Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the pros&cons

Other pros, renegades, go freelance, preferring the freedom and flexibility of the self-employed con to the enabling but emasculating support system of the pro. They give up corporate jets and preferred flier status and prepared itineraries, taking on the risks and headaches of commercial aviation and with it the ability to become someone else at the exchange of a briefcase, the acquisition of an overcoat, the assumption of a sports car, the rearranging of a name. The freelance con has an array of business cards, fit for every occasion, a network of partners available for temporary hire or delegated subcontracting, a freedom from quarterly meetings and graphs of financial expectations. The freelance con has charisma, subtlety, and improv tactics that the pro can only dream of.

Sometimes the con flirts with becoming a pro again: the bagels and orange juice provided every Friday morning. Sometimes the freelance con considers rejoining the system, supported by a bankroll padded by friendly insiders, freed from organizing the minutia of the details. Sometimes the freelance con solves the conundrum with a bit of lucrative consulting for the pros: a five star hotel, chauffeur, bagels and orange juice, a well endowed cheque in payment for conceptual services rendered. Win-win-win.

the magical Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
& delving into these essays:
on food & sex
on modern friendships

let it snow
let it snow
let it snow

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

merry merry

may your days be merry and bright
and may all your Christmases be white

The process:

Find snowflake graphic.

Make stencil (cut out, coat liberally in boiled linseed oil).

Stencil with paste/acrylic mixture.

Stencil with wax (used Renaissance wax, following tests of various wax options).
Dye in Tinfix dye.

Stencil with glitter.

Fold along score lines.
Stamp in silver foil. Write cheery holiday message.

Cut along base lines.
Glue together.

Fold into paper bag shape.

Insert lit candle. For optimum household safety, add 1" or so of sand before adding candle.

: the finished luminaria pictured above are the "rejects," and here displayed because they were the first ones completed (in time for a command appearance). The editioned luminaria are still in process, but on schedule for a new year's mailing.

DYP! is participating in a holiday mac&cheese bake-off, and will return next week.

Up in the Air / Walter Kirn (of course)


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cynara scolymus

None of these are quite the right message, though all of them are true. What is the way to write
"We live in different worlds, speak different languages, value different currencies, eat different foods, read different books, but, here, the recipe for a scrumptious cake, the combination to the safe at the downtown bank, the key phrase to the local speakeasy, all of this I give to you, the only knowledge I know how to share"?

Instead, I doodle a bit in the borders of the paper sack, slosh some of the mediocre coffee onto the napkin, listen to the old men at the next table over discuss the talking points of congressional impasse without contributing to any further political change. On the margins I start a to-do list, to email the office of Bernie Sanders and show appreciation, to call my grandfather, although then I remember that he died five years ago, and my glance falls again on the unwritten postcard.

If the recipient were someone else I would write of all the magic that my grandfather held in his hands, the building of stone walls, baking of bread, nourishing of fig and apple trees and rose bushes, making of sausage, designing of houses, conducting along with mono recordings of Bernstein and the Boston orchestra, all with a thumb that was grafted onto his left hand from a piece of his hip after the misfortunes of Iwo Jima. But this is not that postcard, my love letter to a grandfather pontificating on politics and compound interest and drinking sweetened coffee and biscotti is different, materially different, from the postcard I am writing from a borrowed table to a person who may simply be a projection of an idealized life.

reading movie review! A reason to appreciate the season, what with a new Terry Gilliam due over here sooner rather than later, and a full-length stop-animation claymation number in French (with subtitles). Bliss.

not so blissful

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Start over, but do so by staying in place, by re-ordering the outside universe rather than trying to erase the lines of reality. Start over by embracing new experiences and identities rather than hiding in the cocoon of comfort, by greeting the outside world with open hearted compassion and generosity of a type usually reserved for the politeness of strangers. Start over by allowing the stories you've heard before to sound new again, and re-scripting the stories that have been told a thousand times to change the metaphor, the hero, the villain. Start over, at home, in the family, within the community, by leaving and returning, emptying and refilling, discarding and replacing, repainting, polishing, waxing. Start over, turn the page, turn down the blanket, reset the clocks, refold the napkins.

Start over, breathe deeply, and begin.

Heifer International Christmas catalog

Ugh. You try shoveling five inches of heavy wet snow with a bum wrist, and report back on the experience.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

the nonoccurrence or absence of something

Soon a small pile of pipes and parts has begun to accumulate on the counter next to the diagrams and wrenches and potentially useful spare parts: perhaps a truly organized worker knows to take photos every time a part is removed, labels or diagrams how they fit back together, though this is unlikely.
Soon there is a pile of faucet parts scattered amongst spares and unknown pieces, rather akin to the orphan adjectives left floundering in the margin of the paper, favorite, evocative words to be invoked and set into their proper place in a poem that has not, is not, will not be written. The pile of adjectives is a give-away, though, that requires a stronger alibi than the disingenuous claim to not having the intention of writing a poem. Anyone can casually scribble out a phone message on a pristine sheet of paper with a perfectly sharpened pencil, but to begin toying with sentence structure, line breaks, word choice, to rough out a variable or two in the margin: this begins to test plausibility.

Why read, when there are at least three Clooney films at theaters, when every night between now and Christmas is scheduled, and when the rest of the time can be filled with sleeping?

Reminder: fifty degrees in December is warm. November was warm, picnics on lakeshores just before Thanksgiving. Rain is better than snow which is better than ice. Even though it is dark and grows darker, global warming is an effective at suicide prevention. Snow tires remain in storage.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009





DYP! is preparing to gratefully gorge on duck and a half-dozen pies, and will resume publication next week.

Wallow, for a moment, in the amazing beauty that is google books. Anything, everything, and then some, but never quite what one is searching for. Bliss.

traffic and raindrops

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

you don't know when you start

There was a book of poetry next to the empty bottle of wine and unused glasses, and the best use of that poetry at this minute was to tear out the pages, crumple them into kindling, and get to work with those two sticks. But what was one actually supposed to do with two sticks? Form an X and rub one back and forth along the length of the other? Concentrate just on an inch or two in the middle of the sticks? How long were the sticks supposed to be? Quarter diameter twigs or inch diameter sticks? Or was it best to spin the tip of a twig on a single point on the top of a log? What precautions were necessary to prevent a lawsuit from the park system for burning down the woods?
If there had been any wine left (which there wasn't, so the question was academic) would dumping some over the sticks or log or crumpled pages of poetry help start the fire (alcohol fumes) or retard the creation of a flame (moisture)? How the hell is a person supposed to find sticks in a clearing on a moonless night without a flashlight? Would a page of e e cummings burn brighter than a page of Walt Whitman, would Emily Dickinson char and smolder without ever catching alight, would William Carlos Williams burn as brightly red as his wheelbarrow?

the New Yorker Food Issue, which contains an interesting spin on rice pudding

cast off, just in time for overcoat season

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

in the air

DYP! : convalescence edition

The bionic DYP! returns next week.

Dr. Seuss's ABC, astounded at the page layout and typography

a tan line from a cast, neither sexy nor elegant

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

here / now / there

You know there ain't no devil, it's just god when he's drunk.
-- Tom Waits

Maybe constructing a universe out of pieces of parts from miniature golf courses was a bad idea. It seemed so efficient at the time: windmills, castles, toadstools, mountains, all scaled to the same perspective, all executed in the same color scheme, laying about the Universe Creation Warehouse in odd corners and heaps, left over or cast off after other projects, just waiting to be either melted or recycled or somehow integrated into another project.

Written on the Body / Jeanette Winterson, which was lovely, until it was tedious

tramping through leaves, crunching along the path

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

one hand clapping

An inescapable fact is that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

I could try to convince you of the opposite, weave a tale of string theory and the elasticity of the universe and the human mind, toss about words like nanoparticulate and Higgs Boson and Heidegger's Cat, show some cleavage, toss my hair, cover a chalkboard in difficult equations based on advanced calculus and graph-based illustrations in three and four dimensions using theories from the cutting edge of advanced super collider projects, tossed in with some SAT words like incalculable and a stern look of assumed superiority -- and you'd probably be convinced.

fashion magazines, library books, high, middle, & low brow, and becoming rather bored of the can't-do-ness of it all

Scotch, neat, two Advil, & a spare hand, please


A Gallery of Readers : read aloud

SG introduces MBB : {listen} | {read}

Mary Beth Brooker : {listen}

MBB introduces Stephanie Gibbs : {listen}

SG : Bonnie & Cyde [On the Lam] : {listen} | {read}

SG : The Journey [On the River] : {listen} | {read}

Since typing is proceeding at the pace of an escargot (add melted butter and slurp delicately), it will take some time to input writings for the next month or so. Please excuse all probable typo's caused by physical inefficiencies.

the elegant and enticing Almost No Memory / Lydia Davis

quack quack quack

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

field notes

When making rice pudding, use any combination of old Chinese take-out steamed rice gone stale and crunchy, burnt rice from the bottom of the pan (1 cup white rice in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 1/2 cup water, bring to a boil, cover, simmer on the lowest possible flame for 17 minutes, thank you Craig Claiborne), a glollop of brown rice, or the huge quantity of barley that was left over after forgetting how much it expands and cooking far too much for the beef stew or tomato soup (a chopped onion and head of minced garlic sauteed in butter until golden brown, add three or four diced carrots, cook until bored, puree in blender, add to a stock made of ham hocks or something else and a half gallon of tomato puree, cooked down with generous amounts of dried basil and left over wine then frozen several weeks ago, allow all to simmer together for an hour or so with the barley, serve with gobs of cheddar cheese) and the left over barley or brown rice or white rice is scattered over a glass baking dish with three or four times as much milk, some butter and raisins and cinnamon or not, coconut milk or soymilk or not, bake at 325 for 2 hours stirring every fifteen minutes, but when making rice pudding, remember that acid -- artistic touches of cranberry or lemon -- will make the milk curdle instead of caramelize, and it will still taste passably comforting and, in the case of cranberries, be pink, but curdled rice pudding probably shouldn't be served to guests.

waiting for the arrival of a host of material through interlibrary loan. wait. wait. wait.

not even November, and it is all about wool and flannel

Sunday, October 18, 2009


When one lacks ready knowledge, there remains the exploration of negative space.
Inspired by an actual conversation held in (of course) San Francisco.

Mary Beth Brooker : the unauthorized anti-biography

There once was a girl who was born in the outer reaches of Tasmania, leaving the island to manage a wildlife refuge on the western coast of Australia at the age of fifteen. She became internationally famous for her work domesticating the duck-billed platypus as a childhood pet alternative to the traditional hamster or gerbil; as an adult she formed a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the barrier reef and had a new type of submarine named in her honor. This girl, however, was not Mary Beth Brooker.

On a stormy morning on the coast of the Isle of Jersey, a small infant was found washed upon the shore. She was in a small boat, barely ocean worthy, made of a battered Louis Vuitton traveling case, wrapped in a cashmere blanket, with a bottle of goat’s milk placed next to her. No one on the island was certain if she was the child of gypsies, fairies, or pirates, and no one knew if she would bring a blessing or a curse. The local priest recited a blessing over her; the postmaster’s wife brought the infant into their cottage to be raised with her other five children. At the age of ten, she left home as a stow-away on a fishing boat, seeking her forefathers, or, in light of that, adventures of an unknown type. That infant, however, was not Mary Beth Brooker.

Although many historians argue that the role of Benedict Arnold has been incorrectly interpreted by American patriots, their research has continued to be called “unnecessary, revisionist, socialist propaganda” by the Union of High School History Teachers, a group who favor the deification of George Washington and whose financial backers are known to include the Masons as well as the Mount Rushmore Society, the League of Women for a Sober Society, and the Antiquarian Genealogical Club of the Sons and Daughters of the Glorious Republic. Those who struggle against the efforts of the Union of High School History Teachers include the descendants of Benedict Arnold, a group whose eloquence, knowledge of central intelligence gathering, inside access to Hollywood, inherited wealth from years of gun-running to unstable countries, and insatiable curiosity has led them into many unnecessary tangles with the mainstream media and congressional representatives. Mary Beth Brooker is neither a descendant of Benedict Arnold nor a member of the Union of High School History Teachers, the Masons, the Mount Rushmore Society, the League of Women for a Sober Society, or the Antiquarian Genealogical Club of the Sons and Daughters of the Glorious Republic.

There are many other backgrounds which do not describe Mary Beth Brooker, including felon (civil or criminal); con artist; shaman; charlatan; lumberjack; sea captain; astronaut; flea-circus impresario; hobo; drug-runner; descendant of Marie Antoinette; Arctic explorer; car mechanic; dog sled racer; tug-boat operator, and NASCAR driver. She does, however, tell stories, of which the following is one.

The Village Baker's Wife
which has managed to completely and totally intimidate me
also, the Wikipedia entry on the circus, which has lovely illustrations

winter all too soon

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Burmese Python; Or, The End

I always knew it was a bad idea. A rotten idea. An idea from which no good could come. An idea which would cause regret, pain, and misery, not to mention loss of peripheral vision, hair loss, potential decrease of bone density, heart murmurs, epileptic fits, periods of OCD or MPD, cravings for pickled eggs, the smell of putrefying flesh, and a colossal loss of time and money, not to say cumulative exhaustion, lingering anxiety, weeks of unwashed laundry, unreturned phone calls, unpaid bills, and lost socks.

So we can all acknowledge and agree that it was a thoroughly bad idea. But what a way to go, and how much less interesting had I listened to sage wisdom and well-intentioned advice and avoided the whole fiasco. Hindsight may be 20/20, but near-sighted astigmatism results in some pretty amusing misconceptions.

price and product comparisons of GPS systems, before deciding that paper map technology is much less confusing

trees dropping leaves to reveal the restrained glory of branches and sky

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ten down

The house of the fateful dinner party had been sold many years ago, and he didn't notice anything especially compelling about the new inhabitants as he strolled past, stopping in the shade of a tree across the street for a calming sip of brandy. He couldn't remember where this road went, after the academic's house, but at the close of the afternoon had followed a network of insufficiently labeled back roads to a point which he was relatively sure led into the foothills on the west or the river valley to the south. He stopped, considered his options, and fell asleep under a tree, without bothering to brush his teeth or unroll his sleeping bag.
He awoke in the pre-dawn light, and cursed himself for neglecting to bring a watch; not only was he uncertain of the time, but he was beginning to doubt if he would be aware of when the tenth day arrived, and he saw no glory in unmet deadlines, even self-imposed ones. Lacking a pen or pocket notebook, he decided to tear a page out of the Field Guide to the Birds of North America every morning, judging that the system would at least keep him within a day or two of his schedule, and folding the removed pages into the back cover, so they could still be referenced if needed. He had thought about just folding the page over in the morning, but found the act of physically tearing out the page that much more rewarding, more satisfying on a spiritual level; anyway, it wasn't a library book, or particularly valuable.

ah, the relief of mercury finally leaving retrograde, and the delightful arrival of a plethora of [platonic] love letters

In this world, right here, a pool of light gathered closely around a lamp, dusk settling under clouds passing deeply through an autumnal afternoon, the reflected glow of red maples lengthening the evening. Cats saunter across the street, intent on dinner or adventures or a soft cushion; cars work their way towards driveways and dinner. A change of seasons, animals growing thicker pelts and people airing woolen overcoats, the wind and rain battling for supremacy with the lengthening rays of sunlight. Someone sneezes, someone coughs, someone makes soup.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

interviews with myself

Twenty Questions

3. Inside, outside, or upside down?

Arrived in a box, neatly labeled fragile this end up perishable open with care high value contents fully insured with delivery confirmation sent with return receipt by registered mail, inside a sleeping bag a house a cave, inside my own head surrounded by the cacophony of a chorus of advice and obligations and would rathers, inside the system, inside the loop, in bed, in the bath, inside the kitchen eating cooking cleaning organizing spices alphabetically by country of cuisine separating the inside of the fridge according to the food group system stymied by potatoes and sweetcorn which are technically vegetables but nutritionally starches but aren't they supposed to be kept in the crisper which is overflowing with as yet uneaten apples and somewhere there are milk and eggs and an awful lot of tonic water whereas inside the oven a certain amount of scrubbing is necessary to avoid setting off the smoke alarm again, and inside the basement surrounded by piles of laundry in various stages of purification while the monster in the furnace burbles just
outside the door and everything in life is a construction to avoid exposure to the outside of rain cold sunburn traffic expectations other people's reality excuses justifications timelines plots assignations responsibilities uncontrolled randomness verging on chaos outside leaves fall and water rises and potholes sink and boots crunch over gravel and leave prints in the first frost and the sun sets and aliens consider using the high school football field for a landing place which would really turn everything
upside down, the zero gravity free fall of space or vertigo or cliff diving or swimming or gymnastics with the uneven parallel bars or the trapeze or swinging along a rope and jumping into the river and somersaulting just under the surface as sun rays pierce through the water sending stripes of illumination to the depths whose orientation remains mysterious as the fish seem to be swimming in all directions and there are no arrows pointing to you are here but the natural buoyancy of the body meets the current of the river and though still upside down it is floating along the surface of the river with the sun on my back, thinking of picnics and trees.

glanced at the calendar and a week to meet deadlines, ouch

sun? maybe? please?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

notes from above

It's up to us, the twelve year olds and the eight year olds and yes, your little sister, too, even though she doesn't really understand yet and tells Mom and her diary everything, but she swore the pledge and signed the book so she can come up into the treehouse, and help us map out our plan, the counter insurgency against the agendas of the league of mailmen, dog walkers, garbage men who too closely observe and process our lives, who spy and counterspy and make alliances and betray trusts with the casualness and the callousness of adults caught in the web of their own superstitions. We are the sentinels, standing at attention, the guards in the trees, and we see everything.

the Scrabble board, and losing valiantly

drizzle drizzle and the delights of a woodstove

Friday, October 2, 2009

notes from the home front

By now it is two in the afternoon and perhaps a quarter of the chores, tasks, responsibilities, and promises have been accomplished, the morning is well over, lunch is a significant consideration on the horizon, and imagine the beauty of self, awake at 2 pm, filled with the joy of completion, being handed a mug of coffee and slice of warm toast with strawberry jam, and realizing that it is only seven-thirty in the morning, the mundane has been neatly tucked out of sight, and:
With coffee and toast, locate patch of golden sunlight streaming through window; sit on cushion in light, cats perched nearby. In the quiet and stillness feel the city awaken, the house reverberate, the rain on the roof and the wind in the trees. Stretch. Remove the cat from the other side and stretch in that direction, too. As the blood makes its circuit successfully through each system, limb, chakra, awakens each toe and each memory, write a letter, listen to Chopin, brew a pot of tea, experiment with a new schematic or design, then catch up on the articles in the New Yorker, rather than just the skimming of the cartoons that took place while on the phone the previous evening.

in front of the wood stove
first rice pudding (coconut, with fresh mango) of the season

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

{radical acceptance}

"An old, old woman who has been living in the same town for many years. She sits by her window and thinks
what does she think about" {*}

The barking dog in the yard next door that belongs to the family with three children although you wouldn't know there were three children you never see them and they never play with the dog who is left outside and barks barks barks day and night and it never seems to quiet down a bit, joining in the fray of Good Humor Ice Cream Trucks and fire engines and the blaring of the air raid siren the first Tuesday of the month at one p.m.

although no one is certain whether the siren is for tornadoes or a Soviet air strike, neither of which has ever been a problem in this town, given that they are just far enough east to be out of tornado alley and something about the air currents or trade winds or Gulf Stream current or forestation in the region means the town is considered safe from the scourge of twisters, and it would be a very misguided Soviet attack indeed that hit the town instead of one of the cities several hundred miles away; why would they bother with the air raid siren for an attack on a fairly distant city, anyway, and wouldn't the planes have to come from Cuba rather than some mysteriously undetected aircraft sauntering over the Pacific and the U.S. airspace or maybe Mexican would undoubtedly raise some FAA eyebrows, and Cuba just seems audacious and unlikely given that entire Bay of Pigs fiasco which was just a media circus act of propaganda anyway, it never made any sense for Castro to take on Miami and who was president then,

the combined joys of delightfully witty verbal and visual contemplations, delivered by the New York Times
pastry season in full swing, perfect perfect crepes with strawberry compote will be followed by a blow-out batch of blueberry scones / but can "The Village Baker's Wife" really be out of print?

{*} many thanks to Linda for the custom prompt!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Benevolence : Ideality : Conscientiousness

The witching hour as the crescent moon rises and the crickets work on harmonies and it becomes impossible to distinguish the memory of what might have been from the memory of what was from the memory of what is still to come from the shifting of patterns and silhouettes half revealed by fading light. The water laps against the piers as the boat rocks and settles into the waves, the beer finished among tales of lost loves and forgotten memories and bridges to the future where the fish will always taste of the warmth of a late summer afternoon.
Passengers and friends rotate around the little boat to make room for the ghosts, who do not tell their tales but emanate the memory of the intensity of lives lived and worlds left behind, unchanged by the future. From the shore a fire sparks in a barrel, night vendors of kebabs and hot dogs and the pleasures of the flesh remain open for business, the wind shifts and clouds dance around the stars, obscuring the wings of Pegasus, the arm of Orion, filling the basket of the Big Dipper. The ghosts huddle closer for warmth, inhaling the vapor of the fish and the beer, becoming flesh through the stories of memories. The moon illuminates the clouds, and suddenly it is tomorrow.

Fowler's is the source of both a head schematic and a language schematic. Who could ask for anything more?

final boozy Sunday mountaintop picnics, giddy descents at twilight
first experiments with cobbler

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

upcoming / incoming / outgoing

No writing this week; however, it will be interesting to see the results of the autumn writing retreat.

Mark your calendars now:

Mary Beth Brooker
& Stephanie Gibbs

reading recent writings

4 p.m.
Sunday, October 18, 2009

Neilson Library Browsing Room
Smith College

part of the Gallery of Readers series

the scrumptious Leonora Carrington

undeniably autumn

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

seven league boots

So when, for curiosity's sake, one has been to the Poles, to the moon, to the bottom of the ocean; when one has crossed the tracks and explored life on the other side;
when one has worn a wig, glasses, and a disguise and passed as the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the soldier, sailor, tinker, tailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, and all of the wives of each;
when one has been a scientist, musician, poet, and statistician;
when one has built the bow and carved the arrow and downed the deer, skinned, roasted, tanned, packaged, and sold;
when one has built a hovercraft using the motor from a vacuum cleaner and sold a fake Picasso for a record amount at auction;
when one has studied voodoo and spiritualism, contacted the spirit world, and cast a hex;
when one has caused the stock market to balloon and deflate instigated by a carefully disseminated rumor about political instability in a third world country which no one had previously heard of but could potentially have 90% of the world's copper reserves;
when one has rewired an entire house to run off of the stationary bicycles in use at the gym down the street;
when one has trained cats to walk in single file and dogs to play poker and hamsters to only run on their wheels every hour on the hour for three minutes and thirty three seconds;
when one has surreptitiously reformatted all of the street signs in a town to be in German Blackletter fonts rather than Helvetica;
when one has invented a board game and exploited a Ponzi scheme and founded a university and perfected a blackjack technique;
when one has contacted aliens and released a platinum album and been on the front page of the Times;
when one has sliced, diced, and julienned all that life traditionally has to offer --
what next?

the adventures of Richard Halliburton

exhilarating (tho fighting the disappearance of the sun with all my powers)

Thursday, September 3, 2009


In short, who was their god? Was he a he? A she? Gendered? Multi-gendered? Did gender even figure as a question or concern? Was the god a wrathful god or a loving god or an impassive god or merely a state of mind or a metaphor for the vast power of the universe? Were they naked only when actively communing with this god, and don straw hats and woven trousers when hunting and or gathering? Did the god encourage celibacy or procreation or kidnapping small children or adopting orphans or sacrificing offspring (causing the sect to die out after a generation or so)? Was it a trickster god, an oracle, a god found from the consumption of mushrooms or natural gasses, a god of the typhoon season or a god of the harvest or the god of the heavens? Did the god pay attention, visit earth, exist in bodily form?

on the forming of the letters of the alphabet (from an edition job):
"Engrave them, carve them, weigh them, permute them, and transform them, and with them depict the soul of all that was formed and all that will be formed in the future."
-- The Sefer Yetzirah

idyllic September: fresh apples, brisk mornings, mellowing warm afternoons and evenings suffused with golden sunlight

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

and all the boards did shrink

Yes, I know that the image quality varies from mediocre to rather bad and that the sound quality is distinctly sub-par.

Yes, I am aware that the focus isn't always reliable.

Yes, it did occur to me that four minutes of listening to and watching a variety of water sources might be tedious. That's why it isn't eight minutes long. If the viewer becomes bored, think of pirates, or sea monsters, or man-eating fish, or the adventures of Jacques Cousteau.

Yes, I would prefer a super-8 film camera. And also a VW camper van, in chartreuse.

film schedule notes from a showing of a work by Bill Brown, media creator extraordinaire and a fantastically nice guy [wikipedia here]

How can July and September be separated only by August? They seem worlds apart.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


in lunar landscapes

Retreat Edition DYP! : week 3

While journeying into and through the Great Beyond, destroying appropriated Edwardian ledgers (12"x18"x3.5") following six months of working to restore same:

sinking into the springs

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


In the sense of "the regular business given to a store;" or, in this instance, the local lending library, who gladly extended the due dates for all of my books to early September.

Those who know, know that "reading" and "continuing to completion" are two utterly different sets of expectations. Life is too short to endure mediocre writing.

Retreat Edition DYP! : week 2


Katha Pollitt, "Learning to Drive"
Have you read the Futurist Manifesto?

Cuppy The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody
Guy Williams Making Mobiles
Emily Post's Etiquette ($1, library book sale)
Rombauer The Joy of Cooking

grant applications -- requested total: $36,000; amount provided to the city for cultural enrichment: $7,530
accumulated emails: Remembrance Day equals notes from friends of yore
my own handwriting

anything and everything published by Gaspereau Press, a life altering discovery
the current library list (really): The rough guide to Montréal | Lolita [sound recording] | War and peace / by Leo Tolstoy; translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhons | Salamander / Thomas Wharton | Icefields / Thomas Wharton | Lost in Austen | The new book of image transfer | The glass books of the dream eaters | Sharp objects | The meaning of night : a confession
contemplations on the value of the self

George Ella Lyon
the recipe for carrot cake from Epicurious
the calendar
Cheating at Canasta

exchanged for looking at my newest acquisition -- tax deductible art!
bills bills bills and a happy new year
publicity contacts

subscription to the Economist expired: life is a vale of tears
why isn't my handwriting more legible? and when did I forget how to spell? (Blame the Brits.)
The Economist end-o-year double-issue (thanks for the renewal!)

ski package prices
tutorial for Scrivener
Netflix queue, top dozen
Li Po
film schedules

yet more travel itineraries
No Signposts in the Sea
bank statements
the unreceived email
predictions for Snake in the year of the Rat

contentment in a sink full of suds
Joy of Cooking: peanut butter cookies
election results
Conan Doyle

books about books in the New Yorker: Benjamin Franklin abridged his genius, his character, his life. / Books Briefly Noted | "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks | February 11, 2008
the history of the Mason Dixon Report, as published in the Philosophical Transactions, 1768

Plant Dreaming Deep
the New York Times

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+.
March MoMA calendar

??? trying to cram another week into March
I've discovered podcasts. Better late than never. Now to invest in an mp3 player. I feel so ... contemporary. Sigh.
Nineteen for March 19
The bookmaker's daughter | The man who made lists | Then we came to the end |Things I've learned from women who've dumped me
well, not, moping because the cell phone seems to have taken an operational nosedive for the third time in a year

Proust, beginning to end | The wonderful thing about How I Make A Living is being able to listen to audio books all day.
April is the cruellest month . . . April is Financial Literacy Month . . . 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.
1040 INSTRUCTIONS / Including Instructions for Schedules A, B, C, D, E, F, J, and SE

Novel: George Singleton
little of note
the fall of light in the lengthening twilight
The New York Times on chocolate pudding
Edgar Allen Poe [why not?]

planting directions for Page's Liberty Garden: forget-me-not, baby's breath, impatiens, aster, and marigold seeds
Gaskell, "Cranford"
a paean to rooftops

a recipe for pumpkin bread, before realizing that the frozen puree was ... frozen ham based soup stock. Not the same thing.
"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]

Learning to Love You More
Fowler's Modern English Usage
budget reports
Our Lady of the Lost and Found
accumulated journals
Great Gatsby
The Wizard of Oz

airline schedules
Not all tarts are apple / Pip Granger
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

Mountain Park / Jay Ducharme.
No peace for the wicked / Pip Granger.
Tart Noir [the self-described work Lauren Henderson]
ferry schedules

The Paris Review: Georges Simenon
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.
Slumberland / Paul Beatty [exquisite]

1. Of Men
2. Of Monsters
Proust has finally paid off.
No time for literature, but finished mock-up #1 (the rough draft) of the portfolio.
Would love to read. Occasionally fitting in an episode of the BBC's "Black Books". Not receiving sufficient sleep.

Julian Barnes "Nothing to be Frightened of"
New Yorker on artistic development [10/20/08, Late Bloomers, Malcolm Gladwell]
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.

The writings of the Gilbreths, edited by William R. Spriegel and Clark E. Myers.
Defining the World : Henry Hitchings {a fantastic biography of Samuel Johnson}
itineraries for the upcoming fortnight: from here to Chicago, to Jersey (not UK), to Dallas.
Literary History of Persia, the poetry of Attar

inspired by: George Leonard Herter
on the plane: Nick Hornby "How to Be Good" / quite successful despite unavoidable plot weaknesses
Advanced Origami / Didier Boursin
The West Indies and the Spanish Main / by Anthony Trollope
many Dover pattern books

performance schedules for the area / sparse indeed in January
In process artist's book project: letterpress printed esoteric curses, with the goal of renewing the art of imprecation {available as a set, business-card sized}.

The Invention of Air | the author had a splendidly convincing interview on NPR
Back to Henry Hitchings, his new release "How English Became English;" a splendid book.
Alas, Invention of Air was a fascinating topic rendered in the most tedious prose possible.

Trying to find the first orchid sequence in Swann in Love. Must learn time management.
airline itineraries

Cooking with Fernet Branca, by James Hamilton-Paterson, a contemporary P.G. Wodehouse
James Herriot, much to my own embarrassment. Who wants to become one's mother?
Elinor Lipman, charming and diverting
Le Carre spy stories, when all else fails, and facing a deluge of city regulations paperwork

feigning an interest in “The Shadow of the Winter Palace,” & wishing the Russians were just slightly less intensely morose
Outliers [Gladwell], which raises some interesting points in an easily digestible manner

The most amazing article published in the New York in some time --
"The python’s potential range is roughly a third of the contiguous United States."
the article about neuro-enhancers in the New Yorker, and distressed that these reports rarely mention the perspectives of onlookers; it is heartbreaking to watch friends disappear into a haze of Ritalin or pot and become washed out shadows of who they once were [even with my own moralizing laid aside for a moment].

works of Geoff Dyer, which amuse in process but leave a bitter and slightly unsatisfactory aftertaste
a list of 100 books published since 1900, perhaps 75% of which I have read, the plots and characters of the vast majority of which have been consigned to the shadows of memory
the town's master plan, which, alas!, clearly states a preference for development over historic preservation. O! Woe!

on the plane, "Three Cups of Tea"
why read when there are Ginger Rogers / Fred Astaire / Gershwin movies to be seen? the inspiration of tap dancing on roller skates in Central Park
that entire printed-word-on-paper-bound-into-a-book concept hasn't really been happening recently

Margaret Atwood, the exquisite Good Bones
Arrest Docket [Poems] by Christine McNair
more of the amazing Atwood
On the Way to the River / Laurence

snippets here and there, without delving into any particular texts:
Interesting observations about social and domestic expectations parsed by socioeconomic and education levels.
Books Briefly Noted: Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn | June 22, 2009
Probably won't read the book, but enamored with the review.

Edward Lear by the light of the moon
How lovely when amazing artist's books are issued in trade editions; especially when one knows the artist, and / or friends own the high-end version.

Compiling the August retreat List, which is currently bulging with Rilke and with Buddhism. Contemplating several weeks of caffeine-free vegetarian sobriety, which terrifies. Is a detoxed me, still me?
Pema Chodron, "The Places that Scare You," a book which I would like to hand out to everyone I know and love
to-do lists, emergency phone lists, packing lists, errand lists and suddenly, take off, with a complimentary first class upgrade
Rilke, "Letters to a Young Poet"

Zen mind, beginner's mind / Suzuki

summer absentee splendor

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

the weather report

And so progresses the August retreat. The strands of contemplation circle around living deliberately and with compassion; both of which are difficult concepts to grasp in the ebb and flow of reality.

In the almost two years of writing at DYP!, one constant has been the weather updates and a report on the current reading material; a metaphor for the immediate moment, emotionally, intellectually, physically. Here, presented as the Retreat Edition DYP!: week 1, are chronological compilations from the past of living in the present.


a dark and stormy night
trying to rain

not as bad as expected and an amazing sunset
damn cold
so cold the cats are huddled on top of any object of heat and the windows rattle rattle rattle in the wind
ambivalence beautiful cold

full of sunshine

too cold for the butter to soften, even after eight hours
the wasps are still alive, how do they manage?
flannel sheets
snow tomorrow!
between storms
clear, but do we really require a foot of snow?

60's, sunny, gentle breeze

snow snow snow snow
eight inches of snow -- eight!
is this good? is this kind? is this necessary?
three cheers for global warming

still warmish
brittle sunny clear

undoubtedly January
brisk sunshine
winter continues
snow expected
clearing, supposedly
yes, of course, yet more snow


single digits again
you guessed it! more snow!
hot cold hot again
twelve plus inches of the fluffy white stuff for the morrow

pothole season

early spring indeed
first constitutional of the season
the final day of winter: wintry mix of snow, sleet, rain, and slight hail
not bad, perhaps.
smells and tastes and feels like spring!

April showers and all that
bulbs in flower
replenishing the depleted vitamin D reserves
progressing onward through to summer at a brisk trot

first thunderstorm of the season
trees in leaf flowers in bloom birds in flight
hopefully the final frost
lilacs! lilacs! lilacs!

cycling season for we hobbyists who cannot abide current gas prices
delicately cloudy
dawn clouds
windy with a chance of summer
the gorgeousness of May: cocktails and early suntans and bliss

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.

full moon
strawberries Monday

June rains
July bliss
July heat and humidity in one convenient package

full moon over the mountain
wind, rain, thunder, lightening, summer
how can temperatures still be in the nineties, but the grocery have autumn mums on display?

air conditioner out, duvet in
the desultory early loss of leaves

suddenly September
the rain it raineth every day
endless autumn mornings punctuated by the fog of things to come
Early evening. Early autumn. Perfectly golden sunset. Earlier, clouds.
September skies
perfect, but who is ready for October?

a bite of things to come
cold cold cold cold cold too soon
the cats sleep on top of the radiator as the first snowflakes appear
cold dark & raining
early winter
snow tires on, snow shovel stashed, storm windows in place

slushy: snow, sleet, rain, and more rain
the thaw between storms
four inches of frozen slush covered with a blanket of snow
{all disdainfully plowed, partially melted, and refrozen}
cold cold cold

When the man stated "lows around 5 or 6 above," what I heard was "5 or 6 above freezing;" it was only later that I realized it was "5 or 6 above zero." Ah, delusional optimism. Only four more months of winter!

A burnt hand, a sliced thumb, a bleeding finger, a snowed in car, now covered in a thick coat of solid ice, and the beginning of tax season. Tell me about the weather.

messy and unnecessary and character building perhaps
the great thaw following the February full snow moon
a dusting of late winter snow
sunny with a chance of spring
snow sun and some rain

clearing into spring
the final well earned thaw

moody, somehow fitting for the time of year. Depressive skies set off by flamboyant daffodils, random bits of snow, and the overall threat of rain. The off-stage organist is about to break into the soundtracks for one of the gothic silent films -- Nosferatu or Phantom of the Opera or whatnot -- and we will all cringe before the terror of . . . .

almost, almost, almost gin and tonics
and, oh!, do I miss parties where everyone was sloshed on Pimm's!
the clouded perception of days of cold damp drizzle

everywhere, the satiated scent of lilacs
the deep purple explosion of iris in bloom
not quite amenable to tap dancing on roller skates in Central Park
glorious, mostly
this is June?

gin and tonics and strawberries and chocolate cake and lingering evenings and all that June was designed for
the final ending of a too-melodramatic June
the ephemeral beauty of fresh raspberries

the days of summer when cool lingering mornings give way to sultry afternoons and unceasing evenings of brilliant clouds
from sun to rains and back again
this much rain has not fallen over a summer since that which I spent in Edinburgh, the summer that laundry never dried, endless pots of tea were steeped, and I purchased the umbrella that still serves today
pineapple print summer dresses

Rilke, "Letters to a Young Poet"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


It must be true, it must have happened, I was there, I have photographs, memories, images captured on film. Are you quite certain you were there? You don't appear in any of the photographs, film shots, or memories. Of course, if you claim to have been there, you must have, although your memory and the officially recognized archive version are distinctly at odds. At the end of the day, the historical record wins out, memory dissipates and changes and is reshaped by time and accumulated experiences.

But for now, yes, I'll agree you were there, for the purposes of this particular instant. We were both there, but my memories take precedence. I have the data, I'm the narrator. Wait -- stop -- you can't just take the pen like that, draw lines through my notes, lists, and annotate the cross references between recorded media. I don't think the historical record cares one iota if she was badly dressed, if he was unaccountably late, if the speaker's teenage daughter was involved with your nephew's best friend's cousin.

to-do lists, emergency phone lists, packing lists, errand lists
and suddenly, take off, with a complimentary first class upgrade

pineapple print summer dresses

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First Person.

Joy is seductive. Imagine always living in technicolor, swinging around lamp posts, stomping in puddles, jumping into piles of just-raked crackling aromatic leaves, feeling the presence of each microbe, bacterium, cell, parasite, organ, system as the body charts its daily schedule, interacts with every surface, feels every breeze, exists as one part of the continuum of reality, alive.
Imagine the first bite of chocolate mousse, the tang of hot cider after a winter walk, the smell of the paper of a new book, the feel of clean sheets, the satisfying crackle of a fountain pen on hot pressed paper, the soft spot just behind a cat's ears, walking unexpectedly past a rose bush in full bloom at dusk.

Pema Chodron, "The Places that Scare You," a book which I would like to hand out to everyone I know and love

this much rain has not fallen over a summer since that which I spent in Edinburgh, the summer that laundry never dried, endless pots of tea were steeped, and I purchased the umbrella that still serves today

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

it is us

Six word memoirs. Is the difficulty in the six words, or in the memoir? Is the memoir more approachable when it is someone else's?

Had a little lamb. Lost him.        a quite contrite Mary

Porridge, chairs, beds, bears; oh, shit.
        Goldilocks, the uncensored version

My mother didn't love me enough.
        Sigmund Freud

Evil stepmother, demanding dwarfs, handsome prince.
        Snow White
easily becomes
Evil stepmother, glass slippers, handsome prince.
in either of the above, "true love" may be substituted for "handsome prince"

Wrong turn; sorry about the calculations.
        Christopher Columbus

Why just one wife, not six?
        Henry VIII

Watched apples fall: gravity into Calculus.
        Isaac Newton

No! Not you! I love him!
        Viola, Twelfth Night

Saved that kid too many times.

Russia seemed so easy. My mistake.

God, I'll give back the apple.

Intense man; mad wife in attic.
        Jane Eyre

Printer, diplomat, scientist, author, lover, repeat.
        Benjamin Franklin

Don't get caught. Destroy this message.
        Richard Nixon

Six words is just sufficient to show how little we ever know of a person, to illuminate the cliche and leave open a wide field of supposition. Did they care a whit about the Nobel prize, the knighting, circumnavigating the globe, mapping the heavens, balancing ledgers, changing the boundaries of the civilized world, shooting a lion, or penning a major component of literature, philosophy, or music?

What does the bare platform of six words allow for the reason to get up in the morning, the stripe of sunlight across the carpet, the saunter of a cat across a parlor whilst tea is being poured?

Six words leaves out too much motivation, the hour hand suddenly leaping forward in the absence of the reassuring clicking progression of seconds. He lived miserably, but discovered the elemental make up of the atmosphere. Was a mediocre surgeon, a baker of burnt bread, a sloppy workman, an illiterate bore, but an amazing lover. Could read in twelve languages, design aeronautic instruments, but regretted stealing his sister's allowance his entire life.

Guerrilla freedom fighter, secret butterfly collector.

Decorated General; always lost the map.

Not much to say, but beautiful.

Dammit, no sugar in my coffee.
Dammit, No water in my whiskey.

Speechless with awe at life's bounty.

Actually, I take it all back.

Reconsider, reflect, count each word, calculate.

Was that the epitaph on a life fully lived, to be parsed down to a cliche concentrate, a pastiche of all that once mattered? Concentrate on what might have been, leave out what actually occurred, leave out the mundane, the repetitive, the second, tenth, fifty-third attempts, and instead record

Opened hearts solidified by heavy eating.

Perfectly manicured lawns, striped in sunlight.

I loved him, and he left.

Decoded Church secrets; burnt at stake.

Created secret decoder ring, lost key.

Heard voices of God, electroshock therapy.

Repaired cars with hope and spit.

Censored world-wide, partial translations available.

Thought revolutionary thoughts, lacked revolutionary will.

Calculated the odds, and stayed home.

Rewrote the ending, lost both copies.

Upon reconsideration, would alter battle plans.

Didn't mean what I said, ever.

Compiling the August retreat Reading List, which is currently bulging with Rilke and with Buddhism. Contemplating several weeks of caffeine-free vegetarian sobriety, which terrifies. Is a detoxed me, still me?

from sun to rains and back again

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Rather than allowing the mind to swoop and swerve and dash and dally with all the lovely addictive words contained within Webster's; rather than meandering into the territory of those persons adored as founts of new vocabulary words; rather than becoming endlessly lost in the forest of text that is the hallowed hunting and haunting grounds of semiotics and semantics passionistas everywhere; instead allow the mind to refocus on the threads and twirls of those two words and the cousins by proximity.

To trounce, to thrash or punish. Origin unknown. No origin can ever truly be so obscure as to provide nary a hint of its parentage or lineage. A peek at the labors of Mr. Johnson or a delve into the depths of the sacred Oxford English might provide a smidgen of DNA evidence, the concept of paternity, the dropped fingerprint waiting by the scene indicating the presence of something else. And thus would go the entire evening, lost to the pleasures of letterforms and the puzzling options of language use chosen by the compilers. It would provide neither character nor plot, would preclude any forlorn hope of dialogue or development, and thus would the sunset descend upon another day lost in the web of obscurity.

How lovely when amazing artist's books are issued in trade editions; especially when one knows the artist, and / or friends own the high-end version.
Very well done: ABC3D
And hooray for Johnny! Over 10 years and three children in the making, Pictorial Webster's gets a wider audience. Pre-order through Amazon today!

the days of summer when cool lingering mornings give way to sultry afternoons and unceasing evenings of brilliant clouds

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

two parts

Fiona's Life
        as dictated by Katie
        transcribed by Pippi

There once was a little girl named Fiona and she was nine years old. She lived on the beach in a little house and her house was brown. Also her house was a little far away from the ocean but she could see the ocean from her bedroom window, even though her house was one storey tall.

She had a garden and she had pink, purple, red, white, blue and turquoise flowers that grew behind her house. There was sand in front of her house. She had lots of tall trees that were good for climbing.

Fiona had a pet seahorse named Alfred who was 4 inches tall and ate seaweed that was green. Fiona got the seaweed for him from the ocean. Alfred could not talk but made mumbling noises
when he just wanted to talk. Fiona had no parents because they were washed away by a big wave when they were next to the sea shore and the big wave came, so she lived all alone, except for Alfred. She's happy that she doesn't have any parents to boss her around, but she misses them. She was four years old when they washed away, and she took care of herself. Her parents taught her how to do that, and how to escape from a fire, and how to protect herself from hurricanes, and how to kayak.

Her house has a lot of furniture like comfy couches, chairs, a desk, and an ottoman (the little thing for your feet). She has notebooks that she writes and draws in. She writes stories about little girls like her and draws pictures of her seahorse.

Fiona has a little tiny turquoise boat for kayaking in the ocean. She takes her notebook with her on the ocean and studies the ocean. Sometimes she does it while it's raining, with a pinkish-purplish umbrella. She sees clownfish that are five inches long that are orange and black striped. She sees lobsters, and sometimes she sees little dwarf sharks that can fit in her hand. There are seagulls and whales and stingrays and jellyfish and dolphins and seals. The dolphins and seals are her favorites. Fiona never learned how to swim: her parents were about to teach her and then the wave got them. So she doesn't swim.

She had a weathervane shaped like a cat on top of her house, that tells her when storms are coming. There haven't been any storms since the hurricane that got her parents.

Fiona found her seahorse Alfred on the seashore, and it was almost dying, but she got it in time. It looked like an Alfred seahorse she [already] had. so she name it Alfred, too. The first Alfred died, on its own, like people do.

Fiona doesn't go to school, because there aren't any. She eats seaweed and drinks water from her well (since saltwater gives a tummy ache). The boats on the ocean are too far away for her to see.

She isn't lonely since she has seal friends. They play tag, with Fiona in her kayak and the seals swimming. When the seals tag her they slap the boat with a fin, and Fiona taps the seals with a newspaper when she paddles up next to them.

Fiona is not a girly-girl. She wears kind of torn up clothes, but not too bad, and she wears her mother's old clothes. She has five matching outfits that are torn up, and one little sweater. She goes barefoot, but is really careful where she walks. Sometimes she cuts her foot on a rock, which hurts, but doesn't really hurt. There isn't any trash [on the beach], and she picks up any trash that washes up.

People walk on the beach sometimes, when they drive to the beach to visit. None of them are her friends: they might make friends for the day but not forever. She doesn't tell anyone that she lives there because it is her own secret and she doesn't share her kayak with anyone.

When no one is on the beach she goes into her house, where she has seaweed for dinner. She never gets tired of seaweed, because sometimes it's salty and sometimes it's sweet. So that's the life of Fiona. Sometimes writers get carried away, so I stopped right there and that is the end.

        -- Katie

[transcription note: the labyrinthian minds of children are amazing; they notice everything; and it is all relayed in such a matter-of-fact tone; this is their only reality. Punctuation and spelling by the editor, who also supplied minor grammatical structure.]


Operational Report.

Force 8 Gale. Generally impedes progress.

I was trying to go there - just there, under that tree, across the way. You can see the tree so clearly, each branch delineated, each leaf and individual entity, the squirrels chasing up and down, the general feeling of permanence.

The force of gale 8 is, at this very moment, breaking twigs off of that very tree, and the squirrels have changed their mind about playing tag and to say that progress has generally been impeded would be the least descriptive way of stating that my umbrella is inside out, my hair is alternately plastered to my head or spinning wildly in a vortex, my hat disappeared ten minutes ago, and it is all I can do to hold onto this lamp post and hope for the best.

Have I mentioned that there is imminent danger of the electrical wires overhead ceasing to remain safely strung above, offering a perch in gentler times for all variety of bird life, from the humble sparrow to the feisty cardinal to the eloquent owl to the despised starling to the unappreciated grackle, all of which would be delightful to contemplate if it weren't for this force 8 gale that seems intent upon impeding my progress and potentially about to tear the power lines from their too-fragile connection to the lamp post?

Perhaps determining a course of action when the barometer is falling and all predictions warn: be ware! be ware!, shutter the house, batten the hatches, tie down small children, close up the barn! would have preferably led to a situation other than holding on to a lamp post fighting a gale while ill-advisedly journeying from here to there by way of somewhere else.

Remember the wisdom of limiting peripatetic adventures to weather conditions of force 7, which merely inconvenience, or the force 6 which merely causes difficulty with the use of one's umbrella (presumably a sturdy umbrella, taut oiled cotton over an engineered frame, a pole of polished mahogany, as the generic travel umbrella is useless at much over a force 4, the fabled moderate breeze); henceforth vow that gale 8 winds will be left to their own devices, that once umbrellas are used with difficulty and inconvenience is noted when walking into the wind, thence one will remain where one started, unimpeded stability.

Edward Lear by the light of the moon


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

away always away

On the lam. Running from the law. Backing away quietly.
Changing identity, forging papers, assuming aliases.

Dyeing hair, colored contacts, growing a beard, appearing in cross-dress clothing, wearing a wig, walking in shoes with lifts, acquiring a cane, faking a limp, borrowing a wheelchair, wearing a uniform, drawing a false tattoo: displaying the outward appearance of a rector, a UPS driver, a bohemian, a dancer, a clerk, a scholar.

Remembering that the shoes will give the game away. Rectors don't wear running shoes. Doctors don't wear Converse All Stars. UPS drivers don't wear footwear that isn't brown. Bohemians don't wear penny loafers. Dancers don't wear Teva sandals. Clerks don't wear wingtips. Scholars don't wear combat boots.

Remembering to find the car to fit the part. Rectors are rarely seen in BMW Z3 convertibles. Doctors seldom drive 1962 Chevy pick-ups. UPS drivers drive UPS trucks. Bohemians rarely are found behind the wheel of SUVs. Dancers seek out fuel efficient hatchbacks. Clerks buy used, featuring rust in wheel wells, flaking paint. Scholars can be identified by Volvo.

reading snippets here and there, without delving into any particular texts:

Interesting observations about social and domestic expectations parsed by socioeconomic and education levels.

I'm not sure that I agree with the author's conclusions (mellow out, post-grads!), but it is generally accurate that codes of behavior are adjusted and modified and reconsidered in the light of the rigors of other commitments (such as the intensity of graduate study focusing the mind).

Books Briefly Noted: Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn | June 22, 2009

Probably won't read the book, but enamored with the review:
[Clyde] Barrow’s real strength was as a driver who maneuvered through multiple states with reckless speed, and Guinn’s engaging book reads like a road story—two kids from the Dallas slums in a fast car, headed to nowhere good. The truest part of the legend of Bonnie and Clyde was their affection for one another. "

the ephemeral beauty of fresh raspberries

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

reconsiderations and recollections

Regardless, she stayed. She scythed a path through the overgrown shrubs and grasses, found the old hand water pump that had never actually been removed, set up camp in what had once been the living room, now lacking a roof, a campfire in the fireplace. Somehow she created a vegetable garden or knew how to forage for edibles; somehow she found a stray chicken or two to incorporate into the yard.
People suspected her arrival, not through actual visits but through supposition and local intuition; the house had already developed a reputation, and she could only be at least slightly mad, at best. So they left her alone, except during full moons or at Halloween, took alternate paths rather than the shortcut to the river; and there she lived.

reading more the the amazing Atwood
and On the Way to the River / Laurence

weather the final ending of a too-melodramatic June

Sunday, June 21, 2009

a missed deadline

Obviously, deadlines as conceptual constructs are nothing new; I'm now a week past one deadline and 5 weeks past another, and hereby enlist the assistance of the general readership for the former.

Please let me know your 2-3 favorite pieces from the past year. There's no need to actually try to reprocess or reread the available text, just a note mentioning whatever happens to remain in the brain, such as "ooo, I liked the Lego one", or "Dear Ms Aubergine, your methods of declining proposals are truly revolutionary for the consideration of the end times of future relationships."

Opinions may be sent to the author by whatever form of communication you prefer. If you aren't sure how to contact the author, perhaps you shouldn't (although the bio page has an email link). She prefers telegrams (although not singing telegrams); Morse Code; skywriting with aeroplanes; and messages in code presented using a surveying map, compass, and dodgy characters in back alleyways.

Please send correspondence by Thursday a fortnight ago.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

poets in cars

In any or all of these situations, the same hillside, the same late afternoon early September sunlight, the same ocean, the same breeze, the same clouds. The same sense of an insufficient conclusion, too many loopholes, too many loose ends, too many unanswered questions, not-credible witnesses, unknown motivations, shadowy figures in dark alleyways unaccounted for, an unexplained extra thousand miles on the odometer, a partially recalled memory, an inexact déjà vu, a telling ache in the left elbow, a portentous dream, an overheard snippet of conversation, a missing proof of identity, an unfinished dialogue, a mistranslated passage, an unconfirmed bullet, a found wallet, a dog-eared page in a paperback novel, a crumpled brown paper bag, a man's single brown loafer, a missing argyle sock, a broken glass, an empty wine bottle.

Arrest Docket [Poems] by Christine McNair:

gin and tonics and strawberries and chocolate cake and lingering evenings and all that June was designed for

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

grandfather paradox

Can you tell me how to get there?

I followed the directions of the gas station attendant,

turned left at the road just past the third house after the second stoplight,

turned right at the tree struck by lightening in the freak July hailstorm of ’83,

right again at what must have been the old Cooperston family farm, or I assumed it was once a farm due to the presence of chicken wire and I presumed it was the old farm because the roof had collapsed over part of the barn and the house was boarded up and a not-quite-vintage tractor was quietly rusting behind what may have once been a woodshed,

then I took the left turn by the water tower and followed the road past the railroad tracks towards the old swimming hole in what used to be an abandoned mine shaft,

took a sharp right when a branch of the road passed the 1953 Buick parked in front of the old school teacher’s residence,

followed the road past the Grange and the Congregational Church which is now the deconsecrated home of a town selectman and his family of incontrollable boys, one of whom is rumored to have left a cow on top of the general store,

kept to the left of the road around the hillside hugging the meadowland that is said to be for sale to a soda bottling facility, threatening to drain the local wells and pollute the rivers,

turned at the second right after the post office but before reaching the home of the brother of the wife of the cousin of the gas station attendant,

continued straight for a few ups and downs of hills,

crossed the river,

Margaret Atwood, the exquisite Good Bones
this is June?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

fatigue is a mysterious thing

With the wad of cash, calm the enemies, secure alliances, watch the sun set from a riverboat, free a hostage, clear the land of mines, clean a river, make a film, hire a roofer, replaces fishing nets with dolphin friendly models, send a man to the moon, invent petrochemical variations for modern applications, plant lettuce, mitigate drought, pay off politicians, build a safer factory, redesign the internal combustion engine, sponsor dark matter research, publish an underground newspaper, produce a radio program, establish a trust, protect a turtle, rebuild a fire station, commission a statue, restore a mural, protect local microclimates, provide vocational training for criminals, enforce local regulations, clean up an oil spill, plant a tree, hire a babysitter.

All of this, from a wad of cash.

that entire printed-word-on-paper-bound-into-a-book concept hasn't really been happening recently

glorious, mostly

Thursday, May 28, 2009

whispering in the dark

The Journey (On The River)

We packed our backpacks with apples and juice and water and crackers and sandwiches and some chocolate chip cookies from the cupboard, even though the cookies were special and we knew we weren't really supposed to take any, but this was an adventure and chocolate chip cookies are essential for river adventures. We were going to see where the river began and the forest ended and where the railroad tracks were born, somewhere deep in the unexplored world that didn't appear on maps.

We had tried paddling to the factory before, and you had climbed to the roof and called out to the forest Halloo! Halloo! and your brother had found a nest of brilliant green lizards napping in the sunlight, and we had climbed the railway bridge and eaten our sandwiches and do you remember your brother trying to jump from the bridge into the river, just because he could, and we had to each take his arms and beg him not to, so instead we found a tree and jumped from the branches into the river, and came home soaking wet and after dinnertime and had promised not to tell -- even though I know you told, that evening, in an excited whisper to your mother.

why read when there are Ginger Rogers / Fred Astaire / Gershwin movies to be seen? the inspiration of tap dancing on roller skates in Central Park

not quite amenable to tap dancing on roller skates in Central Park

Thursday, May 21, 2009

and then

The earth rotates, the shift perhaps imperceptibly felt from this spot on the ground, as the alignment of the uppermost branches of the trees for a moment doesn't tally with what the eyes expect to see. Then everything matches again, the planet spinning effortlessly along its track as the ants work their way across the tendons of the left foot, searching for food or a new nesting site.

The ground is comfortable, or it would be if it weren't for the awkwardly placed pebbles and the suspicion that natural may also harbor the detritus of human existence, bottle caps, cigarette butts, but with the blinding pain in the left temple and a sense of misalignment associated with the right elbow, the undesired paraphernalia is immediately preferable to trying to locate a cleaner spot of dirt.

reading on the plane, "Three Cups of Tea"

weather well-earned

Thursday, May 14, 2009

betwixt & between

The windshield wipers swishing back and forth, attempting to hold back the sheer force of the rain through effort alone. Visibility minimized to perhaps five feet of space, headlights reflecting the downpour without illuminating anything of the road ahead.

The clock on the dashboard echoed back across the display 8.21 imperceptibly becoming 8.22 until suddenly it was 9.38 and it was impossible to remember whether the hour had all been lost negotiating a path between the raindrops or if it had been whisked away unexpectedly by some sort of time-stealing highway fairy or if sleep had descended in a flash of lightening and autopilot steered the car through the storm, another four miles or forty miles onward into the distance.

reading the town's master plan, which, alas!, clearly states a preference for development over historic preservation. O! Woe!

weather the deep purple explosion of iris in bloom

Thursday, May 7, 2009

character notes

What was the question? I'm sorry. I wasn't paying attention: the light was shifting against the branches of the trees, illuminating everything in an inarguable golden yellow, and if I had paid attention to the question I would have missed this five minutes of glory when everything is transformed into Technicolor and the world switches into high definition surround sound with every tree, cloud, house, cat, car, bird outlined in its truest form, so I actually have no idea why you are looking so quizzical, so expectant.

Had I enquired about the health of your grandmother, forgetting that she died in China in the 1960s, confusing her with some other grandmother who gardens in Seattle or moved to Buenos Aires with a man thirty years her junior; or did I inadvertently mention plans to go on a trip which you believe to be the ill-advised tom-foolery of too much wine too late at night and access to airplane reservations; or were you following up on the discussion of the Napoleonic era from yesterday or last week and I obviously wasn't paying attention then, either, since the book I promised to look up for you -- what was that? Something about a chair, or a new method for the espalier of apple trees?

I'm sorry, the coffee is cold, and now you are upset, and I'm not sure if it is the cold coffee or the forgotten question or the cat that just crossed the neighbor's lawn stalking a robin or if you just remembered that beginning of the month bills are due and there is a meeting tomorrow morning regarding signing a power of attorney for the family business.

You don't mind if we let the question drop for a moment, do you? I'm sorry, what did you say?

reading a list of 100 books published since 1900, perhaps 75% of which I have read, the plots and characters of the vast majority of which have been consigned to the shadows of memory

weather everywhere, the satiated scent of lilacs