Friday, December 26, 2008

forget the year (Bonenkai)


The Japanese New Year (Oshogatsu) is a time for peace and resolution. Origami cranes (a symbol of longevity and happiness) are used in decorations to bring peace and joy to the New Year.
At the end of the year, “forget the year gatherings” (Bonenkai) are held, to provide an opportunity to leave behind the old year’s worries and troubles.

presenting the annual holiday edition:
origami cards and envelopes constructed from the C volume of the 1971 Encyclopaedia Britannica



the cards:



the envelopes:



reading Advanced Origami / Didier Boursin

weather the thaw between storms


in memoriam Emerson : happy hunting
birth unknown | appeared Thanksgiving 2004 | departed Boxing Day 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

balderdash

The instructor has dirty nails, mouse brown hair that isn't interesting enough to be considered styled, wears chinos that are neither new nor old. The radiators under the window swoosh on, a hissing whistle accompanied by creaks, groans, and clangs which awaken some of the nearer students. Slowly the temperature of the room rises, lulling everyone into a semi-somnolent stage where the information is subconsciously processed but never overtly remembered.
The class could be team-taught, or use animated videos, or use actual clips instead of stills, or the teacher could have a young assistant in a bikini, or a soundtrack, or could hand out free samples of candy or soda or pens or cereal or shampoo. The room could be repainted, or cleaned, the windows washed or the trash cans emptied, the plastic seats replaced with upholstery, the ancient and scarred desks replaced, the peeling linoleum torn out, the clock sped up.




reading
inspired by: George Leonard Herter
on the plane: Nick Hornby "How to Be Good" / quite successful despite unavoidable plot weaknesses

weather slushy: snow, sleet, rain, and more rain

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

superstitions

Then the footsteps began. He thought it was the neighbor's cat, pacing endlessly back and forth, scrambling under tables and onto bookcases; they shared a wall, noises of that sort could pass through during the stillness of night. But the patter of feet was attended by scurrying, a scattering, rhythmic climbing sound, and then the smell.
The slightly sweet, rank smell of decay, accompanied by more scurrying. Squirrels had burrowed between the walls, and one had obviously not survived the relocation. The stench permeated everything, everywhere, and was inescapable. The landlord shrugged, said it would eventually go away, but between the constant scattering noises of feet and the fear of electrical wires spontaneously catching fire and the saturating smell of death he felt as caged in his apartment, spartan though it was, as he felt trapped in a diorama of Hades behind the butcher counter at work.



reading Literary History of Persia, the poetry of Attar

weather uncertain

Saturday, November 22, 2008

a turn in the road | Nov. 19


The road that is seen in the rearview mirror has shards of exquisite memory embedded in the shoulders and under clearings between trees, but it is littered with the husks of good ideas unrealized, of gallons of milk gone sour, of friendships betrayed, of solitude interrupted, of rusted cars and broken shoelaces and sharpness where kindness was expected. And so the road behind shields the memory of beauty behind the thickening crust of accumulated reality, but the road ahead glitters with the nuggets of all that can still be achieved, found, treasured.
Where did this unending journey begin? The Atlas that beckoned from the bookshelf: countries with scalloped coastlines and names from nursery rhymes, aunts and uncles who only existed as disembodied voices over telephone lines, with the entire mystery of where did they live, what did they look like, what exactly was the family relationship, what would it be like to live their life? Back issues of National Geographic, hopelessly outdated, photographs of puzzled posers gazing from their depths, displayed alongside vessels for underwater exploration. Books set in places other than here, films taunting with offers of how.




reading
itineraries for the upcoming fortnight: from here to Chicago, to Jersey (not UK), to Dallas.

weather
snow tires on, snow shovel stashed, storm windows in place

Friday, November 21, 2008

November 12 : An Epic

He was magnificent: a fine figure of a man. Built upon sturdy lines, the physique of an ox. The cunning of a fox. The temperament of a bear, but mostly of a bear in hibernation. He was projected to go great places, do great deeds, rescue cities from invaders and single-handedly battle dragons, evil empires, organized crime. He was sent out from the town at the age of ten, the sages foretelling success in actions and wisdom.

Unfortunately, sages can be wrong. In fact, sages are often wrong, but they have an agreement with a very talented public relations firm, and their inaccuracies are inevitably spun into all-encompassing metaphors, perfectly dove-tailing into the events which did actually transpire. Their mistake with the ten-year old boy was perfectly understandable given the proper framework.



reading Defining the World : Henry Hitchings {a fantastic biography of Samuel Johnson}
weather early winter

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

no ideas but in things [a cautionary tale]


It started with a set of blocks. A standard, unexceptional set of blocks, squares and rectangles and columns and arches and triangles, a set offering all of the principles of shape and balance but lacking the necessary mortar to hold the creations together. Precarious castles constructed in the hallway, ephemeral fortresses defending against the loss of the afternoon and the enemy of bedtime approaching under cover of darkness.


The set of blocks supplemented by a set of Legos, the brightly colored interlocking plastic squares forming a substructure beneath the geographic demarkations of the wooden blocks. Entire regions: mountains, bays, bridges, rivers rendered in 4" by 4" by 1" blocks and arches, the sinew of Lego roads and houses and buildings meandering through the landscape.

The stability of the tightly meshed Legos could survive the earthquakes of passing dogs and the tsunamis of the encroaching vacuum cleaner, but the nature rendered in wooden blocks, lacking the connectivity of mortar, collapsed into the city, detritus of destruction onto the fantastic domestic creations.


To which were added a set of mismatched letter blocks, 2 inch squares with raised letters, detailed in colors vibrant and unlikely. The destroyed city now acquired a newspaper, blocks forming a tickertape announcement echoing the mosaic of the evening news broadcast.


The citizens, two inch plastic PlayMobil worthies functioning as the politicians and newscasters and firemen,


half-inch scrawny Lego people swarming desperately as the residents and school teachers and mailmen and children; the citizens were now presented with broadsides which to the uneducated illiterati proclaimed:
        [yellow] A [red] J [yellow] X [blue] Z
        [green] B [blue] E [yellow] M
        [orange] R [green] N [red] S [blue] T [green] I





reading The writings of the Gilbreths, edited by William R. Spriegel and Clark E. Myers.

weather cold dark & raining

thanks to amazon.com, Lego, PlayMobil, etc., for the use of the images

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

letters of marque

26 September

My dear Sir,

We wish to thank you for your dedication and service to HM the Queen, and enclosed please find the license approvals prepared for your use. They will need to be verified and countersigned by a magistrate at your earliest convenience.

Respectfully yours,
.....
enclosure

Be it hereby known by this
letter that the loyal subject
Mr. John Smith
is hereby granted all rights and
privileges to be considered as a
member of the respectful order of
Privateer; and that he takes full
responsibility for the risks of his
profession; and that his first duty
will remain steadfastly as a servant
to HM the Queen.
All materials so gathered are to be reported in full to HM Customs & Excise.


-----------------

This license was scripted most elegantly upon a piece of vellum, and, while its contents provided full permission to serve the Crown through murder and plunder, the happiness this document was to bring to Mr. John Smith was never realized, due to a staggering number of considerations.

The applicant, having become enamored with the potential opportunities for promotion as provided by the life of a privateer at sea, and knowing sufficiently the torturous ways of the approvals and licensing system which nominally governed the careers of this unrecognized branch of the civil service, had written a hasty scrawl while in a drunken stupor over the previous Guy Fawkes Day.




reading as a nor'easter streams into the region: quite a few new authors' first novels, recommendations culled from the NYT or the New Yorker, and mostly they make the errors common to the first novel, of an ambitious story but a still developing style.

weather the cats sleep on top of the radiator as the first snowflakes appear

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Arabian Nights x194

The weather was stormy. The sun was shining. It was the first warm day of spring. It was the first snowfall. It was the middle of the rainy season.
Finances were tight. Deadlines were tight. Anxiety ran high. Emotions ran high. Schedules were overburdened with commitments, family obligations, dentist appointments, emergency room visits for a burst appendix, premature labor, a broken toe.

A previous engagement. A standing assignation. Last minute tickets to attend a playoff game, the opera premiere, a favorite symphony, a farewell concert.

Homework, science projects, lesson plans, a power point presentation as yet unprepared.

Sulking after an argument about the laundry. Flying high after a love letter or first kiss. A sudden phone call from an old friend.




reading New Yorker on artistic development [10/20/08, Late Bloomers, Malcolm Gladwell]

weather cold cold cold cold cold too soon

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

with thanks to Wendell Berry

Thinking about his travels, his tour buses, his picture postcards, his piles of Euros and pesos and lira and Deutsche marks, and he realized that his memories were all of movement: of the lurch of the bus in traffic, the steady drone of the train, the flurry of people around a fountain, the stomach dropping descent onto the tarmac. Of his journeys, what he craved was motion, and no 35mm film camera would give the rush of discovery, the harsh bump of the ferry, the movement of curtains in an evening breeze.

He needed to capture movies, with or without the supplement of sound; the sense of physical escape could only be held by the fourth dimension. His vision altered; he examined the room with a sense of purpose born neither of research nor memory.




reading Julian Barnes "Nothing to be Frightened of"

weather a bite of things to come

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

in between



Went for classic over flashy, but worked in splashes of bright orange paper.









reading
Would love to read. Occasionally fitting in an episode of the BBC's "Black Books". Not receiving sufficient sleep.

weather
idyllic

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

riding the rails

Always carry a pocket knife. Always waterproof matches. Know how to knot, how to signal with a mirror, how to bind a broken bone or build a tourniquet. Know how to absolve responsibility and how to avoid entrapment. Know how to escape a fight and how to break a nose. Know how to shoot to kill, how to shoot to maim, how to skin a squirrel.
These boys no longer have career days at school that allow for the occupations of Johnny Appleseed and Davy Crockett; the grand colonial explorations and exploitations of the empire have ended; space is not the final frontier, it is a box of gravity-free tedium, and bad food and bladder issues. The only modern route for an explorer is to disappear into the cracks of the uncharted lands of civilization, to fall between the rails. To follow in the footsteps of thieves, bandits, petty criminals, murderers, the criminally insane, the physically unusual, and disappear into the smoke and mirrors beyond dry cleaned shirts and fortnightly spreadsheets.


reading
No time for literature, but finished mock-up #1 (the rough draft) of the portfolio. Since the portfolio project was assigned a black three ring notebook, the binding is simple black bookcloth, with cutouts on the front and back inside (holding business cards, postcards, brochures, and four accordion books showing work), and a mirror of the binder effect holding in a booklet (describing the images in the accordion books) loose in the spine.

Portfolio #2 will be the designed portfolio, featuring shibori green paper, chartreuse goatskin, and better craftsmanship. It won't be given away to the town arts group, either.



weather
perfect, but who is ready for October?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

observed


An old woman, muttering to herself, shuffling hurriedly across the square, her thin hair dyed an unlikely and optimistic copper, teased to recall the effortless bouffants of earlier years; aggressive lipstick ardently applied, thickly, in the region where her once plump lips beckoned, the area now an overspread thin line. Her shoes designed for orthopedic comfort following a lifetime in heels, but scuffed; her dress a proclamation in florals. As she passes by the bench, shuffling and pushing her wire shopping cart, sounds of remembered conversations slip through her lips, sent by the breeze to the ears of the rain hovering above.

From the opposite corner, the swish of rubber on cement, the click click click of exquisitely tuned gears, a chirping ding of a naive bell, zooming into the park a slightly battered Peugeot, rust spots belying the hours with a tuning fork spent adjusting the spokes. The rider forsakes a helmet, forsakes spandex, forsakes any conveniences of the modern era, cycling clockwise around the fountain, twice, calculating the direction of the wind, the angle of the sun, the probability of a rainstorm, the likelihood of an inadvertent wrong turn.




reading
The annoying aspect of making artist's books is that after all the effort of designing and producing the textblock, it is more than a bit of a bother to care about designing the binding, the box, the publicity, et cetera.


weather
September skies

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

sonnets


So she returned the bag to the floor, and thought. Retraced the morning drive in (alone in the car) and the morning at work (unmolested in her office) and the lunchtime meeting across town; and of course if someone wanted to slip something into her bag, it would have been perfectly easy, but why leave a phone number, and not lift a thing?

Had someone next to her in line inadvertently stuffed it into the wrong satchel, in a moment of distractedness, caused perhaps by the teasing of the unknown Jessica? Was it a subtle way of forcing her hand, making her call what would be a private detective, who would reveal that she was actually adopted, or that her late husband had kept a secret second family in a crowded apartment in Queens, or that someone had found her microchipped dog down by the wharves? None of these stories was probable, although each might technically have been possible.




reading


weather

endless autumn mornings punctuated by the fog of things to come

Sunday, September 7, 2008

publicity at all costs

A Gallery of Readers presents

Michael S. Dow & Stephanie Gibbs

recent writings : of monsters and men

Smith College | Neilson Library Browsing Room
Sunday, September 7, 2008 | 4 p.m.

It’s a Sunday afternoon.
Summer has concluded and autumn commenced.

For the price of a short walk, bicycle ride, drive, or chartered airplane, you receive delicious food, encouraging drink, fabulous entertainment, and incomparable company.

How can you resist?
Why should you resist?



reading
1. Of Men
2. Of Monsters

weather
the rain it raineth every day

Thursday, September 4, 2008

on the hoof

Unfortunately, he knew this mistake might be. And the life or death might be his own. Born a screw-up, raised a screw-up, marriage a screw-up, and a screwed-up inglorious death to top it all off. Well, hell, it hadn't meant that much to him anyway, but he worried about his wife, about how she would manage the bills, if the police would look a bit too closely into things, or if they would just shrug, and tally up another death of a lout to random street violence.
Of course, it wasn't random, wouldn't be random, he wasn't dead yet, but christ almighty he wished he had learned to pay attention, and not have his attention swayed by the blonde in five inch heels and not much else across the street, and that terrible embarrassing sweaty-palmed heart-shuddering fear that caused him to jump and stare at each distant automobile sound, and the heart attack that nearly followed that annoying as fleas on a stray bitch that was a bit too eager to make new friends, and, yes, he had screwed up. Again. And this wasn't some god forsaken domestic chore that he had neglected, this was going to explode in his face.



reading
Slumberland / Paul Beatty [exquisite]

weather
suddenly September

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

sounds


From the complete lack of noise the physical attributes began to shift: rooms simultaneously felt inaccessibly large and oppressively small without the echoes of a thousand and one tokens of life to confirm where spaces began and ended. Lacking auditory substantiation, the eyes were uncertain where to focus, for there was no sound to follow, no source to seek out. She moved towards the window, gazing out, and saw more silence. The silence of the perfection of leafless trees, sedate lawns, unruffled sky. The silence of a world that seemed to have stopped moving -- but even that must cause a host of secondary noises, as the energy of constant forward propulsion is replaced by the whiplash of sudden cessation.



Money ... buys privacy, silence. The less money you have, the noisier it is; the thinner your walls, the closer your neighbors. ... The first thing you notice when you step into the house or apartment of a rich person is how quiet it is.
            -- Fran Lebowitz



reading
Saw the trailer for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", and assumed it was a direct interpretation of "The Confessions of Max Tivoli." Was surprised to discover that Fitzgerald did in fact write said short story, but still hope that Andrew Sean Greer receives a very healthy percentage of film profits.

weather
the desultory early loss of leaves

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"The Sisters Rica"



Six a.m. alarm. The sun risen over an hour earlier, breaking through the shades and starkly illuminating the room. The dog whined. The newspaper thudded to the front porch. Today, Monday, the fourteenth of July, Bastille Day, six a.m., today all would begin. His bridges were burnt. The fortnight of two weeks' notice at the bank was completed; over the weekend his wife had purchased a thorough stock of different colored pens, pencils, notepads, blank paper, a new typewriter ribbon, blank tapes for the dictaphone. At the bookstore he had acquired new copies of Merriam-Webster's and Roget's; and, just in case, old copies of each, also. The dog whined again. Time for the day to begin. He was to be a writer. He was a writer!

Eleven in the morning. Third cup of coffee. All pencils neatly sharpened. All pens arranged by color. A blank sheet of paper fed into the typewriter, upon which he forcefully typed out his opening line:
            A shot rang out.
The rest of the page was blank. He knew what came next, how the narcotics detective would weave back and forth between the grey areas of morality, guided by nothing more certain than an eye for detail and a nose for a scam, how the bewitching blonde would saunter saucily through the pages, leading the detective and the reader breathlessly onward into the labyrinth; how the weather would turn unseasonably cold and the denouement would be echoed by the flash of lightening illuminating a broken-down car by the side of the old highway, how the dancers would dance and how the smoke would rise in rings towards the ceiling, how the Scotch would slide over the ice, reflecting the glimmer of light in the darkened bar -- he knew all these things.

But all he had typed was:
            A shot rang out.



reading [will explain the humor in the story:]
The Paris Review: Georges Simenon
weather
air conditioner out, duvet in

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We were very tired, we were very merry--

We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;



Rollin' Down to Old Maui
It's a damn tough life full of toil and strife
We whalermen undergo
And we don't give a damn when the gale is done
How hard the winds do blow
We're homeward bound from the Arctic Sound
With a good ship taut and free
And we don't give a damn when we drink our rum
With the girls of Old Maui
Rolling down to Old Maui, me boys
Rolling down to Old Maui
We're homeward bound from the Arctic Ground
Rolling down to Old Maui




Drink Your Pudding! is on holiday &
will not be published on August 6 or 13.
Ahoy!

reading ferry schedules

weather rain

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"words are so erotic"

"Every new poem is like finding a new bride. Words are so erotic, they never tire of their coupling. How do they renew themselves? In their inexhaustible desire for combinations and recombinations."
--- Stanley Kunitz **

Seven a.m. Tuesday: Self-Dedication. He knew it was going to be a pretty wonderful day. A fabulous day. A fantastic day. The trees hummed gently to themselves, and the birds flew in patterns which were more graceful, more elegant than he remembered ever observing before. The streets were clean and the clouds were fluffy and he could feel the joy of newly awakened love percolating through his veins.

Today he would meet her. All previous loves, all previous adorations, were but a shadow of the light which was to emerge into his life today. Love, he knew, would arrive, would sweep him off his feet, throw him for a loop: his life would have new meaning, depth, purpose. His ideal awaited, and then she appeared.



** Here are some notes from grad school:

Mallarmé referred to the folded and uncut signatures of a fine binding as “virginal”, awaiting penetration of the “paper knife.”
Caws, Mary Ann, ed. (1982) Stéphane Mallarmé: Selected Poetry and Prose. New York. p. 83. in Spector, Buzz (1993). “The Book Alone: Object and Fetishism” in Eaton, Timothy A., Books as Art. Boca Raton, LA: Museum of Art. p. 38.

The explicitly erotic topography of the book described:
"Sumptuous twin curves that meet in a recessed seam. Page turning is a series of gentle, sweeping gestures, like the brush of fingers on a naked back … the behavior of readers has more in common with the play of intimacy than with the public decorum of art viewing or music listening. …[We] read lying down or seated and most of us read at least partially unclothed. We dress up to go out and look at art; undressed, in bed, we read. We seek greater comfort while reading than the furnishings of museums or concert halls will ever grant us. When we read -- the conventional distance between eye and page is around 14 inches -- we often become the lectern that receives the book: chest, arm, lap, or thighs. This proximity is the territory of embrace, of possession; not to be entered without permission."
Spector, Buzz (1993). “The Book Alone: Object and Fetishism” in Eaton, Timothy A., Books as Art. Boca Raton, LA: Museum of Art. p. 38.


Image: Duchamp Le Surrealisme en 1947 | Prieure de Toucher
courtesy National Gallery of Scotland, Dean Gallery Library and Archive


reading
Tart Noir [the self-described work Lauren Henderson]
weather
how can temperatures still be in the nineties, but the grocery have autumn mums on display?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

[stolen title] : [Downstairs at Fitzgerald's]

The phone rang. Beyond the hubbub of the lunchtime crowd, the bartender could just make out the voice on the other end. He recognized the accent, the tone, the inflection more than the actual words, but from identifying the voice he knew what message to pass on. And so he did, preparing the tray, and sending up the least busy waitress to supervise the laying of a private table upstairs, away from the din of the diners.



reading
Mountain Park / Jay Ducharme.
No peace for the wicked / Pip Granger.

weather
wind, rain, thunder, lightening, summer

[title stolen from a short story, unread, by William Trevor]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

a time for every purpose

The marbles spilled into the floorboards of a four door sedan, a white automobile with burgundy upholstery, the car the pride and joy of the parent or grandparent or aunt of either the owner of the marbles or a friend or the new kid two years ago. These marbles are not so much lost, since their physical whereabout is tightly constrained in a new container, several times larger than the glass jar, but every bit as definite in physical boundaries. The presence of each and every marble is felt, heard, experienced at every shift in elevation, velocity, angle, and balance in the car. The marbles are gone, but just beyond the first fringe of physical experience, since they offer conclusive proof of the continuity of their existence at regular intervals. They are there, just not quite within grasp.



reading
If only I could lose track of time.
wisdom of Pete Seeger
article on string theory in physics [Annals of Science | current New Yorker]
and the calendar

weather full moon over the mountain

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

whether weather whither

The marriage was like that, these days; in those hedonistic early days, it was all about the glory of dawn and fresh croissants from the local bakery and delicately steamed espresso served in Art Deco mugs. Then, one winter, oatmeal took over: it was cold outside, and drafty in that garret apartment, and oatmeal was good and right and proper: heart healthy and nourishing. Then weekend omelets filled with goat cheese and fresh veggies became scrambled eggs, slightly rubbery, slopped onto a plate. Previously homemade bread, toasted, with strawberry jam, was now bought at the store, and burnt in the hurry of the morning scramble to escape each other's company.
But, oh!, the loss of affection was most starkly noticeable in the coffee. Perfectly timed espresso, piping hot; warmed, foamy milk became efficient French press, and then Mr Coffee on a preset timer. Even with decent beans, automatic drip lacked passion, romance, and fire. The mug was slightly stained, and the handle chipped.



reading Not all tarts are apple / Pip Granger
weather July heat and humidity in one convenient package

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

considering crows

Morning traffic passes under, primarily drivers eager for the rush to arrive to end so that the threat of the day can be laid to rest and the annihilation of a televised evening provide respite from the false reality they were packaged and sold and now consume in forty hour doses each week. The canine brigade passes under the lines, noses so attuned to squirrels and cats and scraps and competition that they fail to notice the line of birds in the parallel plane above, the reality of the bird and the reality of the dog intersecting only in the tangible taste of an abandoned pizza crust. The humans on the other end of the leash absorbing the morning through the bitter sharpness of coffee, the chirp of the crosswalk, the roughness of the leash, the early glare of the sun, the promise of a day of tasks, all clamoring for attention more specifically than the row of crows, waiting above, on a line across the road. The crows watching the recurring pattern of the street, echoing it in their own daily habits and providing counterpoint to the rhythms below.



reading airline schedules
weather July bliss

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

always greener

There was something odd about the grass that year. The rain fell as scheduled, slowly and steadily throughout the spring. Temperatures hovered evenly about the averages; day turned to night and back again; the moon waxed and waned and grew gibbous from the new. Schoolchildren scrambled and balls bounced and car engines hesitated just a fraction of a breath before catching and bicycles flew down hills. The town gossips noticed the minister's attentions to the new hairdresser, and the newspaper reported on the inconsistencies between the town council's actions and the planning board recommendations.




reading The Wizard of Oz
weather fireflies!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

initial thoughts






weather strawberries Monday
reading accumulated journals

Monday, June 2, 2008

OpRep



Above, the Golden Gate Bridge, full scale, and, below, the same bridge at 1/1000 scale.
Part of a forty mile bike ride from the Mission to Tiburon and back.



reading Our Lady of the Lost and Found
weather sun-enhanced

Thursday, May 15, 2008

dear reader

It's been fun. Really it has. For me, too.

But we need to spend some time apart.

The material balance of our relationship needs to be readjusted.
Less ink on the page and more grammar and structure and layout,
to be followed by some type of physical production.

That's the purpose here, really, though you may not be able to tell.
Grist for the mill that has no financial outcome, but there are several calls for entry for artist's books that won't be responded to unless, well, there suddenly appears an artist book to submit.

So there might be pictures or random observations, but a hiatus on written material until early July.

Yes, I'll think of you fondly.



reading Fowler's Modern English Usage
weather there is a scent which I associate with early summer in New England, a combination of new grass, newly mown, and the freshness of trees after the rain, and a background of flowers and cars and, well, summer. It's almost here.

est arrivé!

So much promise hides in the unsorted nooks of the spring book sale, where futures are sold for under a dollar, each volume seducing the buyer with an escape into another self. Teddy's Party is the birthday party always desired; The Tale of the Body Thief activates the otherwise sedate life of the beautician; mothers buy new offerings in bulk, hoping to buy a few moments of peace, into which they can squeeze stolen tastes of The Joy Luck Club.

How many people will buy a book they already know, grasping at a past they remember and desire to recapture, a sense of loss fulfilled by replacing a missing Latin dictionary or Reader's Digest Complete Home Repair? Pies Made Easy will ensure Thanksgivings to remember; and A Villa in Tuscany keeps the dream alive.

reading Learning to Love You More
weather the gorgeousness of May: cocktails and early suntans and bliss

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

seven for fourteen

There is a monster who lives under the bed. He has a name, but he becomes angry when I use it, and he becomes even more angry if he thinks I've shared his name with an outsider, a visitor, a stranger. So, in deference to my monster, you won't learn his name, he is just the monster under the bed.

I don't know if he is the same monster that has always lived under my particular bed, if he has grown and moved with me, keeping tabs on the who's and wheres of my existence. I don't know if he would rather live in the closet or under the dresser or in the pipes of the radiator; and, if he would prefer one of these other residences, I don't know why he remains the monster under the bed. I don't know how I know that he is a he, and I can't recall when he transitioned from scary monster under the bed to indifferent monster under the bed to companionable monster under the bed.





reading:
"what makes us "human"?
heavy hearted
in the fresh light of morning
insomnia
something my parents had that I don't
no help for it now
...'There's a personal wisdom to strive for, apart from learning new ways with language.' [Mary Jo Salter]"

weather windy with a chance of summer

Saturday, May 10, 2008

new beginnings


Shake the magic-8 ball of answers. Please try again. Try again. Not sure. Try again. It is certain.

Personalities remain malleable until the age of thirty. The past is not the future. Fate is note written in the stars. God doesn't engage.

Roll the dice. Accept the seven and then take account of all that can be created in, around, and through the four dots and the three dots, or the five and the two, or the six and the solo.
Save for a rainy day, and rejoice in the thunderstorm. Sail into the sunset, but remember the sunblock and the life preserver. If nothing is ever final, then the shifting mosaics can be rearranged at will in the present to reflect the same reality in a reconfigured frame.

The ending is yesterday, this morning; the beginning is now. And now. And now. And now. Any point is a point of embarkation, every departure an entrance into commencement.
Watch. Listen. Act. Be. Embrace. Escape. Detach. Live.




reading a paean to rooftops
weather delicately cloudy

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

a photograph

What if people read the Northwest Suburbs News Register and found something beyond high school basketball scores? The secret life of the city, lions in kitchens waiting for dinner and the School Board devoted an entire year of high school to a Harry Potter intensive, to be followed by a vocational training year in acrobatics and daredevil tandem bicycling. That would be a news report.
The documents were emailed to the editor, three o'clock met, and time to trundle back to ... wherever. Wherever that wasn't here. Bourbon on the rocks was a good start.



reading photos
weather cycling season for we hobbyists who cannot abide current gas prices

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

nowhere, everywhere, anywhere


It happened. The drive over the bridge to the marina, the sharpness of the wind, the smallness of the boat, the stolen afternoon with a borrowed sailor, circling Alcatraz. The island beckoning, teasing, taunting. Private boats not allowed. No interest in the physical reality of the stone prison shadowing the first view of the city on the hill: simply a quiet certainty of the fragility of life on an island surrounded by guards and miles of death threatening water. There is no escape from Alcatraz, but here, in a boat, circling the island, is the detachment of a borrowed afternoon.


reading Gaskell, "Cranford"
weather lilacs! lilacs! lilacs!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

on the nature of desire

It isn't that I crave the lawn, the driveway, the shaped boxwood border. Just the perfectly situated, satisfied dogwood. The Eastern simplicity of the lines of the tree would carry over its essence of grace and refinement into all aspects of life that touched it. If one owns a dogwood tree, one takes tea under the shade of the tree with formal tea service on quiet and unhurried summer afternoons. Once the tree is settled, matured, the rush of trying to arrive and depart and arrive again falls away, to embrace the contentment of limited mobility and calm, peaceful being, without having the corresponding going and to-ing and fro-ing. From the branches of the dogwood tree would rain peace and love and tranquility; the presence of companions and the turning of a page.
None of this exists. There is no dogwood tree that I can call my own; the alarm sounds shrilly without compromise, the cats must be fed and dishes must be washed. Deadlines loom and take no prisoners, politicians wallow in faint promises of an artificial and unsustainable world, the pen runs out of ink and bills must be paid.




reading planting directions for Page's Liberty Garden: forget-me-not, baby's breath, impatiens, aster, and marigold seeds

weather hopefully the final frost

Thursday, April 24, 2008

community events

He said.
She said.
They said.
They critiqued. They conjectured. They commented.

They may have been wrong.
They may have been right.

In the end, truth will out. Except when it doesn't, and what didn't happen may as well have happened, given that the outcome does not change materially regardless of whether he did and if she responded.

In the end, they don't actually care. Words and whispers and gestures passed in the filling of coffee cups and stacking of hymnals, shaking of hands and straightening of suit jackets.
Did they or didn't they? Did you see what she saw? Was that really?





reading Edgar Allen Poe [why not?]

weather trees in leaf flowers in bloom birds in flight

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

prepare


This is what cookbooks strive to catalog, to package, to present: the past as it should have been, the dinner party if only the trick to perfect tomato soup had been known, the lasagna that doesn't quite recapture the memory of melted warmth, though the flavor is more sophisticated. With cookbooks the future can be planned and controlled and presented in its ideal format: neither death nor heartbreak exist in a world of perfect crepes, of angel food cakes with caramel ice cream and the first blueberries, of the glow of a golden roast chicken. Childhood is reframed as the glorious halcyon days of youth when mashed potatoes use brie and heavy cream; love will not sour as long as the souffle rises; failure is not an option as long as wild salmon can be grilled with vegetables under an afternoon sun. The perfect plate, the perfect napkin, the matching tea cup and sunset presenting the patina of deserved stability and love in the face of a changing world and cruel universe.



reading The New York Times on chocolate pudding
weather first thunderstorm of the season

Thursday, April 17, 2008

onward


What is the minimum essential amount of baggage to carry between streets, between cities? The weight of memories, impressions in concrete, solidified emotions which form an anchor to a place so effective that Tokyo and Topeka become interchangeable. A slim photograph all that remains of one's past: every trip an attempt to match the furnishings of that half-remembered living room, dust reflecting light in the late afternoon, the sound of china at tea time. The cardigan which goes everywhere but is never to be worn, functioning as a security blanket on a trip between each state capital of the original colonies, each battlefield of the Civil War. The suitcase used by a grandfather, an ambassador, a suitcase still carried, even on overnight trips; or a letter, folded and creased almost beyond endurance, the essence of a romantic love felt more strongly than health, hunger, heat.

reading the fall of light in the lengthening twilight
weather progressing onward through to summer at a brisk trot

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I got music

Last Call. The barman rings his bell, the eighties cover band continues on to the end of the set, day is done and gone the sun, into the mysterious creeps and creaks of the world at night. The soothing lullaby of the house settling into the hillside, the strains of raucous laughter wafting up from fraternity row, the shatter of glass in the alleyway, reckless and joyful peals of humanity unquiet.
The chorus of tom cats rehearsing for the ritualistic wooing of the feline under the full moon. Neighbors fighting, or the television of the neighbors giving voice to an argument they can not pronounce, years of small talk building a wall of inanities that now shuts in the silence of all that was intended to be said. I love you. You burnt the pot roast. You are my sunshine. I lost my job. You are the light of my life. I've been arrested on drug charges.

The ambulance siren screaming past. Somewhere, a child cries out. The monster was almost to his toes. A radiator knocks.

Hear the call of the poker game, the change given ring of the register, the seductive plays of the insomniac concert violinist.

The earth creaks on its axis, the weight of a world that cannot be calmed propelling it onward through the deaf vacuum of space.

       A tree falls.

       One hand claps.

       The blind man sees.

       The deaf man hears.

There is evil. There is injustice. There is pain. There is death. There is misery. There is hunger.
This is the BBC News, reporting to you live from the playing fields of Eton.

The crackling of the wireless and the stutter of the shortwave radio sharing the sounds of the remote corners of the world with the neighbors, the enemies, the great aunts, the restless teens, the soldier the sailor the tinker the tailor

The alarm goes off: the urgent uncompromising harsh call of the electronic urban rooster.

Day has come.



reading little of note
weather replenishing the depleted vitamin D reserves

Monday, April 14, 2008

spring exhaustion

Deadlines met.
Checks transferred to the care of the United States Treasury.
First print run on the Kelsey Press.
Birthday presents sourced.
Snow tires off.
Hibiscus sunning on the roof.

Exhausted, but the glorious ocean is still six weeks away.

reading Novel: George Singleton
weather bulbs in flower

Thursday, April 10, 2008

anticipation



Thus slightly drunk and wandering aimlessly about the shrubbery, watch the play of light upon the leaves, the surface of the water in the stream disturbed by the rocks at the bottom, the anger of disturbed ducks, the shuffle of a chipmunk. Find a patch of sunlight with a view of the hillside, the perch upon the root of a tree distant enough from other revelers to be able to observe their unconvincing games of croquet and frisbee while far enough from sight so as to remain undisturbed.

Sitting quietly, happily filled with pastries and alcohol, the senses attuned to each gesture of the breeze, the grains of dirt on the ground, the sharpness of each blade of grass. The solitary peacefulness of watching a society while no longer expecting to participate within it: liberation from the expectations of joviality and small talk and physical games of skill, the scene turned into a Renaissance oil painting or a film, viewed through a frame, intangible.

Within this solitude is contentment, the knowledge that the pleasures of the others offer a membership of a cordial society, but the bite of separation from these friends providing a prism against which the identity of the self can relax, no longer forced to perform the assigned role.

Calm is never so calm, so quiet, as when in contrast to an immediate experience of music, of conversation, of joshing and of games; the noise of the stream and the curses of the ducks offering a different discourse on the play of the afternoon sun.

The ducks are freed from the constraints of time as we experience it. They do follow the patterns of migration, of eggs and rearing of young, of forming alliances and dodging common enemies. Those ducks which do not migrate exchange the weary journey, the exhaustion of traveling, for the weary coldness of winter, the exhaustion of foraging desperately for food. Ducks are known to be fickle and faithless; cruel tormentors to outsiders; easy prey to predators. But the orderly disorder of ducklings on a stream, mama duck quacking continuously as the young reply in a pattern of call and response, the game of Marco Polo; the desperate calling of a mother duck who has misplaced one of her ducklings. The sorrow and pain of the unanswered, repeated call to the young.

The sun shifts slightly, moving beyond the reach of the tree, shadowing the grove and cooling the air. The sounds of the party begin to dissipate, a clutter of plates left behind as the other retire to nap before the dinner hour. How quickly does the day fall away, the sharpness of the experience of each individual moment blurring into a sense of the weight of responsibility of time, the knowledge that following dinner will come evening, witching hours always too short and then forced into tomorrow, the resumption of duties and deadlines and expectations, the call of grown-up responsibilities which must be answered.

As the air chills and no longer welcomes the leisure of inattentive observation, the clock chimes, the freedom from timelessness returned for the needs of the schedule, of duties unavoidable. The subdued conversation of a dinner which is superfluous following the feast of the day, but partaking in the meal is the outward acknowledgment of the return of the schedule, the beckoning of the clock.

Return. Return. Return. Return. Return. Return. Return.

The dinner of half-heard conversations, of distracted digestion, as others struggle to hold on to their holiday into the night, desperately forcing cheerfulness and ever stronger drinks to propel a sense of freedom into a situation which is too quickly returning to normalcy. The flushed face, the altering inflections of the voice, the ever more outrageous hand gestures, the punch lines to jokes, all constructing a wall of sand against the inevitable force of time, of tomorrow, which has arrived.

After the rush of an irrepressible dawn and a breakfast which reeks of the mundane, unforgiving toil forgets the joy of yesterday, the freedom of the frisbee, the weight of to be done crushing the memory of all that was allowed to fall to the wayside in the glow of an afternoon.


reading
1040 INSTRUCTIONS / Including Instructions for Schedules A, B, C, D, E, F, J, and SE

weather gorgeous

Friday, April 4, 2008

shoures sote

The caravan of past and present continues the drive up the hill that is the future. Cresting the present, coasting past current activity all too quickly on the downhill and watching experiences become history before they can be fully explored.

The temptation to set a brick onto the accelerator pedal, aim towards a cliff, send the past into oblivion. The temptation to leave the keys in the ignition, car running, door unlocked, and walk away. Board a bus and disappear.

Is it possible to thus purge responsibility and expectation and memory into an impersonal ether, sending the emotional baggage into the black hole, destination unknown; or through a trash compactor, crushed into oblivion: the shredding of where one has been to more tangibly interact with the experiences of daily life? Discarding the desired carrier to bicycle, rollerskate, walk through life, limited to what fits into a basket or a backpack to hold what others project, a minimal set of tools to construct the future.



reading

April is the cruellest month . . . April is Financial Literacy Month [also here] . . . April is poetry month . . . April is STD Awareness Month, and also features National TV Turnoff Week and Earth Day

In other words, I'm not the only person who really doesn't want to face the reality of tax paperwork.

weather fickle

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Twelve Step Program for Writers


Step Twelve

While the fire of poetry may continue to burn in the deepest recesses of the soul; while a dark and stormy night may offer temptations to wallow in gothic imagery; while mysterious strangers and found letters and bits of eavesdropped conversations may offer constant temptation to return to the closeted life of a writer: remember that we are all weak, that through constant vigilance, and intentional worldly engagement, even the most deeply rooted heinous obsessions can be purged from within. Keep an active list of substitute entertainments, and remember that everyone occasionally falls into an accidental couplet.

You are free.



Inspired by:
Twelve steps to practical problem solving
Paul Polak: "Out of Poverty: What works when traditional approaches fail", 2008





reading
Proust, beginning to end
The wonderful thing about How I Make A Living is being able to listen to audio books all day.

weather
April showers and all that

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

ten lines in the present tense

The passport grows stale. The winter pallor deepens beyond jaundice and becomes vampiric. The electrical voltage converter develops a patina of dust, a signifier of passivity, of currents not flowing. The worth of the dollar continues to plummet. The only household investments gaining any value are the piles of change, Euros and Canadian coins mocking the once mighty dollar. Yes, 1.05 Euro is now becoming respectable. Grocery stores on the border with Canada now eagerly welcome quarters featuring the mighty, the grand moose. Names glimpsed while paging through the address book offer memories of previous travels, as well as a mocking insensitivity: You don't live here anymore. You were never one of us.

The present tense is stuck in mud season, the self buried to the chin in the gelatinous accumulations of the mundane. Somewhere in the past is an adventurer, but the present is rooting into a vegetative state that desperately requires weeding.


reading well, not reading, moping because the cell phone seems to have taken an operational nosedive for the third time in a year

weather smells and tastes and feels like spring!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

in springtime

Points of consideration for the increase of personal contentment.

1. The most fabulous tattoo in the world.
Per an interview on Morning Edition, there exists a guy who has a composition by John Cage tattooed around his forearm.

2. Contemplations of the past.
In which high school memories of the Pachebel Canon in D are revisited.
There was a group led by an intrepid leader who would busk to this song, performing string quartet variations on public streets. I would say "those were the days," but can't, quite.


3. Public Art
Or, art from public spaces. This was first found on the blog of Mo, then made it's way through the MA Cultural Council grapevine, and well illustrates the different perceptions in how and where and why those who make a living in the field of the "arts" perceive space and real estate as compared to the expectations of those with a more traditional life view and income.
See: The offical page for art entries on this topic.

"This exhibit is open to any artist who wishes to make a statement about the inspiration to be found in industrial areas, about where artists are happy living and working or about the difficulties that we face in finding affordable, suitable places to live and work. For those who live in New England, we invite you to come, find and use as inspiration, anything within 1/8 mile of the Western Avenue Studios Complex. But it isn’t necessary to come to Lowell - we invite you to find inspiration in your particular industrial area."


4. Book Arts and Culinary Arts
It's time for the annual Edible Book Show and Tea. If you haven't participated in the past, there is no time like the present.
See: Columbia College's page

reading
The bookmaker's daughter : a memory unbound / Shirley Abbott.
      Almost about bookbinding.
"The next thing he told her was also true, except that for her it was a story. He said that he earned his living -- and the cash to pay for sharp-looking red cars -- as a bookmaker. And she imagined that he sat in a room somewhere all day, stitching up book bindings with a thread and needle. Besides the Bible and her schoolbooks, she had hardly seen ten books in her life, but she revered them, treasured them not only for what they contained but as material objects. She was overjoyed to meet a person who actually made them."

The man who made lists : love, death, madness, and the creation of Roget's Thesaurus / Joshua Kendal
Then we came to the end : a novel / Joshua Ferris.
Things I've learned from women who've dumped me / edited by Ben Karlin

weather not bad, perhaps.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

nineteen for 19, with a bonus


Perhaps a brief rest upon the poetic possibilities of open space, a silent meditation on the loneliness of the milk carton, would assuage the public humiliation of the revelation of the Frigidaire.

Yes, the pain of admission, the blush of shame, is less distressing than the stark horror of entering the grocery store. If the public were allowed to glimpse through the open fridge door [18], standing in your kitchen, would they ever look you in the eye again? What would happen if they caught a momentary olfactory tease, just the tiniest whiff [12], of the bread blooming into bacteria-fighting glory, would anyone ever shake your hand again?

Would your neighbor, the charming older woman with a bichon-frise, gently blue tinted hair, protected from her recent setting at the salon by a clear plastic rain hat with plastic ties under the chin [14], her name is Eloise but you always call her Mrs. Hendricksson, after wafting the scent of moldy bread after glimpsing into the open refrigerator when feeding your cat while you were away: would Mrs. Hendricksson forgo further neighborly contact, or would her maternal instincts be aroused, so the moldy loaf of bread and solitary carton of milk would be joined by a casserole, undoubtedly composed of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup and Ritz crackers?

reading: Nineteen for March 19
12. just a whiff13. no way out but through
14. one of those clear plastic folding rainhats, with chin ties
15. blush
16. keeping silent under pressure
17. how much would you pay to ...
18. glimpse through the door

weather: the final day of winter: wintry mix of snow, sleet, rain, and slight hail

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

a three-minute snowfall

Did your neighbor make a welcoming pumpkin pie, or are you staring at an empty fridge, looking for a carton of milk that declines to materialize? Do you know how to find a grocery store? Was it pre-located on Google maps, or did you pack an ice chest, having stocked up one final time at home? Or do you walk to the 7-11 that was next to the bar -- they always have milk?
Regardless of quality or location, apartments always harbor the memory and the presence of their previous occupants, as do houses. The silver foil wallpaper, the parallel mirrors along walls, the blue patterned shower curtain: these archaeological traces of earlier tribes describe the meaning of the mundane to the eager explorer. Closets yield families of cheap hangers from dry cleaners. Closets also yield abandoned phone books, vacuum cleaners, entertainment magazines with centerfolds of dubious quality. Attics are rarely simple expanses of air and dust and cobwebs: gilt picture frames, slightly chipped, rest alongside footstools showing a lifetime of abuse, sheltered in the shadow of drapery rods and window shades and forgotten Christmas lights.



weather early spring indeed
reading??? trying to cram another week into March

Saturday, March 8, 2008

a day for ducks


Favorite time. Favorite place. Walking around the city, the golf course, the forest, the heath, the hills, cycling along the river, feeling the essential geographic truth of the land and the friend who resides there. Feeling the sense of experiencing, momentarily, the inner life of one's companion.

Is it possible to know someone, to know oneself, before watching the seasons through a different living room window, before washing dishes at a different kitchen sink, before participating in the morning ritual of tea or coffee, or toast or eggs, before meeting parents, children, lost loves, neighbors?



reading The New Yorker: Someone manages to slip snide references about conservators into the most unexpected articles. One wonders if an editor had a bad love affair with a conservator at some point. For this week's example, read Judith Thurman, "Two for One: the marriage of Isabel and Ruben Toledo," March 10, 2008, p. 70+. Unfortunately not available online and I am tired of typing.

weather wet

Thursday, March 6, 2008

hyperbole

Sometimes the catalyst is for passion, for intellectual or physical engagement of one person or one philosophy to the full containment of one's being: eat, dream, wake, think, read, and in all things, the Passion is all that is tasted, dreamt, seen, smelt, cogitated upon. Only the Passion is, as powered by the catalyst.
A catalyst is the essential ingredient without which the entire reaction would never occur. Chemically inert, absent from the fundamental order and nature of the changes happening, but so intrinsically necessary that everything grinds to a halt in the absence of the presence.

Not all catalysts bring about desirable changes of state. Of course, anyone who has every observed the chemical reaction of a catalyst relationship from the stability of the external world could argue that almost no change brought about by a chemical explosion is worthwhile. Some catalysts, though, are exceptionally notable for the damage they cause, merely by an accident of person and place aligning to cause essential mayhem in the order of the universe.



reading maps
weather pothole season

Friday, February 29, 2008

feast and famine

The orange cat eats shredded carrots.
The grey cat eats hamburger.
Orange cat eats cantaloupe.
Grey cat eats tuna fish.
Orange cat eats power cords and shoe laces.
Grey cat eats mice.
Orange cat eats the hibiscus.
Grey cat eats catnip.
Orange cat eats receipts and papers.
Grey cat eats cat food.

reading the New York Times
weather twelve plus inches of the fluffy white stuff for the morrow

Thursday, February 28, 2008

in like a lion

fever dreams
a cacophony of coughs
commas of cats

reading Plant Dreaming Deep
weather hot cold hot again

Friday, February 22, 2008

indecisive sunsets

What are you trying to accomplish, hidden under hair, bangs shielding from the world? Curled in a ball. Camouflaged. Hidden in plain sight: disappeared into the center of the room. Do you want to be noticed? Do you want approval? Do you want love? Is any attention preferable to no attention, an inadvertent kick, bruise, scuff better than the death of not existing?

We exist only when we are acknowledged. To become an integral aspect of someone else's reality thus validating the value of our own footprint, contribution. The immune system falters if the pack is incomplete. Without external support, daily habits morph and disappear.

Work. Push papers. Eat. Buy groceries. Shop. Take out trash. In this we have no meaning; the daily routine unvalued until it is someone else's trash, someone else's laundry, someone else's dinner. Through their existence are you fulfilled, the payment a scritch behind the ear, the cost an occasional bruise. Would you have it any other way?

The code of civilization soon lost, the language, rules, expectations forgotten, but the lingering memory that civilization brings with it warmth of lit fires and tastes of cooked meals and treats of affection: the strength of the memory of the promises that were, the deal in your grasp, if you would follow the rules and wait your turn, watching from behind your hair for the opportunity to become the axis, the keystone, the lynch pin. And so you wait, curled in a ball, hidden in plain sight.




Sextet [apologies to Philip Glass]

One. Heavy breathing.
One. Two. A dog barking.
One. Heavy breathing.
One. Heavy breathing.
One. Heavy breathing.

Two. A dog barking.
One. Heavy breathing.
Two. A dog barking.
One. Heavy breathing.
Two. A dog barking.
Three. Papers rustle.

Three. Papers rustle.
Two. A dog barking.
Three. Papers rustle.
One. Heavy breathing.

One. Heavy breathing.
One. Heavy breathing.
Three. Papers rustle.
One. Heavy breathing.

Two. A dog barking.
Three. Papers rustle.
Two. A dog barking.
One. Heavy breathing.

Two. A dog barking.
Three. Papers rustle.
Four. Scratching. Scratching. Pen noises.
One. Heavy breathing.

One. Heavy breathing.
One. Heavy breathing.
Three. Papers rustle.
Two. A dog barking.
One. Heavy breathing.

Two. A dog barking.
Four. Scratching. Scratching. Pen noises.
Four. Scratching. Scratching. Pen noises.
Four. Scratching. Scratching. Pen noises.

One. Heavy breathing.
One. Heavy breathing.
Two. A dog barking.
Three. Papers rustle.
Four. Scratching. Scratching. Pen noises.
Three. Papers rustle.
Four. Scratching. Scratching. Pen noises.
Five. The interminable tick of the clock.

Two. A dog barking.
Four. Scratching. Scratching. Pen noises.
Two. A dog barking.
One. Heavy breathing.

Three. Papers rustle.
Two. A dog barking.
Four. Scratching. Scratching. Pen noises.
Five. The interminable tick of the clock.

Two. A dog barking.
One. Heavy breathing.
Six. Water.
One. Heavy breathing.
One. Heavy breathing.

One. Heavy breathing.
Two. A dog barking.
Three. Papers rustle.
Two. A dog barking.
Three. Papers rustle.

Five. The interminable tick of the clock.
Six. Water.
Five. The interminable tick of the clock.
Four. Scratching. Scratching. Pen noises.
Three. Papers rustle.
Two. A dog barking.



reading html
weather you guessed it! more snow!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

lunar eclipse

Three in one year, then not another for another three. Rather metaphorical, what?



Eat beans, one more than the years of your age,
        and repeat,
"Out with the devils, in with good fortune."
            Japanese proverb,
            from Calendar Moon, Natalia Belting


One more than the years of your age.
One more than the years of your age.
One more than the years of your age.

Feel the youth, within you, the rooting, the branching, the spreading, the maturing, the strain against skin indicating physical space requirements in excess of current capacity.
The eyes opening wider and wider as the pupils struggle to take in more than they can see, scenes and visions that vanish and fade from view before their physical shape is imprinted on the retina:
          the shadow, the concept, the outline
          the only observation.

One more than the years of your age.

Remember reading the Little Golden book even though it was several fewer than the years of your age.
Remember stretching to reach the light switch, placed for someone who has grown into their age.
Neither are for you.

One more than the years of your age.

This is what it always returns to: the focus on growing into a perceived potential.
The drive for the promotion for which you aren't quite qualified, but know how to grow into.
You are too small for the britches that will soon be last year's style.

Wearing the uniform of the establishment, using mimicry to secure access, pantomiming the secret handshake so they think you belong.
Are you one of them?
Are you one of us?

One more than the years of your age.

The eighteen year old carrying the woes of the middle aged; the observations of death, of heartbreak.
Seeing loss before having the emotional language and detachment to allow loss to tumble into the abyss, to age, to ripen:
experience too soon ferments into bitterness and fatalism.

One more than the years of your age.
One more than the years of your age.
One more than the years of your age.

Have you taken the Real Age Test? Is 60 the new 40? Is forty "over the hill"? Where is middle age? Will insurance cover Botox?

One more than the years of your age.

Before the year is over, will you die? Leave a family struggling without your support? Have you considered a life insurance policy?

One more than the years of your age.

You could go at any time. Car accident. Food allergy. Bee sting. Staph infection. Flu. A lump in your breast. A heart attack.
Someone, somewhere, died while you read this sentence.

One more than the years of your age.

Do you have insurance? Life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, fire insurance, property insurance, liability insurance?

One more than the years of your age.

Or do you have faith, that god will provide, that your spouse will be promoted, that your ship will come sailing in, that your raving lunatic of a supervisor will move to Bali and you will become the manager. That you will die before April 15 and leave the tax paperwork to your heirs and none of this will matter anymore.
Eating bonbons and playing easy listening versions of spirituals on your harp in the heavens. You were surprised to discover that god is an avid golfer, but you have all eternity to pick up the game, so pass the bonbons, please, and nobody knows the trouble I've seen.

One more than the years of your age.

Where were you when Kennedy was shot?
Do you know how many children don't give a damn that Kennedy was shot? He was just some white guy in a car that was gunned down. They weren't even born yet; their parents weren't even fertile yet.

One more than the years of your age.
One more than the years of your age.

Feel yourself growing into the next year. The next hair turning grey. Each strand slightly closer to grey as it grows, a quarter inch per month. Root touch ups every six weeks, then every four weeks, then every two weeks.
You remind yourself that the grey is premature.

One more than the years of your age.
One more than the years of your age.
One more than the years of your age.
One more than the years of your age.

Are you turning into your mother? Are you turning into your grandmother? Are you still acting like a teenager? Have you saved enough for retirement? Would you survive a month without a paycheck?

One more than the years of your age.

Always playing dress up in the part of the adult that you hope to be, shoes too large, your mother's lipstick.

One more than the years of your age.



reading the history of the Mason Dixon Report, as published in the Philosophical Transactions, 1768

weather single digits again

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

a pause


For the third time in six months, the cat chewed through the power cord. It should arrived repaired later this week, but low battery power equates to no new postings.

reading books about books in the New Yorker:
Benjamin Franklin abridged his genius, his character, his life. But he reads better unabridged; and “The Way to Wealth” makes a poor epitaph. Maybe it’s wiser to repay his wit with irreverence, and remember him by the epitaph he wrote for himself, in 1728:

The Body of
B. Franklin,
Printer;
Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be wholly lost;
For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more,
In a new and more perfect Edition,
Corrected and amended,
By the author.

And sweet, tenderhearted Poor Richard? Maybe he’s best remembered by his annual farewell: “May this Year prove a happy One to Thee and Thine, is the hearty Wish of, Kind Reader, Thy obliged Friend, R. SAUNDERS.” ♦

Books Briefly Noted
"People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks (Viking; $25.95)
February 11, 2008

When an Australian rare-book conservator named Hanna Heath finds a butterfly wing, a salt crystal, a white hair, and bloodstains in the recently rediscovered Sarajevo Haggadah, a late-medieval illuminated codex of uncertain provenance, she sets out to solve the mystery of the book’s origins. To her disappointment, analysis of the specimens reveals little. “It’s too bad,” an organic chemist tells her. “Blood is potentially so dramatic.” Brooks, beginning where science leaves off, uses Hanna’s finds as entry points to richly imagined historical landscapes peopled by the Haggadah’s creators, protectors, and would-be destroyers—a female Muslim slave in Convivencia Spain, a Jewish doctor in fin-de-siècle Vienna, an alcoholic priest in seventeenth-century Venice. Their narratives alternate with Hanna’s own, and the final, multilayered effect is complex and moving.

weather foggy

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

my funny Valentine

Mae West quotes, courtesy of this site.

A dame that knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up.
A hard man is good to find.
A man can be short and dumpy and getting bald but if he has fire, women will like him.
A man has one hundred dollars and you leave him with two dollars, that's subtraction.
A man in the house is worth two in the street.
A man's kiss is his signature.
A woman in love can't be reasonable - or she probably wouldn't be in love.
All discarded lovers should be given a second chance, but with somebody else.
An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.
Any time you got nothing to do - and lots of time to do it - come on up.
Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.
Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.
Cultivate your curves - they may be dangerous but they won't be avoided.
Don't keep a man guessing too long - he's sure to find the answer somewhere else.
Don't marry a man to reform him - that's what reform schools are for.
Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can't figure out what from.
Give a man a free hand and he'll run it all over you.
He who hesitates is a damned fool.
He's the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of.
His mother should have thrown him out and kept the stork.
I always say, keep a diary and someday it'll keep you.
I believe in censorship. I made a fortune out of it.
I believe that it's better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked.
I didn't discover curves; I only uncovered them.
I enjoyed the courtroom as just another stage but not so amusing as Broadway.
I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.
I like a man who's good, but not too good - for the good die young, and I hate a dead one.
I like restraint, if it doesn't go too far.
I never loved another person the way I loved myself.
I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
I only have 'yes' men around me. Who needs 'no' men?
I only like two kinds of men, domestic and imported.
I see you're a man with ideals. I guess I better be going while you've still got them.
I speak two languages, Body and English.
I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
I'd like to see Paris before I die. Philadelphia will do.
If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning.
I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.
I'm a woman of very few words, but lots of action.
I'm no model lady. A model's just an imitation of the real thing.
It ain't no sin if you crack a few laws now and then, just so long as you don't break any.
It is better to be looked over than overlooked.
It takes two to get one in trouble.
It's hard to be funny when you have to be clean.
It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men.
It's not what I do, but the way I do it. It's not what I say, but the way I say it.
I've been in more laps than a napkin.
I've been things and seen places.
Look your best - who said love is blind?
Love conquers all things except poverty and toothache.
Love isn't an emotion or an instinct - it's an art.
Love thy neighbor - and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier.
Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution.
One and one is two, and two and two is four, and five will get you ten if you know how to work it.
Opportunity knocks for every man, but you have to give a woman a ring.
Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is.
Personality is the most important thing to an actress's success.
Right now I think censorship is necessary; the things they're doing and saying in films right now just shouldn't be allowed. There's no dignity anymore and I think that's very important.
Save a boyfriend for a rainy day - and another, in case it doesn't rain.
Say what you want about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins.
Sex is emotion in motion.
She's the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong.
Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I'm tired.
The best way to hold a man is in your arms.
The score never interested me, only the game.
Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.
To err is human, but it feels divine.
Too much of a good thing can be taxing.
Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
Virtue has its own reward, but no sale at the box office.
When choosing between two evils, I always like to pick the one I never tried before.
When I'm good, I'm very good. But when I'm bad I'm better.
When women go wrong, men go right after them.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.



reading Conan Doyle
weather vicious

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

loose ends

Litany

Light sleeper. Heavy sleeper.

Wake up to the sound of rain on the roof, the flash of lights from a truck, a neighbor on the stairs. Sleep through the pounding on the door downstairs, the knocking of the radiator, the cat curling up on the pillow. Wake up to the nightmare of a child in the next room, the panicked gasps of an infant with the stomach bug, the sudden memory of an extra item on the grocery list. Sleep through fireworks, television news, a burst pipe. Wake up to the smell of popcorn and someone smoking pot.

Sleep through surreal dreams where you wear all white and fly, hovering only two feet above ground, barely faster than your pursuers, men in business suits. Wake up to a dream about a litter of puppies, soft warm noses and floppy ears. Sleep through playing card games and working on the crossword puzzle while in your pajamas in church. Wake up to singing in a choir in Spanish with your family. You don't know Spanish.

Sleep through early morning trash pick up, the noise of civic snow removal. Wake up as horns honk in support of early morning voters for Hillary Clinton for president. Sleep through the evening tally of votes from across the nation. Wake up to read the midnight email sent by the Obama campaign. Sleep through another year of the Bush presidency. Wake up to fight for truth, justice, and the American way, in a country where everyone else is sleeping. Sleep through the bourbon cocktail that sent you into your dreams.

Wake up to a splitting headache fueled by the pain of a lost love. Sleep through the final days of a relationship as a lover turns into a stranger. Wake up on Christmas morning to a house full of promise and generosity and freshly made cinnamon rolls. Sleep through the cacophony of small children. Wake up to the dream of having a knife stabbed into your back as you climb the darkened staircase. Sleep through becoming lost in a foreign city where everyone stares at you malevolently and flashes their teeth in a gesture of intimidation.

Wake up to the smell of bacon. Sleep through the alarm clock.



"There is not a train. / There is no cricket. / Let's not panic." Margaret Atwood

Paralysis.

The stomach tightens and the palms shake and the mind skips skips skips skips and is unable to focus focus focus on any topic without falling back into the well of
should could would must.

Anxiety.
Repeat that: should could would must must.
Inexcusably. Indubitably. Inevitably. Must.
Panic.

Hear our prayer.

Paralysis. The inability to must.
Anxiety. The fear of must.
Panic. Failure in the face of must.

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done.

The clock ticks. Where are you? Your hands shake.
The clock ticks again. Did you? Did you forget to? Panic.
The clock ticks. The stove left on. The gas bill unpaid.

Passion.
Forgive us our trespasses.
Aggression.
Forgive those who have trespassed against us.
Intention.

Pulse speeds, eyes dilate. Anxiety.
Each hair turns grey, from the temple: the brain dies, one cell at a time.
The temple the signifier of the health of the body politic.

Politics. Panic. Passion. Panic.

Lord have mercy.
Missing the train. Missing the boat.
Missing the point. Missing the beat.
Lost. Long for what was never there.

Beat. The throbbing undercurrent of life uncataloged.
Heart beat. Ticking of a clock.
Panic. Hair greying. Palms tingle.

The letter from the doctor:
Anxiety. Death. Early death.
Death before calculating, cataloging. Death trumps taxes.

Lord have mercy.
Thoughts race.
Train of thoughts.
Train decoupled.

There are no more cabooses. No one to watch for decoupled cars.
Disconnect. Connect.
Couple. Passion.
Panic.
The loss of the caboose, the train derailed on its irrefutable journey
to to to to to

The train sloughing cars, meaning lost in progression:
Discharging love, passion, ambition; panic and worry embarking,
Carrying onward the seedlings of misery.

Lord have mercy.
Crescent moon. Lent. The fields lay fallow before sowing.
Thoughts skip, the clock ticks.
Weed out the invasive panic: flourish in an untended garden.
Beat.

We have done those things which we ought not to have done.



reading election results
weather thunderstorms

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pudding in the News

Well, not Drink Your Pudding!, who usually tries to stay below the radar, but two articles from the Atlantic Monthly and one from the New York Times.


Northern Comfort
The Wages of Rice Pudding
Lovin' Spoonfuls

It's always nice to be ahead of the curve.


The Story of Drink Your Pudding!

Drink Your Pudding!, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of GibbsCorp, Int'l, was established in a diner in Chicago in March, 2005.

While the full company of DYP! was not present, the Matriarch, the Golden Son***, and the Eldest were contemplating the depths of metaphysical meaning in bowls of tapioca with whipped cream, trying on nom de plume variations for Pippi [Aubergine], and desperately trying to drink the worst coffee ever served in a Chicago diner. When the Matriarch tired of these diversionary tactics, she picked up her spoon, and declared:
"Drink Your Pudding!"

And we did.

***(Tanner LaBlanc had been christened the previous summer, when GibbsCorp., Int'l was formalized; Fifi LaRue acquired literary alter ego status in February, 2005, when she was turned into an exotic dancer in Las Vegas and murdered for the sake of a mystery competition)

reading Joy of Cooking: peanut butter cookies
weather wet