Wednesday, December 30, 2009

who do you love

Borrow trouble for yourself, if that's your nature, but don't lend it to your neighbours.
Rudyard Kipling (b. 30 december 1865 - 1936) author & poet

today is also the anniversary of rock and roll legend and guitar great bo diddley (1928-2008); according to the portal of all knowledge, diddley is well known for the 'bo diddley' beat, "a style used by street performers who play out the beat by slapping and patting their arms, legs, chest, and cheeks while chanting rhymes. Somewhat resembling "shave and a haircut, two bits" beat, Diddley came across it while trying to play Gene Autry's "(I've Got Spurs That) Jingle, Jangle, Jingle".

over the years, I had the good fortune of seeing diddley a few times, he gave one heck of a show! diddley was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame in 1987. by the way bo diddley was his stage name, bo was born ellas otha bates.




photo: dixie (my "grandpup") christmas morning, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

the wren song

A wren in the hand is better than a crane to be caught.
Irish Proverb

happy st. stephen's day, the day of the wren, or boxing day! in many parts of the world today is an 'official holiday' and a day with special significance. in the united states, the day after christmas is just another day, unless one takes the day off work or it falls on the weekend, it's back to business as usual.

for me this day is marked by some special songs. of course, foremost is the wren song - since it has a long tradition there are many versions of the song. the song first came to my attention many years ago after hearing it sung by the clancy brothers. another song I always like to listen to on december 26th is elvis costello and paddy maloney's st. stephen day murders. the song is on perhaps my all time favorite holiday album the bells of dublin by the chieftains; the album contains several songs particular to st. stephen's day as they feature to the wren (which according to legend betrayed st. stephen which led to him being caught and martyred).


recently, f and I heard eileen ivers perform the wren song when she and her band played with the cleveland orchestra at their (hopefully) annual holiday performance at severance hall. a couple years ago eileen released an nollaig, an irish christmas album; surprising the album doesn't contain the wren song, although eileen does discuss her family's tradition of celebrating the wren day in her liner notes.

earlier this month liam clancy, the last of the clancy brothers died at age 74. liam was the youngest of eleven children from county tipperany. the ny times obituary for liam includes a 1984 quote by bob dylan:
“I never heard a singer as good as Liam ever. He was just the best ballad singer I’d ever heard in my life. Still is, probably.”
liam, who was a few years older than dylan, befriended bob when they were both young folk singers in greenwich village. liam moved to new york in 1956 and soon after his career took off. rest in peace liam, thank you for all the beauty and grace you brought to the world.

the clancy brothers on the mike douglas show in 1969 performing the wren song.


photos: top - okay I know these are sparrows not wrens but they are both small brown birds; bottom - ivers and immigrant soul performing at severance hall in 2008; I took a couple (non-flash) pictures last year at the concert and although I was sneaky I did end up getting reprimanded by the woman sitting next to me who just happened to be an employee of the hall; I was quite chagrined. this year I didn't want to be tempted and I left my camera behind.

Friday, December 25, 2009

gabriel's message


wishing you a holiday filled with sweet loving kindness

merry christmas

god bless us, every one!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

take the 'a' train

last month was the anniversary of walker evans birth. evans' birthday inspired me to seek out some books about him and his work from the local library. one book that I checked out was many are called - the book was composed of photographs walker surreptitiously shot from 1938 to 1941 of people riding the nyc subway. walker used a concealed camera to take portraits of strangers riding the subway; each picture is incredible as each is a microcosm of history, biography, and personality.

walker's work in the subway inspired me to play around and take some candid pictures of some of my fellow subway riders. although my camera wasn't concealed, I did manage to surreptitiously snap a number of photographs of my fellow subway passengers. just as evans' photographs do for the late 30s/early 40s, perhaps, these photos capture life circa 2009. for my flickr slide show (21 pics) of these snaps go HERE. if you check them out - please let me know what you think - there are a couple, like the one above, that I think really like, I'd love to learn which is your fave.

ella fitzgerald with duke ellington and his orchestra performing the jazz standard take the 'a' train. of all the subways lines in nyc, the 'a' train has to be is my favorite (if for no other reason than it's the line I'm most familiar with) - on the 'a' train you can travel from north of washington heights, through harlem, all the way through the rest of manhattan, under the brooklyn bridge and across brooklyn to ozone park or past jfk airport to rockaway beach. and to think you can go all that way for a mere 2 bucks 50 cents! what a deal!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

solstice song


I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
"We are nearer to Spring"
Than we were in September.
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Oliver Herford (1863 - 1935) writer, artist and illustrator


The mid December solstice marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2009 at 12:47 PM EST and 17:47 UT (Universal Time).

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice takes place on June 21, 2009 5:45 UT (Universal Time).

While the beginning of summer marks the longest day of the year, the winter solstice brings the shortest day - and the longest night! - of the year.


the above information (and much more) about solstice comes from here.

happy solstice!

denise jordan finley's short and sweet solstice song


photo: washington dc. november 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

animal crackers in my soup

before I left nyc on monday last, I had the good fortune to go on a photo safari with fellow shutterbug and blogging bud julian. we were on the hunt for street art and in a relatively short time we encountered quite a bit of stimulating and thought provoking stuff. of course, it does helps when one is on a wander to be with someone who has already scouted out the terrain. the photo above is a detail from an amazing (and most curious) mural which honors the zapatista revolution in chiapas.

for a virtual tour of what we captured, check out this slide show. with the exception of the first couple snaps, all the photos were taken in harlem.


shirley temple singing animal crackers in my soup from the 1935 musical curly top

Thursday, December 17, 2009

we didn't start the fire

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) philosopher, founding 'father' and 3rd US president

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us. I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
Saint Brigid of Ireland (c. 451 – 525) one of the three patron saints of Ireland

If monarchy is corrupting - and it is - wait till you see what overt empire does to us.

Daniel Ellsberg (b. 1931) economist and anti-war activist

Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend - or a meaningful day.
Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama (born 1935)

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman (1820-1913) abolitionist and humanitarian

I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) novelist and essayist

The museums and parks are graveyards above the ground- congealed memories of the past that act as a pretext for reality.
Robert Smithson (1938-1973) artist best known for his land art

When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.
Bishop Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) spiritual leader,activist, writer


Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you.

A Pueblo Indian Prayer


God has a brown voice, as soft and full as beer.

Anne Sexton (1928-1974) poet & writer

notes on photos:
  1. petroglyphs in chaco canyon; hundreds of years ago chaco canyon was the center of anasazi culture. then the anasazi disappeared, what happened remains a mystery, although as with all mysteries there are plenty of theories. new mexico. december 1987
  2. gallarus oratory, an early christian church, established between the 6th and 9th century. located on the dingle peninsula, county kerry, ireland. may 2001
  3. 1st century aqueduct constructed by the roman empire. added to unesco's world heritage sites in 1985. pont du gard, france. october 2005
  4. statue of tara, mother of all activities, made in tibet (13th century) rubin museum of art, new york. october 2009
  5. larger-than-life bronze replica of harriet tubman, positioned at the intersection of 122nd street, st. nicholas avenue and frederick douglass boulevard in harlem (dedicated november 2008), new york. december 2009
  6. judy chicago's the dinner party, a massive ceremonial banquet, each of the thirty-nine place settings commemorates an important woman from history. the settings consist of embroidered runners, gold chalices and utensils, and china-painted porcelain plates with central motifs based on vulvar and butterfly forms and rendered in styles appropriate to the individual women being honored. the names of another 999 women are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the triangular table. brooklyn museum, new york. december 2009
  7. the british museum houses a vast collection of world art and artifacts, numbering more than seven million objects, making them amongst the largest and most comprehensive collections in the world, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present. one of the best things about the museum is that it is free and open to all! london. may 2001
  8. christopher columbus landed in hispaniola in december 1492, during the first of his four voyages to america. the arrival of columbus and subsequent conquering spaniards decimated the taínos, the island's indigenous people by introducing infectious diseases to which they had no immunity. santa domingo. november 2003
  9. taos pueblo was probably built between 1000 and 1450 a.d. in 1960 it was designated a national historic landmark and in 1992 became a world heritage site. the most amazing thing about taos pueblo is that is still inhabitated; in 2006, about 150 people lived in there full-time. december 1987
  10. f and I in front of the st. james gate brewery. beer is the world's oldest and most consumed alcoholic beverage. humankind's earliest writings relate to the production and distribution of beer. dublin. may 2001

history buff billy joel's ode to boomer history (circa 1940-1990) we didn't start the fire

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

first snow on brooklyn

I'm back!

nyc was particularly magical - not only was the city all decked out for the holidays, but one magical thing after another keep happening.

I started hilary mantel's wolf hall on the train going out, I didn't read while in the city (too much going on) but still I've almost completed this wonderful literary romp through the life of thomas cromwell. if what mantel writes truly mirrors historic fact, I've learned so much. if it doesn't reflect reality, it's still a marvelous read, unfortunately, the downside to reading historical fiction away from the internet is the lack of being able to verify factoids.

friday I amused myself with a visit to brooklyn and a trip to the mta transit museum. for years I've tried to convince family and friends to go with me to 'the subway museum', no one was interested. go figure. so this trip I decided to visit the museum by myself. I had a grand time. okay, I am the mass transit geek - which probably explains why I get along so well with children under the age of 6 (don't they all adore thomas the train?) - geez, if I don't watch it I may very well become one of those trainspotters (or railfans) in my dotage.

friday night before alice from washington state arrived (alice's trip east was the whole raison d'être for this trip east) I had the good fortune to meet up with a couple blog buds - steve and gary. 'twas great fun.

once alice arrived the fun and frivolity continued - alice and I have been friends for over 36 years so in addition to fun and frivolity there was also great depth to our time together.

on saturday alice and I headed were again brooklyn bond (btw, we were staying with friends in manhattan north of the gw bridge). our intention was to simply go to the brooklyn museum; alice hadn't seen judy's dinner party installation in decades and we were most interested in checking out the exhibit who shot rock & roll. prior to the museum we wandered through the farmer's market at grand army plaza. then as we were walking by the brooklyn public library I said why don't we ditch in for a sec to see what it's like inside.
who would have known that inside the library was celebrating the 40th anniversary of sesame street. I was in heaven to say the least! click here for a wee flickr set of the brooklyn library's focusing on sesame street artifacts (14 pics).
we left the libraryto find ourselves surrounded by an amazing parade of santas and other holiday characters - when asked participants informed us that the santa convention was courtesy of santacon. it was completely wild and crazy! for the mouse's set of pics from this rocking and randy convergence go here.

after the hanging with the santas it was time to get serious and head into the museum.... and of course that too rocked. and the magic continued with lucking out and catching a gallery tour conducted by none other than gail buckland, the curator of the show.

alas, the witching hour is upon me and my eyes are crossing. I had little sleep last night (train arrived in cleveland at 3:30 AM this morning)so it's time to crash. perhaps if you are lucky (or unlucky) more to come tomorrow......

the sweet song first snow on brooklyn from the jethro tull christmas album - vid by teiska123, thanks whomever you are!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

just like this train

the mouse is soon off on another wander. I'm crossing my fingers that the wintry mess of weather that is all about doesn't play havoc with train travel .

the plan is to board a car that looks like this

around 5:20 a.m.

pass this sight sometime in the late afternoon

and hopefully by 6:30 be here


see you next week! y'all take care.

just like this train, from joni's 1974 albumn court and spark!



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

el gusto

All art is propaganda - religious art, political art. The only difference is the kind of propaganda. Since art is essential for human life it can't just belong to the few. Art is the universal language and it belongs to all mankind.
Diego Rivera (8 december 1886-1957) artist

the photo above is one of four diego rivera murals that adorn various walls throughout the san francisco bay area. this one is located at the san francisco art institute and entitled making a fresco (or the making of a fresco showing the building of a city). the mural plays with the viewer with its utilization of a trompe l’oeil wood scaffold and how it features a fresco inside a fresco. rivera has place himself in the center of the mural, with his back to the viewer. a complete description of the mural can be found here.


rivera is known primarily as a muralist, but like most artists he was quite versatile. during the late 1930s and 1940s diego was drawn to portraiture, as with all of his work he often depicted the indigenous peoples of mexico. the photo above is of a watercolor entitled portrait of a girl it was done in the mid 1940s and is currently on view at the allen memorial art museum (amam) in oberlin as part of its exhibit out of line: drawings from the allen from the twentieth century and beyond. pardon the odd angle of the photo, sometimes it's difficult to take photos of art hanging on gallery walls, particularly when glass and overhead lights are involved.

by the way, the allen will be closing on december 23rd for several months while the museum undergoes some significant renovations.

el gusto, as performed by los camperos de valles at the 2005 smithsonian folklife festival. the song was used in the soundtrack for the 2002 movie frida. in the movie alfred molino was to diego rivera as salma hayek was to frida kahlo. in my humble opinion, both actors did an amazing job channeling the charisma and passionate nature of the two artists - if you haven't seen the movie, it's your loss; but a loss, I expect can be easily remedied.

according to the youtube description for this vid, the los camperos de valles has
come to represent the best in one of Mexico's most distinctive and uplifting folk music traditions—the son huasteco. In the son huasteco tradition, poetic lyrics often deal with themes of longing, love, and nature. The melancholy themes often contrast with and yet somehow complement the playful melodies. "El gusto" (The Pleasure) is about lost love and typifies how imagery of rural life is often used to portray this pain and longing in son huasteco.

Monday, December 7, 2009

shiny happy people

All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.
Noam Chomsky (b. 7 december 1928) philosopher, linguist, activist

although it was a cold this weekend here on the north coast it was the clear, crystal cold that makes you want to spend time outside. perfect since this weekend was the annual holiday bazaar sponsored by women speak out for peace and justice. for years I've been going to this seasonal happening with jane. I love going with jane as she's always up for a bit of a wander and and we never know what we will end up getting into.

jane is an avid organic gardener and is plugged into the local sustainability community. she recently received an email asking folks to help with a coop moving project at gather 'round farm, a unique urban permaculture garden located in the heart of the ohio city neighborhood. jane asked if that sounded like something I'd be interested in; of course, I jumped at the idea, but stated that I wouldn't be good for much more than documenting the activity. I'm slowly (and I mean slowly) trying to recover from tendon tear (without having to result to having surgery). well, I didn't need to worry of feel bad about not being provide any muscle, the turn out was outstanding - a little flickr show of the farm and the coop moving can be seen here. the chicken coop only really needed to be moved about a foot or two so it could rest on cement supports.

after the visit to the gather 'round farm we headed to the west side market. the place was bustling and was all decked out for the holidays. after the market we made a few more rounds meeting quite a few shiny happy people along the way and eventually we found our way home.

sunday proved just as full and busy as saturday and I'm thinking the pace will be sustained from now until the end of the year! speaking of full and busy, time to run!

two renditions of rem performing their infectiously giddy 1991 song, shiny happy people

a tradition version


and version where r.e.m performs shiny happy people, or rather should I say furry happy monsters with a few of their more adorable friends!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

kind and generous

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) scholar and novelist

What an enormous magnifier is tradition! How a thing grows in the human memory and in the human imagination, when love, worship, and all that lies in the human heart, is there to encourage it.
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)historian and essayist

Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Albert Camus (1913-1960)novelist, essayist and playwright

Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.
Sitting Bull (ca 1831-1890)Lakota holy man

If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.
Margaret Mead (1901-1978) anthropologist


If dogs could talk, perhaps we would find it as hard to get along with them as we do with people.
Karel Čapek (1890-1938) writer

A hug is a great gift - one size fits all, and it's easy to exchange.
Anonymouse

The trouble with life isn't that there is no answer, it's that there are so many answers.

Ruth Benedict (1887-1948) author & anthropologist

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.
Elisabeth Foley

notes on photos:
  1. mural on the side of the western reserve historical society, cleveland. january 2009
  2. new year's eve is a time of celebration and is often particularly marked by gatherings of friends. some of our cleveland friends have a tradition to call in the new year with a celebratory feast which is heavy on friendship, food, and fun.
  3. ms t holding the hand of a friend. july 2009
  4. a group of friends pose and share some smiles and attempt to teach me a little spanish. guaricano, dominican republic, november 2002
  5. neighbors and friends gather for a block party. although I moved the previous year, the draw of friendship drew me back. unfortunately, this was the last of the annual summertime block parties. shaker heights, september 2006
  6. dog friends at the lakewood dog park a wonderful community resource where both canine and human friends gather. even though I don't have a dog, I enjoy going to the dog park to socialize with my human and dog buddies. february 2009
  7. group hug among friends. new york city, march 2009
  8. my mother and I making some new friends on a family trip to japan. summer 1965
  9. alice, a friend of thirty-six years, pointing to wise and true expression about friends. austin, april 2009

missing above is a picture that captures all the friends I've made via the blogosphere; but to the right is a snap featuring a few of the faces from my bloggyhood (steve, lettuce and reya and the back of blissful gary) at a meeting in metro dc in may 2008. before I started blogging I would have never imagined how my circle of friends could expand through this activity, but over the last couple years of blogging, I've had the good fortune to meet some of my bloggyhood friends in the flesh. these meetings confirm that the connections forged in the blogosphere are just as real, kind, and generous as the friendships made in all the other spheres of my life. in the days, months, and years to come, I hope I will have more opportunities to meet bloggyhood friends. given my propensity to wandering, I know that this will happen - be it there, here, or anywhere. until then, real hugs to you!


natalie merchant's 1998 song 'kind and generous' a most wonderful thank you to the all friends in our lives.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

angel

The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
William Blake (1757–1827) poet and artist

december 1 is world aids day. my heart today is filled with loving thoughts for all our family and friends who have died of aids and for everyone whose lives have been affected by the hiv/aids pandemic.

wondering what you can do? there are many wonderful programs around the world, however, for me this program really stands out. the people involved with the faith alive clinic are truly angels on earth. several years ago two family friends spent their sabbaticals working with the clinic; they returned home filled with incredible stories of hope and healing. it is really great that with the advances in the treatment of hiv and with the reduction of the price of antivirals, our annual donation is now helping twice as many people now than when we joined as sponsors several years ago. how often does something like that happen?

photo: remember the snap of this nest posted over five months ago? this photo was taken in late october as evidenced by the leaves remaining on some trees.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

songs of experience

In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.

William Blake (28 November 1757–1827) poet and artist

historical novels which feature notable figures are one of my guilty pleasures. a couple years ago I read tracy chevalier's brilliant book burning bright which touched on the life of william blake and captured the tumultuous era in which he lived. I've enjoyed all of chevalier's books, many include famous artists as minor or major characters. according to ms chevalier's website she has a new novel, remarkable creatures. the book is currently available in the u.k but has yet to be released in the u.s. - but it won't be long. I've already put my name on the list at the library as I'm number two on the list I expect I will be getting a copy as soon as they get processed! unlike many of her other novels, the central historical figure in this book isn't an artist but rather is mary anning, an 18th century fossil collector and paleontologist and reputably the source of inspiration for the classic tongue twister 'she sells sea shells by the seashore.'

earlier this month I mentioned the lacuna, the new historical novel by barbara kingsolver. with only 70 pages to go in this 507 page tome, the book is exceeding my lofty expectations. I probably would have finished it a couple days ago, but it's one of those books where I find myself putting the book down to go research some passing remark or fact. for example, at one point harrison shepard, the central character of the book, who writes novels, fictional protagonist is likened to 'studs lonigan' - the name rang a bell, but I didn't know what bell it was ringing. I find out studs lonigan is the character of a triology of books by chicago writer james t. farrell and was the source of the nickname for studs terkel. now, I haven't read farrell's books, but have read quite a few books by terkel. with so many books and so little time, I don't know if I'll get around to reading the farrell books, but that's cool, I also learned the books were adapted twice into movies - once in 1960 and another time in 1979. maybe I'll see if I can find one of the movies.

an artful video featuring music by moby and incorporating the words from blake's poem the sick rose; some of the animated images are reminiscent of blake's etchings and illuminated prints.

illustrations: top - a rose, while not crimson, does evoke the spirit of blake's poem. cleveland - november 2009

bottom, copy of blake's illustrated poem the sick rose, borrowed with permission if asked from here click on image to enlarge.

this just in! speaking of historical fiction, I just had an email from the library saying that a copy of wolf hall is available to be picked up! what was that I was saying about so many books, so little time. good thing the next book group book is relatively short - for curious minds that book is justine, by lawrence durrell - set between wwI and wwII, could we consider it to be historical fiction as well?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

simple gifts

Those who have much are often greedy, those who have little always share.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) poet, novelist, dramatist and critic

may the spirit of thanks and giving infuse our very essence today and every day.

when I was thinking of the song to accompany this photo which captures one homeless fellow sharing a sandwich with another, I immediately thought of simple gifts. this song is one of my absolute favorite songs. the song was written in the mid 1800s by elder joseph brackett a member of united society of believers in christ’s second appearing (also known as the shakers). sometimes considered a hymn and other times it is viewed as a work song, for me this is simply a life song. it is one of the few songs that I never mind having stuck in my head. the song can make me smile and sometimes it brings me to tears - just like life. for that I give thanks.

the song was little known for the first 100 years after it was written until aaron copeland incorporated it into his score for the ballet appalachian spring. on youtube there are quite a few versions of the song, I was interested in finding a vid of the piece as performed by yo-yo ma and sung by alison krauss. lo and behold, what do I find but a vid with a beautiful photo montage that was done by no other than our beloved roy of roy's world! what a gift! I hope roy doesn't mind sharing his gorgeous creation, I found it simply the best of the lot! thank you joseph, aaron, yo-yo, alison, and roy





False happiness renders men stern and proud, and that happiness is never communicated. True happiness renders them kind and sensible, and that happiness is always shared.

Charles de Montesquieu (1689-1755) politician and philosopher

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

return to sender

A stamp is a tiny, flimsy thing, no thicker than a beetle's wing. And yet it will roam the world for you, exactly where you tell it to.
E.V. Lucas (1868-1938) writer

some pundits state that with the advent of email and the internet letters will be come a thing of the past and we may even see a disappearance of mail delivery. it is true, I am guilty of not writing letters like I used to, but it would be a tragedy if we abandoned the practice of writing and posting personal mail.

my recent visit to the national postal museum rekindled my resolution to write and send more cards and letters; it is time to start working on that stack of postcards that is sitting on the edge of my desk, each waiting for a scribble and a stamp so it go exactly where I tell it to.

it is amusing and ironic that the mascot of the post office is a dog. the story of owney the mail dog is quite compelling. owney was a stray mutt who wandered into the albany, new york post office in 1888. the clerks were smitten with owney and let him hang around. there was something about mail bags that he found intoxicating and he had a practice of following bags on their journey. he would ride with the bags on trains as they traveled the state and then the country. in 1895 owney made a trip around the world traveling with mailbags on trains and steamships to asia and across europe, before returning to albany.

railway train clerks considered owney a good luck charm; in a time when train wrecks were common, no train that owney was on ever had an accident. unfortunately, the end of owney's life wasn't charmed. according to the museum's story of owney:
In 1897, the Railway Mail Service decided Owney was getting too old to travel. He had lost sight in one eye and reportedly could eat only soft foods and milk. For his protection, Owney was sent into retirement at the Albany post office. Apparently, he did not like the idea of being permanently grounded in Albany. In June 1897, he slipped out and boarded a mail train for Toledo, Ohio, where tragedy struck. Owney was mistreated while being shown off to a newspaper reporter in Ohio and became so mad that he bit a postal worker. Although the exact circumstances were never satisfactorily reported, Owney died in Toledo on July 11, 1897, from a gunshot wound.

my flickr set the postal museum is now up.

one of the displays in the a-z exhibit at the postal museum focused on mail art. of course, I immediately thought of our good blogging bud coffee messiah who has posted much on mail art, one post can be found here. coffee is also very talented when it comes to the creation of mail art and quite an inspiration to the repressed mail artist that resides in all of us!


Monday, November 23, 2009

tired feet

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) poet, naturalist, philosopher

I'm back, not that you knew I was away; I made a quick trip last week to check in on my folks. all is well with my parents and it was a treat to see them. my only complaint is the days passed way too quickly. speaking of tempus fugit, most of the time I feel as if it should be august or september and not getting on late november, this visit was nice that it did kick me forward and now I feel a bit more like I'm stepping into the holiday season.

my trip got off to an auspicious start when I got off the train at union station and walked into the main hall only to find a sweet photo exhibit celebrating the 40th birthday of my favorite street in the world- sesame street!

although most of my time was spent with family, I did manage to get spend saturday wandering the cultural landscape of washington d.c. with a couple friends. one stop was the national postal museum (which is part of the smithsonian). my enjoyment and enthusiasm for the museum, probably confirms any suspicions about my inherent nerdiness! it is a fascinating place filled with all sorts of interesting bits of history and trivia about all things postal. how many of you knew that fdr was a stamp collector and major stamp freak? anyone who takes the time to micro-manage the design of stamps while serving as president of the united states has to be a bit beyond the pale when it comes to loving stamps. after all, it wasn't as if the united states was coasting along experiencing a sustained period of peace and prosperity when ol' fdr was the prez! it is a very interesting and stimulating museum.

for now schedule and routines are calling. it's monday night and that means one thing here on avenue c - movie night and checking out this week's set of shorts for the film festival. I hope most of them are good, it looks like we are going to have a few new people coming. thank goodness lin volunteered to host and organize the food! friends are so fine.

perhaps there will be more on the mouse's adventures in washington dc another day or perhaps not, we'll just have to see what the week brings! I hope all my friends in the bloggyhood had a good weekend, geez, I haven't even started checking out last week's tt players....boy am I late!

tired feet, written and performed by singer songwriter alela diane. alela's voice has such a haunting and ethereal quality about it, don't ya think?


photo: me with a photo of the adorable grover. the photo exhibit of sesame street, the longest street in the world will be up in union station through november 30, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ready for the storm


Popular art is the dream of society; it does not examine itself.

The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose.

Margaret Atwood (b. 18 november 1939)

today is the 70th birthday of margaret atwood, one of my absolute favorite writers. this weekend I finished atwood's newest novel the year of the flood. no one weaves a dystopia like atwood! the book overlaps with atwood's 2003 novel oryx and crake. I hear there may be another book in this series, gosh I hope it won't be a six year wait - I can't wait to find out what happens to the those who survived the waterless flood.

the are many wonderful versions of ready for the storm, this one is by the irish group déanta. the group released the song in 1994 on an album with the same name. the group played together until 1997. I've heard that they regrouped in 2008, however I can't find any information about upcoming tours. the last album they released was whisper of a secret which came out on the green linnet label in 1997.



photo: three-way plug by claes oldenburg installed in 1970 at the allen memorial art museum. oberlin - november 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

no need to argue

Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival.
René Dubos (1901-1982) microbiologist, environmentalist, humanist

in 1995 unesco declared the 16th of november as the international day for tolerance - unfortunately tolerance seems to be a quality that at times is in increasingly short supply no matter where we look.

one of my all time favorite songs by the cranberries, geez, I miss them, although I have heard dolores is coming out with another solo album, if it's not out already. I've long felt that the cranberries' no need to argue and zombie are wonderful anthems against intolerance.



photo:the backyard squirrel on avenue c enjoying a bit of breakfast. it is a shame so many folks are intolerant of these delightful critters - there's plenty we can learn from squirrel medicine . 16 november 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

inch by inch

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy. By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.
Robert Louis Stevenson (b. 13 november 1850 -1894) novelist, poet & travel writer

wednesday I had the pleasure of accompanying my daughter to oberlin so she could run an errand for her work. it was an absolutely gorgeous fall day and was made even more delightful as it was filled with companionship, conversation and art. we met a friend for lunch so the day got even better with the addition of a good friend and some good food into the mix.

for me no visit to oberlin is complete without a stop at the ginko gallery, a gallery and working studio. the art they sell and display always inspires. the photo above captures a few of michele hannon's fantastical and whimsical creations which are currently on display at the gallery. the exhibit, entitled 'human critters and other creations,' runs until november 22nd. michele is an oberlin area artist whose sculptures incorporates seeds, pods, twigs, and other artifacts of the natural world.

with my mind centered on seeds and sowing this morning, I immediately thought of pete seeger and the garden song. sometimes this song is called inch by inch; it was written by activist and singer-songwriter david mallett. along with pete, the song has been covered by arlo guthrie, peter, paul and mary, and john denver. I first learned the song in the early 1980s, it is a popular sing along song and offers many positive and wise messages. the song is somewhat of a staple for the more musical actions and marches.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

call me

The difference between utility and utility plus beauty is the difference between telephone wires and the spider web.
Edwin Way Teale (1899–1980)naturalist, photographer, and writer

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
Leo Buscaglia (1924-1998) author & educator

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
James Baldwin (1924-1987) writer & activist

Telephone, n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance.
Ambrose Bierce (1842- presumed dead in 1914) writer & editor

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.
Like a worm on a hook,
like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee.
If I, if I have been unkind,
I hope that you can just let it go by.
Leonard Cohen (b. 1934) singer-songwriter, poet
from Bird on a Wire

A Harvard study indicated that cell phone users are 4 to 5 times more likely to be involved in auto accidents than non-users. The risk for text messaging is probably higher because it requires more attention.


notes on photos:
  1. telephone wires along a country road in lehigh county pennsylvania, may 2008
  2. my nana (age 89) talking on her phone to her daughter, my mother. in trying to come up with some snaps for this week's theme, I discovered that I have scores of pics taken of family and friends while they are on the phone. at first glance these photographs might seem quite boring; but if we look closely often the photo is fraught with the essence of a person, time, and/or place. harwood mines, pennsylvania - 1996 - this photo was taken a few months before my nana broke her hip. this break resulted in her having to move out of the house where she had lived for over seventy years and into a nursing home. she lived there from 1997 to 2003, and died at the age of 96 (transferred from film)
  3. lil tv, one of my fairy godchildren- lil tv isn't so little these days! this photo was also taken in 1996 and transferred from film. this was the year when f was living in cleveland while e and I were wrapping things up in connecticut. I seem to have taken a lot of pics of people talking on the phone that year - I wonder why!
  4. caller id - I love it! 'out of area' = don't have to answer!!
  5. birds on wires, summer 2009
  6. in july cleveland instituted an ordinance prohibiting texting while driving - a most excellent law in my humble opinion. as with alcohol cell phones and driving do not mix!!
by the way, this was one of the more challenging themes....I don't know if I pulled it off, but hey, I gave it the ol' college try!


blondie's 1980 chart topper call me, the song was also used in the film american gigolo.