brautigan: Picnic in a Dream

I'm in a constant process of thinking about things.
― Richard Brautigan

Probably the closest things to perfection are the huge absolutely empty holes that astronomers have recently discovered in space. If there's nothing there, how can anything go wrong?
― Richard Brautigan

I had a good-talking candle last night in my bedroom. I was very tired but I wanted somebody to be with me, so I lit a candle and listened to its comfortable voice of light until I was asleep.
― Richard Brautigan

I’ll affect you slowly
as if you were having a picnic in a dream.
There will be no ants.
It won’t rain.
― Richard Brautigan, Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork

I LOVE Brautigan!!

Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.
― Richard Brautigan

All of us have a place in history. mine is clouds.
― Richard Brautigan

I have always wanted to write a book that ended with the word 'mayonnaise.'
― Richard Brautigan

Finding is losing something else.
I think about, perhaps even mourn,
what I lost to find this.
― Richard Brautigan, Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork

Karma Repair Kit Items 1-4.

1.Get enough food to eat,
and eat it.

2.Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

3.Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it.

― Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan

“My Name

“I guess you are kind of curious as to who I am, but I am one of those who do not have a regular name. My name depends on you. Just call me whatever is in your mind.
If you are thinking about something that happened a long time ago: Somebody asked you a question and you did not know the answer.
That is my name.
Perhaps it was raining very hard.
That is my name.
Or somebody wanted you to do something. You did it. Then they told you what you did was wrong—“Sorry for the mistake,”—and you had to do something else.
That is my name.
Perhaps it was a game you played when you were a child or something that came idly into your mind when you were old and sitting in a chair near the window.
That is my name.
Or you walked someplace. There were flowers all around.
That is my name.
Perhaps you stared into a river. There was something near you who loved you. They were about to touch you. You could feel this before it happened. Then it happened.
That is my name.”
― Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar

Where Have you Been, my Blue-Eyed Son?

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

by Bob Dylan

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music



I had a dream I was at a morgue and a dead body coated in hard white plastic was being taken apart at the joints like a lobster. I looked over and saw a hand bloody at the wrist being wrapped up in newspaper pages to be mailed off. I was sorry I had looked. Knowing I am a visual person I knew I was now going to be scarred by this image. There were people at a long table having a banquet oblivious to what was happening here. The man taking apart the corpse had his face tightly wrapped in many layers of cellophane. I was reminded of thieves who wear stockings over their faces to disguise their identity.

I dreamed I saw X at an outdoor party and I forgot to mention my condolences on the death of his son.

Pictures of Lily Lyrics

"Pictures Of Lily" is track #5 on The WHO album Meaty, Beaty, Big, And Bouncy. It was written by Peter Townshend.

I used to wake up in the morning
I used to feel so bad
I got so sick of having sleepless nights
I went and told my dad

He said, "Son now here's some little something"
And stuck them on my wall
And now my nights ain't quite so lonely
In fact I, I don't feel bad at all

Pictures of Lily made my life so wonderful
Pictures of Lily helped me sleep at night
Pitcures of Lily solved my childhood problems
Pictures of Lily helped me feel alright

Pictures of Lily
Lily, oh Lily
Lily, oh Lily
Pictures of Lily

And then one day things weren't quite so fine
I fell in love with Lily
I asked my dad where Lily I could find
He said, "Son, now don't be silly"

"She's been dead since 1929"
Oh, how I cried that night
If only I'd been born in Lily's time
It would have been alright

Pictures of Lily made my life so wonderful
Pictures of Lily helped me sleep at night

For me and Lily are together in my dreams
And I ask you, "Hey mister, have you ever seen"
"Pictures of Lily?"


Comedy Boomlet

Outside the theater hung a poster for the show featuring a smiling Wong surrounded by word bubbles, like the world’s biggest business card: “Wise Comedian Specially Invited by the American President,” “Top Performer on the Letterman Show,” “Host of CCTV’s ‘Is It True?’ ” “Ph.D. in Biochemistry.” It was a reminder that Wong’s appeal lay not just in his jokes but also in his remarkable decision to tell jokes for a living in the first place. He had achieved the Chinese dream — grow up in a tiny village, study hard, go abroad, get a high-earning job — and discarded it for something even more rarely achieved: his own dream.

After returning to China, Wong gave a televised speech titled, “So What if It’s Not Perfect?” In it, he urged young people to do what they love, without fear of failure. It’s a cliché in the United States, but it strongly contradicts the conventional wisdom in China, where most authority figures emphasize stability and striving to be No. 1. “I now realize the meaning of life is to work hard to find your own inspiration, and letting that inspiration drive you,” he told the audience, as they nodded along. Cheesy music played in the background.


Clean Water

The Obama administration is expected in the coming days to announce a major clean water regulation that would restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands.

Environmentalists have praised the new rule, calling it an important step that would lead to significantly cleaner natural bodies of water and healthier drinking water.


Héctor Tobar

The plague of insects is my fault. So was the poor snow season in Oregon resorts, and Hurricane Sandy, and the rising tides threatening assorted Micronesian islands.

As a native of Los Angeles, I am significantly more responsible for global warming than your average resident of planet Earth. We pioneered an energy-guzzling lifestyle for the masses and taught the world to follow our lead. Now a parched, endless summer is our punishment.
Think of California as the planet in microcosm. Mankind came to this Eden, settled it and ravaged its rivers, soiled its skies and eventually transformed it into a furnace. We’ll need drought-resistant plants and lots of sunscreen to survive our purgatory. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of evidence here that we haven’t yet learned the lesson of the biblical parable in which we’re living.

Consider that most egregious of California’s anti-ecological excesses: the freeway. We brag that we built the first one, in a riverbed. Because of our dependence on driving, Californians burn more gasoline than all of Africa.

Article: The Sins of Angelenos
Héctor Tobar is the author, most recently, of “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free” and a contributing opinion writer.

Louise Erdrich: Earth Mother


Their Drought is our Drought

The average American consumes more than 300 gallons of California water each week by eating food that was produced there.

Peter Matthiessen

I've never been bored one day in my life. I could fill 500 years with no problem.
- Peter Matthiessen

Arthur Conan Doyle

from Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of writer Arthur Conan Doyle, born in Edinburgh, Scotland (1859). He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and there he met Joseph Bell, his favorite professor. Bell taught his students how to make a successful diagnosis through observation and deduction.

After graduating, Doyle opened his own practice and wrote fiction in his spare time. In 1887, he published A Study in Scarlet, a mystery featuring a character based on his old professor: the detective Sherlock Holmes. He ended up writing 56 short stories and four novels with the famous detective, including The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902).

Doyle said, "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

And Sherlock Holmes said to his sidekick, Dr. Watson, "You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Those Coffee Drinks

If you really liked coffee you'd drink it. Those coffee drinks are basically an ice cream sandwich crammed into a cup with a few ounces of cold coffee added.

Sebastian Trager's Life-Sized Flintstone Mobile

Motorist banned from driving Flintstones car on German roads

by Mark Molloy for

A motorist’s bid to begin driving a replica of Fred Flintstone’s footmobile has been foiled after German police ruled his Stone Age vehicle was too unsafe to take for a spin.

It was a case of ‘Yabba Dabba Don’t’ for Flintstones nut Sebastian Trager after police banned his custom built motor from German roads.

Featuring a wooden frame design and leopard print seat covers, engineer Trager built the model using the chassis of a Volkswagen Polo.

There’s no need for Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble’s pedal power however, with the modern adaptation of the Flintmobile boasting a 1.3 litre engine hidden under the front roller.

Trager’s bid to make his vehicle legally roadworthy hit the skids after German police ruled that the vehicle was too unsafe to be driven on public roads.

‘We copied every last detail. I work in car construction and love working with cars so it is perfectly safe,’ explained Trager.

‘But when we got the registration form section about the number of lights, windscreen washers and wipers, well, we don’t even have a windscreen so we gave up.

‘Instead we trailer it to shows and exhibitions for people to see and everyone seems to love it.’

see photo

Prosopometamorphopsia: Human Faces Appear Distorted

Woman had rare condition that meant she saw human faces as dragons

by Harry Readhead for Thursday 21 May 2015 9:35 am

The 52-year-old was plagued with hallucinations all her life.

It sounds like the stuff of nightmares, but for one woman, seeing dragons instead of human faces was an everyday occurrence.

According to an Anglo-Dutch research team in the Hague, the Netherlands, a 52-year-old woman presented at a psychiatric clinic in 2011 plagued with something utterly bizarre – even to the experienced doctors.

For her entirety of her life she’d seen human faces metamorphose into the faces of dragons, with this same hallucination happening multiple times each day.

‘She could perceive and recognise actual faces, but after several minutes they turned black, grew long, pointy ears and a protruding snout, and displayed a reptiloid skin and huge eyes in bright yellow, green, blue, or red,’ the research team wrote in The Lancet.

‘She saw similar dragon-like faces drifting towards her many times a day from the walls, electrical sockets, or the computer screen, in both the presence and absence of face-like patterns, and at night she saw many dragon-like faces in the dark.’

The woman suffered from prosopometamorphopsia, a psychiatric disorder that causes faces to appear distorted. Even within the context of the condition, the woman’s case was rare in the specificity of her hallucinations.

A host of brain scans and blood tests found her to be completely healthy, although researchers weren’t surprised as it still unclear what causes the disorder.

The team eventually managed to stop the woman’s hallucinations with an anti-dementia medication called rivastigmine, which synthesises acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory.


Needle in the Shrubs

This morning I walked Lily downtown picking up trash and I spotted an orange hypodermic needle in the shrubs at Sovereign Bank. I kept walking but then decided to go back and get it so it would be disposed of properly.

Fighting HIV Where no-one Admits it's a Problem

"Nobody believes me when I say that the Russian government is not doing any prevention work to stop the HIV epidemic," says Anya Sarang, head of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation - a small charity in Moscow which tries to promote better health for drug users.

"There is absolutely no effort to stop the epidemic among people who inject drugs and unsurprisingly Russia remains one of the few countries in the world where the HIV epidemic is still on the rise."


Nerdalize: A Home-Heating Solution


Removing Lead, Dropping Crime

Fourteen years ago, Prof Jessica Wolpaw-Reyes, an economist at Amherst College Massachusetts, was pregnant and doing what many expectant mothers do - learning about the risks to her unborn child's health. She started to read up on lead in the environment and, like Nevin before her, began pondering its link to crime.

"Everyone was trying to understand why crime was going down," she recalls. "So I wanted to test if there was a causal link between lead and violent crime and the way I did that was to look at the removal of leaded petrol from US states in the 1970s, to see if that could be linked to patterns of crime reduction in the 1990s."

Wolpaw-Reyes gathered lead data from each state, including figures for gasoline sales. She plotted the crime rates in each area and then used common statistical techniques to exclude other factors that could cause crime. Her results backed the lead-crime hypothesis.


Mysterious Weather

Yesterday I was looking at the national weather map and I saw a color I don't normally see; yellow. I looked at the color coded key and beside this particular shade of yellow was "child abduction". What did this mean? Good weather for child abduction?

e.e. cummings

"Forward to an Exhibit: II" (1945)

[Here Cummings constructs an imaginary interview in which he connects his painting with his poetry.]

Why do you paint?
For exactly the same reason I breathe.
That’s not an answer.
There isn’t any answer.
How long hasn’t there been any answer?
As long as I can remember.
And how long have you written?
As long as I can remember.
I mean poetry.
So do I.
Tell me, doesn’t your painting interfere with your writing?
Quite the contrary: they love each other dearly.
They’re very different.
Very: one is painting and one is writing.
But your poems are rather hard to understand, whereas your paintings are so easy.
Of course--you paint flowers and girls and sunsets; things that everybody understands.
I never met him.
Did you ever hear of nonrepresentational painting?
I am.
Pardon me?
I am a painter, and painting is nonrepresentational.
Not all painting.
No: housepainting is representational.
And what does a housepainter represent?
Ten dollars an hour.
In other words, you don’t want to be serious--
It takes two to be serious.
Well let me see...oh yes, one more question: where will you live after this war is over?
In China; as usual.
Of course.
Wherabouts in China?
Where a painter is a poet.

from E. E. Cummings, A Miscellany Revised. Edited by George Firmage, New York: October House, 1965. 316-17.

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.

― e.e. cummings

Damn everything but the circus!. . .The average 'painter' 'sculptor' 'poet' 'composer' 'playwright' is a person who cannot leap through a hoop from the back of a galloping horse, make people laugh with a clown's mouth, orchestrate twenty lions.

― e.e. cummings

Your poems are rather hard to understand, whereas your paintings are so easy.
Of course — you paint flowers and girls and sunsets; things that everybody understands.
I never met him.
Did you ever hear of nonrepresentational painting?
I am.
Pardon me?
I am a painter, and painting is nonrepresentational.
Not all painting.
No: housepainting is representational.
And what does a housepainter represent?
Ten dollars an hour.
In other words, you don't want to be serious —
It takes two to be serious.

e.e. cummings

Henry Miller



Work on one thing at a time until finished.
Start no more new books, add no more new material to ‘Black Spring.’
Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
When you can’t create you can work.
Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Under a part titled Daily Program, his routine also featured the following wonderful blueprint for productivity, inspiration, and mental health:

If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.

If in fine fettle, write.


Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.


See friends. Read in cafés.

Explore unfamiliar sections — on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.

Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program.

Paint if empty or tired.

Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.

Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.

May Sarton: Solitude is Richness of Self

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.
― May Sarton

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.
― May Sarton

Economic Pie

Workers’ share of the economic pie has been shrinking for decades, as the gains from labor productivity have flowed increasingly to profits rather than pay. A result has been an economy that is less resilient and more unequal. Low-wage workers who have been demonstrating for higher pay are leading politicians where they need to go, and the real leaders among those politicians are following the workers.


Alexander Pope: Drink Deep

The way of the Creative works through change and transformation, so that each thing receives its true nature and destiny and comes into permanent accord with the Great Harmony: this is what furthers and what perseveres.
-Alexander Pope

I followed everywhere as my fancy led me, and it was like a boy gathering flowers in the woods and the fields just as they fall in his way.
-Alexander Pope

A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.
-Alexander Pope

To be angry is to revenge the faults of others on ourselves.
-Alexander Pope

Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends.
-Alexander Pope

But Satan now is wiser than of yore, and tempts by making rich, not making poor.
-Alexander Pope

To err is human; to forgive, divine.
-Alexander Pope

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
-Alexander Pope

Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.
-Alexander Pope

Never find fault with the absent.
-Alexander Pope

Cold Feet

Commitments are very hard for me. My work and my dog come first and my moods are as varied as New England weather. I went down to my second week of the Bocce league and showed up at 8 AM. Very few people had arrived and 4 elderly men were raking the courts so I tied up Lily in the shade and joined in and raked two courts. I enjoyed that. Then people started to show up and they all know each other so they were gathered in groups laughing and taking. I was itching to get back to my desk. I said hello and goodbye, and Lily and I picked up trash for a few blocks and here I am. I told the leader that will return to photograph and maybe to rake.

2 Short Dreams

I dreamed I had illustrated a children's book on Marc Chagall but in one picture I had drawn him with six fingers and nobody caught it before it went to press.

I dreamed I was at the dentist. I didn't notice right away but he had dyed my hair brown. I wondered if I would have to go back to the dentist when my roots grew in silver.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I Love this Strand Poem

The Everyday Enchantment of Music

by Mark Strand

A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound,
which was polished until it became music. Then the music was
polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when
tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was
polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty
home of a heart in trouble. Then suddenly there was sun and the
music came back and traffic was moving and off in the distance, at
the edge of the city, a long line of clouds appeared, and there was
thunder, which, however menacing, would become music, and the
memory of what happened after Venice would begin, and what
happened after the home of the troubled heart broke in two would
also begin.

- Mark Strand from Collected Poems © Knopf, 2014.

Nicholas Carr: Why Robots Need Us

“HUMAN BEINGS are ashamed to have been born instead of made,” wrote the philosopher Günther Anders in 1956. Our shame has only deepened as our machines have grown more adept.

Every day we’re reminded of the superiority of our computers. Self-driving cars don’t fall victim to distractions or road rage. Robotic trains don’t speed out of control. Algorithms don’t suffer the cognitive biases that cloud the judgments of doctors, accountants and lawyers. Computers work with a speed and precision that make us look like bumbling slackers.

It seems obvious: The best way to get rid of human error is to get rid of humans.

We should view computers as our partners, with complementary abilities, not as our replacements. What we’ll lose if we rush to curtail our involvement in difficult work are the versatility and wisdom that set us apart from machines.

The world is safer than ever, thanks to human ingenuity, technical advances and thoughtful regulations. Computers can help sustain that progress. Recent train crashes, including the Amtrak derailment this month, might have been prevented had automated speed-control systems been in operation. Algorithms that sense when drivers are tired and sound alarms can prevent wrecks.

The danger in dreaming of a perfectly automated society is that it makes such modest improvements seem less pressing — and less worthy of investment. Why bother taking small steps forward, if utopia lies just around the bend?


Nicholas Carr is the author, most recently, of “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us.”

Virginia Ironside: On Alert

I could guess if she had been drinking by how long she took to reach the intercom in her flat. I knew, certainly, from the sound of her voice when she spoke through the street phone. If she'd been drinking there was a little more emphasis on the 'daahling' than usual. Once inside, I remember marking a line on the vodka bottle so I could estimate how much had been drunk by my next visit.

Her drinking was never off my mind. As I got older, I would consult booklets, doctors, try to persuade her to go to Alcoholics Anonymous, make appointments with psychiatrists, buy special non-alcoholic drinks to entice her to switch, discuss her drinking with her parents and her brother. All the while I was tightly wired, like a spring, never able to relax, always on alert, 'on duty' to try and fix my mother.

My mother may have been a brilliant teacher and designer of fashion, nurturing such talent as Ossie Clark, and when sober she could be charming, funny, girlish and beautiful. But at times her secretary had to lock her in her office to stop her attending a meeting where it would have been obvious to everyone that she was plastered.

When she'd been drinking, she changed. She simply wasn't there any more. Even when she was only slightly sozzled, she only half-heard what I was saying, only half-listened, and often didn't remember a thing. Conversation was almost normal, but never quite right. I could never quite get the attention I desperately needed. Even today, I find I react with an almost excessive anger if I feel someone is only partly paying me attention. Being laid-back is an impossible state of mind for me.



There's a team of guys tearing apart the dilapidated porches on the six-family tenement across the street. The workers have spread yellow caution tape into the street below, circling the area, and two men are on the ground raking up the remnants. A buzzing skill saw, hammering, and ripping sounds are punctuated by whistles and yells from the two men below trying to prevent debris from falling into the traffic. There's Mexican vocal and accordion ballads blasting from a silver boom-box propped up on a green trash bin. I absolutely love this music, just like I love opera; heartfelt dramas unfolding in a language I don't understand.

I wonder if the porches will be replaced. The three layers of porches with Victorian details represent a bygone era when the Woonsocket French Quarter resembled the New Orleans French Quarter. Many Stanley and Stella dramas have played out on these Tennessee Williams stages.

I am sitting outside in the shade of my maple tree with my notebook after having washed Lily's dog beds and our winter pullovers. Everything is drying on the line in the windy sunshine. Today our woodpecker is drowned out by the demolition team.

We just got sad news. One of my husband's former students from the Charter School where he taught 3 years ago was shot in a gang-related incident. He was 18. We had sad news yesterday, too, about the death of our friend's son. Lately losing young men feels epidemic.

Virginia Woolf: A Room of One's Own

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.
But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“Women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“It is strange how a scrap of poetry works in the mind and makes the legs move in time to it along the road.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Bronte who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to. Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“What is meant by “reality”? It would seem to be something very erratic, very undependable—now to be found in a dusty road, now in a scrap of newspaper in the street, now a daffodil in the sun. It lights up a group in a room and stamps some casual saying. It overwhelms one walking home beneath the stars and makes the silent world more real than the world of speech—and then there it is again in an omnibus in the uproar of Piccadilly. Sometimes, too, it seems to dwell in shapes too far away for us to discern what their nature is. But whatever it touches, it fixes and makes permanent. That is what remains over when the skin of the day has been cast into the hedge; that is what is left of past time and of our loves and hates.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“For masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“If woman had no existence save in the fiction written by men, one would imagine her a person of the utmost importance (...); as great as a man, some think even greater. But this is woman in fiction. In fact, as Professor Trevelyan points out [in his History of England], she was locked up, beaten and flung about the room.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“Why, if it was an illusion, not praise the catastrophe, whatever it was, that destroyed illusion and put truth in it's place?”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Beluga Whales Spotted in RI

A trio of beluga whales that appeared in Narragansett Bay over the weekend have been spending some time in the calm waters of East Greenwich Cove Tuesday morning.
Officials from Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration were in area waters on Monday to confirm the presence of the whales and make observations.

The Providence Journal reported that a whale expert said the whales don’t seem to be in distress and are most likely feeding. They also said their presence here, which had not ever been recorded until a sighting last year, could be a sign of the changing environment.
Belugas are commonly found in cold waters, such as in the Arctic and rarely are seen south of Canada.


Beluga whale
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The beluga whale or white whale (Delphinapterus leucas) is an Arctic and sub-Arctic cetacean. It is one of two members of the family Monodontidae, along with the narwhal, and the only member of the genus Delphinapterus. This marine mammal is commonly referred to simply as the melonhead, beluga or sea canary due to its high-pitched twitter.[9]

It is adapted to life in the Arctic, so has anatomical and physiological characteristics that differentiate it from other cetaceans. Amongst these are its unmistakable all-white colour and the absence of a dorsal fin. It possesses a distinctive protuberance at the front of its head which houses an echolocation organ called the melon, which in this species is large and plastic (deformable). The beluga's body size is between that of a dolphin's and a true whale’s, with males growing up to 5.5 m (18 ft) long and weighing up to 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). This whale has a stocky body; it has the greatest percentage of blubber. Its sense of hearing is highly developed and it possesses echolocation, which allows it to move about and find blowholes under sheet ice.

Belugas are gregarious and they form groups of up to 10 animals on average, although during the summer months, they can gather in the hundreds or even thousands in estuaries and shallow coastal areas. They are slow swimmers, but can dive down to 700 m (2,300 ft) below the surface. They are opportunistic feeders and their diets vary according to their locations and the season. They mainly eat fish, crustaceans and other deep-sea invertebrates.

The majority of belugas live in the Arctic and the seas and coasts around North America, Russia and Greenland; their worldwide population is thought to number around 150,000. They are migratory and the majority of groups spend the winter around the Arctic ice cap; when the sea ice melts in summer, they move to warmer river estuaries and coastal areas. Some populations are sedentary and do not migrate over great distances during the year.

The native peoples of North America and Russia have hunted belugas for many centuries. They were also hunted commercially during the 19th century and part of the 20th century. Whale hunting has been under international control since 1973. Currently, only certain Inuit groups are allowed to carry out subsistence hunting of belugas. Other threats include natural predators (polar bears and killer whales), contamination of rivers, and infectious diseases.

From a conservation perspective, the beluga was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List in 2008 as being "near threatened"; the subpopulation from the Cook Inlet in Alaska is considered Critically Endangered and is under the protection of the United States' Endangered Species Act.[2][10] Of seven Canadian beluga populations, the two inhabiting eastern Hudson Bay and Ungava Bay are listed as endangered.

Belugas are one of the cetaceans most commonly kept in captivity in aquariums and wildlife parks in North America, Europe and Asia; they are popular with the public due to their colour and expression.