"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

27 August 2010


What Kind Of A Person

"What kind of a person are you," I heard them say to me.
I'm a person with a complex plumbing of the soul,
Sophisticated instruments of feeling and a system
Of controlled memory at the end of the twentieth century,
But with an old body from ancient times
And with a God even older than my body.
I'm a person for the surface of the earth.
Low places, caves and wells
Frighten me. Mountain peaks
And tall buildings scare me.
I'm not like an inserted fork,
Not a cutting knife, not a stuck spoon.

I'm not flat and sly
Like a spatula creeping up from below.
At most I am a heavy and clumsy pestle
Mashing good and bad together
For a little taste
And a little fragrance.

Arrows do not direct me. I conduct
My business carefully and quietly
Like a long will that began to be written
The moment I was born.

Now I stand at the side of the street
Weary, leaning on a parking meter.
I can stand here for nothing, free.

I'm not a car, I'm a person,
A man-god, a god-man
Whose days are numbered. Hallelujah.

- Yehuda Amichai

Veerle, thank you.

Happy Birthday Mencken.

The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.
- H.L. Mencken

26 August 2010


Forgetting someone is like forgetting to turn off the light
in the backyard so it stays lit all the next day

But then it is the light that makes you remember.

- Yehuda Amicahi

Thanks Veerle.

25 August 2010

Head in the clouds

Quite a show between Sunbury and Appleton this afternoon ...

Robert Frost, "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

This morning's moon ...

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

24 August 2010

"Looove ..."

6 A.M. and I'm already thinking about dinner.

The last day of summer vacation.

Those tomatoes and peppers I see out there on the picnic table will be salsa.

Burgers on the grill ... can't wait to smell the smoke.

"Tastes like cream cheese ... I looove cream cheese!" - Zoe on goat cheese

Corn on the cob ... always need extra butter.

Vernors floats and sunset for dessert ...

... but looking forward to my two little companions the most.

22 August 2010



Slowly the evening changes into the clothes
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you look: and two worlds grow separate from you,
one ascending to heaven, another, that falls;

and leave you, belonging not wholly to either one,
not quite as dark as the house that remains silent,
not quite as certainly sworn to eternity
as that which becomes star each night and rises—

and leave you (unsayably to disentangle) your life
with all its immensity and fear and great ripening,
so that, all but bounded, all but understood,
it is by turns stone in you and star.

- Rainer Maria Rilke


WPA National Parks poster illustrated by Frank S. Nicholson, c. 1940.

Led Zeppelin, "In The Evening"

In Through The Out Door was released today in 1979. Here's my favorite tune from that one ...


Simply look with perceptive eyes at the world about you, and trust to your own reactions and convictions. Ask yourself: "Does this subject move me to feel, think and dream?
- Ansel Adams


The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.
- William Morris

Art is the most beautiful deception of all. And although people try to incorporate the everyday events of life in it, we must hope that it will remain a deception lest it become a utilitarian thing, sad as a factory.
- Claude Debussy

The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.
- Walt Whitman

Yo-Yo Ma & James Taylor, "Here Comes The Sun"

"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you."
- Maori Proverb

For a brave walker.

Out there.


Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,

then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?

This is the best—
throwing off the light covers,
feet on the cold floor,
and buzzing around the house on espresso—

maybe a splash of water on the face,
a palmful of vitamins—
but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,

dictionary and atlas open on the rug,
the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,
a cello on the radio,

and, if necessary, the windows—
trees fifty, a hundred years old
out there,
heavy clouds on the way
and the lawn steaming like a horse
in the early morning.

- Billy Collins

Clarity of the morning.


Time. Peace.


A quiet rising.


When contemplation is best.

"Look closely."

We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless.
- Mark Rothko

Thanks Zoe.

21 August 2010

Ry Cooder, "Vigilante Man"

Then ...

... and now.

Head in the clouds

I took the long way home today and as I was admiring the clouds ...

... I got lost.

It was nice out there.


"Ain't hearin' nothin' ... such a beautiful sound."

Those clouds definitely had a silver lining because I bought dinner from a plastic bowl along the side of the road ...

"Half the fun's gettin' lost on the way back home."

The other half is gettin' after a sun-warmed homegrown 'mater.

Live the answer.

Seneca gave me a timely reminder this week ... "To have whatsoever he wishes is in no man's power. Do not wish for what you haven't got, but cheerfully employ what come to you."

Blessings, opportunities, even adventures are bestowed upon us if we our perceptions are aligned in ways that allow acceptance.

I need frequent reminders of this fact and was given two more by (M)others' Official and Cultural Offering.

20 August 2010

Happy Birthday Bob.


Head in the clouds

Noticed over Galena this morning ...

" ... and you haven't left your seat."

The lyrics for Leave Your Sleep are another departure from the way I had written for the past 28 years. I decided to set poetry created by other writers to music. I chose works by both well-known and obscure poets, ranging from anonymous nursery rhymes and lullabies to poems by British Victorians, early and mid 20th Century Americans, and a few contemporary writers. Ogden Nash, E.E. Cummings, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rossetti, Edward Lear, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Robert Graves are among the most well known of the group.

Read on here.

Spring and Fall

To a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

- Gerard Manley Hopkins

Don't miss this.

Eclipse Dance

Several Kwakiutl people dancing in a circle around a smoking fire, in an effort to cause a sky creature, which they believe swallowed the moon, to sneeze thereby disgorging it.
-Edward Sheriff Curtis, 1914

19 August 2010


More great work from The Fresh Aspect.

"... before I have another."

The Way I Am.

"I think I'll have one more ..."

Big City.

The Poet Of The Common Man

Merle Haggard, The Running Kind/The Fugitive ... live at Anaheim Stadium, 1980.

I raised a lot o' cain back in my younger days
While Momma used to pray my crops would fail.

Merle at his best ... nice vest.

Los Lobos, "The Road To Gila Bend"

Its a long long way to Gila bend
One silver dollar in my hand
Road twists and turns is there no end
When I get there I can lay my head in Gila Bend

David Hidalgo is a poet.

I find myself surrounded ...

... by teenagers with body-piercings and exposed navels, gabbing on cell phones and listening to hip-hop. Maybe I'm missing something here. But I just don't feel the least bit threatened by immigrants.
- Joseph Sobran

Robert Plant & Band of Joy


First single, Angel Dance. Cruisin' around with David Hidalgo at the wheel ...

Another new one, Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down ...

Thank you.

Out September 14th ... can't wait.


Surprise and subtle instruction might come forth from the Useless.
- Gary Snyder

More here and here.


Smile your little smile --- take some tea with me awhile.
Brush away that black cloud from your shoulder.

- Ian Anderson

Chinese Sencha, Ezekiel muffin, apple butter ... smile indeed.

Gustav Klimt, "Garden Landscape"

The fact is that the creative person is a disciplined craftsman whose "gift" is a reaching out toward his most profound personal potential. In the process of making anything, a person moves beyond personal expression to make something that stands by itself. The work acquires its own internal validity, its own integrity. It is in [the] process of making something... that the creator contacts a concrete reality outside his subjective life and moves into the realm of the transcendent.
- Joseph Zinker

Thanks Jessica.

18 August 2010


What's the amount of the insult?


Sun simmers dry grass
Reaching green fingers upward
Earth exhales sweet warmth

"Oh, The Places You'll Go!"

For Drew and Zoe ... and all students (and teachers) headed to school!


It worked.

... unsupervised, unwatched, left alone.

Cathedral columns.

Thanks National Geographic.

Head in the clouds

It's a beaut, Clark!

Thanks Frazier.

Happy Birthday Salieri.

Born today in 1750.

It must be fine and inspiring for a musician to have all his pupils gathered about him, to see how each strives to give of his best in honor of the master's jubilee, to hear in all their compositions the simple expressions of Nature, free from all that eccentricity which tends to govern most composers nowadays, and for which we are indebted -- almost wholly -- to one of our greatest German musicians [Beethoven]. That eccentricity confuses and confounds, without distinguishing between them, tragic and comic, sacred and profane, pleasant and unpleasant, heroic strains and mere noise; it engenders in people not love but madness; it rouses them to scornful laughter instead of lifting up their thoughts to God. To have banned these extravagances from the circle of his pupils, and to have kept them, instead, at the pure source of Nature must be the greatest satisfaction to a musician who, following in Gluck's steps, seeks his inspiration in Nature alone, despite the unnatural influences of the present day.
- Franz Schubert, on Salieri


Our mantra in fifth grade writing class comes from Harrison ... "KEEP IT VIVID." We try to carefully choose settings, characters, actions -- words -- that, as one student said last year, "grab the reader by the throat."

It takes time. It is a process.

Stillness can help, but some need to pace or bob. Either way it's contemplation and is work that needs to be done. Creative work is still work.

"Think about what you're thinking about."

"Tell the tale you'd like to be told."

"Face the white bull that is the blank page of paper" - Ernest Hemingway

Tim O'Brien advises here.

When you read a manuscript that has been damaged by water, fire, light, or just the passing of the years, your eye needs to study not just the shape of the letters but other marks of production. The speed of the pen. The pressure of the hand on the page. Breaks and releases in the flow. You must relax. Think of nothing. Until you wake into a dream where you are at once a pen flying over vellum and the vellum itself with the touch of the ink tickling your surface. Then you can read it. The intention of the writer, his thoughts, his hesitations, his longings and his meaning. You can read as clearly as if you were the very candlelight illuminating the page as the pen speeds over it.

I'm in the clutches!

Looking forward!

17 August 2010