Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is There A Book in this Idea?

Recently I discovered a book written by someone who traveled around the country seeking to discover Christian worship— so he attended a different church service every week for a year. I haven't read the book, although it's on my pile of possible reads, so I can't speak to how his quest ended.

Another writer went in search of faith and selected two hands worth of religions, or faith walks, and spent time immersing himself in each tradition. Of course all this research ended up caught between the covers of a book.

I'd like to journey around the country visiting small libraries, taking photos, checking out their collections, their history, and their comfortable reading spots.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Writing Towards Spring


Create the words and watch the cold retreat and spring appear. Write the paragraph and discover the apples on the ground, the butterfly in the air, the bird singing a solo.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Of What Use

One sock, the other mysteriously lost in the washing machine

Only a tablespoon left of peanut butter and two pieces of bread


A three inch strand of mint flavored floss

Sunday, February 26, 2012



How often I've found just the book I wanted, especially when I didn't know prior to browsing that I really wanted that particular book.

I'm flipping through pages and a sentence jumps out, a well crafted phrase, a metaphor and I stop to read a page or two. If there's a chair nearby I'll sit and peruse the book , maybe even write down a few words.

I like the feel of the pages, the way a new book opens, even the aroma of newness.

In a used bookstore I look for those books with an inscription in the front and conjure up the prior reader.

I've made my peace with ebooks—non-fiction tomes ( because of size), and a book on how to create an altered book.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

About Money

How much money does a person need? Last week I was looking through the Wall Streeet Journal and found myself mesmerized with the size and cost of homes that were in the double digit million dollar range.

Some questions perked up?
What does someone do with ten bathrooms?
How many bedrooms are too many or when does a home begin to resemble a hotel?

Do gold faucets stain?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Simply Waiting

Waiting for
Waiting for people
Waiting for people to recognize
Waiting for people to recognize we
Waiting for people to recognize we all
view the world with different lenses

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm thinking of creating an alarm clock that responds to voice commands. My alarm clock pierces the sound barrier and is insistent. In fact I think that if I don't hop up immediately it simply becomes more insistent.

I'd be polite-- initially.

" Enough."
" You interrupted my dream."
" Tone down your strident sound."
"This relationship is strained."
" My patience is gone."

" Now I'm late ."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Each strand—separate and slender—the woof and waft of a tapestry. Move one thread and the picture alters. It may be that the colors shift, the hues no longer mesh, or the absence changes how we perceive the whole.

When someone perceives another in a specific way and the other alters some aspect, we react to the difference. I once had a friend who licked envelopes for every liberal candidate. She walked in demonstrations for the most liberal positions. Then one day everything I thought she espoused changed. I didn't know this person and found it difficult to blend her new positions—taken with a passion—with the old person. Her reasons, so clear to her, stumped me. Her response to why, clear to her, sounded muddled to me.

Sometimes change isn't sudden—it only appears that way.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


It's impossible to belong to only one community—one crew, one gang, one clan, one family, one circle, one group. You can't even be part of one horde, one crowd, one circle, one swarm. We exist in multiplicity.

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."— Walt Whitman

Sometimes groups overlap and sometimes their aims are contradictory, but we still adhere to them because within each one of these groups exists some attraction.

I am part of a number of groups—they represent different facets of who I am or who I hope to be—or who I was and who I am becoming.

Once a week I pack up several canvas bags with brushes, mediums, supports, papers, glues, paints, empheria and head to my Mixed-Media class. Eight of us will glue, cut, create transfers, stand back and look at our creations. Our approaches—all different—revolve around the commonality of using a variety of materials to create something different. Our delight is in the art of "morphing" things into something else.

My book group started twenty-five years ago—all women. For years we only read books written by women, but then five or maybe seven years ago we expanded and included books by men. We operate under a cumbersome and arcane way of selecting books. Over the years three women died—two of breast cancer, several married, several relationships ended, people changed jobs and tried their hand at carpentry, personal chef, and inn keeper.

There's my coffee house group—Laura who reads and remembers with a seemingly infinite ability to recall all details, even the ones that only take up two lines of space. Larry & Joanie who walk here every day, three miles round trip, and remove secreted paperbacks from a hidden space. Joanie quilts, Larry recently wrote a non-fiction book. I share golf stories with a scratch golfer who plays in Ireland for several months a year.

Then my Me'ah group—we started out four years ago spending two years studying Judaism—Bible, Rabbinic's, Medieval , Modern period. After that we contracted for teachers and expanded our studies. Our present study is with an eclectic Rabbi who only teaches Torah—and rarely more than a few verses at a time. He manages to draw out verses from his memory with a speed that defies my meager ability to quote—accurately.

Then there's my recent Bible study at church where we're reading Mark.

Do I contradict myself? I contain multitudes.

And the groups go on...

Monday, February 20, 2012


Several months ago I purchased an orange juicer-- not one of those that do everything for you. With this juicer I hold the orange and a plastic gizmo spins round and round drawing out all the juice which then runs into my small juice glass. Unplug the unit and in a few moments everything is washed.

No more plastic containers filled with reconstituted orange juice. I am reclaiming my roots.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


124 East 176th Street in the Bronx.

Our apartment building, considered a low rise with only six floors, had an elevator, fire escapes snaking up the exterior of the building, and a coal fed incnerator. Each floor had a chute that led down to the basement where the incinerator burned the garbage. We considered it a treat to be taken down to observe this city rite-- the burning of everone's trash.

There was always a radio on, often competing with another radio. On the weekends the aomas of meals competed with each other. My grandmother's pungent gefilte fish aroma permeated the second floor hallway. It took the better part of a day for the smell to disapate and even then I insisted hat it had seeped into every inch of our three room apartment and hung in for days.

Mrs. Pasquale, on the third floor, made her own noodles, and when she cooked her tomato sauce the smell made me ache for an Italian relative.

Carole's mother was always cleaning the blinds.

She said, " They collect the soot from the Jerome Avenue train."

I couldn't understand how that was possible since we lived three blocks from the elevated train tracks.

On my way home from school I loved looking up and seeing my grandmother's plant on the kitchen window ledge. The plant remained, even when only one leaf remained.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gears of Tme

speeds past stop signs,
engrossed in counting seconds, amassing years
until decades pass by

Clock hands abide in constant motion,
perpetually inching ahead
and then start over

Twenty-four hours
tacked on to twenty-four hours
plodding through the year
linking a daisy chain of days

Turn around and time vanishes
One foot always in the last second
while the other moves beyond the present
to enter the past

Friday, February 17, 2012

Basket Makers

Who made the first basket? What were they thinking? Who decided to put decorations on the basket? Why did they make that decision?

What is it about some people—that makes them innovators?

Thursday, February 16, 2012


We're all watchers. When I go to Provincetown I enjoy walking down to the town hall—usually with a frozen yogurt—and finding a seat on one of the benches facing the street. People watching is a sport that requires a minimal amount of time to learn.

Always have a book or magazine in case you appear to be idly staring. Eating something is a good excuse to be sitting on a bench and being in the act of observation. If someone looks your way and says, "Good afternoon," you're being too obvious. Your observations have dipped into ogling.

I practice the discreet art of observing wherever there are crowds. My preferred season is whenever it's warm enough to be outside. Indoor cold weather observing is far more complex and I am not skilled because I am too obvious.

How else can writers populate their stories with minor characters? Recently, even though this is winter and I was indoors, I managed to engage in active observation and remain discreet.

I watched a young woman spread a cloth napkin on her table, remove two pieces of bread from her purse, open a packet of ketchup, spread the ketchup on the bread, and begin to eat. When she finished that course she got up and ordered a mocha latte and a muffin for dessert.

Someday I may have a story for her.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

To Rest

It seems to me that mattresses have the annoying habit of quickly changing from pristine flat shapes to shapes with indentations. Perhaps that's as it is meant to be—but I find that I prefer to create new indentations each night rather than settle into a prior groove.

Last year I stayed at a motel that figured out how to deal with that problem—purchase mattresses that never gave an inch. I tried pummeling the spot my shoulder made contact with the mattress—to no avail. Mortal combat continued for three nights until I capitulated and moved to another motel.

Perhaps Triple A could include a mattress rating in their write-ups.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

I know that it's a Hallmark holiday and that we're encouraged to purchase chocolates and flowers—but despite that I love Valentine's Day.

To my Valentine, and you know who you are, I love you 365 days a year. Today I'll just open the windows and shout it out so all can hear. Yes, I'll buy a card and a red carnation to go with the two red roses. We'll share a wee bit of chocolate and go out to eat with friends.

Later we'll recall our first Valentine's Day—I cooked a Greek dish and you bought a huge helium balloon.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2012



 Instead of slogging through snow, we're traipsing through mud. Ordinarily this path, hardened by the winter cold, would be slick-- icy, treacherous. Instead it is soft and filled with puddles. In a few months the colors will lose their muted tones and a brightness will pervade the scene. For several months the ponds will be clear of pervasive weeds. A heron, a yearly visitor, will stand watch. 

I look forward to seeing the usual returnees. Sure I'm not certain that the same denizens revisit each year.

It's similar to reconnecting with people you haven't seen for a period of time. Sometimes you're elated and other times disappointed.  


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Old Photos

When I went through old photographs I found it a slow process--stopping to recall. Why don't I recall this purse? What treasures did it hold?

I found a photo of the Ainsley Road boys running backward races. Each boy wore a unique hat and a tee shirt-- backwards. That photo brought back that particular afternoon. Jean, who lived at the other end of Ainsley Road, and I held an end of school year party. We cooked over three dozen hotdogs and twelve boys and two girls ate their way through dogs, mounds of chips, two huge watermelons, Twinkies, and Oreo cookies.

Where was the tree in this photo?

I found a photo taken at the High Knob overlook at Gambril State Park on the ridge of Catoctin Mountain in Maryland. The hike included shuffling through ankle deep leaves, a plastic bag filled with gorp, and several boxes of raisins.

What happened before this photo was snapped? What happened after this photo was snapped?

Some memories are illusive.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Open up to the world
with open arms
Be an open book
open and above aboard

Open your eyes
What do you see?

Too many closed doors

Friday, February 10, 2012

Out of Synch

 How many people feel that they are out of their element--in the wrong place or even born in the wrong century? If you prefer typing on an old Royal, eschew ebooks, refer to computers as time wasters, and believe that minimalist literature misses the mark it may be that you are often out of your element.

When I read the newspaper I often wonder if there's a disconnect. Today I picked up the Wall Street Journal and read about homes, many newly constructed, exceeding 25,000 square feet. One home had fifteen bathrooms as well as powder rooms, indoor gym, swimming pools, and all the amenities that " one needs".

One house is longer than a football field. The average one family home, according to the same article, is under 2,500 square feet. 

I heard Madonna say that her ticket prices, which were significantly more than other headline acts at the same venue, were worth the money.

She said, ""Start saving your pennies now. People spend $300 on crazy things all the time, things like handbags. So work all year, scrape the money together and come to my show. I'm worth it."

What disconnect am I experiencing?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Swimming Against the Tide

I'm working on a mixed media piece that is constrained. It stays within boundaries. My colors follow the accepted triad of colors on a color wheel. I've been careful to squint and check values. Every few minutes I stare at the composition to make certain that my eye moves around the canvas. I ask questions—do I have a center of interest?

Yet, the canvas acts like a vise. Paint needs to drip beyond the edges and colors morph beyond acceptable combinations.

The shapes on the canvas, with their hard edges, refuse to infringe on the other shapes. Order and not chaos. Yet, I like the way the piece progresses—refusing to slip into a diaphanous and amorphous daze.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


I recently listened to someone talk about a faith journey and that set me to thinking about my own journeys. When you start out it's impossible to visualize the terminus—or the ruts, or tributaries, or heights. Who envisions a journey that takes so many meandering turns and stops and starts with spurts.

I recall playing Chutes and Ladders—thinking I was winning and then finding myself sliding down a chute and plummeting down to my original position. Nothing to do but start in again if I expected to win.

Faith journey. We start out with particular tenets, principles, creeds, doctrines—all served up by adults. This is what to believe—a theology served up for consumption.

Then comes the time of testing.Do these fit me? Is there another way of looking at the world? So the search begins—

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Solitary Walk

Some people look as if they delight in taking a solitary walk, while others look as if they are adrift. I expect that it depends upon how you envision your time alone and how connected you feel to others.

Some walks are meant to be taken with another person—they're ambling or filled with remarkable vistas or small mysteries.

Some days a walk by yourself is a time for meditating or simply turning down the volume and breathing.

Monday, February 06, 2012

It's Out of Order

Did you ever wonder about all the things that are "Out Of Order"?

Sure there are the usual spots—the places you expect will be culprits, but what about the others.

Our society is "Out of Order". Pick up the newspaper and read the most innocuous of stories and ponder the underlining story.

If I am astounded by the weekly increases, the inching ahead of items in the grocery store, then what is the impact on people who live on the margin, or with one foot in the crack and one foot on stable ground?

We're "Out of Order"—the gulf between the haves and the have nots is a crevasse.

We're "Out of Order"—the civil rights of too many are being abridged by those who want a homogenized society where equality is determined by a litmus test for being straight.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The End

 So close, yet so far away. To get to the Superbowl is a feat, but to lose the game is a blow to every New England team. How did this happen? If just one play went the other way. If they recovered at least one of the two Giant fumbles? If they didn't forget to count and had the correct number of men on the field when not having the right number meant giving up yardage? If Eli Manning wasn't so accurate? If one of their receivers didn't make a phenomenal catch? If one of our receivers didn't drop a pass? If the Hail Mary worked?

We ate our carrots and celery sticks. Dipped our veggies into the yogurt dip. We munched on pizza. Drank wine. Visited our next door neighbor's Superbowl party. I even kept my fingers crossed during the last four minutes-- to no avail.

Loss is visceral. Loss is palpable. But tomorrow we'll all be thinking of our other teams and wondering if they can climb to the peak. Tonight is too early to move on.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Who is it?

 Ever wonder about the people who carve their initials on a tree or use paint to write messages? Are they staking out territory or stating something important even if it's import only is momentary.

How different is tree writing, carving your initials into a desk or leaving your tag on a subway train? I've seen entire subway cars covered with balloon letter tags--someone's imprint. 

When the initials are on a tree, especially if they are surrounded by a heart, we think of teens in love. When the initials or names are on billboards or walls we see it as graffitti. Is this a class issue? 

Is there a difference between "bombing" with spray paint and using a penknife to carve? One is defacing property and the other is a simple message.

I always wonder about the people who leave the messages? What are they trying to tell the audience? 

Are the spray paint artists saying, "Look at me, I'm important. I'm Who I am." I've never used a spray can to leave my tag anywhere, but I once helped paint an entire car with dragons, shark teeth, and abstract designs. My cousin owned an old beat up sedan and he decided that it would be fun to decorate it from the rear bumpers to the hood. 

We purchased car paint and over one summer covered every surface of the car-- and then we left our initials on the bottom of the driver's door. 

People honked him when he drove the car.

" What does it stand for?" asked one man.

" Just us. It's our tag."








Friday, February 03, 2012

Not Everything That's Not Alike is Dissimilar

I've often wondered how seemingly disparate ideas or persons or "things" come together. Some are strange bedfellows—alienated on most issues, but united on one issue. Proximity accounts for some coupling, happenstance plays a part, and even fate plays a role.

I recall sitting next to a complete stranger on a New York City bus—a city noted for its rapid movement and frenetic pace. The woman sharing the seat with me was engrossed in a book—even underlining passages. She noticed me looking her way, perhaps staring at what she was underlining—even though I couldn't read the words. I'm an underliner and note taker. I even trace over the letters of a passage that is particularly noteworthy—to me.

"Ever read Flannery O'Connor?" she said.
"One of my favorite authors."
"I bought this book for twenty-five cents."

And we began talking about our favorite stories and what that might mean.

"She wrote" she said, " of the Christ haunted south."
"Everything she wrote is ultimately about redemption."

Now we weren't exactly two people who might have a conversation—she had a cloth bag between her legs stuffed with clothes. I was aware of a musty aroma—and the smell of her being around too many chain smokers.

We talked nonstop for five stations—never about ourselves, just about Flannery O'Connor.

She loved "The River" and I loved "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

"My station," she said, "is coming up. Maybe we'll meet again."
"I hope so. Do you like Eudora Welty?"

As she stood and gathered her belongings—the canvas bag, book and a blanket tied with a rope— she said, "My name's Flannery. Changed it when I read the book. Next week, if I get hold of Eudora, it will be Eudora."


 What happened? Did the salt water rust out all these boxes or did time move beyond their use? 

There's a Telephone Museum in Ellsworth, Maine where visitors may stare at old phones.  I never knew anyone who had a party line, but I did know a time when real operators answered the phone. 

Now we are so used to hearing the words " If you want information..."Press 1." Often you can't skip all the questions and hop to pressing 0 for a live person. Then when you do get a person to answer a question it's an international tete a tete. 

Not too long ago I had a problem with my cable service and it was a local problem requiring someone to be familiar with the area. The polite well meaning fellow from Mexico and I couldn't communicate because my problem required a local response. After ten frustrating minutes I gave up-- redialed and asked the next person, " Are you from this country, Northeast?"

What wires were these? What was their function? Who were the people who worked here? 

Ever wonder about all the people who once used those old black phones --the ones with dials. Pushbutton phones came later. What happened to all the conversations? Where are all the words?


 Heavy. Clunky looking by today's standards. 






Thursday, February 02, 2012

Is the Whole World Waiting?

Every day, every night someone is making predictions about the Super Bowl. Stats are spread out and compared— the trajectory of throws, time in the pocket, interceptions. Bodies, weights, lines are compared and contrasted. Las Vegas busies itself with statistics, variabilities, previous meetings and from inches and inches of data they will set the odds.

Grocery store employees sharpen their knives. Soon they will be slicing and dicing vegetables for trays of snacks. Dips will be mixed, nuts opened, mounds of chips displayed. On Saturday platters of necessasry cheeses and crackers will be created.

Cooked shrimp and buffalo wings lure fans who desire and need sustenance in order to sustain themselves for an entire game.

Watching is a daunting task and depletes the average viewer whose team is aching to return home with this trophy.

All New England , save for those few who stand apart, will be watching and eating.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

What to read?

All the library books I requested arrived at the same time. How to prioritize? Do I start with the Scandinavian thriller or with the words penned by a religious rebel? Perhaps I’ll select the memoir of a father and son’s trip to Alaska.

Then there are the books on my Kindle—

And I must count the newspapers and magazines—

And the books to be read on my bookshelf, many of them found at library book sales. It’s comforting to have so many titles, but they’ll all be due at the same time. Some can be renewed and some will have a plethora of requests.

Then there are the books to read for a Bible study—

Then there are the books to read for the three challenges I selected. Do I read a book because it adds to the level I selected on a challenge?

Last year I dropped out of the Vintage Mystery Challenge when I found myself dreading the reading of yet another prim and proper mystery.

I think I’ll read the Scandinavian thriller—and worry about the consequences of my choice on another day.