Tuesday, January 31, 2012


This is one of my favorite sculptures in DeCordova's sculpture garden—Joseph Wheelwright's "Listening Stone".

To listen means bending one's ear to the ground, attending with all attention. How often in this world of multi-tasking, surplus of information, blaring sound, do we really listen?

I think that when we really listen to what someone is saying we stop all the whirring in our minds and cocoon around the words. To engage in dialogue is to make a commitment to listen, to take notice.

When I listen without waiting for my turn, without looking for a way to refute, I enter a different space—even for a short while.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How Do You Know the Truth?

Several days ago I printed this photo—but now I've added something. Two photos taken fifteen miles apart on different days almost seamlessly stitched together.

How easy it is to create something out of nothing.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On Finding Your Place

A Place in a queue
One's Place at a banquet
A formal Place setting
A bookmark holding your Place

Do Place your teacup down

The Place you inhabit

The Place you stand —an attitude, an angle of vision
A logical order

Your walk in life
A pigeonhole,
a Place in the catalogue of possibilities

Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's All a Matter of Perspective

Listening to our politicians, those people who hanker after an elected office, I am stunned by their willingness to throw away civility and honesty. Why not twist an incident, or distort words?

They drag through the past looking for something to hang on the shoulders of an opponent —wishing to see them pulled down by the weight of innuendoes or the twisting of facts.

But then if we did not resonate to all the external noise, if we didn't jump from candidate to candidate—taken in by the negativity, if we said no and really meant it....

Friday, January 27, 2012

Going the Right Way

In this winter that isn't winter the cyclists are out in force—many with their particular attire. After watching four properly garbed cyclists pedal past—colorful tops, cycle shoes, gloves, helmets and water bottles ,this biker was a breath of fresh air.

She wore a knitted cap, a puffy—possibly down, jacket—and sensible shoes. And instead of being hunched over her bicycle she sat upright. She also preferred the sidewalk to the street.

I assumed that the cycle didn't have fifteen gears, or ten.

And she probably referred to the cycle as her bike.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


In addition to knowing the technical ins and outs of photography, you need a discerning eye. I'm mesmerized by black and white photos, especially of people. Not portraits. I love the captured moments or even the ones where the subjects are staring directly into the camera, but the photographer has disrobed and discarded the outer garment and we see someone's soul.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Journey in Mixed Media

What is it about collage and mixed media that fascinates me? It's like a crazy quilt—you can let your imagination fly with colors and shapes. I like the sudden realization that what you've been working on really looks like a —or perhaps it's simply a design.

I recently heard someone speak about journeys, in particular faith journeys, and as I thought of my own circuitous journey I wondered about the possibility of depicting that ebb and flow visually. No words, just shape and line.

No photos or pictures, just color and movement. After awhile I realized that what I had been creating reminded me of rivers and tributaries. And quite without thinking about the journey I had created narrow places and wide spaces.

Once my interior self depicted the journey as one that meandered and sometimes squeezed through a tapered strait while other times floated on a wide expanse, I thought of all the branches feeding off the main river.

Then I reminded myself of those places where two rivers met—the confluence of waters. Once I stood on a hill at Harper's Ferry —at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and hummed, albeit off key, "Oh, Shenandoah".

I recalled the Davis River or was it the Davidson River—one is in West Virginia and the other in North Carolina. I skipped stones in that water.

So now I need to figure out how to depict all the waters in my faith journey.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Looking in the Mirror

Aren't we all a bit ageist? Put us in a group of almost seriously older folks and we may wonder why we chose that group, or what we may have in common with the group. It is also a reminder of how age creeps up. Put us in a group with people ten or twenty years younger and we feel that we have lost years.

Of course it depends upon the group and what you are doing. Coming face to face with some of my own discomforts causes a bit of unease. Is it their ages or is it the way that age has taken a toll? Or is it that I'm looking at things with the wrong lens?

Perhaps there are lessons for me to learn -- patience, acceptance, speaking clearly and loud enough to be heard, and seeing the people beneath the exterior.

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Apron

Is a smock the same as an apron? My art instructor asked us to bring an apron to the next art class. She's British.

According to the free dictionary a smock is defined as:

1. (Clothing & Fashion) any loose protective garment, worn by artists, laboratory technicians, etc.
2. (Clothing & Fashion) a woman's loose blouse-like garment, reaching to below the waist, worn over slacks, etc.
3. (Clothing & Fashion) Also called smock frock a loose protective overgarment decorated with smocking, worn formerly esp by farm workers
4. (Clothing & Fashion) Archaic a woman's loose undergarment, worn from the 16th to the 18th centuries

Their definition of an apron:
a. A garment, usually fastened in the back, worn over all or part of the front of the body to protect clothing.
b. Something, such as a protective shield for a machine, that resembles this garment in appearance or function.

There are a number of other definitions, but none fit for my purposes.

I must admit that when someone says apron, I think of a woman in the kitchen preparing food. I don't own an apron. Does this say something about my ability to stay clean or about my lack of cooking prowess?

There's a web site called Aprons and Smocks where they go into quite a bit of detail outlining the differences between smocks and aprons. They also set the record straight regarding cobbler's aprons.

Because aprons and smocks are two different animals their site provides the causal reader with a taxonomy of what to seek when selecting one or the other.

If pockets mean a lot to you then note that smocks "Typically have 3 pockets – two on the bottom and one in the upper left side of the garment, whereas aprons usually have 2 pockets on the bottom.

I also discovered that smocks are even worn by Welsh shepherds and soldiers overseas.

To utterly confuse me they write,
Cobbler Aprons or Artist’s Smock

Cobbler aprons are sleeveless and slip over your head. In common usage, they’re often called smocks although technically they are aprons.

Now how is that helpful. I've always thought of aprons as rather prissy coverings decorated with flowers or kitchen graffiti—spoons, bowls, pithy food sayings.

Then to utterly confuse the issue you could wear a pinny —"a decorative garment worn by both girls and women as a protective apron."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

From One Book to Another

Until last week the word Humument wasn't in my vocabulary--that is until I happened upon Tom Philips work.

"A Humument is a treated book by British artist Tom Phillips based on a Victorian novel. It was born in 1966 when Phillips read about William Burroughs’ cut-up technique. Wanting to do something similar, Phillips decided that the first coherent book he came across “for threepence would serve.” That book was the novel A Human Document by W.H. Mallock, published in 1892. For Phillips, the novel was a treasure of unequaled and lasting value."

Check it out at:


I found an old gardening book and can't wait to start altering it into something new.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Reports

Every year, at least for the past three, I've sought out book challenges and signed up for several. Read a book, write a review. I recall those days of forced, coerced, demanded from -- book reviews, at that time teachers referred to them as book reports.

Most students stood in front of the class, hands clentching a piece of paper and attempting to recall what it was that they had liked about the book. It wasn't enough to say that you liked a book, you were expected to outline reasons.

And if I dislike a book I can't simply say that, I must assiduously describe the reasons for my dislike. This can't be a thumbs down -- it must be balanced dislike.

I recently finished The Danish Girl. it isn't enough to say-- before anyone thought it was possible, a young man has extensive surgery and becomes a woman. Unfortunately the physician pushed for more radical surgery and the patient succumbs to the ravishes of the mistakes..

A memoir with a catchy title is a rehash of the yearly quota of how-to writing books. Nothing new, nothing eye opening.

A mystery that is part psychological and part southern gothic with an ending that disappoints.

Now I need to blow up those short phrases and sound like a literary critic or a copy-cat.


As soon as someone mentioned altered books I became infatuated. What did it mean when one said altered? To change. To improve. To recreate in another form. Do I look at the book and get my inspiration from the initial book? Do I simply gesso the pages?

Are there poems to be found, pithy sayings to uncover-- simply by eliminating words?

What happens to the words that are thrown away? Do they reconstitute themselves and form new thoughts?

Do authors mourn the loss of their own words, or in some cases the dismissal of words. Why are some words saved and others consigned to oblivion?

This new paradigm is built on the pages of other words, different images. Do I recognize the previous author or has my creation so blotted out the original that no recognition is necessary??

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What to Do?

I've grown accustomed to the balmy winter weather-- although the past few days the temperatures plummeted. Now the weather people, those harbingers of hot and cold, predict snow for the weekend. After a winter lacking any real snow this pronouncement isn't welcome.

Take today. I had an art class and my supplies for the session fit nicely into a small plastic two wheeled push cart. Without the cart I'd need to morph into a multi-armed superhuman avatar. Pushing the cart across the parking lot, down an asphalt pathway and into the studio presents no trouble when all is clear of snow. I can't envision the small wheels managing more than a thin coating. Perhaps there's a kit to attach small runners to the cart bottom.

Perhaps a sleigh in deep snow. A sledge for supplies.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


No Censorship

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Remarkable Appearance of N

A friend mentioned finding a new, for her, book by Mary Robison. I immediately read Marilynne Robinson and headed to the stacks.

Actually I read her blog while hunched over books—in the library. Studying, contemplating and drinking from my half hidden water bottle nestled behind the No Drinking, No Eating sign.The man at the table behind me was nursing a Starbucks coffee in full view of anyone walking by our aerie.

I found the R's and found the Robinsons, but no book fitting the description and title. Then it occurred to me —I had added an N to the author's last name. I probably ignored the first name or possibly thought that Marilynne decided to shorted her name to Mary.

It's an obvious error of choice. I chose to hope that Robinson had written another book. I went back to the stacks determined to make amends—and removed two books by Mary Robison and took them back to the table. Having made an egregious error I hoped to alter the outcome by checking out two of Mary's books.

As for the errant N, the N that appeared from my subconscious, I tucked it away in one of my books.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Anticipation, my mother said, is half the fun. Yet it's possible to become so entwined in all that happens before the event that the event itself is anti-climatic. That never seemed to happen to my mother.

"It's the road," she said. That was before someone coined the phrase, "It's the journey, not the destination that matters."

They are braided together—just like a braided essay. My mother always started with the clothes she'd need, especially the type of shoe. Heels, her preferred shoe, did give way to a pair of white sneakers for a trip to Israel.

Then she concentrated on health—and she thought of all types of contingencies. Stomach aches, hives, wounds, and of course fevers. Lest she couldn't find the right toothbrush and her toothbrush suffered some perilous catastrophe she brought one or two extras.

What to wear? Would it be hot or cold, drafty, stuffy? Take something for each possibility.

Phrases to learn, exchange rate of currency. How much? How to take it? Should you have one of those wallets hanging around your neck and under a shirt?

Books about the area. Novels by residents or by strangers? Ancient history or contemporary?

By the time the day of packing arrived she looked at her allocated suitcase and tried to get everything inside. On many occasions I was commanded to sit on the suitcase—which creaked and groaned under my weight and force.

So then began the taking out of items.

"I really don't need my Icelandic sweater even if the evening gets a bit cool."
"These are drip-dry so I don't need so many."

Little by little she whittled it down. Often the suitcase still needed to be cajoled —by two of us sitting on it— to close.

The pile of "not for this trip" contained as many or more items that made it into the final packing, but that was part of the fun.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I've just come back from a twenty-fifth anniversary party thrown by two friends-- seventy people in their home. A friend did the cooking, a daughter-in-law washed the dishes, and wall to wall people ate, drank soda, and talked.

If you didn't want to nibble the cheese, dip veggies into two different dips, spread salmon spread on crackers, eat chicken wings, pasta salad or garbanzo salad-- then you could take a handful of candied walnuts. And if you like something hot--small meatballs smothered in tomato sauce looked perfect and whenever the cover of the pan was lifted a delectable aroma escaped into the room. When small quiches and spinach squares wrapped in sheets of thijn pastry were brought out they only lasted for minutes.

A large bowl of colorful M & Ms, plates of cookies, mini pastries, and strawberries waited for guests who had filled up on the other food. I must admit to tasting everything save the mini pastries.

For over two hours I spoke to people about the newest movies, hiking the knive's edge at Katahdan Mountain, gentrification in the Bronx, the state of women in Israel and the problem of the ultra- orthodox's increasing demands, web design, a transgendered woman who came out to her drama group, fiction courses at Grub Street, catering, the Patriots, the possibility of another super bowl party, extreme risk taking, climbing up and down Shasta Mountain in one day, and the up and coming book club meeting.

We didn't talk about the upcoming election, politics, the right, the left, Iran, Iraq, the recession, poverty. We didn't mention John 3:16, or Islam. We didn't mention free will or original sin. We never spoke of the future save for noting that each day lasted longer before it dropped into dark.

When we left we listened to the host tell us how she loved to mix all the groups from different parts of their lives--

It worked, but I did only speak to people I knew!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"This Stadium is One Noisy Place"

This is the weekend when anyone with a penchant for football can spend hours rooting for their team or rooting for a team to lose. I must admit that living in New England for a number of years has caused me to relinquish my connection to New York teams and to embrace New England teams. Thus I am a New England Patriots fan.

What is it about geography and place that causes one to feel an infinity with the local team and turn away from the team of their youth? My father was a baseball fan and rarely talked about football. It was easy to love baseball-- we lived several subway stops away from Yankee Stadium and bleacher tickets were easily accessible. For years I thought that pin stripes were the pinnacle of sports.

Football, that odd game that often seems like it should be played in a Roman coliseum, didn't enter my consciousness until I moved to Maryland. I lived in a neighborhood of football conscious people-- many from other areas of the country. Two neighbors rooted for Green Bay, many folks were deeply attached to college teams-- especially Ole' Miss and Alabama. So, along with being introduced to neighborhood Bible Studies,my football education began.

But it was only when I became ensconced in New England that I bought a decal and watched games with regional pride.

Too bad Tim Teebow and the Denver Broncos weren't playing against a different opponent because I'd have rooted the Broncos.

Now it's on to the next opponent. Perhaps I'll get a chance to go to another Super Bowl party ( I know I'm assuming they'll win the next game). Then it will be the " living room is one noisy room."

Friday, January 13, 2012


It's cold and I'm thinking about other seasons. Not that I don't like winter, but I find myself yearning for fewer heavy garments, bare arms, toes unencumbered by shoes, and a nose that doesn't turn red. 

On the other hand I do like the way my shoes leave imprints in new snow, the taste of snow on my tongue, and catching snowflakes on black construction paper.

Of course it hasn't really snowed here this year. I'm not adverse to that because of the ice dams last winter, the dripping closet, the walls wet enough to need to be removed, the transport of everything in the closet to the loft, the wait until spring to have the rebuild. So I 'm cautious and wary-- hopeful that the repairs took care of the problem. 

So this winter seems like a welcome reprieve. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Building blocks necessary for the construction of —
Nothing is built without the addition of one thing to another —
Pull out one block and the pile teeters—

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


One headlight, on the passenger side, is out.

Two rubbery carrots, forgotten and left alone couldn't be salvaged.

Three fruit flavored Life Savers savored at the movie theatre while watching 'Pariah'.

Four books waiting to be read--a mystery, a memoir, a study guide for Acts, and a A Throughly Non-Standardized Text For Writing & Life

Five minutes needed to finish a saved crossword puzzle.

Six sided paper snowflakes mimic the real flakes while the real snow stays away.

Seven days of exercises to develop a plank flat belly.

Eight cookbooks on the shelf waiting to be opened. " It's time for a new recipe."

Nine stacked piles:
magazines to read,

old photos,

coupons that may be passed their prime,

rubber bands ( my grandmother had a four inch ball made of rubber bands),


pages to be scanned--some text and some cartoons,

notes noting books to read,

scraps of paper with quotations --" I've always written best when my day is "washed in space." Heidi Neumark using a part of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's words: " Even small and casual things take on significance if they are washed in space."

half-filled notebooks,

and folders with items to be scanned

Ten --simply ten

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


After deep and somewhat chaotic introspection my list of resolutions for 2012, written down, inscribed in blue ink in a new notebook, is complete. This year I've tried to hone them down to a respectable number. Why bother with those resolutions that I know I won't keep.

Despite my penchant for armchair travel to remote and dangerous places I won't be buying passage to a far flung spot. I love the idea of racing across the desert, defying thirst, arid heat, blisters, and knotted calves, but I won't sign up. Neither will I starve myself in an aborted attempt to wear a size four form fitting pair of jeans.

All these negatives! What will I do?
Perhaps I'll hone down my list to one item.

Monday, January 09, 2012


Everything needs special equipment. Scale a vertical rock face and don't forget a harness, chalk bag, belay device, quickdraws, rope, rope bag, helmet and an assortment of other complex sounding devices.

Go bungie jumping and besides sheer steel nerves don't forget the cord -- get one certified for 1000 jumps and keep track. Then there's the bumper pad in case you bump into a hard surface. There's ankle harnesses and safety lines and chest harnesses and helmets. Bring along a friend to pray.

Ballet-- toe shoes and a portable double bar ballet barre so you can practice at home. Maybe you'll also want an arch stretcher which sounds medieval. Then there's the appropriate attire.

I am somewhat of an expert on equipment necessary for long periods in the public library. First, you need to find a library with a table and comfortable chair on the topmost floor. Usually the non- fiction area gets less foot traffic. Scout out a table that is pushed against the wall and affords you a view of oncoming traffic. There are usually volunteers pushing wagons filled with books. These wagons inevitably screech so you have ample time to cover up the accouterments of your stay.

And what do you need?

I use a thin 15 ounce thermal tea container. I've brewed my tea prior to leaving home. The tea container must be guaranteed not to leak, but to be on the safe side I store it in a zip lock bag. Take along a small ceramic cup with a soft plastic lid-- they leave no noise in the rarified library stacks.

An energy bar is essential. If you are going to be working for an extended period of time a friend is mandatory. That way you can get up every hour or two and take a invigorating walk outside.

Carry a sandwich in the car, a plastic container of water and a thermos of water. On one of your jaunts pick up the zip locked sandwich. Don't use bread with seeds-- they fall off and you'll be down on the floor picking up tiny seeds with a piece of scotch tape. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are best because they don't perfume the air with the announcement of your lunch. If you're not a quiet eater-- practice at home until you can chew and swallow soundlessly.

Carry all your books and equipment in a large carry all bag-- mine is purple and is imprinted with the names of women authors. Place your bag on the table and use it to hide the cup. The thermos remains in your bag save when you take it out and pour out some hot tea. A caution-- pour a small amount at a time. in the unlikely event that you spill anything the resulting spill will be minuscule instead of a flood on the order of a biblical catastrophe. Carry several paper towels in your bag.

Today we were on the third floor for over four hours-- two decent walks, 15ounces of tea, half a bar, a peanut butter and blueberry jelly sandwich on nine grain bread and a bottle of water.

And I did all the work I anticipated doing without any interruptions. Now I need to figure out a dessert.

One other important point. Check out the temperature of the room before setting out. It's too disconcerting to be either too hot or too cold. My perfect third floor aerie is comfortably warm when it's bitter outside and save for the occasional tick of a wall clock dependably quiet.

One other thing-- don't wear squeaky shoes.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

It Doesn't Have to be Fancy

Sometimes soul food is a pita
chock full of falafel and vegetables surrounded by tahini.
Sometimes a Subway's Veggie Delight
bathed in honey mustard
while eating baked chips and watching the people on line does the trick.
Occasionally frozen yogurt mounded up in a cup beckons--
Or a bagel laden with chive cream cheese or an onion bagel beneath butter
Or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich waiting in the car to be eaten midway between reading and writing in the library
Or a catch as catch can dinner of leftovers.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A Blessing to Read

I usually don't suggest books on this blog, but on this day and at this time I am changing my stripes.

Breathing Space A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx By Heidi B. Neumark.

The author was a Lutheran pastor of a church on East 156th Street. Transfiguration Lutheran Church is right in the midst of the South Bronx --one of the poorest urban areas, infested with rats and violence-- yet in that place transformation and life happens.

Neumark's stories are often heartbreaking. More children suffer from asthma then anywhere else in the city, more garbage disposal sites situated in the area, more homes that don't meet any standards. Yet it is here that enormous changes happen.

I grew up in the Bronx, not the South Bronx -- but the Bronx is in my soul.

So many times while reading my eyes welled up and other times I wanted to raise my hands and shout Hallelujah.


Friday, January 06, 2012

Oh My!

Just on a whim I decided to enter one of my mixed media paintings in a juried art exhibit --without any real thought of being selected to exhibit. This evening the list was posted and I had to read and reread the list because there was my name and the name of my piece-- Route 66.

I feel like the kid who gets the first patch or first trophy. I wanted to paste the list on the refrigerator. My last accepted piece of art-- although I've only entered one other juried exhibit--back in the seventh grade. I entered the Scholastic Art Exhibit .My charcoal still life received an acceptance and eventually I won a blue ribbon for my arrangement of several bowls, a fish, and knives laid out on a checkered tablecloth.

It isn't as if I retired. , I just didn't enter any completions. I hung my paintings on the walls of my parent's retirement condo, or on my walls, or occasionally on a friend's walls.

When I studied Chinese Ink Painting the instructor held exhibits every year, but merely being n the class assured you wall space at the Buddhist Center.

So this is an oh wow experience.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


It is finally time to do some of the mundane tasks that I relegate to the tomorrows which never seem to arrive. I am a collector of ephemera—which is then relegated to some drawer or the basement.

But how do I know that the ten plastic tomato boxes won't be just the items needed for a craft project?

Recently I've been scanning articles instead of cutting them out and placing them in folders. Just today I read an essay about ampersands and will scan that article for future use. & that brought up the question—how do I feel about &s ?

"The ampersand can be traced back to the first century AD. It was originally a ligature of the letters E and T (“et” is Latin for and). If you look at the modern ampersand, you’ll likely still be able to see the E and T separately."
Web Designer Depot

Last January I went through my notebooks to see if there were any that I should toss, but how do you toss the scribbled notes made while seated in a laundromat waiting for bath mats to dry. I wrote about the sounds of so many machines tumbling and the people who came in and out of the Washing Palace. The notes—written twenty years ago—might show up in a story. I didn't toss anything, but I did create a manageable stack.

Twenty-five carousels of slides are ready to be turned into digital images— but first I need to look through each carousel to slim down the number of slides. Do I really need one hundred and six slides of Paradise Valley Wildflowers? I started this task last year—but fell behind.

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.”
—Albert Einstein

Wednesday, January 04, 2012


How much money will be spent on political ads? Collectively how much money will the Republican hopefuls spend in their attempt to be the candidate facing off against President Obama? And how much money will the Democrats spend in their attempt to thwart the Republicans?

How much money will a baseball team spend to get the ultimate slugger? And what will a pitcher's arm be worth to the team seeking to win it all?

How many millions is the head of a company worth? How much money is spent to convince consumers to buy a particular car, drink a beverage, wash clothes, or eat at a fast food restaurant?

" In 2010, 17.2 million households, 14.5 percent of households (approximately one in seven), were food insecure, the highest number ever recorded in the United States 1 (Coleman-Jensen 2011, p. v.) "

"Background: The United States changed the name of its definitions in 2006 that eliminated references to hunger, keeping various categories of food insecurity."

How is it that we changed the words? Words connote power and words like hunger and hungry create an image, a visceral response. Food insecure emasculates the image.

20.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty. This means their family’s cash income is less than half of the poverty line, or about $10,000 a year for a family of four (DeNavas-Walt 2011, p. 19)."

Extreme. Extremum. How do we explain extremes?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Beginning a Lanyard

My father wore a metal whistle at the end of his navy blue lanyard. After he came home from officiating a high school basketball game, he took off the lanyard and placed it on the dresser my parents shared. The weave looked complicated—especially to an eight year old.

For years I wanted my own lanyard—not for a whistle, but for a key or for the small magnifying glass I carried with me. The glass came straight out of a box of Cracker Jacks. I laced a string through the hole in the handle and sometimes remembered to bring it with me when exploring in the empty lot near my apartment building.

When I was a few months beyond ten and afraid that I'd never get a chance to learn the intricacies of lanyard weaving I met Barbara, the new girl at school, who wore a red and blue lanyard. Her house key hung halfway down to her belly. In return for a large slice of my grandmother's honey cake Barbara agreed to teach me how to make a lanyard.

We didn't own any lacing and neither of us knew where to find any. So Barbara used shoelaces from my father's shoes to teach me the proper order of string placement. The laces knotted and the lanyard didn't look right, but I did learn the stitch.

It wasn't until the following summer when my father directed a summer camp program at a hotel that I had the chance to make a lanyard. The Arts & Crafts shed was well stocked and I wove key chains, neck chains, bracelets— lanyards as gifts for everyone in my family.

By that time the magnifying glass was gone.

I hung my five year diary key around my neck.

Monday, January 02, 2012

An Old Telephone Book

Buried under half used notebooks, loose scraps of paper, and an assortment of paper clips I found an old telephone book.

Alternative Beauty Parlor—where the owner brought her dog to work and convinced me to highlight my hair with a blond shade that turned red.

Dot B. who mentored me when I first started teaching in a school for children who couldn't attend their public schools because their problems were too complex. "Remember," she told me," that each of our children, no matter how difficult, is someone's child — and loved."

Miriam C. who also worked at the same school once called me up in the middle of the night to talk about cows.

And who was Monica D.? How does someone get into my phone book—even it was a long time ago. Was it the person who gave me her phone number and address because we had a conversation over coffee because we shared a table? Did I ever call her?

An eye doctor who died way too young.

Miriam F. who was a docent at a museum in Washington D.C., painted plum blossoms, and instead of wallpapering her bathroom pasted postcards all over the wall.


Mary G, from Germany, who I met at a writer's conference where she fell in love with a woman from Gulfport, LA. Their love lasted for ten days and then she returned to her husband in Berlin.


My cousin Bobby H. called one day to tell me she had a brain tumor. I drove to White Plains to see her and we spoke about living in the Bronx. We spent the day driving around old haunts where graffiti, like a vine, climbed the brick exterior of my old apartment building.


No one is listed—an absence that can't be amended.


Dr. J, a gynecologist with a shock of white hair.


Once I had a friend who asked me to visit her friend, Natalie K, who was at a Boston Hospital being examined free of charge. It's never good when the medical establishment doesn't charge you anything.


Linda L. attended the same writing workshop that Mary from Germany attended. She lived in Italy —although she originally came from Cleveland— and taught English to the locals. She taught me how to peel an avocado without bruising the tender flesh.


Marrone's Bakery served the best raspberry twists and slices of pizza. It's also where the man who owned a pig farm hung out. "We move the pigs," he said, "during the night so the locals aren't disturbed seeing a truck of pigs wending its way down the main street."


New Words Book Store was a woman's bookstore that attracted every newcomer to the city. I heard poets read their work—and felt empowered by the words I heard and read.


Sheila O. worked in the same school in a small town. She was old fashioned and strict—so strict that parents complained and kids went to the nurse with stomach aches.


Melanie P., also went to the same writing workshop that Mary, from Germany, and Linda, from Italy, attended. She wrote poetry, lived in New york City and fell in love with someone who owned a ranch in Utah—where she moved. She wrote me a letter about the skulls she found.

I once thought I saw a skull that looked just like the one Georgia O'Keefe painted. We talked about the skull for twenty miles as we drove down a back road and then turned around and retraced our path. There in an arroyo —the skull, but it turned out to be an empty Clorax bottle.

Once upon a time the Quarterdeck restaurant served marvelous fish dishes, but they wouldn't let you share a meal. Perhaps that's why they went out of business.


Yolanda R. taught a class for children with problems and wanted to turn her home into a safe house for kids who can't survive in their homes. We never knew if she succeeded.


Pat S. lived in an apartment with a salt water aquarium that took up half the dining area.


Deborah T. set type in Rochester. She set up my only chapbook of poetry. I still like those poems especially the one about twelve women who try on a hat. Each woman becomes someone else as she dons the hat—shapeshifter hat.


Unicorn Bookstore. Years ago when everyone was into crystals and NewAge music the Unicorn sold incense, stones, and magic. I once bought a "powerful" stone promising protection from whatever was out there ready to pounce. The store closed at about the same point I found out that the stone was just a stone.


No items noted for V. Now I have a page of Vs—perhaps the letter has gained in popularity over the years.


Leslie from Gulfport—loved by Mary from Berlin—moved up North. She rode her bicycle everywhere, but the winter caught in her treads and she never thawed out enough to enjoy the North. "I'm a Southerner," she said, "things move too quickly here and they do it in frigid weather."


I never ever had a phone book with an annotated X page. I used the one in this book for doodles.


Only a doctor with a last name beginning with a Y. He wore bow ties and suspenders.


Irene Z., who attended the same writing workshop Mary, Linda and Leslie attended eventually bought a bookstore in the upper reaches of New York State. Until last year I drank tea in a cup she sent me—"So Many Books and Not Enough Time." By last year all that was left—" S Ma an No ou ook"

After "listening to the memories" I'll put the telephone book back under the notebooks, scraps of paper and loose clips.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


"...listening to memories."
River Jordan

Whenever the last day of the year turns over to the next year I, too, listen to memories. Some, embedded in the far past. To listen to a memory differs from recalling a memory. Listening, attuned to the nuances of the memory, in hushed attention to the edges of a memory.

Images resound.
Words form and drift into the present time.
I respond to unanswered questions posed by memories, then move on.