Thursday, May 31, 2007

Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix)

We interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcast for something entirely different - a friend sent the following meme ("a unit of information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another", according to and, since it's music-related, of course I had to play (no pun intended) along!

I'll title today's blog post with one of the songs that comes up - here goes (with no editorial comments from me - I'll let the tunes speak for themselves):

1. Put your music player on shuffle.
2. Press forward for each question.
3. Use the song title as the answer to the question even if it doesn’t make sense. NO CHEATING!

How do you feel today? Stumbling After Midnight - John William Davis

What's your outlook on life? Not a Pretty Girl - Ani DiFranco

What does your family think of you? Stranger in a Strange Land - Leon Russell

What do your friends think of you? Max - Annie Gallup

What do your exes think of you? You Can Make It If You Try - Sly and the Family Stone

How's your love life? 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten - Lucinda Williams

How will your love life be in the future? Love You to - The Beatles

Will you get married? Christmas in My Soul - Laura Nyro

Are you good at school? Voodoo Child - Jimi Hendrix

Will you be successful? The Christians and The Pagans - Dar Williams

What song should they play on your birthday? New Orleans Instrumental No. 1 - R.E.M.

What song should they play at your graduation? The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Ladysmith Black Mambazo

The Soundtrack of your life? Playing to the Firmament - Dar Williams

You and your best friends are? If I Wrote You - Dar Williams

Happy times: Neil Young - Danny Schmidt

Sad times: O'Reilly at the Bar - Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

Every day: Casey Jones - Grateful Dead

For tomorrow: Country Comfort - Elton John

For you: I Wanted to Be Maria - Jennings and Keller

What does next year have in store for you? Workin' - Nick Annis

What do you say when life gets too hard? Long Black Road into Tulsa Town - Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer

What song will you dance to at your wedding? Jane - Barenaked Ladies

What do you want as your career? I Don't Hear That Train - Tanya Savory

Your favorite saying: Spanish Dancer - Patti Scialfa

How will you die? Sexy Sadie - The Beatles

What?... no Love Shack and no Joni?!? - I'm shocked! Regardless, 'twas fun to participate... plus Dar came up three times (spooky) - I'm thinking the soundtrack to my life is pretty well represented... :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Your Life Story (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

My husband is fond of saying, "don't worry about how something got to be a problem... just fix it" - for various reasons, a dear friend and I had allowed ourselves to drift out of touch for the last two years... and, after repeated attempts to get together, we finally did this evening... for a few hours, over a couple glasses of wine each and some delicious appetizers. It was delightful to begin the catching-up process and to prove that friendship does transcend barriers of time when hearts are in the right place - we picked up right where we left off and, although there is still much more to share, we made a good start. What I especially loved is that, while we did a bit of reminiscing (so many good memories), we also talked about the present and future - it felt comfortable... and loving... and right... and we've vowed to do it again (thanks, MW... <3>

SONG: Your Life Story by Mary Chapin Carpenter

BOOK: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

POEM: A Time to Talk by Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, 'What is it?'
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.

QUOTE: "Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember but the story." ~ Tim O'Brien

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Losing Game (Cosy Sheridan)

I shared the following with a friend yesterday:

We all know weight loss is no big secret: eat less, exercise more, voi-f*cking-la! - however, I have had no success with my efforts of the last few years, which has me even more frustrated. I keep saying I want my body back... but I'm not being pro-active enough to make it happen - I must finally take responsibility for the fact I'm an emotional eater... whether things are good or bad, I tend to celebrate my victories or drown my sorrows with food and drink.

It's all so interconnected I can't figure out how to unravel one without pulling the thread of another - then again, maybe that's the trick/key. So... I'm just going to try to concentrate on the word HEALTHY in *all* my life choices (be they meals, lifestyle habits or interpersonal relationships) - if it's not good for me, it doesn't belong in my mouth... :-)

Processed, no - natural, yes. Sedentary, no - active, yes. Hurtful words, no - positive actions, yes. Burning the candle at both ends, no - finding moderation/balance, yes. I will make a point to *ask* myself, with intention, if what I'm about to eat/do/say will delay or further my goal of health - I've already designated a signal to myself to associate with feelings of hunger/emptiness/restlessness... so I can realign my focus and keep on track.

It's *okay* to be hungry, in all senses of the word - what an epiphany...

SONG: The Losing Game by Cosy Sheridan

BOOK: Appetites: On the Search for True Nourishment by Geneen Roth

POEM: Barbie Poem by Nerissa Nields

I think that I shall never see
A woman as lovely as Barbie
Barbie, with her ski jump nose
Standing tall on tiny toes
Impossible boobs that will not droop
To conquer Ken, she need not stoop
If she were mortal, she would be
Six foot five and a hundred and three
She's so tall, I could not feel shorter
Small wonder I have an eating disorder
She sleeps in her camper next to my bed
With visions of traveling filling her head
She wishes she could sing like me
But she can't
Her mouth is painted on
And her eyes won't shut
And she never bleeds
And she never cuts
And she cannot read or count or cry
And she'll never age
And she'll never die
And I think that I don't want to be
Staring straight ahead for all eternity

QUOTE: "Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours." ~ Swedish Proverb

Monday, May 28, 2007

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy (Pete Seeger)

From the Writer's Almanac: Today is Memorial Day, first observed on this day in 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery, where members of both the Union and Confederate Armies were buried. It was the idea of Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, who said he was creating Memorial Day, "For the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land."

SONG: Waist Deep in the Big Muddy by Pete Seeger

BOOK: The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

POEM: To the Congress of the United States, Entering Its Third Century by Howard Nemerov

because reverence has never been america's thing,
this verse in your honor will not begin "o thou."
but the great respect our country has to give
may you all continue to deserve, and have.

* * *

here at the fulcrum of us all,
the feather of truth against the soul
is weighed, and had better be found to balance
lest our enterprise collapse in silence.

for here the million varying wills
get melted down, get hammered out
until the movie's reduced to stills
that tell us what the law's about.

conflict's endemic in the mind:
your job's to hear it in the wind
and compass it in opposites,
and bring the antagonists by your wits

to being one, and that the law
thenceforth, until you change your minds
against and with the shifting winds
that this and that way blow the straw.

so it's a republic, as Franklin said,
if you can keep it; and we did
thus far, and hope to keep our quarrel
funny and just. though with this moral:—

praise without end for the go-ahead zeal
of whoever it was invented the wheel;
but never a word for the poor soul's sake
that thought ahead, and invented the brake.

QUOTE: "War does not determine who is right but who is left."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Holy As the Day is Spent (Carrie Newcomer)

SONG: Holy As the Day is Spent by Carrie Newcomer

BOOK: Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue (Book 1) by Neale Donald Walsch

POEM: by Deborah Cummins ~ Just One God

And so many of us.
How can we expect Him
to keep track of which voice
goes with what request.
Words work their way skyward.
Oh Lord, followed by petition —
for a cure, the safe landing.
For what is lost, missing —
a spouse, a job, the final game.
Complaint cloaked as need —
the faster car, porcelain teeth.
That so many entreaties
go unanswered
may say less about our lamentable
inability to be heard
than our inherent flawed condition.

Why else, at birth, the first sound
we make, that full-throttled cry?
Of want, want, want.
Of never enough. Desire
as embedded in us as the ancestral tug
in my unconscienced dog who takes
to the woods, nose to the ground, pulled far
from domesticated hearth, bowl of kibble.
Left behind, I go about my superior business,
my daily ritual I could call prayer.

But look, this morning, in my kitchen,
I'm not asking for more of anything.
My husband slices bread,
hums a tune from our past.
Eggs spatter in a skillet.
Wands of lilac I stuck in a glass
by the open window wobble
in a radiant and — dare I say it? —
merciful light.

QUOTE: "The real work of this life is to allow ourselves to be who we already are, and to have what we already have. The real work is to be passionate, to be holy, be wild, be irreverent, to laugh and cry until you awaken the sleeping spirits, until the ground of your being cleaves and the universe comes flooding in." ~ Geneen Roth, Appetites

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Home Depot (Nick Annis)

SONG: Home Depot by Nick Annis

BOOK: Be Jane's Guide to Home Empowerment: Projects to Change the Way You Live by Heidi Baker and Eden Jarrin

POEM: Ode to Hardware Stores by Barbara Hamby

Where have all the hardware stores gone — dusty, sixty-watt
warrens with the wood floors, cracked linoleum,
poured concrete painted blood red? Where are Eppes, Terry Rossa
Yon's, Flint — low buildings on South Monroe,
Eight Avenue, Gaines Street with their scent of paint thinner,
pesticides, plastic hoses coiled like serpents
in a garden paradisal with screws in buckets or bins
against a brick wall with hand-lettered signs
in ball-point pen — Carriage screws, two dozen for fifty cents —
long vicious dry-wall screws, thick wood screws
like peasants digging potatoes in fields, thin elegant trim
screws— New York dames at a backwoods hick
Sunday School picnic. O universal clevis pins, seven holes
in the shank, like the seven deadly sins.
Where are the men — Mr. Franks, Mr. Piggot, Tyrone, Hank,
Ralph — sunburnt with stomachs and no asses,
men who knew the mythology of nails, Zeuses enthroned
on an Olympus of weak coffee, bad haircuts,
and tin cans of galvanized casting nails, sinker nails, brads,
20-penny common nails, duplex head nails, flooring nails
like railroad spikes, finish nails, fence staples, cotter pins,
roofing nails — flat-headed as Floyd Crawford,
who lived next door to you for years but would never say hi
or make eye contact. What a career in hardware
he could have had, his blue-black hair slicked back with brilliantine,
rolling a toothpick between his teeth while sorting
screw eyes and carpet tacks. Where are the hardware stores,
open Monday through Friday, Saturday till two?
No night hours here, like physicists their universe mathematical
and pure in its way: dinner at six, Rawhide at eight,
lights out at ten, kiss in the dark, up at five for the subatomic world
of toggle bolts, cap screws, hinch-pin clips, split-lock
washers. And the tools — saws, rakes, wrenches, rachets, drills,
chisels, and hose heads, hose couplings, sandpaper
(garnet, production, wet or dry), hinges, wire nails, caulk, nuts,
lag screws, pulleys, vise grips, hexbolts, fender washers
all in a primordial stew of laconic talk about football, baseball,
who'll start for the Dodgers, St. Louis, the Phillies,
the Cubs? Walk around the block today and see their ghosts:
abandoned lots, graffitti'd windows, and tacked
to backroom walls, pin-up calendars almost decorous
in our porn-riddled galaxy of Walmarts, Seven-Elevens,
stripmalls like strip mines or a carrion bird's curved beak
gobbling farms, meadows, wildflowers, drowsy afternoons
of nothing to do but watch dust motes dance through a streak
of sunlight in a darkened room. If there's a second coming,
I want angels called Lem, Nelson, Rodney, and Cletis gathered
around a bin of nails, their silence like hosannahs,
hallelujahs, amens swelling from cinderblock cathedrals
drowning our cries of Bigger, faster, more, more, more.

QUOTE: "I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." ~ E.B. White

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Ballad of the Kingsmen (Todd Snider)

SONG: The Ballad of the Kingsmen by Todd Snider

BOOK: Louie Louie: The History and Mythology of the World's Most Famous Rock 'n Roll Song; Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of The Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI & a Cast of Millions; & Introducing for the First Time Anywhere, the Actual Dirty Lyrics by Dave Marsh

POEM: Oldies But Goodies by Grace Bauer

Because she's had more than her share
of sad stories and Molson's Ale,
she finds herself at midnight
circling the City of Brotherly Love
singing her heart out with the girl groups
playing on the radio.

The Chiffons do One Fine Day
like it's still 1963
and all the boys she dreamed
she'd fall in love with weren't dead
or gay or still strung out from Nam,
drinking off a rough divorce or looking
for a wife they think will look good
on their resumes.

To the fast-talking DJ
this is just a good night's work,
but he's doing a job on her.
Her head spins like a worn-out 45,
back to when she'd bump and grind
all night to The Temptations or The Miracles,
before she realized lost love
was worse than any lyric, when she still
wondered what the Kingsmen
really sang in Louie, Louie.

QUOTE: "Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope." ~ Edith Wharton

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan)

In honor of Bob Dylan's 66th birthday... today! - the times, they are a'changin', indeed... :-)

SONG: A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan

BOOK: Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan

POEM: Hard Rain by Tony Hoagland

After I heard It's a Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
played softly by an accordion quartet
through the ceiling speakers at the Springdale Shopping Mall,
I understood there's nothing
we can't pluck the stinger from,
nothing we can't turn into a soft drink flavor or a t-shirt.

Even serenity can become something horrible
if you make a commercial about it
using smiling, white-haired people
quoting Thoreau to sell retirement homes
in the Everglades, where the swamp has been
drained and bulldozed into a nineteen-hole golf course
with electrified alligator barriers.

You can't keep beating yourself up, Billy
I heard the therapist say on television
to the teenage murderer,
About all those people you killed—
You just have to be the best person you can be,
one day at a time—

and everybody in the audience claps and weeps a little,
because the level of deep feeling has been touched,
and they want to believe that
the power of Forgiveness is greater
than the power of Consequence, or History.

Dear Abby:
My father is a businessman who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
his shoes and trousers
are covered with blood-
but he never forgets to bring me a nice present;
Should I say something?
Signed, America.

I used to think I was not part of this,
that I could mind my own business and get along,
but that was just another song
that had been taught to me since birth—
whose words I was humming under my breath,
as I was walking through the Springdale Mall.

QUOTE: Bob Dylan was once asked if he thought of himself more as a singer or a poet. He said, "I think of myself more as a song-and-dance man."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Broken Things (Julie Miller)

SONG: Broken Things by Julie Miller

BOOK: Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos

POEM: let it go by e. e. cummings

let it go-the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise-let it go it
was sworn to

let them go-the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers-you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go-the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things-let all go
so comes love

QUOTE: "Perhaps having strength doesn't reside in having never been broken... but in the courage required to grow strong in the broken places."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The One Thing I Know (Christine Kane)

SONG: The One Thing I Know by Christine Kane

BOOK: The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

POEM: Summons by Robert Francis

Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I'm half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I'm not too hard persuaded.

QUOTE: "Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer." ~ E. M. Forster

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Kind of Love You Never Recover From (Christine Lavin)

"Regrets... I've had a few... but then again, too few to mention"... :-)

SONG: The Kind of Love You Never Recover From by Christine Lavin

BOOK: How to Be Happy, Dammit: A Cynic's Guide to Spiritual Happiness by Karen Salmansohn

POEM: Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don't bother remembering
any of it. Let's stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

QUOTE: "The regrets I have are so minor. You know, would I leave my Keith Richards hat, with the silver skull on it, on the stool at the coffee shop at LaGuardia? I wouldn't do that again. But overall, no, I don't have any regrets." ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Mountain (Dave Carter)

I promised Dave Carter today, and here is one of many from his brilliant repertoire - Dave left this earth entirely too early, and I'll go into further detail in July (this coming one, impossible to believe, marking the fifth year since his death)...

My mom was in the hospital overnight for observation, as her illness while visiting us segued to bronchitis which turned into pneumonia - all's well now... but this song choice seemed fitting for a thank-goodness-it-had-a-happy-ending Sunday (one foot in ice, one in fire indeed)...

SONG: The Mountain by Dave Carter

BOOK: Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

POEM: The House of Belonging ~ David Whyte

I awoke this morning in the gold light
turning this way and that

thinking for a moment it was one day like any other.

But the veil had gone from my darkened heart and I thought
it must have been the quiet candlelight that filled my room,
it must have been the first easy rhythm with which I breathed myself to sleep,
it must have been the prayer I said speaking to the otherness of the night.

And I thought this is the good day you could meet your love,
this is the black day someone close to you could die.
This is the day you realize how easily the thread is broken

between this world and the next
and I found myself sitting up in the quiet pathway of light,
the tawny close-grained cedar burning round me like fire
and all the angels of this housely heaven ascending
through the first roof of light the sun has made.

This is the bright home in which I live,
this is where I ask my friends to come,
this is where I want to love all the things
it has taken me so long to learn to love.
This is the temple of my adult aloneness

and I belong to that aloneness as I belong to my life.

There is no house like the house of belonging.

QUOTE: "Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is, in the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, for in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace." ~ Frederick Buechner

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Stress (Jim Infantino)

If You're Aging Well is my personal anthem, the above-mentioned song is my alter-ego rallying cry - I've been told I "thrive on chaos", and I've come to admit that person was entirely correct. I joke that I have two speeds... fast-forward and coma - when I'm busy, I can break the sound barrier, but I take leisure time to a whole new level as well. It's a get-it-done kinda Saturday, as I machete through piles of paperwork, laundry and household chores that have gone unaddressed, due to multiple reasons, for the last two weeks - it feels wonderful to accomplish so much... and I intend to reward myself later with an OnDemand movie, a glass of wine and a jacuzzi soak before crawling between clean sheets and sleeping fairly guilt-free for a change!

P.S. I'm throwing in the Cheryl Wheeler song as a bamboo steamer bonus... :-)
P.P.S. Tomorrow's title/song selection will most definitely be Dave Carter!

SONG(S): Stress by Jim Infantino

Unworthy by Cheryl Wheeler

BOOK: The Art of Imperfection by Veronique Vienne

POEM: by Barbara Crooker ~ In the Middle

of a life that's as complicated as everyone else's,
struggling for balance, juggling time.
The mantle clock that was my grandfather's
has stopped at 9:20; we haven't had time
to get it repaired. The brass pendulum is still,
the chimes don't ring. One day you look out the window,
green summer, the next, and the leaves have already fallen,
and a grey sky lowers the horizon. Our children almost grown,
our parents gone, it happened so fast. Each day, we must learn
again how to love, between morning's quick coffee
and evening's slow return. Steam from a pot of soup rises,
mixing with the yeasty smell of baking bread. Our bodies
twine, and the big black dog pushes his great head between;
his tail is a metronome, 3/4 time. We'll never get there,
Time is always ahead of us, running down the beach, urging
us on faster, faster, but sometimes we take off our watches,
sometimes we lie in the hammock, caught between the mesh
of rope and the net of stars, suspended, tangled up
in love, running out of time.

QUOTE: "I read this article that said the typical symptoms of stress are eating too much, impulse buying and driving too fast. Are they kidding? That's my idea of a perfect day."

Friday, May 18, 2007

My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors (Moxy Fruvous)

It should be obvious by now I have an obsession with the written word... whether novels, lyrics, rhyme schemes or pearls of wisdom - I inherited my love of language (English major, journalism minor) from my father, and it can be a blessing and a curse. My brain is wired for left-of-center, smart, dense, layered richness - I much prefer an ongoing unraveling epiphany to the easy sledgehammer a-ha. I won't buy a purse if it's not big enough to carry a book - enough said... :-)

SONG: My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors by Moxy Fruvous

BOOK: Ex-Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

POEM: Book Lice by Paul Flieschman (from Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices)

This poem is intended as a duet, but formatting issues would not allow me to type the verses in as they were meant to be read, making for possible confusion. I went googling (who knew it could be a verb?) and was lucky enough to find a few complete passages from the book, complete with original illustrations. Scroll down to page 15 for Book Lice - if you decide to read this aloud with someone, pay attention to the "his/her loud snoring" line!

QUOTE: "We need the books that affect us like disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." ~ Franz Kafka

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell)

There *must* be a Joni composition my first week of blogging - Dave Carter (another of my musical deities) will probably be tomorrow! I've attempted to keep the songs/books/poems/quotes thematic - with all the wonderful resources and inspirations at my disposal, the intention shouldn't be difficult to maintain.

SONG: Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell

BOOK: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

POEM: How to Live by Charles Harper Webb

"I don't know how to live."
–Sharon Olds

Eat lots of steak and salmon and Thai curry and mu shu
pork and fresh green beans and baked potatoes
and fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream.
Kick-box three days a week. Stay strong and lean.
Go fly-fishing every chance you get, with friends

who'll teach you secrets of the stream. Play guitar
in a rock band. Read Dostoyevsky, Whitman, Kafka,
Shakespeare, Twain. Collect Uncle Scrooge comics.
See Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, and everything Monty Python made.
Love freely. Treat ex-partners as kindly

as you can. Wish them as well as you're able.
Snorkel with moray eels and yellow tangs. Watch
spinner dolphins earn their name as your panga slam-
bams over glittering seas. Try not to lie; it sours
the soul. But being a patsy sours it too. If you cause

a car wreck, and aren't hurt, but someone is, apologize
silently. Learn from your mistake. Walk gratefully
away. Let your insurance handle it. Never drive drunk.
Don't be a drunk, or any kind of "aholic." It's bad
English, and bad news. Don't berate yourself. If you lose

a game or prize you've earned, remember the winners
history forgets. Remember them if you do win. Enjoy
success. Have kids if you want and can afford them,
but don't make them your reason-to-be. Spare them that
misery. Take them to the beach. Mail order sea

monkeys once in your life. Give someone the full-on
ass-kicking he (or she) has earned. Keep a box turtle
in good health for twenty years. If you get sick, don't thrive
on suffering. There's nothing noble about pain. Die
if you need to, the best way you can. (You define best.)

Go to church if it helps you. Grow tomatoes to put store-
bought in perspective. Listen to Elvis and Bach. Unless
you're tone deaf, own Perlman's "Meditation from Thais."
Don't look for hidden meanings in a cardinal's song.
Don't think TV characters talk to you; that's crazy.

Don't be too sane. Work hard. Loaf easily. Have good
friends, and be good to them. Be immoderate
in moderation. Spend little time anesthetized. Dive
the Great Barrier Reef. Don't touch the coral. Watch
for sea snakes. Smile for the camera. Don't say "Cheese."

QUOTE: "There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." ~ Albert Einstein

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The One Who Knows (Dar Williams)

In a perfect world, every day should be Mother's Day... and Father's Day... and Earth Day... and Cinco de Mayo... and Talk Like a Pirate Day (aaarrrggghhh!) - having just celebrated the first of these occasions this past Sunday I can say, from experience, unconditional love always seems to manifest, albeit unintentionally, with strings attached. I tried to kick up the peace barometer and turn down expectation mode - not perfect... but better. I also read up on the history of what the day used to be before Hallmark took control - that's more like it!

SONG: The One Who Knows by Dar Williams

BOOK: The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

POEM: The Lanyard by Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

QUOTE: "The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness." ~ Honoré de Balzac

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This Too Shall Pass (Danny Schmidt)

I found out today that over the weekend, a good friend was, as Tracy said of Dave, "riding that thin chiffon wave between here and gone" - below are my skyward wishes and positive thoughts for his full recovery...

This Too Shall Pass by Danny Schmidt

BOOK: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Something Else by Christian Barter

I know a woman who calls me
every week or so when she has something
on her mind and starts by saying,
"I have something to talk about
but let's start by talking about
something else." It helps her get it out.
So I ask her how she is and she says
okay and tells me about some poet
or politician she's met and how
he wasn't at all what she expected
or about the DC weather,
the traffic jams, the dirty Metro.
Sometimes she never gets around to her point
at all, but ends by saying,
"Now I don't want to talk about it
anymore." Last week I had a fever
for four days and the world
took on a kind of flickering darkness—
it seemed so thin, so insubstantial,
not the kind of place a person could live.
This guy who came to the card game
last night, he says he dreams
of a dead friend all the time,
this friend walks out of a black alley,
walks always in a kind of shadow.
I asked him what it's like to be dead,
the guy said, fumbling a face-down card,
and he said it's not a place, heaven,
it's a feeling, the feeling of knowing
everything you never knew. Then the friend
told him one of the numbers to play
this week in Megabucks. Sometimes, though,
she does get around to what's on her mind—
a sadness for her little sister, killed
in a wreck, or a fear that we
won't see each other again, won't ever
feel whatever that was we felt when we
were making love. I don't know if we will.
I don't know if she will ever see
her little sister again except in dreams,
which is somewhere, I guess.
The number was eight.

QUOTE: "When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief or bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." ~ Henri Nouwen

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Verdant Mile (Tracy Grammer)

"Green" has many meanings/connotations: of course there's the whole Oz/Emerald City imagery. Then there's lush, rich, fertile, novice, inexperienced, not fully developed or perfected in growth or condition, unseasoned, simple, fresh, recent, young, environmentally sound or beneficial.

This blogging thing is new to me... and I intend to start slowly... baby steps, as they say... or, to continue the metaphor, tendrils. Each day, for a while, I'm going to post a song, a book, a poem and a quote. I may eventually begin to bare my soul. Then again, the songs/books/poems/quotes I choose may just provide an indication of where my wisdom/serenity/courage lies at any given moment, eh?

SONG: The Verdant Mile by Tracy Grammer

BOOK: Walking a Literary Labyrinth by Nancy Malone

POEM: Messenger by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird— equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.

The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is that we live forever.

QUOTE: "If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking." ~ Buddhist proverb