Wednesday, April 30, 2008

study war no more

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry (b. 1934), farmer, writer, poet

today is the 33rd anniversary of the end of the vietnam war - I confess I didn't instinctually know this fact; I discovered it last night when I glanced at my cat lovers against the bomb calendar. ironically today is also the anniversary of the 1970 u.s. invasion of cambodia and the 1789 election of george washington - the first president of the united states - I wonder what this george would think about these contemporary events and involvements?

thinking of vietnam leads me to thinking about iraq and visa versa. critics of the iraq war have attempted to use the u.s. experience in vietnam as a powerful example of why the u.s. should not be engaged in this war in iraq. a few years ago vietnam war veteran and foreign policy analyst ronald bruce st. john wrote an essay which succinctly discussed the similarities between the two 'wars.' although it was written in 2004, four years later nothing has changed in terms of the comparisons or the lessons we should have learned.

"Vietnam and Iraq were both wars of choice. And they are also similar in that deceit and misrepresentation was employed by the U.S. government, first to engage U.S. forces and then to keep them there. President Bush took us to war on the grounds that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and had ties to al Qaeda. No weapons of mass destruction have been found and no ties to al Qaeda have been discovered. We were also told our troops would be greeted with open arms and flowers, which didn’t last long, and that Iraqi oil would pay for most of the reconstruction. Now we are told that we’re actually in Iraq to nurture democratic self-government, but political reconstruction is also going badly."
to read the entire piece go here.

it doesn't take much to get me fretting about the situation in iraq and frustrated and angered about the fact that the u.s is still there. on monday's diane rehm show the first hour featured a panel of guests who discussed the the alarming rate of post traumatic stress disorder (ptsd), depression and suicide among returning veterans. according to a recent report entitled "invisible wounds" at least 1 in 5 veterans have ptsd. the invisible wounds of today's soliders are another area where the parallel between iraq and vietnam can be made. for more information on diane's panel or to listen to monday's show click.

the great mahalia jackson singing study war no more.

photos: top -sacred lotus flower and bee at kenilworth park & aquatic gardens; bottom - mass protest against the iraq war washington dc september 2005

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

about to rain

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) poet

we hear that canada geese 'mate for life, ' when I ran into this couple I had to wonder if they had a spat - I do hope it's not serious...

the forest floor is so lush and verdant these days

each little bud holds so much promise

between showers yesterday I took in a brief walk in the nearby park - I had hoped to do a little communing with nature over the weekend, but both saturday and sunday were crowded with more than usual number of planned activities. alas, we never found the time to fit a hike in. but all for the best as there's something especially magical about being on nature walk on a week day when there are no other humans around and spring is bursting out all over.

neil young performing see the sky about to rain (1987)

Monday, April 28, 2008

soup's on!

after a spell of beautiful, warm and sunny spring weather, yesterday our weather turned, today it's cool and rainy. the forecasters have even mentioned the 's' word - but I doubt that we'll get any snow. anyhow, it's perfect weather to cook a big pot of pasta e fagioli. months ago I promised len that I'd share my recipe for the mouse's version of this dish when he mentioned that it was one of his favorite dishes.

this is no means a dish only suitable for cold weather. in fact, the first time I had this dish was years ago at a big summer potluck in seattle. a friend made a pot of this stewy soup, and shared his mother's version of this traditional italian favorite. unfortunately, I never got jamie's mother's recipe. pasta fagioli started out as an italian peasant dish it is now found around the world. it's a dish that welcomes being played with and being adapting to what's on hand and one's particular tastes (evidenced by my use of cilantro instead of flat parsley). I find anytim I need a bit of comfort this soup does the trick!

pasta e fagioli mouse style

in a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and add a bit of diced pancetta or bacon (omit if you don’t eat pork), once the meat starts to sizzle add one bunch of thinly sliced scallions, 3 diced carrots and 3 diced potatoes. stir in ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika, ½ teaspoon smoked spanish paprika and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. stir to coat the vegetables. Add 1 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh), 3 cloves of minced garlic, and 6 cups broth (chicken or vegetable). Bring to a boil, reduce heat add one can cannellini beans (white kidney beans) and cover partially and cook until carrots and potatoes are tender (approximately 15 minutes). once veggies are tender add another cup of broth or water bring back to a boil; stir in 2-3 cups of small pasta (I like ditalini) cook until pasta is done (refer to cooking time on box). Stir in ½ - ¾ cup freshly grated pecorio romano cheese and 3 tablespoons minced cilantro.

buon appetito!

soup by blind melon

Sunday, April 27, 2008

waiting for the great leap forward

I Hear America Singing

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song—the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or of the girl sewing or washing—
Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day—
At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) poet, essayist, and humanist
(from Leaves of Grass, 1900)

click here for billy bragg singing 'waiting for the great leap forward' on the henry rollins show (give it 20 seconds for the song)

photo: street mural off detroit avenue (near CPT), speaking of CPT - I took this picture when I went to see a performance there friday night. if you're in cleveland with nothing to do between now and may third, check out the current production - in the continuum - a powerful piece of theater exploring the personal and social devastation of AIDS. the play centers on the lives of two women - one in the u.s. and one in zimbabwe - as they deal with the news of learning that they are HIV positve. amazing performances by two women who play a score of roles.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

prison blues

One Man's Hands
One man's hands can't tear a prison down
Two men's hands can't tear a prison down
But if two and two and fifty make a million
We'll see that day come round
We'll see that day come round.
Pete Seeger (born 3 may 1919), activist, poet, songwriter

one of the radio programs I enjoy is the bbc’s ‘world have your say’ (whys)which airs weekdays on our local npr station. thursday’s program tweaked my interest. unfortunately, I was in the middle of something which entailed my full concentration, so I only caught bits of the program. the topic concerned the alarming rate of imprisonment in the u.s. – the u.s with 5% of the world’s population has almost 25% of the world’s prisoners. for every 100,000 people the u.s., 751 people are in prison. compare that to 151 in the u.k., 88 in germany, or 63 in japan - the country that comes closest to the u.s. is russia with 627.

when f came home from work thursday I asked him if he heard the story, he hadn’t but he gave me the head’s up to an article in the times the day before on the same topic. between, whys, the times piece and the news that wesley snipes received a three-year prison sentence for failure to file his tax returns I have prison on my mind. are we surprised the u.s. leads the way?

I find it deeply disturbing that the u.s. has such an extraordinarily high incarceration rate. the times piece points out that the u.s. hasn’t always had such an alarmingly high rate – in fact, from 1925-1975 the rate remained stable (110 people in prison per 100,000) then in the late 1970s the country decided to ‘get tough on crime’ and declared a ‘war on drugs.’ the result of these two movements has been locking up a whole lot of folks for nonviolent crime. “The United States is, for instance, the only advanced country that incarcerates people for minor property crimes like passing bad checks…..In 1980, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. These days, there are almost 500,000.” (nytimes)

in america prisons are big business ; according to another piece in the times, I learned that last year the 50 states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. vermont, connecticut, delaware, michigan, and oregon spend as much or more on corrections than they do on higher education. along with characterizing the u.s. as having a thriving military-industrial-complex, we can consider there is another complex in the u.s - a prison-industrial-complex commanding incredible resources. oh yes, isn't capitalism interesting and isn't it interesting what the nation chooses to spend our money on?

the u.s. isn’t an equal opportunity incarcerator - getting locked up in the u.s. depends a good deal on where you live, the color of your skin, and your access to money.

johnny cash singing folsom prison blues @ san quentin

photo: rosie & tsuki inside looking out ~ april 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

put a lid on it

The Mountain and The Squirrel
Had a quarrel,
And the former called the latter
“Little prig.”
Bun replied,
“You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry:
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track.
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) philosopher, poet, essayist

I'm feeling a little squirrelly today and a bit discombobulated in the quest to get some control over the chaos that has taken over the house - I ask where do all these piles of paper come from?

and I'm feeling a little like a squirrel - scurrying about, moving piles and shifting through the detritus that accumulates through our mere existence. but every pile has a silver lining, inside one was this delightful poem by emerson. the scrap of paper that had the poem scribbled on it has found a new home in the recycling bag - joining many other scraps, old periodicals, and catalogs. chaos is being reined in - at least for now...

did you know that there are over 300 species of squirrels in the world? in north america the red squirrel and the gray squirrel are the most common type of tree squirrels. I love these little gregarious characters, however, it seems that many of the men in my life (in particular my dear f & even my pa) are driven nuts by the thought of a squirrel raiding the birdfeeders or digging a hole to bury an acorn. can anyone explain to me why so many men are annoyed by brother (and sister) squirrel? I'd really like to know...

'put a lid on it' by squirrel nut zippers (1996)

photo: resident squirrel on avenue c ~ april 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

remind me

There are days when that is the last place
in the world where you want to be but you
have to be there, like a movie, because it
features you.
Richard Brautigan (1935-1984) novelist & poet

click for remind me (royksopp)
this time the mouse guarantees that you will be most happy (and maybe a bit surprised???) that you clicked! remember every day is earth day!

photo: door reflection @ sacred arts & healing center

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

beautiful day

yesterday I saw.......

the bluebird of happiness

al fresco snacking lil' b

and a fence eating tree

a tree that hugs a house

and pink petals against a blue sky

a wheel as still life

and a reminder to always look back even when moving forward

click for a beautiful day (u2)
photos: my neighborhood, earth day 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

we are all earthlings

We are all earthlings
We are all earthlings
Spinning around together
On a planet of the sun
from “we are all earthlings” by sara compton

earth day began 38 years ago as a response to the recognition of humans increasing degradation of the planet. can we claim that the planet is in better shape today than it was forty years ago? hardly. yes, in some arenas there has been progress; but, overall we are still teetering on the edge of widespread ecological catastrophe.

yesterday on npr’s marketplace program host kai ryssdal interviewed jeffery sachs, a columbia university economist and author. professor sachs recently wrote a book entitled common wealth: economics for a crowded planet. in this book he makes the case that as a world community it is imperative that all the countries of the world recognize that we face a common problem and the only way to solve the catastrophe that is at our collective door is to cooperate like never before in order to save ourselves and the planet. read/listen to the interview

ironically right after this interview was a segment reporting on the beijing autoshow; where the world’s car manufacturers are attempting to get a piece of the action in a growing market. unfortunately, china appears to be embracing the notion that ‘bigger is better’ as evidenced by an expected forty percent increase in SVU sales this year.

today’s buzz words for living in harmony with the planet include reducing our ecological footprint and increasing our sustainability. to reduce our collective footprints and create a sustainable world the private sector, the government, academia, and each one of us as indivduals have to get on the bus!

in yesterday’s pd was an article which listed simple things each of us can do to subtract 43,000 pounds of CO2 annually. I thought it was a very helpful and handy list and mighty good mouse medicine. so assuming permission would be granted by the esteemed pd, I provide the list to all mouse readers:

Cook 25 percent of your food in the microwave instead of the conventional oven. (Minus 55 pounds.)

Recycle half your household waste. (Minus 2,400 pounds.)

Install a water-saving shower head. (Minus 400 pounds.)

Drink tap water instead of bottled. (Minus 52 pounds.)

Stop using an extra refrigerator. (Minus 1,100 pounds.)

Wash your clothes in cold water instead of warm or hot (modern detergents are designed to work well in cold). (Minus 500 pounds.)

Cook double portions of meals at least once a week and freeze them for easy reheating in the microwave. (Minus 55 pounds.)

Use a clothesline instead of a dryer when the weather allows. (Minus 700 pounds.)

Switch to LED Christmas tree lights. (Minus 7 pounds.)

Get rid of your car. (Minus 10,400 pounds.)

Stop driving aggressively. (Minus 2,750 pounds.)

Use cruise control when you drive. (Minus 600 pounds.)

Recycle your printer's ink cartridges. (Minus 38 pounds.)

Telecommute. (Minus 6,000 pounds.)

Buy a reusable water bottle or simply reuse disposable plastic water bottles. (Minus 16 pounds.)

Put your computer to sleep instead of using a screen saver. (Minus 1,090 pounds.)

Grow your own veggies and herbs. (Minus 40 pounds.)

Buy only locally grown or produced food. (Minus 5,000 pounds.)

Buy your clothes at a secondhand shop. (Minus 800 pounds.)

Become a vegetarian. (Minus 3,924 pounds.)

Invite a third fewer people to your wedding. (Minus 8,818 pounds.)

Read library or used books. (Minus 30 pounds.)

Use ceiling fans instead of air conditioning. (Minus 2,700 pounds.)

Unplug all your electronics and appliances when they're not in use. (Minus 500 pounds.)

Run your dishwasher only when it's completely full. (Minus 100 pounds.)

Replace three frequently used incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs. (Minus 300 pounds.)

Cut your cheeseburger consumption by one a week. (Minus 500 pounds.)

Clean or replace your furnace/AC filter. (Minus 350 pounds.)

Drink a locally produced bottle of wine each week instead of one from California. (Minus 100 pounds.)

Raise your thermostat 2 degrees in summer and lower it 2 degrees in winter. (Minus 2,000 pounds.)

click to see sources

happy earth day 2008 - make every day earth day!!

photos: top~kermit & lil b say it's easy being green!; inset~community circulator; bottom~worm nursery @ community garden

Monday, April 21, 2008

bits and pieces

A Poet's Cat
A poet's cat, sedate and grave,
As poet well could wish to have,
Was much addicted to inquire
For nooks, to which she might retire,
And where, secure as mouse in chink,
She might repose, or sit and think.
I know not where she caught the trick--
Nature perhaps herself had cast her
In such a mold philosophique,
Or else she learn'd it of her master.
William Cowper (1731-1800), English poet

things are really getting nasty over in pennslyvania - thank goodness the primary is tomorrow, I can't take much more. on the radio this morning I heard about how a remark by barack has triggered another frenzy of attacks from hillary. seems that barack offhandedly said that any of the three candidates would be a better president than w - well, I don't know about you, but I have said this myself and have heard scores of others say the same thing.

this not to say I want mccain as the country's next president or that I would be okay with it if that happened. in fact I'm terrified over the notion of john (more of the same) mccain as the next president. but, I always thought of mccain as someone more intelligent and more open to taking advice than w has been. I have long thought that mccain would appoint people who would uphold the constitution.

for many w has proven to be the worst president ever - its almost inconceivable that mccain could top w in that department. (thanks to blue girl in a red state for the graphic on the right - although created a few years ago nothing has changed - he's still the worst president ever!)

the thing that really is disgusting me about this pennslyvania primary (well, maybe its american politics in general) is how the issues are not being seriously discussed. in the almost eight years of the bush administration the country has been looted and raided. don't even get me started on how the u.s. is viewed internationally.

I really didn't intend to go off on a political rant. my intention was to give a head's up on a couple new adds to the mouse's blogroll - blue girl in red state (referenced above) and e's new blog out from behind the lens - which has some very yummy posts!

it's a beautiful spring morning, the birds are singing and the earth is a-greening!

flash to the past bits and pieces (dc5, 1964)

photo: cheetos and chester, the shop cats at pretty coat junction, lakewood ~ april 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

blessed are....

The Temple

To leave the earth was my wish, and no will stayed my rising.
Early, before sun had filled the roads with carts
Conveying folk to weddings and to murders;
Before men left their selves of sleep, to wander
In the dark of the world like whipped beasts.

I took no pack. I had no horse, no staff, no gun.
I got up a little way and something called me,
'Put your hand in mine. We will seek God together.'
And I answered, 'It is your father who is lost, not mine.'
Then the sky filled with tears of blood, and snakes sang.
Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) poet, pacifist, painter

to hear joan singing blessed are... click here

photo: entrance to forsyth garden conservancy, sara d. roosevelt park - nyc ~ april 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

with summer coming on (yes, I know it's just barely spring, but since the last couple days have been in the 70s, it feels like summer) we have had to address tsuki's fur. last year we skipped the annual spring buzz cut - I think we were all still traumatized by the summer of '06 - that year we used one of those drive-up pet groomers.

a pet groomer that drives to your house sounds like a great idea. they come to the house in a van fully equipped to clip and groom your most loved pet. they whisk your animal away to your driveway and voilà thirty minutes or so later, your pet has had a shampoo and a cut. for the majority of the experience, tsuki was well behaved, but then suddenly he decided he had enough. since tsuki doesn't speak english, he communicated this the best way he could, he went after the vacuum hose. the groomer wasn't very happy, but then again tsuki wasn't very happy either. immediately after tsuki pierced the hose, the groomer brought tsuki into the house; she made a curt (bordering on rude) remark about how he ruined her vacuum hose and informed me that I owed her sixty bucks (I kind of remembered the quote was fifty bucks, but who was I to argue, tsuki did go after the hose - but better the hose than her!).

tsuki is a beautiful cat, but he does have the longest hair I have ever encountered on a cat. even though we try and brush him regularly sometimes his fur gets out of hand. and sometimes his fur develops incredibly long, dense dreads. dreadlocks on rastas, aftrican-americans, or members of the 'back to the earth' community are all well and good; dreads on a cat are wickedly bad, and I don't been bad in the good sense. they can be quite nasty - especially on a cats' bum!

there's a animal grooming establishment that ms. t & I walk by fairly frequently when we are on our rounds. along with a name that strikes my fancy the establishment has a couple store cats we like to visit. if the cats are in the window ms t and I stop and watch the cats play (or more likely sleep) and if someone is in but not busy, we might even pop in and say hi to the humans and the cats. the place is called 'pretty coat junction' - I like this fanciful name as it's a play on the name of that horrible t.v. show, petticoat junction, which yes, I adored when I was a kid.

pretty coat junction was such a better experience than the to your house pet groomer. apparently, tsuki was well behaved - at least there were no reports of destroyed equipment or maimed humans, the cost was half what the to-your-house service was, and he's got his summer buzz cut - and I didn't have to try and do it. for the next couple weeks tsuki may be subjected to ridicule by the rest of the pride here on avenue c, but at least he won't have to worry about me coming after him with a brush or god forbid the scissors to attack one of his dreads!

before - beautiful tsuki, but on close inspection one will find his fur is a mess!

after - tsuki is still beautiful, but temporarily he will look like a naked mole rat with a fluffy cat head!

click for a vid of the hair song (1979)

Friday, April 18, 2008

the circle game

He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!
Edwin Markham (1852-1840) poet & activist

last night I had the marvelous good fortune to attend a performance of the qawwals of pakistan, a troupe of musical artists who perform sufi devotional music. unfortunately only 4 of the 9 individuals in the troupe were provided visas to enter the country. but the show went on and it was incredible - transcendent, rocking, and pure joy!

the program notes include this statement: "The group feels that their music brings harmony and peace to the soul and projects the message of love and unity for all." pretty ironic that the officials making decisions about issuing visas were clueless about what these artists are all about!

anyway, this all had me thinking of inclusion and exclusion which led me to think about edwin markham's wonderful poem.

speaking of poetry, today on the bill moyers journal website there is a treasure trove of information celebrating national poetry month. I discovered that I missed the segment on walt whitman which aired monday on american experience. no need to despair - the marvels of the internet allows anyone to be able to watch it (in segments)! my gosh how cool is that! click here to view the walt whitman program

joni singing the circle game

photo: children's hands at play - nyc, 1 april 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

mean talking blues

In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.
Mark Twain (1835-1910) from Autobiography of Mark Twain

like most folks who are anxiously waiting for the much needed sea-change in american politics – particularly when it comes to the office of president - I’m anxious to see what will happen in next tuesday’s pennsylvania primary. so last night I tuned in to ABC’s much hyped ‘debate’ between barack and hillary. I naively believed I was actually going to hear about the issues. well, was I ever disappointed and much of the time I was not only disappointed but disgusted. issues – you know things like: global climate change crisis, education, the u.s ranking 37th in terms of our health care system (with a similar position in terms of key health indicators), the war in iraq (actually in all fairness there was a brief mention of the iraq war when clinton described her ‘plan’ for a pull-out), the fact that eight years of the bush administration has destroyed the country's economy*, and so on and so forth.

the so-called ‘moderators,’ charles gibson and george stephanopolous, were jokes. were they instructed to play to the lowest common denominator? instead of raising intelligent issue oriented questions, they just pulled out tired-ass topics (such as, the pastor at obama's church; a remark barack made at a dinner that wasn’t phrased very well, and so on and so forth) that encouraged hillary to embrace her attack-dog persona and resulted on putting barack on the defensive for much of the evening.

who won last night's debate? in my book we were all losers. but, in terms of the candidates, for me barack was the clear winner - he refused to get down and wallow in the mud with hillary, charlie and george.

'mean talking blues' by woody guthrie -to see a vid showcasing issues that should have been addressed last night click here

*thanks lee for the head's up on hightower's marvelous site.

photo: nyc street art, april 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

where o where has my little dog gone?

Plus je vois l'homme,
plus j'aimie mon chien.
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) dog lover, mathematician & philosopher

while on our walkabout yesterday, ms. t and I encountered this sweet dog patiently waiting for his human. I thought that it was a shame that american shops don't have the same sensibility as many french shops have when it comes to dogs. when visiting france, it isn't uncommon to encounter a wee dog like this accompanying his human into a shop. ms. t and I were most impressed with this friendly pup and I was most anxious to meet his human. after taking his picture, I went into the shop and soon found her. I asked permission to post a picture - given - and asked about his name. the dogs name is lagniappe - a new name/word for me. this is what the name means - quite fitting and ironic given my musings about dogs and shops, n'est-ce pas?
Etymology: American French, from American Spanish la ñapa the lagniappe, from la + ñapa, yapa, from Quechua yapa something added Date: 1844
: a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase; broadly : something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

the naming of cats

Lovers and austere dons are equally
(In their maturity) attached to cats -
Cats soft but cruel, emperors of flats,
Touch like these and like those sedentary.

Friends of the sensual, the cerebral,
They seek the quiet and horror of the dark;
If they had ever bent their pride to work
They might have pulled the funeral cars of hell.

Asleep they take the noble attitude
Of the great sphinxes that appear to brood,
Stretched in the wastes, in dreams that have no end;
Their loins are electric with fecundity,
And particles of gold, like finest sand,
Star vaguely their unfathomable eye.

Charles Baudelaire (1821 -1865) cat lover, poet & art critic

when I was in new york I stayed with cocoa and noche and their humans p&k. because cocoa with her rich brown color and white bib looks so much like her older sistercat merlin I was afraid that it might have been painful for me, but it wasn't. in fact, it was very comforting to be around cocoa and her sister noche. noche, looks and acts very similar to her litter sister rosie. they both have the same yakky and demanding nature - whereas cocoa and merlin are relatively quiet and laid-back cats with just the softest of fur. I wonder what's with that? (oh even though noche and rosie are yakky and demanding that's not to say they are the most delightful cats!)

click to experience the naming of cats from the broadway musical cats!

photos: cocoa and noche, nyc, april 2008.

Monday, April 14, 2008

who's that girl

yesterday on npr's studio 360 the theme was 'girl culture' - a topic near and dear to my heart. studio 360 host, kurt andersen brought in an expert as his co-host - lucy, his youngest daughter who is currently a senior in high school. they discussed how girl culture is big business. it was delightful to hear how kurt and lucy interacted - one could tell there was a lot of love and mutual respect.

it seems that paris hilton recently declared herself to be a role model for girls around the world; at least according to paris, who claims that mothers come up to her and thank her for the shining example she is providing for their daughters. eh gads, can you imagine that? a little while ago on today's morning edition there was an interview with a young woman that I thought would be a much better role model for the girls of the world than paris hilton. of course, the problem is how do we get young women like kelley to get the same type of media attention that paris hilton garners?

the program was quite fascinating (if interested, you can catch it by clicking here.) I particularly enjoyed the segments which discussed how women have been portrayed on film and the touching and often hilarious piece about identity (and a grandmother's dress). there was also a bit of delving into the american girl empire and kurt asked his listeners to weigh in and share what they think about this phenomena. my daughter e, missed the whole american girl bit by quite a few years- thank goodness! now, don't get me wrong, I've read quite a few of the american girl books and I found that they do a fairly decent job conveying a sense of what it was like for a girl to live during certain historical periods. however, I have a bit of a issue with the dolls. first off, they cost an arm and a leg and that's just the start; once the doll (price $90) joins the family it's only just the beginning, I expect not many children are satisfied with just the doll when there's so many wonderful accoutrements to go along with each doll. no wonder that it is estimated that the cost of raising a child through age 17 today ranges from $184,300 (for low income families) to over $285,000 (for higher income families)!

I am a Cherry Alive

"I am a cherry alive," the little girl sang
"Each morning I am something new:
I am apple, I am plum, I am just as excited
As the boys who made the Hollowe'en bang:
I am tree, I am cat, I am blossom too:
When I like, if I like, I can be something new,
Someone very old, a witch in a zoo:
I can be someone else whenever I think who,
And I want to be everything sometimes too:
And the peach has a pit and I know that too,
And I put it along with everything
To make the grown-ups laugh whenever I sing:
And I sing: It is true; It is untrue;
I know, I know, the true is untrue,
The peach has a pit, the pit has a peach:
And both may be wrong when I sing my song,
But I don't tell the grown-ups: because it is sad,
And I want them to laugh just like I do
Because they grew up and forgot what they knew
And they are sure I will forget someday too.
They are wrong. They are wrong. When I sang my song, I knew, I knew!
I am red, I am gold, I am green, I am blue,
I will always be me, I will always be new!"

-Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966) american poet

to see a vid of who's that girl click here

photos: top - e (on left) and friends, march 1985; insert the paris hilton, paris

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I've got peace like a river

I've Got Peace Like a River

I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.

I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul,
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul.

I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain,
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul.

yesterday ms t was over, since it was cold and wet outside we ended up staying in all day playing, reading books, and listening to music. the first cd ms t picked out (ms t insists on picking out what we listen to, if you are familiar with the ways of two and a half year olds, enuf said) was elizabeth mitchell's cd "you are my little bird." the cd includes ms mitchell's beautiful rendering of the spiritual I've got peace like a river.

when I was listening to peace like a river, I thought it would be perfect for today's bit of mouse medicine. so when ms t was down for her afternoon nap, I jumped on the computer with hopes that the magic of youtube would provide a vid of elizabeth performing the song. alas, it did not; there are plenty of other versions of the song on youtube - although it's the words that send my spirit and touch my soul; perhaps my favorite youtube vid is this one - one of the instrumental versions.

if you aren't familiar with elizabeth mitchell I recommend you check her out, especially if there are children in your village. I find her voice is pure joy. she has three cd's out for children and all three are part of our musical library here on avenue c. I can't wait for another release - I wonder what we will be for the next cd? you can check out what elizabeth sounds like here.

photograph: peaceful body of water in oregon ( location of that year's spring wander!) 13 april 2006.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

our house

perhaps now that I've wrapped up the travelogue my reentry is complete! however, even though I just returned from 'spring break,' the last few days of warm beautiful weather have only fueled a sense of spring fever. it is lovely to see evidence that spring is further along - compare the picture above to this one taken a couple days before my wander.

yesterday with temps in the mid-60s and people walking about in short-sleeves and halters, I found myself fantasizing about staying in 'vacation mode.' now, what is with that? not going to happen. but relief from this fever is in sight, last night however a major front blew in and blew out the warm temperatures and clear skies.

it's so good to be home, even if it's been a bit slow getting back into my routines with this lingering feeling of 'spring fever' still infecting my psyche! maybe by the end of the weekend my fever will break and it will be all out of my system!

accuweather claims today and tomorrow will be rainy with 'unseasonably cold' temperatures. thank goodness I didn't follow through with my fever induced thoughts on going to the plant store and stocking up on flowers and start the process of putting them into the flower beds and boxes.

with thoughts about home and verse rattling around my brain this morning (april is national poetry month). I offer this text from a children's book which ms. t and I will be reading later today:

A House is A House for Me
by mary ann hoberman (1982)

A hill is a house of an ant, an ant
A hive is a house for a bee
A hole is a house for a mole or a mouse
And a house is a house for me!

A web is a house for a spider
A bird builds its nest in a tree
There is nothing so snug as a bug in a rug
And a house is a house for me!

A coop? That's a house for a chicken.
A sty? That's a house for a sow.
A fold? That's where sheep all gather to sleep.
A barn? That's a house for a cow.
(it is also, of course,
A house for a horse.)

A kennel's a house for a dog, a dog.
A dog is a house for a flea.
But when a dog strays, a flea sometimes stayss
And then it may move in on me!

Houses for rabbits are hutches.
A house for a mule is a shed.
A castle's a house for a duchess.
A bedbud beds down in a bed.

A shell is a dwelling for shellfish:
For oysters and lobsters and clams.
Each snail has a shell and each turtle as well
But not any lions or lambs.

Lions live out in the open.
Monkeys live up in a tree.
Hippos live down in a river.
Now what do you know about me?

A husk is a house for a corn ear.
A pod is a place for a pea.
A nutshell's a hut for a hickory nut
But what is a shelter for me?

A glove is a house for a hand, a hand.
A stocking's a house for a knee.
A shoe or a boot is a house for a foot.
And a house is a house for me!

A box is a house for a teabag.
A teapot's a house for some tea.
If you pour me a cup and I drink it all up,
Then the teahouse will turn into me!

Cartons are houses for crackers.
Castles are houses for kings.
The more that I think about houses,
The more things are houses for things.

And if you get started in thinking,
I think you will find it is true
That the more that you think about houses for things
The more things are houses to you.

Barrels are houses for pickles
And bottles are houses for jam.
A pot is a spot for potatoes.
A sandwich is home for some ham.

A cooky jar's home to the cookies.
The breadbox is home to the bread.
My coat is a house for my body.
My hat is a house for my head.

Perhaps I have started farfetching
Perhaps I am stretching things some
A mirror's a house for reflections
A throat is a house for a hum

But once you get started in thinking,
You think and you think and you think
How pockets are houses for pennies
And pens can be houses for ink;

How peaches are houses for peachpits
And sometimes are houses for worms;
How trashcans are houses for gargage
And garbage makes houses for germs;

And envelopes, earmuffs and eggshells
And bathrobes and baskets and bins
And ragbags and rubbers and roasters
And tablecloths, toasters and tins....

And once you get started in thinking this way,
It seems that whatever you see
Is either a house or it lives in a house,
And a house is a house for me!

A book is a house for a story.
A rose is a house for a smell.
My head is a house for a secret,
A secret I never will tell.

A flower's at home in a garden.
A donkey's at home in a stall.
Each creature that's known has a house of its own
And the earth is a house for us all.

to hear 'our house' by csn&y click here

photos: wandering around my hood, 11 april 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

sunrise on brooklyn

"I think I can, I think I can" the little engine said - and this little mouse says today we will finish our tour of new york and my time away! time to be here now.

thursday, 3 april: the day dawned sunny and bright. in the morning k, another friend, and I set off for harlem's schomburg center. the nyc commission on human rights was sponsoring a forum featuring political scientist and best selling author robert d. putnam. the fact that the talk was being held on the eve of the 40th anniversary of dr. martin luther's king assassination added another layer of power and poignancy to the event. dr. putnam's presentation focused on the concept of 'social capital' and the pressing need we have as a nation to create a more encompassing sense of "we" - putnam's lecture was riveting. I would be doing him a disservice to try and summarize his talk in the space of a sentence or two. for those interested, I suggest you read this excellent article which provides a brief biography of dr. putnam and a very accessible summation of some of putnam's previous research interests and findings (unfortunately the article does not include this book which was the basis of the schomburg lecture). of course, the best thing would be to read one of his books or some of his many articles.

I would have enjoyed a walking tour of harlem, but that will have to wait until another visit. at the tenement museum bookstore I purchased a book entitled "radical walking tours of new york city" by bruce kayton (with a foreward by none other than pete seeger, as many mouse readers know, pete is one of my personal heros). for now I'll have to be satisfied with the armchair walking tour I conducted when I read the harlem chapter.

right after checking out a saint in the city exhibit in the schomberg, k and I headed down to the city hall area to meet p for lunch. although k had to go to work in the afternoon, p took the afternoon off work. we had a quick lunch at a wonderful vietnamese restaurant (unfortunately I didn't pay attention to the name - but the food was inexpensive and delicious. if anyone really wants the name, post a comment and I'll follow up with k as the restaurant is very close to her office and she goes there often) the walk to the restaurant took us through a city park which had recently undergone a major renovation. the park was filled with people playing games, getting exercise, or just enjoying conversation and the beautiful spring day.

after lunch p and I jumped on a subway and headed to the brooklyn museum to experience (yes, it is an experience!) judy chicago's the dinner party. this amazing piece of art and history is now installed in it's permanent home. what a gift to all of us. the brooklyn museum is very lucky to have ms. elizabeth sackler as a major patron of the museum and force behind establishing a brilliant center for feminist art.

p & I literally had to be kicked out of the museum. come 5 to 5 we were still in the herstory gallery (a room adjacent to the table room and part this amazing installation). the staff was most anxious (but not obnoxious) to clear the museum as that night they were hosting the opening party for a major exhibition of japanenese artist takashi murakami.

the day's explorations weren't over. after the museum we called k and let her know where we'd be, as we planned to go off on a wander around k's old neighborhood of cobble hill. a very neat neighborhood indeed!

friday, 4 april: the day dawned wet and rainy. I had no clean clothes and still a few more days away from home. I spent most of friday laying low - I did my laundry (conveniently the sister building of p&k's building has coin operated washers and dryers in it's basement); I did a bit of reading; and I ate some of the wonderful leftover food we brought home from sahadi's market; and worked a bit on the quilt I brought along - up until friday, I did very little stitching-as I was too busy being a cultural explorer!

by mid afternoon the rain stopped and I headed out. only thing scheduled for the day was to meet p at the center for international photography (icp) at 5. a few museums in nyc are free friday evening and the icp is one of those. there are two exhibits at icp - both are quite compelling(btw, both close on may 4th). the 'collections of barbara bloom' particularly tickled our fancy and until I got back that night and googled barbara bloom I thought it was fantastic. then I read this review and learned that the exhibit only provided the smallest taste of the delights that barbara cooks up.

after getting in our dose of culture and art for the day, p and I wandered over to 10th avenue to meet k for dinner at tulcingo restaurant (another inexpensive and delicious place to eat!). in my everlasting search for the absolute best chiles rellenos, I must say the offering at tulcingo did not disappoint and is actually worthy to be ranked! while glancing out the window k noticed the address on the building across the street. look closely the devil is in the detail!

this concludes the mouse's travelogue - saturday morning I boarded a nj transit train to princeton junction and spent the next two and a half days in the greater philly area, comfortably ensconced within the bosom of some of my family and enjoying various cousins' company and hospitality.

photos: top- play in the park (unfortunately I didn't notice the name of the park; all I can say is it's adjacent to chinatown); insert - robert putnam; bottom - hell's kitchen neighborhood, 10th avenue, nyc april, 2008

to hear black 47 play "sunrise on brooklyn" click here

Thursday, April 10, 2008

living in the past

yesterday's post got through monday, march 31, at this rate I'll be living in the past for at least another week. I better speed this along! let's see if a different format works.

tuesday, 1 april: this was a day I was really looking forward to as I was going to meet two blogging buds - gary and steve. meeting blogging friends face-to-face is quite affecting; it really brings a certain dimensionality to the belief many of us bloggers have about how blogs have the ability to expand the meaning of community.

in the morning I met gary and his class. gary graciously invited me to join him and his class on their field trip to the met. if you're familiar with gary's blog you know he teaches first grade in a bilingual school where classes are conducted in english and in american sign language (asl). not all the children in gary and lauren's (his teaching partner) class are deaf - in fact, the children probably reflect the entire spectrum of hearing- from no hearing loss to profound or total hearing loss. most of the children who have no hearing loss have family members who have hearing loss and thus use asl at home. before we went off on the trip, there was morning circle. during circle I was introduced to each child; each child signed their name and shared with me their special name. I also received my 'sign language name' (my special name is the sign for 'mouse'). how cool is that!

the field trip was incredible and the children were bright, curious, and totally engaged. before the tour began, the class was broken into two groups. I was sorted with gary's group. the kids I was with knocked the socks off jill, our docent; I expect she was probably more used to first graders who had to be constantly reminded to stay together or pay attention - but not this group. at one point we were looking at a replica of a boat that was put in a tomb of some egyptian noble; one of the children said "that's like odysseus' boat" -I thought jill was going to fall over in surprise; gary explained that a few months ago the class had studied the greek myths. what did I say bright children!

the field trip was a total blast; unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate for us to have a leisurely picnic lunch in central park. the rain did stop long enough for us to sit on some benches adjacent to a playground in a corner of the park near the museum. we ate lunch but unfortunately the morning's rain put a kibosh on the après-lunch playground activity.
soon after eating, we boarded the bus and returned to school. once back to school I said thanks and goodbye the children and their adults (gary, lauren and mike, the student teacher) parting is such sweet sorrow! the kids took off for their gym class and soon I took off for the rest of the day's adventures.

tuesday evening I gary and I had plans to meet steve, but before then I had a few hours on hand. from the school, I headed south in order to visit one of my favorite museums - "the lower east side tenement museum." I few years ago f and I discovered this wonderful museum which explores america's immigration experience. the museum conducts a series of guided tours each of which goes into depth about some aspect of the immigration experience. f and I took the tour which focused on the garment trades ('piecing it together'); this most recent visit, I was able to join the tour entitled 'getting by' - in which we "learn about the networks of support that were available to them during hard times. Discuss the development of social welfare in the United States, and compare the options that people had in the past to those that are available today." it was an excellent tour, max, the docent, did a commendable job and was able to stimulate much discussion among our group. in fact, so much discussion our group exceeded the time alloted!

after finishing up with the tenement museum I headed up to midtown to meet steve and gary at six. I looked at my watch and figured I had just enough time to walk to our rendezvous location - the lobby of the new york times building. all traces of the day's rain had vanished and it was a beautiful late afternoon. the walk was delightful and I made it to our meeting place with fifteen minutes to spare - enough time to run a comb through my hair and attempt some semblance of good grooming.

gary and I had tickets to see the play xanadu at 7 so our meeting with steve was way too brief. gary and steve had met before; however, as soon as I saw steve turn the corner I felt I was reuniting with a long-lost friend the wave of recognition was instant and powerful. this blogging thing is indeed a strange phenomena at times!

the evening was great fun even if the gary's and my meeting with steve felt like some sort of blogging community version of a speed date. the play was hilarious; the music was pop-ish and infectious. since many of the characters in the play were greek muses, perhaps we should have arranged for the kids to have come with us, I bet they would have also enjoyed it.

okay, did I say I was going to try a new format and attempt to get through more than one day a day! sorry - I do go on!

wednesday, april 2: unlike the previous three days, wednesday schedule of activities was fairly light. I met up with my niece who goes to college in the city. fortunately for me her class was canceled and she was free until four in the afternoon. I met her at her apartment which is located in midtown new the u.n. I enjoyed seeing her studio apartment, it was pure new york - ironically, m's apartment was smaller than the flats I had just toured the day before at the museum. however this space is very modern and is in pristine condition, the building has 24-hour concierge service and amenities that our immigrant forebears could not possibly imagine. m's view was spectacular and created a wonderful sense of space in the small apartment.

m and I went to lunch at ippudo ny a new ramen bar which k mentioned that might be worthy of checking out. when I say new, I mean new, ippudo opened two days earlier. despite having just opened, the place was hopping and although we got there well after the lunch rush, we still had a brief wait to be seated. I don't know what I liked better the food or the decor and ambiance of the place.

wednesday was sunny and sweet, after lunch we had lovely stroll down to fraunces tavern. there are few things in life as invigorating as walking within the energy fields humans and machines create in nyc! my niece works at fraunces tavern. the place has a fascinating history - although it can't boast than george washington slept there, they can say he lifted a tankard there and also conducted important meetings within it's walls. the tavern even sports a museum focusing on america's revolutionary history. I enjoyed touring the museum it is a perfect complement to my current fascination with that era in american history (thanks to hbo's john adams series!).

I was intending to try and wrap up my time in new york with today's post, but alas as usual I went on way too long. but at least covering two days activities in one day is better than one to one.

photos: top: tibetan prayer flags flying in park off delancey st; bottom: fraunces tavern on pearl street. I expect all the other photos are self explanatory!

to hear living in the past click here