Something. Birch Lane, 12:45 PM.
Later in the day:
A Truck of Trees. I am driving behind a truck of Christmas trees. I can count one hundred tree trunks, but it is a long truck, so I guess there are approximately 300 Christmas trees from near and distant woods and forest, loaded and strapped down for their trip south; soon to find themselves on display in 300 homes. "Take Me. Take Me," says one tree. "Oh, No. Please take Me," says another. And a little boy and girl exclaim, "This one. This one is magnificent." And so I follow the truck full of trees for ten or fifteen miles thinking of the upcoming holiday; thinking about the courage we believe Christ showed; thinking about the concept of me as a spiritual being having a human experience as opposed to a human being having a spiritual experience; thinking about the power of love, harmony, and service putting my energies toward what I am for instead of what I am against. I am thinking about courage vs desire. I am thinking all this on my way to another job interview and wondering how will I reach a desision. Dr. Wayne Dyer says: "My approach to problem-solving involves cultivating an empty mind. In this space I listen, and allow myself to have complete faith that I will be guided in the direction of resolution. I let go of my ideas about how something should be resolved." So I continue to follow the truck of trees and later, at night, I research some history of evergreens and find:
The Egyptians were part of a long line of cultures that treasured and worshipped evergreens. When the winter solstice arrived, they brought green date palm leaves into their homes to symbolize life's triumph over death. The Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a feast called Saturnalia in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their houses with greens and lights and exchanged gifts. They gave coins for prosperity, pastries for happiness, and lamps to light one's journey through life. Centuries ago in Great Britain, woods priests called Druids used evergreens during mysterious winter solstice rituals. The Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life, and placed evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits.
Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early traditions. The fir tree has a long association with Christianity, it began in Germany almost a 1000 years ago when St Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity, was said to have come across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree. In anger, St Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree and to his amazement a young fir tree sprung up from the roots of the oak tree. St Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian faith. But it was not until the 16th century that fir trees were brought indoors at Christmas time.
Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. After his banishment from the Catholic church he spent a great deal of time walking through the forests of evergreen conifers thinking through his beliefs. The candles are said to have represented the stars which were seen by him through the trees. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.
The first appearance of a Tannenbaum was recorded in Germany many years after Luther's death. It was in 1605 in Strasbourg in Alsace, then in Germany, that a chronicler wrote (in old German): "Auff Weihenachten richtett man Dahnnenbäum zu Strasburg in den Stuben auff..." ("At Christmas they set up Christmas trees in their rooms...").
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
They're green when summer days are bright:
They're green when winter snow is white.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!
How oft at Christmas tide the sight,
O green fir tree, gives us delight!
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
You give us so much pleasure!
I am driving behind a truck full of Christmas trees. I am thinking of courage and desire. I am thinking about the difference between courage and desire. And I am reminded of the Cranberries song:
Had they but courage
Equals to desire
The WheelTHROUGH winter-time we call on spring, And through the spring on summer call, And when abounding hedges ring Declare that winter's best of all; And after that there's nothing good Because the spring-time has not come - Nor know that what disturbs our blood Is but its longing for the tomb.
Photograph by Angela Gwinner
She Loves Me. She Loves Me Not.
I think of this after I take the photograph. She loves me. She loves me not. Only today I say: this job or that job......or that job. Betsy calls and asks how will I reach a decision; the right decision. I hadn't thought of it then but maybe I should just pluck the petals from this bouquet and repeat "This job. No, this job. No, this job," until one petal remains; the petal of my future.
This is wonderful.
Home Alone. I am at home, alone, working on the computer when the phone rings. Normally I do not answer the phone during the day when I am home alone; nine times out of ten if I can not recognize the number on our caller I.D., it is a telemarketer. Today, I do not really know why, I answer the phone.
- "Do you have a job yet?" He said.
- "No." I said.
- "Too bad," he said. "I have something for you to quote."
- "E-mail it to me anyway," I said.
- "Okay," he said.
- "What do you know about the place I'm going to on Thursday," I said.
- "They have a most ineffective and annoying sales rep. Print samples look good, though. I've got their 2001 calendar on my wall," he said.
- "What if I went there?" I said.
- "I might resume quoting if they offered me a sales rep who is more responsive," he said.
- "Hmmmmmm," I said. "Like me."
- "Now, let's turn that around: I might resume quoting with Bruce Barone if he would get a job!" he said.
Later, just as it was getting dark, I went for a jog up and down Birch Lane and Winterberry Lane, too; four loops equals two miles. Me in my tight and bright blue sweats, top and bottom, I felt like some Marvel Action Hero; Marvel Comics proudly presents BlueMan or maybe a character out of American Splendor: "This is a comic not to be read while driving or operating a motor vehicle;" and there is always one of my all-time favorites, "Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman," which transposed might now read "Bruce Barone, World's Blue Man," or "Flaming Carrot" appearing as Burning BlueMan. Ah, running dredges up very interesting ideas from the very depths of my soul.
It is late November and the decaying leaves smell of dog poop. Maybe it is dog poop; there are as many dogs in the neigborhood as there would be babies if my neighbors were busy procreating instead of raking leaves and putting up Christmas decorations. Clump, clump, clump my feet go. Around the corner I see there is an author's party at my neighbor's house. She's an author, too, and has previously introduced me to the owners of the cars parked in front of her house before. There is the Land Rover with the Duke sticker. There is the Acura MDX with the UMASS Amherst sticker. And my neighbor with the Columbia sticker on her Jetta. I wonder if they are looking out the window and see me; and like Mary Shelley and her friends one evening, "as a source of amusement," agree each to write a story founded on a supernatural event incorporating the man running past in blue.
Duke would write:
Danielle wished she could understand why her dad disappeared. Instead she understood nothing. She did not understand why he shaved his head. She did not understand why he slept in the basement. She did not understand what he did when he said I am going to work. She did not understand what he did when he went away to New York City. She felt herself to be inside of a hidden room, one in which she was endlessly tossed from side to side, often crying, frightened by thoughts of what lay ahead.
Amherst would write:
Everything went right. Just when things looked blackest for The Rams, a 5-8, 145-pound junior named Bruce Barone had his moment of glory and it brightened up the gloomy morning for the Blue & Gold backers. Minutes into the second half the fans along the sideline began to cheer when he hauled in the kickoff at the eight, raced up the middle of the field and, just as he got in heavy traffic, cut to his left and sped down the sidelines for a 92-yard touchdown scamper. It would be a game that everyone connected to The Rams would remember. But that was years ago. Today, in his tight and bright blue sweats, as he ran the loop in his neighborhood, he decided to keep running; running from the secret he told only one person and now that person lay dead in her car in a garage somewhere in New Jersey.
And Columbia would write:
- You're Jewish," she said. "Aren't you?
- "Why no," he said. "I'm Catholic."
- That was the summer he worked as a shoe salesperson on Nantucket. His mother would write, "Dear Bruce, Are you sure you are washing your hands. Be sure to wash your hands. You're touching a lot of feet. Who knows what you could get. Bruce. Promise me. Please. Wash your hands."
- "Are you sure you're not Jewish," she said.
- "Listen, lady. I already told you; I'm Catholic." He said. "If you ask me again I promise to tickle your feet."
- "Gosh. Really." She said "Tell me, sweetie, "Did you ever see the movie The Golem? It's playing tonight."
And the poet, around the corner from the author, in the tight and bright blue sweats might say:
- There is that scent
- Like dog shit, the sun
- Setting in the sky, broken
- In bits among the branches
- Of the trees, just as my heart
- Is broken, cut up in to
- Bits and pieces, the promise
- To run just one more loop
- Clump, clump, clump
- Feet that ran long
- Years ago, it was
- A touchdown or sprint
- "Go Bruce, Go" I hear
- Will someone write I wonder
- We are having a lovely time
- Wish you were here, but
- I am here, running, happy
- To be running, Christmas
- Lights and American Flags
- These are signs pointing
- In a new direction, toward
- A safe and warm home
- Onward like when you
- Turn to me in a dream
- And speak nothing
- Matters, it is all the same
- Like so many words which
- We can't read, understand
- And then one morning
- There is a vision, this is you
- Remember, you understand this
- Your favorite month
Why are all these Christmas lights up and on?
Positive and Productive. Ah, Monday morning; sometimes the best advice comes from the most unlikely sources--in this case a postcard from the BirchLane Library. After months away from the gym at Smith College, I return to it early this morning determined to get in better shape. Later in the day, I spend some time fiddling with tables and design.
A Roof and Foundation. In church this morning, the minister talks about the two most important aspects of a home--its roof and its foundation; what we see and what we do not see. He says this has a direct implication to our faith; what is the rock foundation of our faith? He finds it in the first letter of John where the author writes "God is love." He says these three words are our rock foundation and in life as we confront various problems we need to remember to stand on this foundation; a House of Love, if you will.
Spirit in music is not the wholesale emotional orgasm that weeps in public, but rather the marshalling of one's most critical consciousness, until one hears in terms of values and the movements of value, until the most pedestrian minutiae of pitch and rythym are heard inwardly.
In church today we hear this beautiful Mahler song (text by Ruckert):
Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, Mit der ich sonst viele Zeit verdorben, Sie hat so lange nichts von mir vernommen, Sie mag wohl glauben, ich sei gestorben!
Es ist mir auch gar nichts daran gelegen, Ob sie mich für gestorben hält, Ich kann auch gar nichts sagen dagegen, Denn wirklich bin ich gestorben der Welt.
Ich bin gestorben dem Weltgetümmel, Und ruh' in einem stillen Gebiet! Ich leb' allein in meinem Himmel, In meinem Lieben, in meinem Lied!
In English here. But listen to it here (#9)
A Letter to a Friend. I have been thinking a great deal recently of Jouke and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiller (1884-1979). Jouke, because he continues to inspire me to think more deeply about the vision for BirchLane and Kahnweiler because he was one of the major gallery owners of the 20th century. An artist recently asked me if she could trust my eye so here are a few words to address this topic--my eye. I have been thinking about Kahnweiler, the German-born French art dealer, collertor, writer and art publisher--a key figure to modern art because the internet, BirchLane has opened a new world of possibilities for me; the site, the magazine, and assorted other printed material. Kahnweiler's first gallery opened in 1907 when he bought works by the completely unknown artists Derain and Vlaminck at the Salon des Independants, and by Van Dongen and Braque. In the same year he met Picasso, in 1908 Gris and 1910 Leger. 1912-14 he contracted the 4 great Cubists: Braque, Gris, Leger and Picasso. Kahnweiler was one of the earliest supporters of Cubism and its most effective spokeman (through his Der Weg sum Kubismus, 1912-20). He wrote the major monograph on J. Gris (1943) and was also an important art publisher, the 1st to published the writings of Apollinaire, Jocob, Masson, among more than 40 titles. So I wrote a letter to a friend:
When you wrote: "I am a mother. 100% so. I breathe my child, and her happiness is my blood. I fall asleep next to her, I wake up beside her," I was so completely moved; I felt such total and unconditional love--the love you have for Avia, and I was moved.
Oh, yes, Alaina, you grew "into a new being" of your own. And, yes, you continue to grow. And this is good and wonderful, particularly so because you stop to see, to dig deep, to dig even deeper and from that spot comes some of the most honest and unique and visionary art being created today--anywhere; and we are better for it, blessed by it, inspired by it.
How the documentation will grow only time will tell. I can only say, ask, don't worry about doubting yourself. Yes, it will be different.I think you will continue to grow and change in the manner that is right for you and your family and your art. Don't fret. If it is all at the same intensity than so be it. If some of the direction changes than so be it.
I think the French say "the more things change the more they remain the same." There is another proverb of sorts that says "things that do not change remain the same." These two views suggest that, change or not, life will go on. Maybe we can suggest another possibility: things that do not chnage may not remain at all. Translated into a mothering/artist context, lack of change may endanger the survival of the vision itself.
Out if insight comes change in self-expectation. Read this again: Out of insight comes change in self-expectation.
Isn't that what so much of these photos are about. Insight. Change. Self-expectation. Growth. More insight. I think that is why I said that recent photo is simply so totally honest, from the very depths of your heart and soul it springs forth. And thus, beautiful. No, it is not "a pretty picture;" it is a beautiful picture.
Yes, things are different. Things change. And I think you do have the maturity to "land of two feet and give it all it is" that you have to give. I see a real growth in you since we've "met." Maybe it is a recent revelation on your part, but such a strong maturity continues to come through your art day-by-day, changing, growing, maturing and I think it could not unless you were changing and growing.
Alaina, all this is a long way of saying things like doubt, and change, are what helps us to move ever forward, maturing, asking questions, digging for answers, painting new pictures.
Much love to you today and I hope these words find you smiling. Smile.
Design as Identity. Driving home from Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's house in New Jersey, I thought about the next issue of BirchLane and I wondered to what extent can design be or become the identity of a project; in other words, if it possible to design a magazine, a book, and simply by its design be recognizable as something created by a specific person. Identity is probably not the right word. But whatever it is I am trying to say and can't say, I think it is; I think of the books by Mayakovsky and Lissitzky--or the books from Black Sparrow Press; in each case the title not as important as the design, the identifier.
Today, Betsy and I (and Daisy) went for a hike/walk at the Chesterfield Gorge, in Chesterfield, Massachusetts.
Giving Thanks. And Five Grains of Sand. Music here.
'Tis the gift to be simple,
'Tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
to bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning, we come round right.
Written by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr., 1848
At each place-setting at the Thanksgiving Table a 3 x 5 index card to which was attached five grains of corn. My sister writes:
In early New England at Thanksgiving time it was customary to plave five grains of corn at every plate, a reminder of those stern days in the first winter when the food of the Pilgrims was so depleted that only five grains of corn were rationed to each individual at a time. The Pilgrims wanted their children to remember the sacrifices, the suffering, the hardships which made possible the settlement of free land. They did not want their descendants to forget that on the day on which their ration was reduced to five grains of corn only healthly colonists remained to nurse the sick, and nearly half their number lay in that windswept graveyard on the hill. The use of five grains of corn placed by each plate was a fitting reminder of a heroric past.
On Seeing Things. From an essay by Bill Nelson, "An Essay That Begins With Photography & Takes Off From There," Co-Published by Maraja of Minneapolis & Pentagram of Markesan in the middle of Autumn 1983, the wrappers for the book began in Japan, stark-white and handmade Hosho, Romulus type machine-set but re-justified in the shop, an edition of 185 books collated and sewn; one is opened on my desk:
Concentrate on seeing, truly seeing, at every level.
Two years have passed since my last 'serious' photograph, but this camera is still a willing extension of my hands. Solid and precise as a well-made pistol. Simple enough to be totally assimilated. An important consideration. Every artist must first assimilate his tools, make them so completely an organic extension of himself that they are transparent to his art. Technical display should be measured and deliberate. Photographs that prattle on about telephoto lenses and f-stops scream self-indulgence and generally derail the photographer.
I left photography two years ago because I was getting ahead of the photographs. A growing awareness of proprietary style had begun to influence my choice of images. I had tuned myself to see only 'appropriate' elements, subconsciously filtering away the uncharacteristic or risky, creatively blinded by the idea that I should be producing a cohesive body of work. A convenience to reviewers, I suppose, but a common trap for the artist. Where so little is secure, one clings to successes, falls back upon the themes or techniques that come easily. Creative range narrows to a point and finally becomes self-referential.
Sometimes a clear break is the only way to escape the momentum of that history. Change habits. Move away. Make new friends. Stop working.
Even now I have to carefully shake out preconceptions. Shun security. Concentrate on seeing, truly seeing, at every level.
Photography is equally about not seeing. If the camera is selectively blind, then its use should be a celebration of the special blindness. Art thrives at its limits, owes its existence to subjective choices......The non-visual, diffuse and elusive, the fabric of the moment, belong to the photograper alone.
Solitude of Self. From Paris Press (Ashfield, Massachusetts) a re-issue of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "Solitude of Self;" in part, the introduction by Jan Freeman reads:
Throughout Solitude of Self, Stanton asserts that we face our most challenging moments alone, and that it is the birthright of every person to be equally prepared for these moments -- regardless of gender, race, religion, race. If we are equally educated and equally tained on all fronts of life, then says Stanton, we can call upon our inner resources when we need them most.
In Solitude of Self, Stanton presents the story of a servant girl who decorates a Christmas tree for her employer's children and later discovers that among all the presents beneath the tree there is no gift for her. In despait, she spends the winter night in a field weeping. When the newspapers discover her plight and publish the story, many people send the girl presents. But, Stanton observes, at the moment of the girl's deepest sorrow and dissappointment, she is alone. This keen solitude accompanies all forms of crisis for young and old alike, and our tools of survival -- as individuals and as a society -- include the development of skills that foster self-reliance.
The Banquet. At the high school soccer banquet, the coach says, "Danielle Barone. What can I say about Danielle? Team Captain. All-League selection. Also plays basketball and lacrosse. President of the National Honor Society. A true leader on an off the field. Always ready with a smile. Always making everyone feel welcomed, at home. Always inspiring her teammates to do better, again, on and off the field."
Thanksgiving Sunday. I had a vision today. I was ironing. And I was Thankful. First a new Table of Contents. (more forthcoming on vision)
New Music. Drivng home from my interview in New Hampshire yesterday I was listening to NPR and heard a review of the new Solex cd:
Tom Moon reviews a new CD by Solex, the creation of Elisabeth Esselink (es-eh-LINK). Esselink owns a record shop in Amsterdam, the shop features obscure LP's. It's from those old record albums that Solex pulls the material that makes up her new CD Low Kick and Hard Bop. The cut up samples gives these old dusty records new life. (3:15) The CD is called "Low Kick and Hard Bop," by Solex. It's on Matador records.
Find her here. And more here, too. I like her. She reminds me of the popiness of April March. Listen to some April March samples from her funny "Chick Habit" here. And I hear a very laid back Joe Strummer. It is not London Burning or Police & Thieves, but I still like it. Hear some of it here.
Friday 16. An Interview.
Talking Art. From an afternoon conversation with an artist:
Artist: I took some super secret pictures today.
Me: Hope i can see them sometime; that nude you did the other day I can't get out of mind mind; really beautiful
Artist: Are you at work right now?
Me: Wow. I am looking at the image you just sent now. Thank you for sharing this.
Me: I'm curious; you have such an amazing record of your life, have you ever taken photos outside, of others, etc.
Artist: Outside .. like out of the house out side?
Artist: I have tons of my daughter and husband.
Me: I'm laughing. Yes. I don't know. I guess if you went to the mall or an amusement park, do you take pictures?
Artists: As far as taking picture outside.. sometimes.. if it has something to do with my daughter i usually do.. although most of the time its not digital
Artists: we planted a tree for her in front of the house, i took pictures :-)
Me: This new photo of her; it is so beautiful. I love it. Her eyes are so amazing. Intense. Your sense of humor is coming through!
Artist: Im' not inspred by rocks or flowers and such if that is what you mean by outside pictures
Me: Partly. And that's fine. I really meant what I said last week about your talent far and away surpassing all this derivative stuff I saw in this magazine. How do you account for this vision? This drive.
Artist: I take pictures. It keeps my mind active and alive, and it keeps me speaking. Silence is what kills me
Me: I figured something like that. Well, you are blessed with a talent. And we are fortunate that you found it in taking photographs.
Artist: As far as technical shit goes, I know nothing .
Me: Technical stuff; I think is almost meaningless. It is like all those photos in the magazine, perfect coipes of other famous photos but devoid of a singular vision, etc so don't worry about that stuff
Artist: I know that art is subjective which makes it wonderful, but I wonder how much I can trust your eye, or if you are wanting the same for my work as I do. Does any of this make sense?
Me: I think you have genius; I really do.
Me: I do want the same/most for your work. If I am able to help one artist it would be you. THAT is how strong I feel about your work. Hey, my eye; my degree is in art history--honest. And I own a bunch of Nan Goldin prints who once tended bar at a place I had lunch every day when I worked in nyc. It is your work I dream about and compare all other photography. Honest. And not just compare photography. but writing and painting, too. THAT is how much i admire what you do.
Artists: I dont want to take a pretty picture, I know that is what sells and that is what people like , but I have built my work on feelings and emotions first, and like I said before, technical aspects of it come last, if it makes people feel....no matter how shity the quality .. well then I have succeeded. There are other women taking pictures that make me feel, that make me cry, that inspire me to do the same.That is what I want to show. I will never go down in history as a world famous photographer because I don't 'take pictures'. I just don't. And really I am satisfied with the limited amount of people that I have touched and have surrounded me.You are having me see a whole new level and exposure to what I do. I just don't want to lose anything to get there. Because it isn't worth it to me. so, I should probably breathe now for a little bit :-)
Me: You have succeeded. Your work is by far some of the strongest "ART" I have seen; that is why I said I compare it too painting and writing. And it inspires me. You won't lose anything. I love your work and care too much about you.
The Best of the Best. From the Smith College web site:
The Guild of Book Workers' traveling exhibition of members' work, The Best of the Best, will be on display in Neilson Library, Smith College, Northampton, MA November 5-December 21, 2001 (in the Morgan Gallery, first floor, and in the newly-named Book Arts Gallery on the third floor). The Guild, founded in 1906, is a national organization of printers, bookbinders, calligraphers, papermakers, and other workers in the book arts. This juried exhibition, about midway through its one and a half year tour throughout the U.S., features the work of 33 participants from 18 states. It showcases a marvelous variety of work produced by traditional techniques as well as the latest technologies of inkjet printing, in both usual and unusual formats.
It can be viewed online.
Decisions. I am interviewing with this company which is a division of this company; today they offered me a job. But on Friday I have an interview here.
I spent some time today working on the Table Contents for BirchLane, Vol I, No. III, which will be published in December. Photo courtesy of Abstraction.
Statement--A Better Place.
I am trying to demand of myself a persistent, continuous action (a burning desire) toward the attainment of my true purpose in life, which is, I believe, to create. I am trying to live each day gifted to me gratefully; as an adventure and by the values of love, integrity, courage, truth, justice, discipline. I am trying to see my life as a journey; asking myself: Where am I now? What stage of the journey have I come to? What do I see? What do I hear? What do I feel? If my life were a book, what would I call it today? Tonight? Tomorrow? What would I entitle the chapter I am in right now? I am trying to pay more attention to the moment for it is the only time I have in which to live, learn, grow, feel and change; this I am trying to do because life is always unfolding, moment to moment, and that what happens now, in this moment, influences what happens next. I am trying to concentrate my thoughts 20-30 minutes daily, meditating. And in my prayers I will name my fears. I will remind myself that there are two pains in life: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret; I choose discipline. I will always treasure my family; my wife and my children--and be the person they look to with pride when they say Bruce or Dad; to be the one they come to for love, comfort, understanding. I will see my children as teachers; observe them in silence; listen more closely to them. What are their needs right now? How can I help them right now? I will practice sharing the fulness of my being, my best self, my enthusiasm, my vitality, my spirit, my trust, my respect, my intelligence, my openness with first my family and then the world, inspiring others to greatness and having as much positive and lifelong impact on as many people as possible. I will try to enrich my life and the lives of all who cross my path by giving what I have to give, and if they wish, by teaching them what I know and learning what I can from them and by helping them to discover and pursue their way. Finally, I will demand of myself to live each day as though it were not only my last day of life but as though I had the power necessary to make the world a better place. I will do this with confidence and joy.
Art. Today I went to:
I could not afford to buy art but I did buy some funny postcards from Hilary B. Price, who draws the funny cartoon strip "Rhymes with Orange." You can see her work online.
And a greeting card (watercolor of Connecticut River/Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts) from Cindy Chandler-Guy.
I took some photographs, too.
And read something beautiful here.
My Teacher The Dog. Within the packet of information on financial aid from Smith College I found this:
Dogs as Teachers
- If a dog were your teacher, you would learn stuff like:
- When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
- Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
- Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
- When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
- Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
- Take naps and stretch before rising.
- Run, romp, and play daily.
- Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
- On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
- On hot days, drinks lots of water and lay under a shady tree.
- When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
- No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout; run right back and make friends.
- Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
- East with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
- Be loyal.
- Never pretend to be something you're not.
- If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
- When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
"I asked the brick what it wanted to be, and it said 'I want to make an arch.'"
Louis Kahn ("Many Mansions," The New Yorker, 11/12/01, pg. 129)
All of a sudden tonight I am fascinated by the arch. I travel first to Rome to study Roman Architecture and Engineering and then to Austin, Texas where I find a wonderful arch in The Best of Austin, 1998:
This monolithic Stonehenge of towering shell-encrusted limestone actually has nothing to do with the Holly Street Power Plant; it merely resides in its shadow. Despite the hiss and whine of millions of gallons of water coursing and steaming through the Holly superstructure, the monument stands silent, solid, acting as majestic gateway between the Town Lake and Boggy Creek Hike & Bike Trails. Its subtle features are worth a pause for a breather and contemplation. Otherwise, you might not notice the eerie row of marbles caught like the doomed of Pompeii in one of the concrete seams between two of the five angular cut boulders, or catch that the odd wash of red to brown pigments in the rock are likely due to rain as it first passes across the wrought iron cactus topper on the verge of vertigris. You might also miss the main feature: an impressive carved relief on the keystone. Three profiles: ancient warrior, European explorer, and modern dude, replete with headband and shades, together looking towards three symbols: a pre-invasion pyramid, the State of Texas, and the United Farm Workers eagle. Breathtaking, really.
Best of Austin, 1998
by Joe Perez & David Santos, '92
Pretty Hands. "Bruce," my mom called. "Busty is here." Busty. Busty. Who is Busty? I knew she meant Betsy but I said, "Mom, you sure it is Busty and not Betsy?" She answered, "Oh, Bruce, you know who I mean. Now go let her in." And let her in I did. And she I. It's funny, I never thought of Betsy as Busty. I always thought she had the body of a dancer. She was a ballet dancer. Slim. Tall. And I always thought she had pretty hands. Her hands were, however, not my Claire's Knee; maybe it was more along the line of what her wellness instructor said today in class at Smith College: "Look at Betsy," she said. "Isn't she well-proportioned. Isn't it all in sync." Didn't Emerson talk about Unity when he said: "We ascribe beauty to that which is simple; which has no superfluous parts; which exactly answers its end; which stands related to all things; which is the mean of many extremes.Nothing is quite beautiful alone: nothing but is beautiful in the whole. A single object is only so far beautiful as it suggests this universal grace." The story of love, our love starts here; this is once upon a time, a long time ago, in a land far away, on the front steps of my parents house at 188 Forest Avenue; it is spring or early summer, June, we are really children still; we laugh, we kiss, we fall in love and live happily ever after. This is, of course, one story, when each chapter was bursting with possibility; here on this page, look, something wonderful will happen; we read Colette aloud to each other and take long walks in the woods; asleep, later, in my room, everything is so familiar. I don't really remember if my mom had pretty hands (she had a great smile) but I do remember her funeral at which the mortician had painted the most garish, ghastly nailpolish on her fingernails; granted it was October but by the afternoon the orange polish was gone and mom who once called Betsy Busty was at peace.
Interior Shot. Kitchen. Birch Lane.
Close-up of Danielle from behind watching billowing white suds escape from the dishwasher. Sound: the dishwasher and The Talking Heads song, "New Feeling."
"Dad," Danielle screams. "There is a mess."
The Mess. That is what it was. A big exploding box of soapy white bubbles filling the kitchen from floor to counter-top. Danielle was six. Daryl was a vision of what might be. The three of us were about to leave for Betsy's cousin's house in Darien, Connecticut.
"What do you mean--a mess?" I called from upstairs.
"Dad, there is a mess in the kitchen," Danielle said. "Hurry."
The Mess. That is what I thought my life is today when I heard the company I started working for a mere five weeks ago is being sold back to its original owner, who happens to be, well, I simply can't say it here. The Mess. That is what I thought after Michele leaned over my desk at work with a pad in her hand upon which was scrawled "Meet me in the cafeteria...shhhhhhh." The Mess. Maybe it wasn't such a mess afterall. The bubbles quickly went away with work. The Mess. I am, I think, blessed. I think good work results in good fortune. This may be a time of uncertainty, but I can focus on what I can control--myself. A few phone calls later, and I have two interviews scheduled.
Perfect Wontons. Tonight I am thinking of the time Daryl and I made wontons.1996. Daryl was 8-years-old. And when you are 8-years-old, Birch Lane was a big world of small miracles--the bear in the yard, the squirrel under the woodpile, the snow in November--a place where you would play tennis on the steet till called in for dinner at dark, only to return outside later for flashlight tag till 10--and then there was basketball with dad in the basement. The top news stories of the year were Israel elected Netanyahu, the crash of TWA Flight 800, the U.S. elected Clinton and a U.S. base is bombed in Suadi Arabia, and Unabomb suspect Ted Kaczynski is arrested, Carl Sagan passed away, Beck's Odelay was a hit as was Fargo. This evening is a perfect memory; a timeless photograph full of flavor--onions and beef, soy sauce, hot red pepper, laughter, When you are eight, everything is great, magical; your sister is a star softball player and pianst, your mom is the most beautiful woman in the world. Sometimes we get too old to remember, but tonight I am thinking, this weekend, I think, we'll make perfect wontons.
A Woman's Face. From a story in yesterday's New York Times:
In the war of militant Islam against the infidel West, there is a chilling paradox. Nowhere not on protesters' banners, pre-suicide videos or posters of the most wanted is there a woman's face. These martyrs and radicals call themselves the purifiers of society and the saviors of the poor, yet everything the world has learned in the last decade about why some countries develop and others stay mired in poverty shows that women can make all the difference.
National standards of living improve family income, education, nutrition and life expectancy all rise, and birthrates fall as women move toward equality, said Jennifer Seymour Whitaker, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who studies how investing in women can help increase economic development and stability.
Full story here:
From The Economist (October 27 issue), Contemporary Art, "Mosques and Modernity"
A Turkish bath at the Istanbul Biennial has given a whole new meaning to the nude in art. In this extraordinary art installation, female viewers in the inaugural week were invited to strip down and lather up (massage optional) for a performance in the women's section of the Cemberlitas Hammam--Istanbul's most famous bath house, designed by Mimar Sinan, the great 16th-century mosque builder and Ottoman answer to Michelangelo.
Inside the bath house, a Bosnian artists, Maja Bajevic, staged a performance by (clothed) Bosnian refugees. Several women stood in the steam bath washing tattered fabrics embroidered with patriotic slogans. Tired phrases from Marshall Tito's day--"With the youth that we have, we should not be afraid of the future"--were hung out to dry. Using women's work--sewing and washing--to give voice to the silent and secondary victims of war, Ms Balevic turned the hammam, traditionally a place of care and conversation, into a personal and political art space.
Raking the Leaves. Last night I watched Patty Loveless on Austin City Limits. She was great and she has a wonderful website. Today Daryl and I raked the leaves, mostly big, brown oak leaves--some sugar maple leaves, too--into big piles in the backyard at BirchLane.
I walked around the yard and took a few photographs; this one I call "Alaina's Skirt." +
Here is "Bobbi's Blue Studio." +
This is entitled "By Jouke's Design." +
I think this is named "Tara's Garden."
And "Terry's Wings." +
Call this "Angela's Contemplation." +
Memory Book. A few notes: The scariest thing on Halloween was looking through thirteen photo albums for pictures of Danielle. Betsy and I needed to find a few photos for our "Congratulations" advertisement which will run in her high school yearbook. I learned then, this evening, that family life, children, was possibly not fair; next year I know we will write, talk, but she will be gone. What happened? Seventeen years in thirteen photo albums. So much happened on this Halloween--page by page; when your child is three it is a long way to college. I keep some pictures in a small photo album I can carry in my backpack. There are, of course, some events that are not pictured here; her piano concert during a church service when we all cried--when our hopes ands dreams were not yet so clearly focused--a time we when thought the music of Beethoven would go on and on, forever. And now suddenly she is going away; not tomorrow, nor next month, but soon, at summer's conclusion. Hold on. Remember when she rode her bike out across the front yard and on to Birch Lane. I think I knew then that this day of goodbye would arrive. First we said goodbye to ballet. Second we said goodbye to piano. Third we said goodbye to softball. Goodbye. Goodbye. It is the cry of most parents I suppose; any parent who has changed a diaper or a snowsuit. It is funny what goes through your mind on a night like this. I thought of the time Daryl got lost at Thornes, a small department store in Northampton. And I thought of Danielle waiting for me in the driveway to return home from work. Growing up isn't so easy. What will be? Days ahead. May your wishes all come true. More memory books. Looking for pictures of Danielle in thirteen photo albums on Halloween was the scariest thing.
Wondrous Love. I heard this beautiful hymn yesterday. Contemporary rendition here.
Recent discoveries include: the Publish or Not To Publish site ("this is the beginning of a project dedicated to the 'act of publishing'")
is up where my contribution is among many others; I like this person's poetry and photographs; a magazine from my college brings exciting news about a long-lost friend and artist, Melissa Pinney, who was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for her "Feminine Identity" photography project (Daryl and I search for her name and e-mail address at google and I quickly send her a note. She writes back and tells me she is working on a book entitled Regarding Emma: Photographs of American Girlhood).
Yesterday. Coming: an analysis--Halloween Costumes at BirchLane 2000 vs. 2001. Meanwhile, Daryl aka Gene Simmons: