Thursday, November 30, 2017


I dreamed that I was offered a job in an advertising firm for 1,000 a week. What about Romeo, could I bring him to work? What about dancing around the room when nobody was around? What about swimming? I woke up.

The White Room

by Charles Simic

The obvious is difficult
To prove. Many prefer
The hidden. I did, too
I listened to the trees

They had a secret
Which they were about to
Make known to me--
And then didn't

Summer came. Each tree
On my street had its own
Scheherazade. My nights
Were a part of their wild

Storytelling. We were
Entering dark houses
Always more dark houses
Hushed and abandoned

There was someone with eyes closed
On the upper floors
The fear of it, and the wonder
Kept me sleepless

The truth is bald and cold
Said the woman
Who always wore white
She didn't leave her room

The sun pointed to one or two
Things that had survived
The long night intact
The simplest things

Difficult in their obviousness
They made no noise
It was the kind of day
People described as "perfect."

Gods disguising themselves
As black hairpins, a hand-mirror
A comb with a tooth missing?
No! That wasn't it

Just things as they are
Unblinking, lying mute
In that bright light--
And the trees waiting for the night

-Charles Simic

Country Fair

by Charles Simic

If you didn't see the six-legged dog,
It doesn't matter.
We did, and he mostly lay in the corner.
As for the extra legs,
One got used to them quickly
And thought of other things.
Like, what a cold, dark night
To be out at the fair.
Then the keeper threw a stick
And the dog went after it
On four legs, the other two flapping behind,
Which made one girl shriek with laughter.
She was drunk and so was the man
Who kept kissing her neck.
The dog got the stick and looked back at us.
And that was the whole show.

Paradise Motel

by Charles Simic

Millions were dead; everybody was innocent.
I stayed in my room. The President
Spoke of war as of a magic love potion.
My eyes were opened in astonishment.
In a mirror my face appeared to me
Like a twice-canceled postage stamp.

I lived well, but life was awful.
there were so many soldiers that day,
So many refugees crowding the roads.
Naturally, they all vanished
With a touch of the hand.
History licked the corners of its bloody mouth.

On the pay channel, a man and a woman
Were trading hungry kisses and tearing off
Each other's clothes while I looked on
With the sound off and the room dark
Except for the screen where the color
Had too much red in it, too much pink.

Late September

by Charles Simic

The mail truck goes down the coast
Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
And forgets to put it down.
There is a menace in the air
Of tragedies in the making.

Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
You were sure it was some new
Horror they were reporting,
So you went out to find out.
Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.

This morning, it felt like Sunday.
The heavens did their part
By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Or the row of vacant cottages,
Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
As if they, too, had the shivers.

-From The Voice at 3:00 a.m.: Selected Late and New Poems by Charles Simic. Copyright © 2003 by Charles Simic

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Trash Day

The green and brown bins are lined up in uniform on the curb overstuffed from the holiday. The big loud monster will arrive and grab them one at a time with it's gigantic mechanical arm. It will tip them upside down into it's open back leaving them scattered and empty on the street.

Short Order Cook

by Jim Daniels

An average joe comes in
and orders thirty cheeseburgers and thirty fries.

I wait for him to pay before I start cooking.
He pays.
He ain’t no average joe.

The grill is just big enough for ten rows of three.
I slap the burgers down
throw two buckets of fries in the deep frier
and they pop pop, spit spit. . .
pssss. . .
The counter girls laugh.
I concentrate.
It is the crucial point--
they are ready for the cheese:
my fingers shake as I tear off slices
toss them on the burgers/fries done/dump/
refill buckets/burgers ready/flip into buns/
beat that melting cheese/wrap burgers in plastic/
into paper bags/fried done/dump/fill thirty bags/
bring them to the counter/wipe sweat on sleeve
and smile at the counter girls.
I puff my chest out and bellow:
Thirty cheeseburgers! Thirty fries!
I grab a handful of ice, toss it in my mouth
do a little dance and walk back to the grill.
Pressure, responsibility, success.
Thirty cheeseburgers, thirty fries.

From Show and Tell: New and Selected Poems by Jim Daniels. Originally appeared in Places/Everyone. Copyright © 1985 by Jim Daniels

Jim Daniels Poem

Brushing Teeth with My Sister after the Wake

by Jim Daniels

at my kitchen sink, the bathroom upstairs
clogged with family from out of town

spending the night after the wake
and the after-wake—cold beverages

have been consumed and comfort food,
leftovers bulging both the fridge

and the minifridge. In our fifties, both
half-asleep half-awake, we face each

other. My sister’s smile foams white
down her chin at the end of a day

on which no one has smiled. We laugh.
We may never brush our teeth together again.

No mirror down here to see our haggard faces.
We rinse, we spit. As we were taught.

- Jim Daniels from The Middle Ages © Red Mountain Press, 2018.

John Martin Poem

Bear In Mind

by John Martin

A bear is chasing me through a meadow
and I’m running as fast as I can but
he’s gaining on me—it seems
he’s always gaining on me.
I’m running and running but also
thinking I should just
turn around and say,
“Stop it! Stop chasing me. We both
know you aren’t going to catch me.
All you can ever do is chase me. So,
think about it—why bother?”

The bear does stop,
and he sits on his haunches and thinks,
or seems to think. And then
the bear says to me,
“I have to chase you, you know
that. Or you should. And, sure,
we both know I’ll never catch you.
So, why not give us both a break and
just stop thinking about me?”

But, with that said, he gets back on four feet,
sticks his long pink tongue out, licks down
both sides of his snout. Then he sighs, looks
behind himself, then at me and says, “Okay,
ready when you are.”

- John Martin from Hold This © Concrete Wolf Press, 2017

Delicious Air

Last night I ran into Jackie walking her neighbor's dog. She has been dog sitting for weeks as the pup owner recuperates "I couldn't get any of my neighbors to take a walk with me. They all said it's too cold. I just dress in layers. I love this weather," she said.
"Me too, the air is delicious."

Happy Puppy

Last night I tried an experiment. I fed Romeo-pup his dinner after we played fetch but before the long walk. It worked like a charm. He didn't pull me the whole home for his supper. And when we got home he crashed out without a peep.

He needs the time in his den to rest and recover from our walks and so do I.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Poet Jim Daniels

It was like college was my dry-out camp for me to try and get my life together and get rid of all the poison. I don’t want to go into a catalogue of all my little sins and crimes, but in general, my behavior itself was toxic. Cruel. Destructive. Selfish. It kept me from myself, if that makes any sense — it pushed me further from looking inward, where I needed to look. It was poetry that allowed me to turn inside and have a good look and rediscover my heart.
-Jim Daniels

Monday, November 27, 2017

Bari Sax: Money Mark: Soul Drive Sixth Ave

Listen to this bari sax!
B-43 Reel to Reel Analog Stereo Sound.
Music by Money Mark

Buddy the Dameranian Pomme-Wiener

My sister-in-law adopted a rescue dog from Puerto Rico. He is an adorable Dameranian Pomme-Wiener.

Seasonal Sadness, Seasonal Euphoria

The blue feeling experienced by both SAD and SSAD sufferers can usually be dampened or extinguished by exercise and increased outdoor activity, particularly on sunny days, resulting in increased solar exposure.[25] Connections between human mood, as well as energy levels, and the seasons are well documented, even in healthy individuals.[26]

Physical exercise has shown to be an effective form of depression therapy, particularly when in addition to another form of treatment for SAD.[51] One particular study noted marked effectiveness for treatment of depressive symptoms when combining regular exercise with bright light therapy.[52]

Penn Station

New York City's Pennsylvania Station opened on this date in 1910. Better known as Penn Station, the 1910 version bore absolutely no resemblance to the structure as we know it today. It was a grand example of the Beaux-Arts style, built of pink granite, with stately columns and a skylit interior modeled after a Roman bath. The main waiting room alone was a block and a half long, with 150-foot ceilings. Its tunnels, which ran under the Hudson River, were engineering marvels.

By the late 1950s, though, air travel had gotten cheaper, and the new, smooth, interstate highways tempted people to take automobile trips rather than boarding a train. The rail company couldn't afford to keep its showplace clean, and plans were made to replace Penn Station — at least the above-ground portion of it — with a multi-use entertainment venue, to be called Madison Square Garden.

The stately Beaux-Arts building was leveled in 1963, and replaced with a subterranean, air-conditioned warren lit by cold, fluorescent bulbs. New Yorkers were outraged at the demolition. One New York Times editorial from 1963 read, "We will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed." That outrage helped jump-start the architectural preservation movement in the United States. The New York Landmarks Law was passed two years later, just in time to save Grand Central Terminal, Radio City Music Hall, and thousands other historical landmarks from a similar fate.

Train travel through Penn Station has bounced back; today, it's the busiest train station in the Western Hemisphere. Nevertheless, a writer for the BBC recently called the modern Penn Station an "architectural crime scene," and added, "Outside of the U.S. penitentiary system, it is hard to think of a more joyless building." Vincent Scully, a professor of architecture at Yale, commented, "One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat."

- The Writer's Almanac

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Gail Caldwell

“Real change, though, is forgiving enough to take a little failure, strong enough to take despair in small doses.”
― Gail Caldwell, New Life, No Instructions


“I think solitude chose me.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

The Published Version

“This was a hard-won but brilliant education: I had realized, as life is always willing to instruct, that the world as we see it is only the published version. The subterranean realms, whether churches or hospital rooms or smoke-filled basements, are part of what holds up the rest. The realized life versus the external picture of it: the assumption and projections that we all make about other people's lives.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

Gregarious Hermit

“An introvert with a Texan's affability, I was well intentioned but weak on follow-through; not without reason did an old friend refer to me as the gregarious hermit. I wanted the warmth of spontaneous connection and the freedom to be left alone.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship


“Pain is what yields the solution.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

Let Life

“Most of all I told this story because I wanted to say something about hope and the absence of it, and how we keep going anyway. About second chances, and how they’re sometimes buried amid the dross, even when you’re poised for the downhill grade. The narrative can always turn out to be a different story from what you expected.”
― Gail Caldwell, New Life, No Instructions

“The real trick is to let life, with all it's ordinary missteps and regrets, be consistently more mysterious and alluring then it's end.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

Still Breathing

“The belief that life was hard and often its worst battles were fought in private, that it was possible to walk through fear and come out scorched but still breathing.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship


“Most of us wander in and out of one another's lives until not death, but distance, does us part--time and space and the heart's weariness are the blander executioners of human connection.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

Gail Caldwell

“That she was irreplaceable became a bittersweet loyalty: Her death was what I had now instead of her.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

Gail Caldwell

“Counting on each other became automatic. When I found a sweater in Texas I wanted, I learned to buy two, which was easier than seeing the look of disappointment on Caroline's face when I returned home with only one. When she went out from the boathouse on a windy day, she gave me her schedule in advance, which assuaged her worst-case scenario of flipping the boat, being hit on the head by an oar, and leaving Lucille stranded at home. I still have my set of keys to her house, to locks and doors that no longer exist, and I keep them in my glove compartment, where they have been moved from one car to another in the past couple of years. Someday I will throw them in the Charles, where I lost the seat to her boat and so much else.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

The Poet Paints a Picture

The Partial Explanation

by Charles Simic

Seems like a long time
Since the waiter took my order.
Grimy little luncheonette,
The snow falling outside.

Seems like it has grown darker
Since I last heard the kitchen door
Behind my back
Since I last noticed
Anyone pass on the street.

A glass of ice water
Keeps me company
At this table I chose myself
Upon entering.

And a longing,
Incredible longing
To eavesdrop
On the conversation
Of cooks.

- Charles Simic from Selected Poems: 1963-1983

The Story

It's taken years for me to understand that dying doesn't end the story; it transforms it. Edits, rewrites, the blur, and epiphany of one-way dialogue. Most of us wander in and out of one another's lives until not death, but distance, does us part-- time and space and heart's weariness are the blander executioners or human connection.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship


“Hope in the beginning feels like such a violation of the loss, and yet without it we couldn't survive.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

Gail Caldwell

“I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures. ...We tell the story to get them back, to capture the traces of footfalls through the snow.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship


“We need imperfection in our relationships, else we would die from the thickness of intimacy.”
― Gail Caldwell


“Death is a divorce nobody asked for; to live through it is to find a way to disengage from what you thought you couldn't stand to lose.”
― Gail Caldwell, Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

Gail Caldwell

“Old dogs can be a regal sight. Their exuberance settles over the years into a seasoned nobility, their routines become as locked into yours as the quietest and kindest of marriages.”
― Gail Caldwell

Saturday, November 25, 2017


It's hard work creating an equilibrium when in receive-mode. I bust my butt walking and swimming and writing and it helps a lot. But weekends and holidays change the routine that I rely on for balance. So I try to resume the pattern of my days. I think my dog feels the same way.

Dog Tired

When my puppy Romeo is tired after our walk/training session we both benefit from down time. Romeo naps in his crate and we both have a chance to recover. I am an introvert so I always require hours of retreat after being social and physically active.

Here's a great article about this.

Pumpkin Pie

I am always adapting and tinkering with my favorite recipes. Here's the latest version of an old favorite. You can really taste the pumpkin because it is not overly sweet. We like to eat it for dinner.

Pumpkin Pie

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup of dark molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (half if using regular salt)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger root)
2 large eggs
1 small can of pure pumpkin (15 oz.)
1 can of evaporated milk (12 fl. oz.)
1 home made nine inch unbaked whole wheat pie shell (4-cup volume)

Directions for making the pie:
Read below, prepare crust first!
Mix sugar, dark molasses, cinnamon, salt, ginger and eggs in large bowl. Whisk in pumpkin puree and evaporated milk. Pour into the (prebaked 5 minutes) crust.
Bake pie in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 more minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Some bakers use sweetened condensed milk so I tried it but I discovered that it is cloyingly sweet and drowns out the pumpkin taste compared to a pie made with evaporated milk and 3/4 cup sugar. The evaporated milk pumpkin pie is much more like Indian Pudding and tastes like a food!

Pie Crust
(I pre-bake my crust at 350 for 5 minutes.)
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup corn oil (add a tablespoon of cold water if needed).
3 tablespoons brown sugar (the sugar is the glue, holding the crust together)
1-2 teaspoons Kosher salt (less if using regular salt or white flour)
(if white sugar is what I have I add molasses to make brown sugar)

Mix flour and oil with fingers so it is pebbly then add a little bit more so it becomes like Play-Doh consistency. Press into pie pan with fingers. Prick dough with fork and make pressed fork pattern on edge. It is very sticky and hard to handle but hang in there, it will be delicious.

Lewis Thomas

“The recorded songs of the humpback whale, filled with tensions and resolutions, ambiguities and allusions, incomplete, can be listened to as a part of music, like an isolated section of an orchestra. If we had better hearing, and could discern the descants of sea birds, the rhythmic timpani of schools of mollusks, or even the distant harmonics of midges hanging over meadows in the sun, the combined sound might lift us off our feet.”
-Lewis Thomas

Friday, November 24, 2017

Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“That's what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“...the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

That is their mystery and their magic.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. Big Things lurk unsaid inside.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“If you're happy in a dream, does that count?”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“She wore flowers in her hair and carried magic secrets in her eyes. She spoke to no one. She spent hours on the riverbank. She smoked cigarettes and had midnight swims...”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“This was the trouble with families. Like invidious doctors, they knew just where it hurt.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“Change is one thing. Acceptance is another.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

“The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”
― Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy

It’s the birthday of author and political activist Arundhati Roy (books by this author), born in Meghalaya, India (1961). She’s best known for her first novel, The God of Small Things (1997), which she wrote when she was 37 years old. She said, “When people used to ask me how long it took to write The God of Small Things, I would say 37 years, because to me, a novel is not a product.” It went on to sell more 8 million copies worldwide and she gives most of her royalty money away.

It took her more than 20 years to write her next book, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (2017), about a transgender woman, known in India as a hijra. About writing, Roy once said: “To me there is nothing higher than fiction. Nothing. It is fundamentally who I am. I am a teller of stories. For me, that’s the only way I can make sense of the world, with all the dance that it involves.”

Roy’s father was a Bengali Hindu and her mother a Syrian Christian. She left home at 17 and began working at the National Institute of Urban Affairs, making no money and hiring a bicycle for one rupee a day to get to work. Over the years, Roy has campaigned against nuclear weapons, lived with Indian Maoists in the jungle, and exposed government corruption, inequality, and environmental destruction. She’s been thrown in jail and accused of sedition. She said: “The right wing, the mobs, vigilantes, they are there at every meeting, threatening violence, threatening all kinds of things. I still go to speak, to Punjab, in Orissa, wherever; I’m not really that writer who is sequestered somewhere, and I live perhaps alone but in the heart of the crowd.”

Arundhati Roy once said, “There’s no voiceless, there’s only the deliberately silenced, you know, or the purposely unheard.”

Self Preservation

“Self-preservation is the primary and only foundation of virtue.”
― Baruch Spinoza

True Use

“Those who know the true use of money, and regulate the measure of wealth according to their needs, live contented with few things.”
― Baruch Spinoza

Baruch Spinoza

“A free man thinks of nothing less than of death, and his wisdom is a meditation, not on death, but on life.”
― Baruch Spinoza, Ethics

“He who wishes to revenge injuries by reciprocal hatred will live in misery. But he who endeavors to drive away hatred by means of love, fights with pleasure and confidence; he resists equally one or many men, and scarcely needs at all the help of fortune. Those whom he conquers yield joyfully.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“Everyone endeavors as much as possible to make others love what he loves, and to hate what he hates... This effort to make everyone approve what we love or hate is in truth ambition, and so we see that each person by nature desires that other persons should live according to his way of thinking...”
― Baruch Spinoza

“The superstitious know how to reproach people for their vices better than they know how to teach them virtues, and they strive, not to guide men by reason, but to restrain them by fear, so that they flee the evil rather than love virtues. Such people aim only to make others as wretched as they themselves are, so it is no wonder that they are generally burdensome and hateful to men.”
― Baruch Spinoza, Ethics

“Blessedness is not the reward of virtue, but virtue itself.”
― Baruch Spinoza, Ethics

“The ultimate aim of government is not to rule, or restrain by fear, nor to exact obedience, but to free every man from fear that he may live in all possible security... In fact the true aim of government is liberty.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“Nature offers nothing that can be called this man's rather than another's; but under nature everything belongs to all.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“Minds, however, are conquered not by arms, but by love and nobility.”
― Baruch Spinoza, Ethics

“No reason compels me to maintain that the body does not die unless it is changed into a corpse. And, indeed, experience seems to urge a different conclusion. Sometimes a man undergoes such changes that I should hardly have said he was the same man.”
― Baruch Spinoza, Ethics

Love Truth

“Of all the things that are beyond my power, I value nothing more highly than to be allowed the honor of entering into bonds of friendship with people who sincerely love truth. For, of things beyond our power, I believe there is nothing in the world which we can love with tranquility except such men.”
― Baruch Spinoza, The Letters


“The more you struggle to live, the less you live. Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is are above everything distressing.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“If you want the future to be different from the present, study the past.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“The more you struggle to live, the less you live. Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is are above everything distressing.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of the peace.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition of benevolence, confidence, justice.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“Everything excellent is as difficult as it is rare.”
― Baruch Spinoza, Ethics

“I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“The more clearly you understand yourself and your emotions, the more you become a lover of what is.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“Do not weep. Do not wax indignant. Understand.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“Those who wish to seek out the cause of miracles and to understand the things of nature as philosophers, and not to stare at them in astonishment like fools, are soon considered heretical and impious, and proclaimed as such by those whom the mob adores as the interpreters of nature and the gods. For these men know that, once ignorance is put aside, that wonderment would be taken away, which is the only means by which their authority is preserved.”
― Baruch Spinoza, Ethics

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted by many.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“I would warn you that I do not attribute to nature either beauty or deformity, order or confusion. Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly, well-ordered or confused.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“In so far as the mind sees things in their eternal aspect, it participates in eternity.”
― Baruch Spinoza, Spinoza in der europäischen Geistesgeschichte

“When a man is prey to his emotions, he is not his own master.”
― Baruch Spinoza

“The endeavor to understand is the first and only basis of virtue.”
― Baruch Spinoza

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

“From Garage to Outer Space!”

This man is about to launch himself in his homemade rocket to prove the Earth is flat
Washington Post article

Sunshine, Lights, Exercise

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression triggered by shorter days and reduced light.

Beth Brownsberger Mader

Poem By Patricia Fargnoli

Approaching Seventy

by Patricia Fargnoli

A spider crawls beneath the screen,
designs a web in the corner and waits
with the patience of a calendar.

This is the end of summer,
scent of decay everywhere in the outside air,

flowers, planted last spring with such
a sense of promise, leaving one by one,
disappearing into the earth.

I think of endings--

final page of a novel
and the characters you've come to love
placed on the shelf,

a wave from a doorway-- those slight
or heavy sadnesses---

friend in Sagaponock the last time I saw her,
waving from the dock as the ferry pulled out
and the wake lengthened between us,

or swells on a stormy crossing,
pine boughs, dark, lifting and falling
in heavy rain, one night of my childhood,

beyond the small stair top bedroom
at my aunt's Vermont inn, as I lay awake--
wood smoke and voices from the lobby below,

a memory of suitcases standing by a farmhouse
front door, milk cans topped with snow, the pale
complexion of my mother who left and didn't return,

memory of lilacs--branches my brother and I used to climb through,
scratching ourselves as we hid from each other--
not long ago, at an airport, we hugged goodbye again--

what I left behind when I moved
to this senior apartment--some feeling of usefulness,
half of my books, most of my clothes.

Sometimes, it feels as if I've said goodbye to everyone.
Through the north window, I watch clouds move off
beyond my vision, and somewhere dissolve into rain.

Patricia Fargnoli of Walpole NH, a former New Hampshire Poet Laureate, is the author of five collections of poetry. Her latest book, Duties of the Spirit (Tupelo Press, 2005) won the Jane Kenyon Literary Award. She's received five Pushcart Prize nominations and been published in such literary journals as Poetry, Ploughshares, The North American Review, and The Massachussetts Review. Her featured poem, "Approaching Seventy" is previously unpublished and is included in her new book Then, Something published by Tupelo Press.

Patricia Fargnoli

Winter Grace

by Patricia Fargnoli

If you have seen the snow
under the lamppost
piled up like a white beaver hat on the picnic table
or somewhere slowly falling
into the brook
to be swallowed by water,
then you have seen beauty
and know it for its transience.
And if you have gone out in the snow
for only the pleasure
of walking barely protected
from the galaxies,
the flakes settling on your parka
like the dust from just-born stars,
the cold waking you
as if from long sleeping,
then you can understand
how, more often than not,
truth is found in silence,
how the natural world comes to you
if you go out to meet it,
its icy ditches filled with dead weeds,
its vacant birdhouses, and dens
full of the sleeping.
But this is the slowed down season
held fast by darkness
and if no one comes to keep you company
then keep watch over your own solitude.
In that stillness, you will learn
with your whole body
the significance of cold
and the night,
which is otherwise always eluding you.

- Patricia Fargnoli from Hallowed © Tupelo Press, 2017.

Here on Earth

I met an elderly woman on my walk who told me she adopts abused birds. "When they're stressed their feathers fall out. I know, I have it too, my hair falls out from anxiety. I wear wigs all the time," she said.

I met a young woman in the pool who is trying to learn how to swim. "It's taking me longer because I have a fear of drowning," she said. "My job is so stressful because it is all women and drama, it's like Broadway! There is this one woman who picks on me. I am the quiet one, I feel things and sense things deeply. Why is she jealous? I have two little dogs, they are my children and they sleep with me."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


On a holiday week there's an undertow. I am hiding under the waves wearing squishy clothes (sweatpants and sweatshirts). I have a blizzard mentality. I scurried off to the supermarket last night so I could avoid the insanity. The craziness had already begun but it was manageable. They had good looking kale but were out of canned pumpkin. I had another source, and stopped on the way home.

John Thorne

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

John Thorne

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

What is History?

“What is history? The lie that everyone agrees on...”
― Voltaire


“Man is free at the instant he wants to be.”
― Voltaire


“It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster.”
― Voltaire


“One day everything will be well, that is our hope. Everything's fine today, that is our illusion.”
― Voltaire


“The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us”
― Voltaire


“Liberty of thought is the life of the soul.”
― Voltaire


“Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills.”
― Voltaire


“Men will always be mad, and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all.”
― Voltaire


“Let us cultivate our garden.”
― Voltaire, Candide

The Comfort

“The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.”
― Voltaire


“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”
― Voltaire

The Human Brain

“The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.”
― Voltaire


“Don't think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.”
― Voltaire

The Art of Medicine

“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”
― Voltaire

Ice Cream

“Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn't illegal.”
― Voltaire

Let us Read and Let us Dance

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”
― Voltaire

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
― Voltaire

“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”
― Voltaire

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”
― Voltaire

“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”
― Voltaire

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
― Voltaire, Questions sur les Miracles à M. Claparede, Professeur de Théologie à Genève, par un Proposant: Ou Extrait de Diverses Lettres de M. de Voltaire

“Common sense is not so common.”
― Voltaire, A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary

“Love truth, but pardon error.”
― Voltaire

“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it."

(Letter to Étienne Noël Damilaville, May 16, 1767)”
― Voltaire

“I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our more stupid melancholy propensities, for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one’s very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?”
― Voltaire, Candide: or, Optimism

“I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way.”
― Voltaire

“God is a comedian playing to an audience that is too afraid to laugh.”
― Voltaire

“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.”
― Voltaire

“Dare to think for yourself.”
― Voltaire

“Despite the enormous quantity of books, how few people read! And if one reads profitably, one would realize how much stupid stuff the vulgar herd is content to swallow every day.”
― Voltaire

“Fools have a habit of believing that everything written by a famous author is admirable. For my part I read only to please myself and like only what suits my taste.”
― Voltaire, Candide

“Now, now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies."
(Voltaire on his deathbed in response to a priest asking him that he renounce Satan.)”
― Voltaire

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.”
― Voltaire, The Age of Louis XIV

“God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.”
― Voltaire

“The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood.”
― Voltaire

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.”
― Voltaire

“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”
― Voltaire

“It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.”
― Voltaire, Zadig

“Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.”
― Voltaire, Traité sur la tolérance, à l'occasion de la mort de Jean Calas

“Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”
― Voltaire

“Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.”
― Voltaire, The Works: Voltaire


“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
― Voltaire

Anga Bangha

Having a literal pain in the butt is not a fun experience; it can make walking, sitting and sleeping difficult and uncomfortable. It is certainly something that one would want gone as soon as possible, yet sometimes we unknowingly exacerbate the issue by trying to stretch the injured area. There is a special name for these types of practices – anga bangha. It basically means that you want to do something good but end up hurting yourself. Today we will explore three types of the pain in the butt and how you can avoid making your practice anga bangha.


I dreamed I was visiting my friend Adele. She was living in an 18c house and there was a fire in the fireplace. There were three Dachshunds and some other creature that was peeing on the furniture. The floor boards were old and wide and rounded. They were so rounded that they looked like people sleeping in sleeping bags.

Monday, November 20, 2017

R.W. Apple Jr.

“Newspaper people love impossible dreams. I suppose we’re reckless sentimentalists. If we didn’t love impossible dreams, we would not still be working in an industry whose basic technology was developed in the 16th and 17th centuries.”
- R.W. Apple Jr.

Pressure-Cooked Hardboiled Eggs

Another miracle of the pressure cooker is that you can hard-boil eggs in no time. Delicately place a bunch of eggs onto the steamer tray. Add water up to the tray and a few pinches of salt. Pressure cook them for five minutes. When I start with a cold stove-top pressure cooker I just set it up on the kitchen timer for 13 minutes.

I LOVE Charles Simic

Rural Delivery

by Charles Simic

I never thought we’d end up
Living this far north, love.
Cold blue heaven over our heads,
Quarter moon like chalk on a slate.

This week it’s the art of subtraction
And further erasure that we study.
O the many blanks to ponder
Before the night overtakes us once more
On this lonely stretch of road
Unplowed since this morning;
Mittens raised against the sudden
Blinding gust of wind and snow,
But the mailbox empty. I had to stick
My bare hand all the way in
To make sure this is where we live.

The wonder of it! We retraced our steps
Homeward lit by the same fuel
As the snow glinting in the gloom
Of the early nightfall.

- Charles Simic from Selected Poems: 1963-1983. © George Braziller, 1990.

Murray Insists

“The family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation. There must be something in family life that generates factual error. Over-closeness, the noise and heat of being. Perhaps even something deeper like the need to survive. Murray says we are fragile creatures surrounded by a world of hostile facts. Facts threaten our happiness and security. The deeper we delve into things, the looser our structure may seem to become. The family process works towards sealing off the world. Small errors grow heads, fictions proliferate. I tell Murray that ignorance and confusion can’t possibly be the driving forces behind family solidarity. What an idea, what a subversion. He asks me why the strongest family units exist in the least developed societies. Not to know is a weapon of survival, he says. Magic and superstition become entrenched as the powerful orthodoxy of the clan. The family is strongest where objective reality is most likely to be misinterpreted. What a heartless theory, I say. But Murray insists it’s true.”
― Don DeLillo, White Noise

White Noise

“It is possible to be homesick for a place even when you are there.”
― Don DeLillo, White Noise

Don DeLillo

“Writing is a concentrated form of thinking. I don’t know what I think about certain subjects, even today, until I sit down and try to write about them.”

“Writing is a concentrated form of thinking...a young writer sees that with words he can place himself more clearly into the world. Words on a page, that's all it takes to help him separate himself from the forces around him, streets and people and pressures and feelings. He learns to think about these things, to ride his own sentences into new perceptions.”
― Don DeLillo

“How strange it is. We have these deep terrible lingering fears about ourselves and the people we love. Yet we walk around, talk to people, eat and drink. We manage to function. The feelings are deep and real. Shouldn't they paralyze us? How is it we can survive them, at least for a little while? We drive a car, we teach a class. How is it no one sees how deeply afraid we were, last night, this morning? Is it something we all hide from each other, by mutual consent? Or do we share the same secret without knowing it? Wear the same disguise?”
― Don DeLillo

“No sense of the irony of human experience, that we are the highest form of life on earth, and yet ineffably sad because we know what no other animal knows, that we must die.”
― Don DeLillo, White Noise

“I've got death inside me. It's just a question of whether or not I can outlive it.”
― Don DeLillo, White Noise

“That's why people take vacations. No to relax or find excitement or see new places. To escape the death that exists in routine things.”
― Don DeLillo, White Noise

“California deserves whatever it gets. Californians invented the concept of life-style. This alone warrants their doom.”
― Don DeLillo, White Noise

“Sometimes I see something so moving I know I’m not supposed to linger. See it and leave. If you stay too long, you wear out the wordless shock. Love it and trust it and leave.”
― Don DeLillo, Underworld

“If you reveal everything, bare every feeling, ask for understanding, you lose something crucial to your sense of yourself. You need to know things that others don't know. It's what no one knows about you that allows you to know yourself.”
― Don DeLillo, Point Omega

“There are dead stars that still shine because their light is trapped in time. Where do I stand in this light, which does not strictly exist?”
― Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Al Pittampalli

When Should You Trust Your Gut? Here's What the Science Says
Posted Nov 16, 2017

Sharon Olds

“Writing poems moves us past where we were when we sat down to write them.”
— Sharon Olds

“I think that my work is easy to understand because I am not a thinker. I am not a […] How can I put it? I write the way I perceive, I guess. It’s not really simple, I don’t think, but it’s about ordinary things — feeling about things, about people. I’m not an intellectual. I’m not an abstract thinker. And I’m interested in ordinary life.”
— Sharon Olds

Douglas LaBier

We are, indeed, one bio-psycho-spiritual-social being.
-Douglas LaBier

Friday, November 17, 2017

Navy Pilot Sky Graffiti


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Connie Wanek

...people, especially Minnesotans,
pull their sleeves over their watches

and want to find a way to like you.
If they can sit through winter’s sermons,
they can sit through you.

from the poem “Audience” by Connie Wanek from Rival Gardens

Shelby Foote

“A writer’s like anybody else except when he’s writing.”
-Shelby Foote

Cold Turkey

That group that just left talks about me behind my back so I'm moving out. I can't live like that, she said.

Groups of people can be hard to deal with especially when you're the outsider in your family, I said.

I was the outsider in my family. My brother and sister got an education, they got to go to college. But I have street smarts, she said.

My father got drunk and raped me and I ran away from home. He denies it, she said. My mother left him because of that and the alcohol and my parents divorced over it. My mother is the support in my life.

After I ran away I started abusing drugs and alcohol,
she said.

How did you get clean? I asked.

My drug dealer got arrested. On that very same day I found a kitten that was separated from its mother. I saw it as a sign. I took her in and nursed her back to health. I stopped all drugs and alcohol cold turkey on that day.

I used to be 400 pounds. I'm down to 225. I'm working on it. I have to quit smoking too, but one thing at a time,
she said.

You've been through a war. You are stronger than ten Navy SEALs, I said.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Margaret Atwood Poem

A Pink Hotel in California

by Margaret Atwood

My father chops with his axe
and the leaves fall off the trees.
It’s nineteen forty-three.
He’s splitting wood for the winter.
His gun leans behind the door,
beside his goose-greased workboots.
Smoke comes out of the metal chimney.

At night I sleep in a bunk bed.
The waves stroke the lake.
In the mornings it is so cold
we can see our breath
and the ice on the rocky shore.
My mother rakes the ashes
out from under the oven.

This is comfort and safety,
the sound of chopping in the empty forest,
the smell of smoke.
It’s nineteen forty-three.
After it rains we have a bonfire.
The children dance around it,
singing about the war
which is happening elsewhere.
What has become of them, those words
that once shone with such
glossy innocence?
I rolled them in my mouth like marbles,
they tasted pure:
smoke, gun, boots, oven.
The fire. The scattered ashes. The winter forest.

I sit in a pink room;
the chest of drawers
has antique man-bored wormholes.
Isn’t there enough of the past
without making more?

It’s nineteen forty-three.
It’s nineteen ninety-four,
I can hear the sound of the chopping.
It’s because of the ocean,
it’s because of the war
which won’t stay under the waves and leaves.
The carpet smells of ashes.

This is the pink hotel
where everything recurs
and nothing is elsewhere.

- Margaret Atwood, Morning in the Burned House © Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995.

Andrea Barrett

“The news came deftly padded with reassurance about my probable ability to write, the not-bad story I had written, the things I’d learned writing all those drafts, which would surely help me with what I wrote next, but the kernel of his advice was simple: Throw it out, and move on. Take all you learned writing that and make something new. Afterwards I cried, I fussed, I crashed around — and then I did what he said. What a huge relief to shed those mauled and tortured pages! And how quickly, freed from them, did I begin to write again. That advice made me a writer: I throw out things all the time, still; sometimes things on which I have, as I did with that first novel, spent not only months but years. What’s important, what the attempt taught me about writing, the material I’m exploring, where I want to go next, always survives.
- The Writer's Almanac

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pumpkin Pie for Supper

I am baking a pumpkin pie for supper. It's been a while since I last made it. I love pumpkin and my pie is not overly sweet. It's almost savory.


I joined the YMCA today and swam in the amazing pool. I am relieved to be back in the water. The pool building has a clerestory. The sunlight streaming in from above is divine.

Most swimmers agree that swimming is hydro-psychotherapy.

I was glad to be able to walk to the pool. I love to walk because I run into my neighbors and this makes me feel planted in my community. I also like to pick up bits of loose trash on the street.

Fish Out of Water

I've been a fish out of water with the neighborhood pool closed and the college pool closed for repairs. After a few recommendations from fellow swimmers I checked out our local YMCA. It's now under new management. Meanwhile my seasonal receive-mode anxiety is mounting. Romeo is at my side chewing his Nylabone and I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


It was the largest fentanyl seizure in U.S. history. There was enough inside the apartment to kill 32 million people, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Biomedical Big Brother

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a digital pill — a medication embedded with a sensor that can tell doctors whether, and when, patients take their medicine.

The Brave and Eloquent Melody Moezzi



I dreamed there were food and dance auditions going on at a city store front. I was signed up for the food audition but asked if I could also audition for dance. The judges agreed.
Will I be dancing awl alone? I asked.
Yes, they replied.
I can't believe I said awl, that's my NY accent showing, I said.
I could hear Fats Domino's music playing.
First I have to take off my hiking boots, I said. Then I began dancing around the room and I woke up.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dog Mom

I am a new mother to my new dog and I am full of self doubt, does he like me, am I wearing him out, am I confusing him? Meanwhile Romeo is a sweet and eager student inspiring me to be a worthy teacher. This morning without a prompt Romeo sat at the back door as I attached his leash. "Good boy," I said.

We've been working through the sticky spots - walking past the things that normally frighten him (couches on the sidewalk, electric doors) and he is making progress. Maybe this is because he is trusting me and his new home. I think it's also because he is very smart and eager to please.

This morning on our downtown walk I kept saying "good boy," as he walked beside me, heeling. Yesterday in the empty fenced-in ball field at the park, I asked him to sit and stay. Then I walked backwards while facing him and tossed him the ball. He caught it. We did it three times alternating with rounds of fetch. Then it was time to stop.

As I was leaving I spotted Sylvia off in the distance. I called her name and ran towards her with my arms spread wide. She did the same thing and we hugged laughing at ourselves. Then the sun came out and people started arriving at the park and some of them had dogs. One older woman sporting fashionable black leggings had a spaniel wearing a pink and gray argyle sweater. Her dog greeted Romeo with his mouth wide open ready to bite. "He's not good with big dogs," she said pulling him away. A young lady with a tan hound was struggling with her dog. "He's afraid of other dogs, sorry," she said turning around and leaving. A man walked over to me with his 4 year old daughter and he kneeled on the ground to meet Romeo. Romeo was immediately snuggly with him. "I'm impressed," I said.
"I love dogs. My daughter loves dogs too but she doesn't like to touch them, even our own little dog at home," he said. Another man arrived with a gigantic pitbull with a head larger than a basketball that he was barely able to hold onto. His dog went nose to nose with Romeo. "Be a good girl," the man said. I heard his dog's low growl so I pulled Romeo back trying to be cordial. Then as I was leaving I saw Abby and her gigantic mastiff/pitbull/Labrador. I have known Abby since she was a girl. "Mia just wants to play," she said as Mia stuck her front legs straight up in the air to greet Romeo. Abby used her whole body to hold back her dog, "She needs to run," Abby said putting the chain leash behind her back for needed stability. Then her dog calmed down and sat still for a moment while we talked. "Look at the light hitting her, she is a gorgeous dog," I said. "But Romeo is tired from playing fetch. So we have to go home now, maybe they can play together another time." I was also worried that Mia was too out of control.

This morning I was thinking, Maybe parks are the worst places to bring a dog. Generally I feel much better walking on sidewalks where the rules of conduct are a bit more straightforward.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


A bright red cardinal was chirping. I looked up and he was on top of a bare tree catching the remaining light. I stood below admiring the shadow of a thin branch across his body. I wished he was my size so I could hug him.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


I played fetch with Romeo in the yard and when it was time to stop and have a walk he insisted on carrying the ball. When he stopped to poop he let go of the ball and two tennis balls fell out of his mouth. I held them with my feet and then snuck them into my coat pocket.

As I was passing the church a young man was watching me try to get Romeo to heel. "That's just like my dog," he said and he showed me a photo of his dog on his phone. "I teach people how to train dogs using my dog lessons on youtube." He said his name was Jerry and he just moved here from Providence and he loves living here. I told him that Father Dennis is an amazing pastor of this church. "I love this church and I live right around the corner. I'm sure I'll see you again," he said.

When Romeo and I arrived at Turbesi Park nobody was there, probably due to the extreme cold. So I decided to try playing fetch with him in the fenced-in ball field. He loved it and we had many rounds. Then I realized he could go on forever but he must be getting tired.

On the way home I ran into Erin hanging Christmas lights and garlands from her 2nd floor porch. The setting sun lit up her house like a stage set. "Maybe you can help me. Tell me if these are even," she said. "Make this one about 12 inches shorter," I said, pointing to the left loop of lights. She adjusted them. "Perfect!" I said.
"Thank you. You saved me a trip."
"Glad to help."

It was very cold out but a delicious cold. When Romeo and I got home I fed him dinner and made a batch of hot cocoa for Bill and me.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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

“There is no subject so old that something new cannot be said about it.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms. It's by talking nonsense that one gets to the truth! I talk nonsense, therefore I'm human”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground, White Nights, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, and Selections from The House of the Dead

“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky


“To love someone means to see them as God intended them.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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


“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

“Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn't calculate his happiness.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground, White Nights, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, and Selections from The House of the Dead

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


“The soul is healed by being with children.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“Right or wrong, it's very pleasant to break something from time to time.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky


“Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

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


“But how could you live and have no story to tell?”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, White Nights

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

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


I dreamed I unrolled a big painting in preparation for a show and there were two small holes in it. My husband the physics teacher said, "Everything's in motion."

Friday, November 10, 2017

Prevent Overdose RI

We have one goal: to save lives.

Three Downtown Voices

"My husband stomped on it," she said. "All the toes broke. It was grounds for divorce. It meant being homeless for a while. I am a house painter by trade. I finally got surgery on my foot so now I'll be able to climb ladders again."

"Are you guys okay in this cold?"
"We huddle together in the tent. But tonight we have a hotel room."

"You have no idea how bad my daughter treats me. I have to get outta here. What I need is a friend. Would you have a cup of coffee with me?"

Thank You Aly Raisman


I dreamed a dog spoke to me in English. He had a human face. "Wow," I said to the owner. "There was an expensive program on teaching your dog to speak English but I taught mine for just a dollar a day," she said.
"How did you do it? Did you just assemble human sounds to be words?" I asked the owner.
The dog looked at me and said, "You have four drops of blood on your knuckles."

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Diana Nyad

Tell your story. Let us never again be silenced.

Julie Fast



Last night I sat on the dog bed on the floor next to Romeo while he chewed his white Nylabone. I was wrapped in a green blanket. I couldn't stop petting his silky black fur. At one point Romeo draped himself on my lap his pointy elbows poking my thighs as he chewed. I loved it. I watched his forehead muscles flexing. Occasionally he would stop and turn towards me and grab my blanket with his teeth. I'd say "no" and hand the bone back to him holding one end. He'd immediately resume chewing. It was a comforting sound. My blue jeans were damp with dog drool. This is cozy dog love.

Anne Sexton

“Being kissed on the back
of the knee is a moth
at the windowscreen....”
― Anne Sexton, Love Poems

“Once I was beautiful. Now I am myself,
Counting this row and that row of moccasins
Waiting on the silent shelf.”
― Anne Sexton

“the man
inside of woman
ties a knot
so that they will
never again be separate…”
― Anne Sexton

“And we are magic talking to itself,
noisy and alone...”
― Anne Sexton, To Bedlam and Part Way Back

“Yet love enters my blood like an I.V.,
dripping in its little white moments.”
― Anne Sexton

“God owns heaven but He craves the earth.”
― Anne Sexton

Her Kind

by Anne Sexton

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

― Anne Sexton, To Bedlam and Part Way Back

Light up the Cave

“Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.”
― Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems

“Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.”
― Anne Sexton

“I am alone here in my own mind.
There is no map
and there is no road.
It is one of a kind
just as yours is.”
― Anne Sexton

“I like you; your eyes are full of language."

[Letter to Anne Clarke, July 3, 1964.]”
― Anne Sexton

“Live or die, but don't poison everything.”
― Anne Sexton

“Everyone in me is a bird
I am beating all my wings”
― Anne Sexton, Love Poems

“It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.”
― Anne Sexton

“Depression is boring, I think
and I would do better to make
some soup and light up the cave.”
― Anne Sexton

“Saints have no moderation, nor do poets, just exuberance.”
― Anne Sexton

“She is so naked and singular.
She is the sum of yourself and your dream.
Climb her like a monument, step after step.
She is solid.”
― Anne Sexton

“Don't bite till you know if it's bread or stone.”
― Anne Sexton, Complete Poems

Anne Sexton

And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in their stone boats.

- Anne Sexton, from the poem The Truth the Dead Know by Anne Sexton

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

A Good Student

Yesterday I bruised my finger again tugging on the leash. So this morning I tried to teach Romeo to heel. It was exhausting for both of us. We didn't get very far on the walk. I was discouraged about the right way to achieve this. I went swimming to stop worrying. When I came home Romeo happily chewed his blue Nylabone bone beside me while I ate lunch. Afterwards we played fetch in the yard with the tennis ball. We worked on "give", "sit", "come", and "stay."

He is an excellent student and it has been fun to build on these commands. It is best to practice in short frequent training sessions. But I am overwhelmed by "heel."

Teaching Heel


Maggie Smith Poem

You Could Never Take a Car to Greenland

by Maggie Smith

my daughter says. Unless the car could float.
Unless by car you mean boat. Unless the ocean
turned to ice and promised not to crack.
Unless Greenland floated over here,
having lifted its anchor. Unless we could row
our country there. Our whole continent
would have to come along, wouldn’t it? Unless
we cut ourselves free. What kind of saw
could we use for that? What kind of oars
could deliver one country to another?
She asks, Why is Greenland called Greenland
if it’s not green? Why is Iceland called
Iceland if it’s greener than Greenland?
Unless it’s a trick, a lie: the name Greenland
is an ad for Greenland. Who would go
promised nothing but ice? Who would cut
her home to pieces and row away for that?

- Maggie Smith from Good Bones © Tupelo Press, 2017.

Work on Ourselves

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”
― Dorothy Day

“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
― Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist

“Don't worry about being effective. Just concentrate on being faithful to the truth.”
― Dorothy Day

“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”
― Dorothy Day

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
― Dorothy Day

“I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.”
― Dorothy Day

“The Gospel takes away our right forever, to discriminate between the deserving and the undeserving poor.”
― Dorothy Day

“You will know your vocation by the joy that it brings you. You will know. You will know when it's right.”
― Dorothy Day

“Those who cannot see Christ in the poor are atheists indeed.”
― Dorothy Day

“My strength returns to me with my cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms.”
― Dorothy Day

“People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”
― Dorothy Day

“We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.”
― Dorothy Day

“The older I get, the more I meet people, the more convinced I am that we must only work on ourselves, to grow in grace. The only thing we can do about people is to love them.”
― Dorothy Day, All the Way to Heaven: The Selected Letters of Dorothy Day

“The final word is love.”
― Dorothy Day

“We cannot love God unless we love each other, and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship.”
― Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist

“Life itself is a haphazard, untidy, messy affair.”
― Dorothy Day

“Writing is hard work. But if you want to become a writer you will become one. Nothing will stop you.”
― Dorothy Day

“Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up.”
― Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day

“What we would like to do is change the world — make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute — the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words — we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever-widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as our friend.
-Dorothy Day

Kazuo Ishiguro

“You can think of me like an early aviator before airplanes were properly invented. I’m building some sort of flying machine in my back garden. I just need it to fly. And you know how odd some of those early flying machines looked? Well, my novels are a bit like that. I put them together out of anything I can think of according to my thinking to make the thing fly.”
- Kazuo Ishiguro


“When I’m in a school, the students are leading the way, and adults are desperately trying to catch up.”

A Happy Boy

Last night we drove to Tiverton to have the part 2 Lyme vaccine for Romeo and drop off a fecal sample. I sat in the back seat with him as Bill drove. Knowing Romeo likes to chew I thought to bring one of his Nylabones. It was the right decision. He chewed his bone the whole way and in the waiting room and on the way home.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017



Mr. Suspicious

I glanced out the window just before taking my dog for a walk. I noticed a man in front of garage six taking off his pants. It was 7:30 AM. He sat for a moment on two cinder blocks wearing his red boxers and orange high-top sneakers. Then he took a pair of pants out of a garbage bag he had and put them on. As I was leaving I could see that it was Mr. Suspicious. I felt sorry for him.


I dreamed the neighborhood landlord was planning on building a subway in Woonsocket that would connect to all of the nearby communities.

The Pee Jar

"I broke the pee jar," I said to my husband. The 4 oz jam jar we discovered was just shallow enough for getting urine samples from our female dogs over the years. Each time we needed it for veterinary purposes we'd sheepishly ask for it back. "No problem," they'd say returning it to us rinsed. We cherished this jar because it was also a perfect measurement for heating up milk for one mug of coffee. We called it the pee jar to make ourselves laugh. This morning while preparing coffee I stepped away and began fussing the mirror. I heard the sound of breaking glass in the kitchen. Our cat had been licking the remaining milk out of the jar and accidentally pushed it off the counter. "It was bound to happen," I said to my husband, "But now we have a boy dog, he has a spigot so getting a urine sample will be much easier."

Monday, November 06, 2017

Your Amygdala’s Request

If you can sense and appreciate your fear — be it of flying, illness or social rejection — as merely your amygdala’s request for more information rather than a signal of impending doom, then you are on your way to calming down and engaging more conscious, logic-dominated parts of your brain. At that point, you can assess the rationality of your fear and take steps to deal with it.

Just as fear can be contagious, so can courage, caring and calm.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Changing Light

It's the terrifying season of receive-mode. Mornings are most difficult. I feel ungrateful complaining but this is the way it is. Romeo and I took a long walk to the pond and that cheered me up. Now back home I am once again eager to escape my head. I worry about everything. I vacillate between grieving the past and the future while struggling to be in the present. This is why a walk or a swim is helpful. The effects may be subtle but it is about taking refuge in the body.

Friday, November 03, 2017


I dreamed we were driving up high on a circular bridge. It was a spiral road around a tower. I was a passenger and from my vantage point I did not see the guard rail. A wind gust came and threw the car against the side of the bridge which had walls made of fish netting. We reached out of the half open windows to grab the netting as if that would help. I woke up with a scare.

Walker Evans

“[A]lmost all good artists are being worked through with forces that they’re not quite aware of. They are transmitters of sensitivities that they’re not aware of having, of forces that are in the air at the time. I’ve done a lot of things that I’m surprised at now which show a lot of knowledge that I didn’t have or knew I had. I can now learn something from my own pictures.”
- Walker Evans

“[P]art of a photographer’s gift should be with people. You can do some wonderful work if you know how to make people understand what you’re doing and feel all right about it, and you can do terrible work if you put them on the defense, which they all are at the beginning. You’ve got to take them off their defensive attitude and make them participate.”
-Walker Evans

quoted on the Writer's Almanac

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Be Curious

“Be curious, not judgmental.”
― Walt Whitman

That Road

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.
You must travel it by yourself.
It is not far. It is within reach.
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know.
Perhaps it is everywhere - on water and land.”
― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass