Monday, November 30, 2015


My friend Peter jumped in Harris Pond yesterday. It must've been ice cold and that was the point. He shocked himself with water for 90 seconds and then got out and warmed up. I know this means he must be feeling pretty blue because we have talked about the shock of the cold being a cure of sorts. I told him about the heated pool on my street. Swimming works for cheering up, I told him, even warm water.

Slow Baked Granola

I've discovered that my granola recipe works best baked SLOW and LOW. The flavors come together best this way.

1 cup of corn oil
1 cup of Grandma's Molasses
1 box of Old Fashioned Oats (measured as 42 OZ, or 2 LB 10 OZ or 1.19 kg)
1 teaspoon of real vanilla
1 rounded teaspoon of kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. In a big pot heat the oil, molasses, vanilla, and salt, stirring gently. When bubbly add the oats, stirring madly. When the goop is distributed over the oats pour the granola onto two trays. I use cast iron frying pans and I bake them at 250 degrees. Once the oats start to toast I stir them every 5-10 minutes. I use a timer because the toasting happens fast. Then, when lightly toasted I let the oats cool off before I store them in sealed jars. Allow an hour and fifteen minutes of baking time.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rita Mae Brown: Trust

Every day you're alive and someone loves you is a miracle.
― Rita Mae Brown

Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.
― Rita Mae Brown

Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.
― Rita Mae Brown

Rita Mae Brown

Sorrow is how we learn to love. Your heart isn't breaking. It hurts because it's getting larger. The larger it gets, the more love it holds.
― Rita Mae Brown, Riding Shotgun

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four people is suffering from a mental illness. Look at your 3 best friends. If they're ok, then it's you.
― Rita Mae Brown

I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.
― Rita Mae Brown

Friday, November 27, 2015

Apple Cider Cultured with Wine Yeast

My brother in law Marcus cultured apple cider with wine yeast for Thanksgiving. It was delicious! When cooking the meal he mixed some Cajun spice in the salt. It was very good.

Pepper Biscuits Make a Party

I will make these a few hundred more times. I could have a bakery based on wine and pepper biscotti and my bread.
If you fall in love with these, you will want to double the recipe.
Biscotti Di Pepe - Taralli - Italian Pepper Biscuits

By DeSouter

A great hard biscuit with a twinge of hotness! A staple in Italian delis and "pastosas".

1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast (equals 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees) (I used 1/2 cup of my liquidy sourdough starter)
2 cups flour (I used half whole wheat and half bread flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used a heaping teaspoon of Kosher salt)
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper (I used twice that, cracking the peppercorns myself)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
(I added a Tablespoon of fennel) thanks to Donna Ruzzano who grew up on Da Hill!


Dissolve yeast in water.
Sift flour salt and pepper onto mixing board.
Make a well in the center and add yeast and oil.
Blend together and gradually incorporate into flour.
The dough will be stiff.
Knead 10 minutes.
Place in oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with towel and let rise until doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 375º.
Break off small pieces of dough and roll into ropes about 6 inches long. (I baked mine straight like bread sticks or cigars)
Form a ring and pinch edges together.
Place on baking sheet and let rise 20 minutes.
Brush with oil and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. (I had to double the baking time)
(I turned the pepper biscuits over halfway through the baking time so they could gently brown on the other side)

NOTE: My husband pointed out that the reason why I needed to add salt pepper and increase baking time from the recipe was because I used one cup of whole wheat flour instead of white flour and this increased the oil content and need for more spices and salt.
Don't be afraid to pinch a taste of the raw dough to test seasonings.

Gratitude Jar


James Agee

A little bit of too much is just enough for me.
- James Agee

Monday, November 23, 2015

Soap Opera to Save Penguins

To Save African Penguins, Humans Run a Dating Service

When Geirfugl was bonding with a bird named Kaapse, for example, the couple took nesting too far and began hoarding rocks from the exhibit — more than 100 pounds — in their nesting box, crushing a couple of eggs. After the keepers set them up in a room with a nesting box and a few token rocks, they turned out to be wonderful parents.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Journal of Love

It was a difficult week emotionally because we had to take our beloved dog to the vet with a urine sample to check for the possibility of a urinary tract infection. It turns out she may have one since they found bacteria. It is also possible that the urine sample was contaminated, which can happen. She's on an antibiotic for ten days.

Wednesday our cat was not at all himself. We coaxed him to eat. Then he stopped eating on Thursday but the following day he began eating while we pet him and today he ate normally by himself. Whatever got him seems to have left him. Today we are rejoicing that our cat is back to his monster self. Our beloved creatures are woven deeply into our life.

We visited Mary last night and she is lovely as always but a little disoriented by the big changes. This week she moved into a memory-care facility. Everyone loves her and says how sweet she is. I hope she will start to connect with the other residents. It may help her feel better about being there. The place was colorful and had a good vibe.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Artist Martin Wong: Urban Visionary

Fervor, desire and coded insider-outsider knowledge crackle through “Martin Wong: Human Instamatic,” a retrospective survey at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Organized by Sergio Bessa and Yasmin Ramirez, and with nearly a hundred paintings, it brings to New York for the first time a complete view of one of our great urban visionaries, from his precocious juvenilia to the unearthly little pictures from the year before his death from AIDS.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Coney Island

“It’s an interesting kind of crazy.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Painter Gertrude Abercrombie: Selection and Reduction

I just discovered the wonderful Surreal images of Gertrude Abercrombie. Have a look on Google images.

from Wikipedia:
Gertrude Abercrombie painted many variations of her favored subjects: sparsely furnished interiors, barren landscapes, self-portraits, and still-lifes. Many compositions feature a lone woman in a flowing gown, often depicted with attributes of sorcery: an owl, a black cat, a crystal ball, or a broomstick. These works were often self-portraits, as she stated in an interview with Studs Terkel shortly before her death: "it is always myself that I paint". Tall and sharp-featured, she considered herself ugly; in life she sometimes wore a pointed velvet hat to accentuate her witch-like appearance, "enjoy[ing] the power this artifice gave her over others who would fear or recoil from her". The 1940s and '50s are described as her most prolific and productive period; a time when she no longer painted many portraits, but retained the themes mentioned above.

Abercrombie's mature works are painted in a precise, controlled style. She took little interest in other artists' work, although she admired Magritte. Largely self-taught, she did not regard her lack of extensive formal training as a hindrance.

"I am not interested in complicated things nor in the commonplace. I like to paint simple things that are a little strange. My work comes directly from my inner consciousness and it must come easily. It is a process of selection and reduction."

- Gertrude Abercrombie

Ram Dass: Keep Your Heart Open

He was saying I lost my balance and had become so obsessed with the suffering that I couldn't see the greater picture.
This is about where you stand in your awareness, in a place that allows you to be with suffering in the world without closing your heart. If you close or armor your heart in order to be in the world, you become a crippled instrument for the healing of the universe. So you do all you can to relieve suffering and work to keep your heart open.
- Ram Dass, Polishing the Mirror

Margaret Atwood

I was scuttling along in my usual furtive way, suspecting no ill, when a large invisible thumb descended from the sky and pressed down on the top of my head. A poem formed. It was quite a gloomy poem: the poems of the young usually are. It was a gift, this poem - a gift from an anonymous donor, and, as such, both exciting and sinister at the same time. [.] Until the descent of the giant thumb, I showed no particular promise. I also showed no particular promise for some time afterwards, but I did not know this. A lot of being a poet consists of willed ignorance. If you woke up from your trance and realized the nature of the life-threatening and dignity-destroying precipice you were walking along, you would switch into actuarial sciences immediately.
- Margaret Atwood, The Writer's Almanac

Caroline Knapp

When you speak to people about what it's like to live with a dog, you hear them talk about discovering a degree of solace that's extremely difficult to achieve in relationships with people, a way of experiencing solitude without the loneliness. You hear them talk about the dog's capacity to wrest their focus off the past and future and plant it firmly in the present, with the here-and-now immediacy of a romp on the living-room rug or a walk in the woods. You hear them talk about joys that are exquisitely simple and pure: what it's like to laugh at a dog who's doing something ridiculous, and how soothing it is to sit and brush a dog's coat, and how gratifying it is to make a breakthrough in training a dog, to understand that you're communicating effectively with a different species. Above all, you hear them talk about feeling accepted in a new way, accompanied through daily life and over the course of years by a creature who bears witness to every change, every shift in mood, everything we do and say and experience, never judging us when we falter or fail.

Not long ago, over dinner with a non-dog friend named Lisa, I started talking about Lucille, and how important her presence had been to me during the breakup of a long-term relationship. The breakup was recent, and it was long and painful and scary, as such things are, and at one point I said quite candidly, "I'm not sure I would have been able to face the loss if I hadn't had the dog."

-Caroline Knapp


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cindy Solin

For me, the lesson of fiddle toys was unexpected. I had always thought the serious conversations in psychotherapy would involve a patient’s undivided attention. But now I understand — sometimes the opposite is true.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Marianne Williamson: Listening

Dialogue with yourself about your true dreams. From going to Paris to looking beautiful, from writing a book to owning your own business, what do you really long for? What do you really wish to be true for you? What is your heart’s desire...for if you won’t honor it, then who else will? It doesn’t matter that Mommy or Daddy or your siblings or your teachers or whoever else didn’t value your dreams. God did, and He does. It’s time for you to start thinking like God whenever you think about anything...including yourself.

This journaling process is an important tool, and not just for losing weight or even for maintaining your best weight. It’s a tool for cultivating your highest self, as applied not only to weight but to any area of your life. Journaling is a way you listen to yourself, by making it clear to yourself what you actually think and feel. The more room you give yourself to express your true thoughts and feelings, the more room there is for your wisdom to emerge. In listening to yourself, you learn from yourself. In listening deeply to the voice of your heart, you reestablish relationship with your true self, so long denied.

Start listening to yourself now, and you will find that what you hear is the music of your soul. Its sounds will accompany you as you move toward the life—and the body—that nature intends for you. In the eyes of God, you are more beautiful and more creative than even a rose could ever be.

- Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson

You're worthy of self-acceptance. The sooner you learn this, the sooner you'll start learning to love yourself.
- Marianne Williamson

You to self: I think your dreams are important.
- Marianne Williamson

Ram Dass

The witness is your centering device. It guides the work you do on yourself. Once you understand that there is a place in you that is not attached, you can extricate yourself from attachments.
-Ram Dass, Polishing the Mirror (p 36)

Ram Dass

We treat love and hate and other emotions like they are all on the same level, but they're not. Hate, fear, lust, greed, jealousy - all that comes from the ego. Only love comes from the soul. When you identify with your soul, you live in a loving universe. The soul loves everybody. It's like the sun. It brings out the beauty in each of us. You can feel it in your heart.
-Ram Dass, Polishing The Mirror (p 119)

Friday, November 13, 2015


"You look good," I said.
"I'm on this side of the grass. I'm grateful every day that I'm alive," he said.

A Student Asked

Last night at dinner my husband said "One of my students asked me today, 'Are you ever mean?'
No. It's not effective, it doesn't accomplish anything.
'Do you ever get angry?' he asked.
Yes, but it's not by screaming and yelling. You'll know it when I'm angry."

Robert Louis Stevenson: Duality of Man

I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both.
― Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.
― Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Robert Louis Stevenson

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
― Robert Louis Stevenson

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.
― Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson

The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain common work as it comes certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.
― Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

E.L. Doctorow

Any book that you pick up as a reader is a printed circuit for your own life to flow through.
— E.L. Doctorow
Source: Paris Review

Sam Shepard

The most authentic endings are the ones which are already revolving towards another beginning.
— Sam Shepard
source: Paris Review

Bryan Borland

My goal with all this is to bridge people to their dreams. You want to do it? Do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. You want to break through? Build yourself a door. Don’t wait on anyone else to validate you. Can your work save lives? Then do whatever you have to do to bring your work to its audience.
- Bryan Borland

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Yesterday I had a good day. Today I find myself trying to duplicate the magic formula.

A voice inside reminds me 'Today is today! The people I ran into on the street yesterday are not going to be there today, but others will be. The sun isn't out today, but gray is okay. You had wild dreams last night about bombs and airplanes. Embrace this moment and it will add up to today.'

In receive-mode I can get strangely nostalgic, grieving for the very moment I'm in. I know that sounds odd but it's as if my imagination and worries cause a double vision. My task is to ground myself physically and mentally to create a clear picture. This is why my work, household chores and taking Lily for walks are a godsend.

Focus and listen.

The Zombies Were Out

Today on my walk downtown I saw zombies in every direction. I'm familiar with most of them. They are harmless.

Monday, November 09, 2015

What's Going On

"It's so exciting," Clara said, "I used to love to know what's going on. One night I heard a report come in, a man was holding his family hostage. It was over on James Street in that big blue apartment house on the second floor. I woke my daughter Arianna who was seven at the time and bundled her into the back seat under a big quilt. We drove over. There were three squad cars and two detective cars I recognized. You get to know them all. I parked with a view of the house. While I was sitting there I saw a silhouette of an officer go past the kitchen window. Then I was riveted. I must've stayed for hours, waiting and watching."

"My mother used to listen to the police radio and when something exciting was happening she'd grab me and drive over to where the action was. Even if it was the middle of the night in the dead of winter," Arianna said, laughing. 'I'd be like 'Ma, why are we here,' and she'd say 'I just had to come see what was going on.' One time there was a man with a shotgun threatening his family. 'This is more exciting than the movies,' she said.
'But you can't see anything,' I told her. I'd be trying to keep warm under the quilt.
'I can imagine what's going on behind those walls and that's even better,' she'd say.
'But ma, can't you imagine from home?'
'No, it's not nearly as exciting.'"

Sunday, November 08, 2015

I'm Running out of Room

I saw the tattooed man today. Now his whole face is covered along with his scalp, neck, arms, chest, back and legs. Even his eyelids are tattooed.
"I'm running out of room," he said.

Lauren Stover: The Grace of Melancholy

Whatever happened to experiencing the grace of melancholy, which requires reflection: a sort of mental steeping, like tea?

“I don’t know if you’ll be a writer, but you have the ‘up down’ thing too. Make creative use of it, otherwise, people will think you’re just plain nuts.”


Invisible in the Jungle

There's a man in the neighborhood who when he appears it's hard to recognize him. "He's really good at deflecting," my husband says, noticing this too. I am fascinated because I am usually good at recognizing people. This man is a chameleon. Like a good actor he really knows how to shape-shift. I wonder if it's from being in the Vietnam war when he had to make himself invisible in the jungle.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

A Vacation in Hell

God turns you from one feeling to another and teaches you by means of opposites, so that you will have two wings to fly - not one.
- Rainer Maria Rilke.

Monday I went to the library and found a few more journals of May Sarton. Her journals have been consoling me in receive-mode for decades. The past few weeks I fell off the transmit-mode cliff into the anxiety ridden overwhelm of receive-mode. Twice a year, my husband reminds me. Often it happens at the end of October and I lift up in January and February and drop down in March or April. The cycle shifts a little year to year which keeps me on my toes. The first week of receive-mode is sheer hell and I am practically mute. I can't write. It's better if I don't speak. I drop off the radar. People accustomed to my regular correspondence wonder where I've gone. I tell them when I return.

My head is full of verbal torment and I slow down, paralyzed by insecurity and self-doubt. I am pummeled by demons from the inside, as if bashed by a meat tenderizer. It softens me up! I'm weepy because everything is poignant.

When this happens it is agonizing to be alive. I am haunted and emotionally agitated and panicky. I feel like I am being boiled in oil and I feel ashamed to be so miserable. The truth is I just have to wait it out and continue to be physical (walk and swim) to counter the abusive mind chatter. I try to have compassion for myself versus rage. My husband reminds me that my mood levels off and stabilizes after the first week. He has witnessed my mood cycle for over 30 years. He points out that it's hard for me to love myself when I am deep in the early phase of receive-mode. He is right. I persevere through the emotional flu the best I can and try to get better at coping and managing.

After a week or two a ray of sunshine drops out of the clouds and I find my life has balance again. I am so relieved and grateful that I have weathered another storm.

Desired Things

This morning after having a huge discussion with my husband about teaching, I walked with Lily to pick up a book at the library. As I was tying Lily's leash to the lamp post a man came over to say hello. He said he felt I was a kindred spirit and introduced himself. He wanted me to read this poem, Desiderata.
I've heard of it. How about you read it to me, I said. Your voice has lovely tones.
Thank you, people tell me that, he said.
We stood outside with Lily at the lamp post and he read me the poem.
I can tell that you love it. Why not perform it here at the library or the high school for an audience, I suggested.
I used to be a theater person, he said.
There you go! You've got the theater gene, I said.
I'm going to take your idea into advisement and talk to the library about this, he said walking towards the stacks.

Desiderata by Max Ermann

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

"Desiderata" (Latin: "desired things") is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann. Largely unknown in the author's lifetime, the text became widely known after its use in devotional and spoken-word recordings in 1971 and 1972.

I Need to be Tethered to the Earth

My beloved
My dog
My washing machine
Provide ballast
For my helium-balloon head

Joni Mitchell

I do a lot of night-writing. I need solitude to write. I used to be able to write under almost any condition, but not anymore because I have to go inside myself, so far, to search for a theme.
- Joni Mitchell