Friday, August 31, 2007

August (Edie Carey)

In Brazil, folk superstition associates bad luck to August, with the proverb "Agosto, o mês do desgosto" or "mês do cachorro louco" ("August, the month of misfortune" or "month of the crazy dog") being often heard - good thing it's come to an end, eh?...

Actually, it's been a lovely 31 days, and not just because it's my birth month - a few goodbyes, some hellos, anniversaries of tragedies, celebrations of life, rain, drought, clouds, stars, heartbreak, heartfull - in other words, all the wonderful dichotomies/paradoxes we are meant to experience in our time on this planet. As summer winds down, fall awaits - of course, here in South Florida, changes of season are mostly metaphorical anyway... :-)

SONG: August by Edie Carey

BOOK: August by Judith Rossner

POEM: August by Dorothy Parker

When my eyes are weeds,
And my lips are petals, spinning
Down the wind that has beginning
Where the crumpled beeches start
In a fringe of salty reeds;
When my arms are elder-bushes,
And the rangy lilac pushes
Upward, upward through my heart;

Summer, do your worst!
Light your tinsel moon, and call on
Your performing stars to fall on
Headlong through your paper sky;
Nevermore shall I be cursed
By a flushed and amorous slattern,
With her dusty laces' pattern
Trailing, as she straggles by.

QUOTE: "Whilst August yet wears her golden crown, ripening fields lush-bright with promise; summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn." ~ Michelle L. Thieme

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Hand of Kindness (Richard Thompson)

More on kindness...

The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

QUOTE: "You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Houston (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

From Today's Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 2005 that Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast near New Orleans. Before it reached land, it was the strongest hurricane ever measured in the Gulf of Mexico, with winds of up to 175 miles per hour. But by the time it hit New Orleans on this day, it had lost some of its strength. The wind damage was much worse in parts of Mississippi. Early on, most people thought New Orleans had dodged the bullet.

But two reporters from the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper got a tip that there might be a leak in one of the levees, so they rode bikes out to the levee of the 17th Street canal. They never even made it to the levee. One of the main streets on their route was filled with rushing water, more than seven feet deep, and it was rolling south toward the rest of the city. More than 80 percent of the city was eventually flooded, about 140 square miles, which is seven times the size of Manhattan. The water rose higher than 14 feet in some places.

All communication in the city began to break down. The 911 operators had evacuated, and so people calling 911 just reached an answering machine. Eventually there was no power, no phone service, no cell phones. Many of the police officers in the city abandoned their posts and just tried to save themselves. The local prison was evacuated, and several prisoners escaped. National Guard troops didn't arrive until the fourth day of the disaster.

Many of the journalists at The Times-Picayune slept in their office building the first night after the hurricane, and they realized the following morning that they had to evacuate or they'd be stranded. A total of 240 employees and some family members piled into all the newspaper delivery trucks available, and they drove out of the city.

The staff of The Times-Picayune had to evacuate their building, but the editor Jim Amoss was determined to keep publishing the newspaper even if only on the Internet, so a small group of journalists stayed behind in the city to cover what was going on. By September 1, the newspaper had begun printing the paper again, and they delivered it free to shelters and hotels around the city. On Friday, September 2, reporters brought copies of the newspaper to the Convention Center, where many people had been living for days. Witnesses said that the people at the Convention Center wept at the sight of their hometown newspaper. Reporters then began distributing the paper to refugees and relief workers throughout the city, and residents of the city were overwhelmed by emotion when the newspaper arrived on their doorstep. The Times-Picayune eventually won two Pulitzer Prizes for its Hurricane Katrina coverage, including a gold medal for meritorious public service.

POEM: Providence by Natasha Trethewey

What's left is footage: the hours before
Camille, 1969—hurricane
parties, palm trees leaning
in the wind,
fronds blown back,
a woman's hair. Then after:
the vacant lots,
boats washed ashore, a swamp
where graves had been. I recall
how we huddled all night in our small house,
moving between rooms,
emptying pots filled with rain.
The next day, our house—
on its cinderblocks—seemed to float
in the flooded yard: no foundation
beneath us, nothing I could see
tying us to the land.
In the water, our reflection
when I bent to touch it.

QUOTE: “We are looking now at a disaster above any magnitude that we’ve seen in the United States. We’ve been saying that the response is going to be the largest Red Cross response in the history of the organization.” ~ Peter Teahen (national spokesman)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cup of Kindness (Emmylou Harris)

Yesterday afternoon, when I came out of work, I noticed that two of my tires seemed less full than usual, and my car had been feeling shaky the last few days - I decided to stop at the gas station on the way home to add air. I put air into the back one (not too much, I still believe) and moved to the front to do the same - about that time, the first one blew (bam - d*mmit!).

I sighed... rather loudly, and proceeded to call AAA, of which (because my husband has traveled most of our marriage) I've been a member forever - they told me someone would be out in 30 minutes so, fortunately, since I was at the shoppette/gas station, I went inside to buy a Diet Dr. Pepper (surely a guilty pleasure, although I avoided the Sun Chips that normally go so well with it... :-)

Not 10 minutes later, I received a call from Jim, who identified himself as the tow truck driver, and asked how soon I'd like him there - I unfazedly replied, "well, as soon as possible would be nice, because it's really hot, but get here when you can". He laughed and said he was actually at the light a block away - I laughed back and told him I hadn't expected a trick question!

As soon as I hung up, Katie with AAA dispatch called to tell me someone was on the way - I laughed again and said, "I'm impressed - your driver is 30 seconds away"... :-)

Jim arrived and made fast work of the repair, taking off the old tire and putting on the temporary "donut" - all the while, we yakked, pleasantly, about the Comedy Channel and unexpected expenses and having a good attitude. What could have been a nightmare, with me waiting outside in the 5:30 p.m. sun for an hour evolved into a delightful exchange of human contact, each of us calling the other by first name, each respectful, each connected/connecting - I only had $7 in my wallet, but gave it to him appreciatively, as he was to receive (even though tips are not required).

I still have to get my car into Tire Kingdom to buy, and install, another tire... which, given my busy schedule, may take me another few days - however, yesterday's good experience will stay with me a very long time. Kindness matters - in fact, I'd venture to say, given the ripple effect, it's the most important attribute a human being can possess...

SONG: Cup of Kindness by Emmylou Harris

BOOK: Random Acts of Kindness by Daphne Rose Kingma (Foreword), Dawna Markova (Introduction)

POEM: Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

QUOTE: "Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." ~ Lao-Tzu

Monday, August 27, 2007

No Mermaid (Sinead Lohan)

Here's more mermaid content, a delightful hodge-podge of items/ideas left over from my googling for M's birthday party post - the essay below is a long-time favorite...

Where do the Mermaids Stand? by Robert Fulghum

Giants, Wizards and Dwarfs was the game to play. Being left in charge of about 80 children 7 to 10 years old while their parents were off doing the parenty thing, I mustered my troops in the church social hall and explained the game. It’s a large-scale version of Rock, Paper and Scissors and involves some intellectual decision-making. But the real purpose of the game is to make a lot of noise and run around chasing people until nobody knows which side you are on or who won.

Organizing a roomful of wired up grade-schoolers into two teams, explaining the rudiments of the game, achieving consensus on group identity– all of this is no mean accomplishment, but we did it with a right goodwill and were ready to go.

The excitement of the chase had reached a critical mass. I yelled out: “You have to decide now which you are—a GIANT, a WIZARD or a DWARF!”

While the groups huddled in frenzied, whispered consultation, a tug came at my pant leg. A small child stand there looking up and ask in a small concerned voice, “Where do the Mermaids stand?”

Where do the Mermaids stand? A very long pause. A very long pause. “Where do the Mermaids stand?” says I.

“Yes. You see, I am a Mermaid.” ‘ There are no such things as Mermaids.” “Oh yes there is, I am one!” She did not relate to being a Giant, a Wizard or a Dwarf. She knew her category, Mermaid, and was not about to leave the game and go over and stand against the wall where a loser would stand. She intended to participate, wherever Mermaids fit into the scheme of things, without giving up dignity or identity. She took it for granted that there was a place for Mermaids and that I would know just where.

Well, where do the Mermaids stand? All the Mermaids—all those who are different, who do not fit the norm, and who do not accept the available boxes and pigeonholes?

Answer that question and you can build a school, a nation or a world on it.

What was my answer at the moment? Every once in a while I say the right thing. “The Mermaid stands right here by the King of the Sea!” (Yes, right here by the King’s Fool, I thought to myself.)

So we stood there hand in hand, reviewing the troops of Wizards and Giants and Dwarfs as the rolled by in wild disarray.

It is not true, by the way , that Mermaids do not exist. I know at least one personally. I have held her hand.

SONG: No Mermaid by Sinead Lohan

BOOK: A Mermaid's Tale: A Personal Search for Love and Lore by Amanda Adams

POEM: Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich

First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
assiduous team
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.

There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
hanging innocently
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.

I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
will begin.

First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.

And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
lived here
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
and besides
you breathe differently down here.

I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed

the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and away into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.

This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he

whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass

We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
in which
our names do not appear.

QUOTE: "But if I don't have my voice, how can I...?" ~ Ariel

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Heart of the Matter (Don Henley)

SONG: The Heart of the Matter by Don Henley

POEM: Forgiveness by Terence Winch

Father Cahir kept us holy.
He smoked cigars in the confessional.
He had a distracted air about him,
as though he wasn't sure what
he was supposed to do next.

I don't remember what he taught.
History, probably. It was his
liberal attitude as a confessor
that made him a legend.

No matter what you confessed to,
he always barked out the same penance:
"Three Hail Marys and a Good Act
of Contrition. Next!" So we tested
this leniency, confessing
to rape, murder, burglary.

Cahir paid no attention.
He knew we were a bunch
of high school punks.
Puffing his cigar,
he'd issue his standard
penance and absolve all sins,
real or imagined,
with godlike aloofness,
his vast indifference to
or total acceptance of the darkness
within the human soul
exactly how I hope the deity
regards us. Take forgiveness
any way you can get it.

QUOTE: "Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves." ~ Sidney and Suzanne Simon

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Carey (Joni Mitchell)

Oh, we had a grand time last night, celebrating M (Coronas and Chardonnay and Martinis, oh my) and watching the mermaids cavort in her honor at The Wreck Bar - one of the best parts was that M's very own daughter Kali was swimming with them too! It was a well-kept secret, known to only a few in the inner family circle - M wept when this delightful surprise was unveiled (unfinned?... :-)

Kali has been practicing for weeks, and her grandmother (always a crafty woman) sewed her tail - with the grace, poise and agility displayed, you'd think K's natural habitat was under the sea. M was so proud, as well as honored by the expression of love - the evening was a "worlds colliding" extravaganza, testament to a dear woman, bringing so many diverse areas of her life into one room, resulting in joy overload... <3>

SONG: Carey by Joni Mitchell

The Mermaid Poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Who would be
A mermaid fair,
Singing alone,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,
On a throne?

I would be a mermaid fair;
I would sing to myself the whole of the day;
With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair;
And still as I comb'd I would sing and say,
'Who is it loves me? who loves not me?'
I would comb my hair till my ringlets would fall
Low adown, low adown,
From under my starry sea-bud crown
Low adown and around,
And I should look like a fountain of gold
Springing alone
With a shrill inner sound
Over the throne
In the midst of the hall;
Till that great sea-snake under the sea
From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps
Would slowly trail himself sevenfold
Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate
With his large calm eyes for the love of me.
And all the mermen under the sea
Would feel their immortality
Die in their hearts for the love of me.

But at night I would wander away, away,
I would fling on each side my low-flowing locks,
And lightly vault from the throne and play
With the mermen in and out of the rocks;
We would run to and fro, and hide and seek,
On the broad sea-wolds in the crimson shells,
Whose silvery spikes are nighest the sea.
But if any came near I would call and shriek,
And adown the steep like a wave I would leap
From the diamond-ledges that jut from the dells;
For I would not be kiss'd by all who would list
Of the bold merry mermen under the sea.

They would sue me, and woo me, and flatter me,
In the purple twilights under the sea;
But the king of them all would carry me,
Woo me, and win me, and marry me,
In the branching jaspers under the sea.
Then all the dry-pied things that be
In the hueless mosses under the sea
Would curl round my silver feet silently,
All looking up for the love of me.
And if I should carol aloud, from aloft
All things that are forked, and horned, and soft
Would lean out from the hollow sphere of the sea,
All looking down for the love of me.

QUOTE: “Souls of poets dead and gone, what Elysium have ye known, happy field or mossy cavern, choicer than the Mermaid Tavern? Have ye tippled drink more fine than mine host's Canary wine?” ~ John Keats

Friday, August 24, 2007

These Are Days (10,000 Maniacs)

SONG: These Are Days by 10,000 Maniacs

BOOK: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

POEM: Nothing is Lost by Noel Coward

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.

QUOTE: "People forget years and remember moments." ~ Ann Beattie

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Little Train (Cosy Sheridan)

I found the following on the blog of a friend and it most certainly hit home with me - I've been in such flux lately. Since J's death, my sweet little 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. part-time job is still full-time (9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.) - my life is always a mad scramble... but even more so lately, as the obligations I took on when my schedule seemed able to handle now feel overwhelming. Seems like my life is a series of meetings these days, and I've lost track of what I love - I don't believe I'm doing justice to family and friends, not to mention myself (where is my leisure time?!?). I have no one to blame but myself, and I've vowed to become pro-active about re-taking charge of my life - I've targeted two areas of responsibility I should (and can) "scrape off my plate", and now it's just a matter of doing so, effectively and graciously.

I need focus and perspective and calm (oh my) - I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...

(1) "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things." ~ Edgar Degas

(2) "Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment." ~ Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

(3) "All of us are crazy good in one way or another." ~ Yiddish saying

(4) "You are either losing your mind -- or gaining your soul." ~ Julia Cameron

She just wants an understudy, a body
double for the days when she does
not feel like appearing in any of the roles
she has assumed and/or been assigned.
She places an ad in the paper. Wanted:
one wife, mother, daughter, neighbor,
friend. Live-in OK. Own car necessary.
No lines to memorize; everything ad-
libbed. No days off.

QUOTE: "To have a firm persuasion in our work - to feel that what we do is right for ourselves and good for the world at exactly the same time - is one of the great triumphs of human existence." ~ David Whyte

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Soul Food to Go (Manhattan Transfer)

When I was in Framingham, Massachusetts with my friend Stephen (before and after Falcon Ridge), we made a point to visit Trader Joe's, an unbelievably cool grocery store that I've fallen in love with, especially since the closest one to me is Atlanta - I spoke to one of their staff, and it seems they may be opening a store in Florida in two or three years. Can't happen soon enough, as far as I'm concerned - the selection is diverse, the marketing is clever and the prices are beyond reasonable!

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

Trader Joe's is a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores headquartered in Monrovia, California. As of June 2007, Trader Joe's has a total of 280 stores.

Trader Joe's describes itself as "your unique grocery store". Products sold at "TJ's" include gourmet foods, organic foods, vegetarian food, unusual frozen foods, imported foods, domestic and imported wine, "alternative" food items, and basics like bread, cereal, eggs, and produce. Some non-food items, including personal hygiene products, household cleaners, vitamins, pet food, and plants and flowers, are also available. Many of the company's products are considered environmentally friendly.
Trader Joe's sells many items from any of several of its own private labels. Such labels are quirkily named by the ethnicity of the food in question, such as Trader Jose's (Mexican food), Trader Ming's (Chinese food), Baker Josef's (bagels), Trader Giotto's (Italian food), Trader Joe-San (Japanese food), Trader Johann's (lip balm), and Trader Darwin's (vitamins). Trader Joe's is also known as the exclusive retailer of Charles Shaw wine, popularly known as Two Buck Chuck because of its $1.99 a bottle price in California (although in some locales it sells for as much as $3.49 a bottle, due to varying state liquor taxes and transportation costs).

Every employee of the company is held to a certain set of values, which they base their decisions upon. Those values include the importance of integrity, the company’s emphasis on its unique products, and the need to create an experience for its customers that brings them back.

POEM: Blue Plate by Jesse Lee Kercheval

After the porno theater became a revival house,
the neighborhood began to change.
The Blue Plate, a designer diner, opened,
all aluminum and curves. Inside,
the menu featured revived comfort foods--
meat loaf, mashed potatoes, a glass case full of pies.
Young families moved in, the drawn shades
of the elderly replaced by window boxes
and Big Wheels in the yards. Another revival.
Then a Mexican restaurant opened--
though not one run by Mexicans.
A pizza place whose specialty is a pie
made with Greek, not Italian, cheese
called The Feta-licious.
But what is real? In time, everyone
came to depend upon the diner. Packed
for breakfast, lunch, pie, and coffee.
If you need a good plumber,
go to the Blue Plate and ask for Carl
who's there talking politics
with the other long-suffering followers of Trotsky.
If you want a sitter, ask the waitstaff,
Who has a younger sister?
If you're invited to a potluck, stop
and buy a whole pie.
In the town where I grew up,
there was a diner too, Bev's,
named after the cook and owner who,
my mother whispered the first time we went there,
was a Holocaust survivor.
When we went for breakfast or a hamburger,
Bev would wait on us, her tattoo shining
on her thick, damp wrist. She was not Jewish,
but Czech and Catholic. She kept an Infant of Prague
by the cash register and changed
his tiny satin outfits to match the seasons.
But she didn't make pie and her mashed potatoes
came from the same box as my mother's.
Bev's food wasn't good, only better than nothing.
Just like being a death camp survivor,
Bev told my mother, wasn't a good thing to be,
only better than not being.
My mother is dead now. Bev too.
My mother wasn't a good cook either, rarely made pies.
I can, but I like the ones at the Blue Plate
better. Dutch Apple, Three Berry, Lemon with Mile-
High Meringue. The trouble with meringue,
my mother said once, is that it weeps.
Amazing, I thought, sad pie.

QUOTE: "There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. 'Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night's lodging. 'Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chocolate Jesus (Tom Waits)

My friend J, who works for Dave Barry, sent this in my direction a few weeks ago - Dave also posted it to his blog. Okay, well - let's just say some people manage to do what others of us only dream (just kidding... kinda... :-)

Caught On Tape: Woman Goes On Fudge Frenzy
Midnight Burglary Caught On 4 Cameras
POSTED: 11:52 am EDT August 6, 2007

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- A Maryland woman with an apparent craving for chocolate went on a fudge rampage, and it was all caught on tape.

A sign said, "free samples." But authorities said the woman from Greenbelt, Md., took it to the extreme while the store was closed. "She ended up just ripping them off. This end of the counter got ... broke away," said Bob Lawinger of Uncle Bob's Fudge Kitchen. "And then she saw the Rocky Road and it was all over."

The midnight burglary was caught on four cameras as the woman went from cookies to fudge. She fell down a couple of times, but got back up to fill bags, plastic bins and her pockets.
Lawinger said the theft was worth several hundred dollars. He said it could also cost a thousands more to fix the display cases. Authorities said her getaway bag broke by the time she made it to the top of the street and the lobby of the historic Maryland Inn.

Police said she told a clerk that she was assaulted and needed a place to stay. The hotel called police. "The officers just happened to notice that she had some large pieces of chocolate fudge in her pockets," said Annapolis police Officer Hal Dalton. "I mean, she had so much, ... it was actually spilling out of her pockets. When she moved, some of it would fall out. Her shirt was all stained with fresh fudge."

The woman, Catherine Anne Delgado, 35, asked to use the rest room during her interview at the hotel, police said. Authorities said she tried to flush a large amount of fudge down the toilet, so much so that it clogged the toilet. Police said they arrested her and charged her with burglary.

SONG: Chocolate Jesus by Tom Waits

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

POEM: The Dirt Eaters by Virgil Suárez

Whenever we grew tired and bored of curb ball,
of encircling the scorpions we found under rocks
by the mother-in-law tongue within a fiery circle
of kerosene and watching as they stung themselves
to death, we ate dirt; soft, grainy, pretend chocolate
dirt, in our fantasies sent to us by distant relatives
in El Norte. Fango. We stood in a circle, wet the dirt
under our bare feet, worked with our fingers to crumble
the clogs with our nails, removed the undesired twigs,
pebbles, and beetles. Dirt—how delicious. How filling.
We ate our share of it back then. Beto, the youngest,
warned us not to eat too much; it could make us sick,
vomit, give us the shits, or even worse, worms.
We laughed. We ridiculed him. We chanted
after him:
"¡Lo que no mata, engorda!
¡Lo que no mata, engorda!"
What doesn’t kill you makes you fat, and stronger.

QUOTE: “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”

Monday, August 20, 2007

Circle of Life (Tim Rice/Elton John)

Today is M's birthday - zippity! The following is in honor of my dear sister Leo friend - she is all of those wonderful things, and more. No matter the ups and downs, ins and outs, nears and fars, backs and forths of each others' lives, she is always in my heart - I look forward to celebrating M this Friday... <3

Leo The Lion
Modality: Fixed
Element: Fire
Ruler: The Sun
Season: Summer
5th Sign of Zodiac
Metal: Gold
Stone: Ruby
Color: Orange, Gold
Anatomy: The heart

Keywords: magnanimous, generous, hospitable, caring, warm, authoritative, active, open

The majestic lion, the King of the Beasts, is Leo's symbol. Throughout history, the lion has symbolized sovereignty, rulership, and courage. "The lion's size and strength have captured human imagination since ancient times". Leos, like lions, are thought to be strong leaders. They generally have a regal quality to them, and possess a noble manner that is hard to miss. The glyph for Leo represents the mane of the lion.

Sun in Leo (the Sun is in Leo from approximately July 21 to August 20, depending on the year)

There's an unmistakably regal air to Solar Leos. These are dignified—even noble—folk. Leos have a reputation for being conceited, but think again. Leos do feel important, but this generally takes the form of wanting to change the world in some way—to make the world a better place. They are generally motivated by affection for people, and often have big dreams and plans to make people happy.

Generally, Leos are hard-working. After all, they are attracted to the good things in life, and they know they have to work to get them. It is sometimes difficult to imagine Leos as go-getters if you happen to catch them in one of their languid moods. These people can sleep in, laze around, and luxuriate for long periods of time. However, when they do get to work, they do it with intensity and determination. In this way, they are not unlike their symbol, the lion.

The worst thing you can do to a Leo is accuse them of bad intentions. Displaying behavior that makes them think you don't appreciate them runs a close second. These happy, jovial people become mighty hurt when others don't see them for their noble intentions.

Loyal, and sometimes rather traditional, Leos are, after all, a fixed sign. They'll hold on to situations and people for a very long time before they give up. There is an unmistakable idealism to Leo's view of the world and the people in it. Often, Leos have a very noble inner code that they answer to. Although on the surface, Leos appear rather confident, they can actually be some of the most humble souls around. They are the first to blame themselves when something goes wrong. Once again, it's the Leonine self-importance at work, and this characteristic works in unexpected ways. Instead of being the conceited, self-absorbed show-offs of reputation, they are usually very self-aware, self-conscious, and, yes, even humble.

Some Famous People with Sun in Leo: Ben Affleck (Sun and Mercury in Leo), Sandra Bullock (Sun and Mercury in Leo), J. C. Chasez of N'Sync, David Duchovny, Jonathon Frakes (Sun, Moon, and Mercury in Leo), Whitney Houston (Sun and Venus in Leo), Peter O'Toole (Sun and Moon in Leo), Jennifer Lopez (Sun, Mercury, and Mars in Leo), Madonna (Sun and Venus in Leo), Robert Plant, George Bernard Shaw (Sun and Venus in Leo), Martin Sheen (Sun, Moon, and Mars in Leo), Kevin Spacey (Sun and Mercury in Leo), Christian Slater

POEM: First Gestures by Julia Spicher Kasdorf

Among the first we learn is good-bye,
your tiny wrist between Dad's forefinger
and thumb forced to wave bye-bye to Mom,
whose hand sails brightly behind a windshield.
Then it's done to make us follow:
in a crowded mall, a woman waves, "Bye,
we're leaving," and her son stands firm
sobbing, until at last he runs after her,
among shoppers drifting like sharks
who must drag their great hulks
underwater, even in sleep, or drown.

Living, we cover vast territories;
imagine your life drawn on a map--
a scribble on the town where you grew up,
each bus trip traced between school
and home, or a clean line across the sea
to a place you flew once. Think of the time
and things we accumulate, all the while growing
more conscious of losing and leaving. Aging,
our bodies collect wrinkles and scars
for each place the world would not give
under our weight. Our thoughts get laced
with strange aches, sweet as the final chord
that hangs in a guitar's blond torso.

Think how a particular ridge of hills
from a summer of your childhood grows
in significance, or one hour of light--
late afternoon, say, when thick sun flings
the shadow of Virginia creeper vines
across the wall of a tiny, white room
where a girl makes love for the first time.
Its leaves tremble like small hands
against the screen while she weeps
in the arms of her bewildered lover.
She's too young to see that as we gather
losses, we may also grow in love;
as in passion, the body shudders
and clutches what it must release.

QUOTE: "The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow. I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment." ~ Rabindranath Tagore

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mercy of the Fallen (Dar Williams)

I saw this poem on Patty's blog a while back and, being a long-time lover of Kahlil Gibran, bookmarked it for future use - synchronistically (which is how my life usually unfolds), I used his On Children piece for a reading in church today (the sermon topic was Helping Teens in Broward's Foster Care System)...

POEM: On Religion by Kahlil Gibran

Have I spoken this day of aught else?
Is not religion all deeds and all reflection,
And that which is neither deed nor reflection,
but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul,
even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?
Who can separate his faith from his actions,
or his belief from his occupations?
Who can spread his hours before him, saying,
"This for God and this for myself;
This for my soul, and this other for my body?"
All your hours are wings that beat through space
from self to self.
He who wears his morality but as his best garment
were better naked.
The wind and the sun will tear no holes in his skin.
And he who defines his conduct by ethics
imprisons his song-bird in a cage.
The freest song comes not through bars and wires.
And he to whom worshipping is a window,
to open but also to shut,
has not yet visited the house of his soul whose windows
are from dawn to dawn.
Your daily life is your temple and your religion.
Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.
Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute,
The things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight.
For in revery you cannot rise above your achievements
nor fall lower than your failures.
And take with you all men:
For in adoration you cannot fly higher than their hopes
nor humble yourself lower than their despair.
And if you would know God be not therefore a solver of riddles.
Rather look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children.
And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud,
outstretching His arms in the lightning and descending in rain.
You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving
His hands in trees.

QUOTE: "I have a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out and paint the stars." ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Speed of Trees (Ellis Paul)

SONG: The Speed of Trees by Ellis Paul

BOOK: The Choiring of the Trees by Donald Harington

POEM: Working Together by David Whyte

We shape our self
to fit this world
and by the world
are shaped again.
The visible
and the invisible
working together
in common cause,
to produce
the miraculous.
I am thinking of the way
the intangible air
passed at speed
round a shaped wing
holds our weight.
So may we, in this life
to those elements
we have yet
to see
or imagine,
and look for the true
shape of our own self
by forming it well
to the great
intangibles about us.

QUOTE: "Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven." ~ Rabindranath Tagore

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Truth of a Woman (Kristina Olsen)

My friend M posted this YouTube link to her website not too long ago... and I've since received it from other friends as well - I found the film collage brilliantly creative... and, combined with today's song and poem, perfectly suited. Enjoy!

SONG: The Truth of a Woman by Kristina Olsen

BOOK: Painting Women: Cosmetics, Canvases, and Early Modern Culture by Patricia Phillippy

POEM: Red Berries by Jane Hirshfield

Again the pyrocanthus berries redden in rain,
as if return were return.

It is not.

The familiar is not the thing it reminds of.
Today's yes is different from yesterday's yes.
Even no's adamance alters.

From painting to painting,
century to century,
the tipped-over copper pot spills out different light;
the cut-open beeves,
their caged and muscled display,
are on one canvas radiant, pure; obscene on another.

In the end it is simple enough-

The woman of this morning's mirror
was a stranger
to the woman of last night's;
the passionate dreams of the one who slept
flit empty and thin
from the one who awakens.

One woman washes her face,
another picks up the boar-bristle hairbrush,
a third steps out of her slippers.
That each will die in the same bed means nothing to them.

Our one breath follows another like spotted horses, no two alike

Black manes and white manes, they gallop.
Piebald and skewbald, eyes flashing sorrow, they too will pass.

QUOTE: "Art is the only thing you cannot punch a button for. You must do it the old-fashioned way. Stay up and really burn the midnight oil. There are no compromises." ~ Leontyne Price

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Across the Universe (The Beatles)

"Scientists have confirmed what we all knew: You do indeed have a little voice in your head that warns you when you're about to do something dumb. It's called the anterior cingulate cortex, according to white-coated authorities at Carnegie-Mellon University. If you're receptive to it, it's as good as having a guardian angel. "Don't do it," the voice whispers when you're on the verge of locking your keys in your car or leaving the bar with the cute drunk you just met. "Go back," it murmurs as you start to walk away from a huge, though initially inconvenient, opportunity. "

POEM: Concerning the Atoms of the Soul by John Glenday

Someone explained once how the pieces of what we are
fall downwards at the same rate
as the Universe.
The atoms of us, falling towards the centre
of whatever everything is. And we don't see it.
We only sense their slight drag in the lifting hand.
That's what weight is, that communal process of falling.
Furthermore, these atoms carry hooks, like burrs,
hooks catching like hooks, like clinging to like,
that's what keeps us from becoming something else,
and why in early love, we sometimes
feel the tug of the heart snagging on another's heart.
Only the atoms of the soul are perfect spheres
with no means of holding on to the world
or perhaps no need for holding on,
and so they fall through our lives catching
against nothing, like perfect rain,
and in the end, he wrote, mix in that common well of light
at the centre of whatever the suspected
centre is, or might have been.

QUOTE: "If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth." ~ Mitsugi Saotome

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Book I'm Not Reading (Patty Larkin)

SONG: The Book I'm Not Reading by Patty Larkin

BOOK: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die by Peter Ackroyd (Foreword), Peter Boxall (Editor)

POEM: I'M WORKING ON THE WORLD by Wistawa Szymborska

I'm working on the world,
revised, improved edition,
featuring fun for fools,
blues for brooders,
combs for bald pates,
tricks for old dogs.

Here's one chapter: The Speech
of Animals and Plants.
Each species comes, of course,
with its own dictionary.
Even a simple "Hi there,"
when traded with a fish,
make both the fish and you
feel quite extraordinary.

The long-suspected meanings
of rustlings, chirps, and growls!
Soliloquies of forests!
The epic hoot of owls!
Those crafty hedgehogs drafting
aphorisms after dark,
while we blindly believe
they are sleeping in the park!

Time (Chapter Two) retains
its sacred right to meddle
in each earthly affair.
Still, time's unbounded power
that makes a mountain crumble,
moves seas, rotates a star,
won't be enough to tear
lovers apart: they are
too naked, too embraced,
too much like timid sparrows.

Old age is, in my book,
the price that felons pay,
so don't whine that it's steep:
you'll stay young if you're good.
Suffering (Chapter Three)
doesn't insult the body.
Death? It comes in your sleep,
exactly as it should.

When it comes, you'll be dreaming
that you don't need to breathe;
that breathless silence is
the music of the dark
and it's part of the rhythm
to vanish like a spark.
Only a death like that. A rose
could prick you harder, I suppose;
you'd feel more terror at the sound
of petals falling to the ground.

Only a world like that. To die
just that much. And to live just so.
And all the rest is Bach's fugue, played
for the time being
on a saw.

QUOTE: "For books are more than books, they are the life, the very heart and core of ages past, the reason why men lived and worked and died, the essence and quintessence of their lives." ~ Amy Lowell

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Shine (Joni Mitchell)

Joni Mitchell: The legendary singer-songwriter is back
Pierre Perrone is the first to hear her long-awaited album
By Pierre Perrone, The Independent, 10 August 2007

Ten years ago, it looked like Joni Mitchell's life had gone full circle. This most archetypal of singer-songwriters was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame along with her old friends Crosby, Stills and Nash. But, more importantly, she was reunited with the daughter she'd given away for adoption after becoming pregnant in the mid-Sixties, and her musical and personal journey – which had taken her from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Laurel Canyon, California via Greenwich Village, New York – seemed complete.

"In some ways, my gift for music and writing was born out of tragedy and loss," she told the documentary-maker Susan Lacy. "When my daughter returned to me, the gift kind of went with it. The songwriting was almost like something I did while I was waiting for my daughter to come back."

In 1998, Mitchell released Taming The Tiger, her last album of new material, and toured the US and Canada that year, and again in 2000. After that, as she explained during a two-part Radio 2 documentary broadcast earlier this year, she spent most of her time painting, watching old movies and listening to talk radio. "I came to hate music," she admitted to her friend the British songwriter Amanda Ghost.

Indeed, in 2002, as she issued Travelogue, a double CD on which she revisited her repertoire with orchestral backing, Mitchell announced she'd had enough of "the corrupt cesspool, the pornographic pigs" of the music industry and would be a recording artist no more. "Nothing sounded genuine or original. Truth and beauty were passé. I got the picture. I quit the business," she said. And, despite working with Rhino, the reissue arm of Warners, on a couple of thematic compilations of her oeuvre, she was as good as her word.

Until last year, that is, when Jean Grand-Maître, the artistic director of the Alberta Ballet, contacted Mitchell for permission to use her compositions in a ballet. Rather than simply let him choose songs to fit what would have been a "somewhat autobiographical" piece called Dancing Joni, she helped the project evolve into The Fiddle and the Drum, which premiered in Calgary, Canada, in February. She contributed some of her politically charged paintings to the set design and also delivered a couple of new songs she'd been working on, an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's "If" – her favourite poem – and "If I Had A Heart".

These compositions are now two of the pivotal tracks on Shine, Mitchell's new album to be released via Hear Music, the Starbucks-owned label, in the US and Canada, and the Concord Music Group/ Universal in the UK and the rest of Europe at the end of September.

A listen to the 10 tracks last week confirmed that Shine lives up to Mitchell's assertion that it's "as serious a work as I've ever done". In fact, I'll go further: aside from the accordion-driven reinterpretation of "Big Yellow Taxi", her only British hit single and her second most-covered song (190-plus versions and counting but still way behind "Both Sides Now"), which is obviously aimed at radio programmers, this is the best album by an artist of her generation since Bob Dylan's Modern Times.

As she had barely picked up a guitar in 10 years, Mitchell started at the piano with "One Week Last Summer", a dreamy, chill-out instrumental reminiscent of her beloved Debussy, as well as Brian Eno's ambient music. What she calls "the piano-dominant songs" form the core of Shine, the most bare album she has made since the early Seventies. The jazzy feel of "This Place", "Hana" and the anti-war "Strong is Wrong" is deceptive and all the more effective as the stark lyrics sink in, while the haunting "If I Had a Heart" and "Bad Dreams are Good" sound like laments for planet Earth.

Starbucks customers caught unawares might gulp on their lattes, but what should they expect from the woman who presciently wrote, "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot" in 1970? In fact, in the context of what is a mission-statement album, the reinterpretation of "Big Yellow Taxi" makes perfect sense. "Shine", the floating, ethereal title track, and "If", the album closer adapted from Kipling's poem, feel like hopeful elegies and chinks of light at the end of the tunnel.

Even if Ken Lombard, the Hear Music supremo and president of Starbucks Entertainment, used the Radiohead rumours as a smokescreen on his recent visit to the UK, the announcement that Mitchell had followed in the footsteps of Sir Paul McCartney and signed to the Starbucks-owned label shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Getting involved with the Starbucks Hear Music project in 2005 had already helped change her gloomy outlook. Mitchell allowed the coffee company to issue a Selected Songs compilation of her catalogue, cherry-picked by the likes of Elvis Costello, Dylan and Chaka Khan, and also assembled her own favourite music – tracks by Debussy, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Louis Jordan, Chuck Berry, Steely Dan, Deep Forest, Edith Piaf, Etta James, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Dylan, Leonard Cohen and The New Radicals – for their Artist's Choice series. "I reviewed the songs and compositions that, over the course of my life, really got to me. I needed to remember what it was that I had once loved about music," she reflected.

Having badmouthed the majors and US radio, this iconic artist also knew she had to figure out a way of getting her new music to her original Sixties' and Seventies' fanbase and possibly reach out to a younger demographic. The Starbucks tie-up couldn't be more timely, since singer-songwriters of both genders currently dominate radio formats around the world.

Mitchell's eagerly awaited comeback could also help put in perspective her unique achievements and demonstrate how much she has inspired and influenced everyone from Suzanne Vega and Beth Orton to KT Tunstall via Morrissey and Prince – who swears that The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Mitchell's 1975 album, is "the greatest record ever made". Even Madonna is a fan. "I worshipped her when I was in high school. I knew every word to Court and Spark," Madonna has said. "Blue is amazing. I would have to say that, of all the women I've heard, she had the most profound effect on me from a lyrical point of view."

Born Roberta Joan Anderson on 7 November 1943 in Fort McLeod, Alberta, the girl who began calling herself Joni in her early teens is the only child of William Anderson, who managed a grocery store after he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, and Myrtle "Mickey" McKee, a schoolteacher. Looking out of the window at the wheat fields, the wide open landscape, the railtracks and the highway outside the homes they lived in first in Maidstone, then in North Battleford and finally in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, she already felt a "permanent longing to set off and go somewhere."

She took piano lessons for a year and a half but got her knuckles wrapped for improvising her own tunes. When she contracted polio aged nine, she spent weeks in hospital, but made it home by Christmas, defying the nuns' expectations and the doctor's diagnosis. "I walked. So polio, in a way, germinated an inner life and a sense of the mystic. It was mystical to come back from that disease," she later recalled.

At 13, she joined the local choir. Arthur Kratzman, her English teacher, encouraged her painting and writing to such an extent that she subsequently dedicated her debut album to him. The teenage Joni used all the money she'd made modelling for a department store to buy a $36 ukulele because the acoustic guitar she really wanted was too expensive. With the help of a Pete Seeger method, she taught herself a few chords and started singing in coffee houses while studying at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

"In the beginning, I thought of myself as confident mimic of Joan Baez and Judy Collins," she said. "As a painter, I had the need to innovate. As a musician... at that time, it was just a hobby. I didn't think I had the gift to take it any further."

Losing her virginity and becoming pregnant in 1964 by fellow student Brad McGrath set off a chain of events as the couple first moved to Toronto to hide her pregnancy and then split. She still played the occasional gig while working in a department store and gave birth to Kelly Dale Anderson on 19 February 1965. A month later, she met folk musician Chuck Mitchell and they married because she hoped to create a family unit for the daughter she had put in a foster home, but he went back on his promise and she gave Kelly up for adoption.

They moved to Detroit, though the ill-matched acoustic duo they formed didn't last, her husband unable to understand that the guilt Mitchell suffered had made her wise beyond her years. "I started writing to develop my own private world and also because I was disturbed," she admitted. "I feel grateful for every bit of trouble I went through. Bad fortune changed the course of my destiny. I became a musician."

Tom Rush stopped by the couple's Detroit apartment, instantly understood where "Day After Day", "Both Sides, Now" and "Little Green" came from, and recorded Joni's composition "Urge For Going". "Tom would say, 'Do you have any new songs?' I'd play him a batch and he'd say, 'Any more?' I always held out the ones that I felt were too sensitive, or too feminine, and those would always be the ones he chose. Because of Tom, I began to get noticed," she remembered.

As Dave Van Ronk and Buffy Sainte-Marie also began performing her songs, Mitchell left her husband in 1967 and moved to New York. She found herself more at home in Greenwich Village and made her first visit to the UK where the American producer and guru of the underground scene Joe Boyd introduced her to the Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention, who recorded her composition "Chelsea Morning" in 1968.

With Judy Collins including a definitive rendition of "Both Sides Now" on her Wildflowers album, Mitchell became the most talked-about singer-songwriter without a recording contract. This was rectified when she met manager Elliot Roberts, who secured her a deal with Reprise Records as she hooked up with David Crosby. The former member of The Byrds had seen her in a club in Florida and produced her eponymous debut, the one most fans call Song to a Seagull.

Mitchell was the muse of Laurel Canyon, the poster girl of the hippie generation. She wrote the era-defining "Woodstock", anticipated green concerns with "Big Yellow Taxi", her breakthrough hit, in 1970, and recorded the must-have albums Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, Blue, For the Roses and Court and Spark. Over the next two decades, she refused to be pigeonholed as the folkie with the sweet soprano voice and flaxen hair, and moved into pop, rock, jazz, and what wasn't yet called world music and electronica.

From the mid-Seventies, Mitchell's back story seemed to affect people's perception of her, yet she kept moving into more challenging territory, recording with the jazz stalwarts Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius and Charles Mingus, who made the most of her unusual chord structures.

"For years everybody said, 'Joni's weird chords, Joni's weird chords'," she has said, "and I thought, 'how can chords be weird?' Chords are depictions of your emotions, they feel like my feelings. I called them Chords of Inquiry, they had a question mark in them," she explained. "There were so many unresolved things in me that those suspended chords I found by twisting the knobs on my guitar, they just suited me."

But Mitchell always had a hard time coming to terms with fame, and first talked about quitting live performances during a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1970. "I never liked the roar of the big crowd. I could never adjust to the sound of people gasping at the mere mention of my name. It horrified me," she confessed. "And I also knew how fickle people could be. I knew that they were buying an illusion, and I thought maybe they should know a little more about who I am. I didn't want there to be such a gulf between who I presented and who I was. David Geffen [her agent, her roommate and her label boss in the Seventies and Eighties] used to tell me that I was the only star he ever met who wanted to be ordinary. I never wanted to be a star. I didn't like entering a room with all eyes on me."

She disappeared to the wilds of Canada at regular intervals and kept questioning the mendacious workings of the music business, as far back as the For the Roses album with "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio" in 1972. Having announced her retirement in 2002, Mitchell enjoyed her new role as mother and grandmother and really thought she wouldn't go back to making music. All this has changed now with this unexpected burst of creativity and a renewed sense of urgency and concern about the state of the world. As she told The Word magazine earlier this year: "I'm not interested in escapist entertainment when the planet is at red alert. We're busy wasting our time on this fairy-tale war when nobody's fighting for God's creation. I realised I wasn't ready for retirement."

With a mixed media exhibition due to open in New York in the autumn and Shine, Joni Mitchell is back. What a long strange trip it's been.

'Shine' is out on Concord/Universal on 24 September

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master;
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run--
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

QUOTE: "To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don't worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest."