Resolve and Resolving: Resolutions 2012

quotesandnotes

Last year I made ten resolutions and only managed to honor one, so this year, I'm going to be honest and realistic with myself and resolve to do only what I know I'm interested in resolving.

Drink more. When you think about it, life is rosier after a glass of wine. My goal is to down all those bottles I've been keeping for a special occasion. Ladies and gentlemen: I am that special occasion!

Dance, Dance, Dance. It's been way too long since I've been out on a dance floor, bar or stage. My goal is to dance every day. Yes, every single day. And I'm not talking lame Wii or zumba moves. I'm talking African Healing Dance, Belly Dancing, and whatever gets me up and shaking a leg (or grove thing), busting a move, etc.

1000 words. The book won't write itself. It's up to me to sit in the chair, or on the couch, or in the car, and write. My goal is to write 1000 words longhand every day. No matter what.

Read Dickens. 2012 just may end up being the best of times, or the worst of times, but I'll have Dickens there to show me how we humans navigate ourselves in hale and fallow times. My goal is to read Charles Dickens' oeuvre, starting with "Great Expectations".

Get Paleolithic. As in eating fresh fruit, lean meats, vegetables, and sea food. My goal is to cut back refined sugars, grains, vegetable oils, and salt. I have no interest in making the Paleo Diet my new religion. I just want to get healthier.

Explore Chocolate. Do I really need to explain myself on this one? My goal is to go dark, very, very dark.

Worry Less. There's a lot to worry about right now, but I think that's the history of the world. There always was a lot to worry about. My goal is to worry less and thereby stop grinding my teeth and ending up with cracked molars and TMJ. I will let the worry present itself, I'll shake it's hand, say it's name, smile, make it feel like it's the only worry in the room, then nod and move on. I will make it a point to focus on seeing what is rather than horriblizing even the smallest worry into the Apocalypse.

Get Out of Dodge. It may be true that most men and women travel the entire world searching for treasure, only to discover it in their own backyards, but I want to search the entire world. I've spent far too much time in my own backyard to appreciate it. I need to leave and come back. Then I'll look for backyard booty. My goal is to make small forays out into the broader world. So far, I have trips to New York City, and Paris on the docket. I can hear the voice of Hagia Sophia all the way from Istanbul, and the mosaics of San Vitale in Ravenna beckon.

Cut My Losses. This one is going to be hard. My goal is to untie any Gordian knot that is keeping me tethered to a past that no longer exists. I am going to clean house and send that which no longer adds to my life, either packing or to the goodwill. No hard feelings.

Give Thanks. I'm not getting all Thanksgiving here. What I'm talking about is, saying thank you to people, I may or may not know, that have impacted my life, people whom I admire, people whose work I admire. My goal is to write a thank you note a week, address it, put a stamp on it, and put it in the mail. Even if you think you know me well, you have no idea how difficult the process of getting something in the mail is for me. At the close of 2012, I will have written and mailed 52 thank you notes, (and in the process shed one neurosis).

Keep Track: All we have is each other. In this life it is comforting to know we have friends who love us despite our many failings. Accept us for ourselves. Love us despite our quirks and tempers. Take our calls at unreasonable hours. Know our secrets and still like us. Defend us against our enemies with a fury worthy of myth. Break our fall. Catch us when we trip over ourselves. My goal is to contact every friend I've let slip under the horizon.

One Sentence: December 31, 2011

Dim lights, the scent of citrus, warmed blankets, and hands on skin kneading knotted muscles smooth.

Poem Therapy at 11:37 A.M. December 30, 211: Kissing Stieglitz Good-Bye - Gerald Stern

Kissing Stieglitz Good-Bye
Gerald Stern

Every city in America is approached
through a work of art, usually a bridge
but sometimes a road that curves underneath
or drops down from the sky. Pittsburgh has a tunnel—

you don't know it—that takes you through the rivers
and under the burning hills. I went there to cry
in the woods or carry my heavy bicycle
through fire and flood. Some have little parks—

San Francisco has a park. Albuquerque
is beautiful from a distance; it is purple
at five in the evening. New York is Egyptian,
especially from the little rise on the hill

at 14-C; it has twelve entrances
like the body of Jesus, and Easton, where I lived,
has two small floating bridges in front of it
that brought me in and out. I said good-bye

to them both when I was 57. I'm reading
Joseph Wood Krutch again—the second time.
I love how he lived in the desert. I'm looking at the skull
of Georgia O'Keeffe. I'm kissing Stieglitz good-bye.

He was a city, Stieglitz was truly a city
in every sense of the word; he wore a library
across his chest; he had a church on his knees.
I'm kissing him good-bye; he was, for me,

the last true city; after him there were
only overpasses and shopping centers,
little enclaves here and there, a skyscraper
with nothing near it, maybe a meaningless turf

where whores couldn't even walk, where nobody sits,
where nobody either lies or runs; either that
or some pure desert: a lizard under a boojum,
a flower sucking the water out of a rock.

What is the life of sadness worth, the bookstores
lost, the drugstores buried, a man with a stick
turning the bricks up, numbering the shards,
dream twenty-one, dream twenty-two. I left

with a glass of tears, a little artistic vial.
I put it in my leather pockets next
to my flask of Scotch, my golden knife and my keys,
my joyful poems and my T-shirts. Stieglitz is there

beside his famous number; there is smoke
and fire above his head; some bowlegged painter
is whispering in his ear; some lady-in-waiting
is taking down his words. I'm kissing Stieglitz

goodbye, my arms are wrapped around him, his photos
are making me cry; we're walking down Fifth Avenue;
we're looking for a pencil; there is a girl
standing against the wall—I'm shaking now

when I think of her; there are two buildings, one
is in blackness, there is a dying poplar;
there is a light on the meadow; there is a man
on a sagging porch. I would have believed in everything.


I am still trying to believe in everything.

When I first learned of Georgia O'Keeffe and Stieglitz, saw the sensual photographs he had taken of her hands, (probably those first years when I was hidden away in the stacks of the university's library), I couldn't believe she left him for the desert. She left Alfred Steiglitz! She left this man who loved her, when he was ill, when he was dying. And, unbelievably, he didn't hate her for it. And, from all I can gather, from thier letters, she never felt guilt for leaving.

She loved him, but she loved her work more.

When I was young, I thought O'Keeffe ungrateful, selfish. Now that I am older I understand, what an act of courage it must of been for her, to leave New York City and Steiglitz, and all both offered, and to choose like a man. But, being a woman, she had to choose between love and her life's work. She chose the latter, and people like me, (in my younger incarnation), judged her for it.

She knew very early in her life, what I am just coming to know: Art is a jealous lover and despite what you try to make yourself believe, that you can have both, you must choose. You can have only one lover. And when you make the choice, that you, that what you want, that your vision, is what really matters, you will be judged. Perhaps even damned.

Does it really matter when your desert beckons?

This coming year, I must choose.

Artist of the Day: Herbariums I - Romina Bacci

Herbariums I Romina Bacci milesoflight.etsy.com & www.rominabacci.com

Around ten this morning, a murder of crows, over one-thousand, flew over the field behind my house in a strange, undulating black line, east toward the Rocky Mountains. What's even stranger is that I didn't see this as a portent of the new year. I only saw what is, crows flying like a river over the property behind me, most likely in search of ground planted with winter wheat, its soil clear of snow, exposed and vulnerable.

Okay, so maybe I saw a little more than what is, as my dramatic last sentence implies.

To change subjects, and to clarify why I chose this photograph of leaves, yet persist on talking about corvids: have you ever considered how closely leaves resemble feathers?

Take a closer look at Bacci's gorgeous photograph, and identify which looks like a finch, dove, swallow, hummingbird feather.

Or, do you just see what is?

Artist Bio:
Photographer and Graphic Designer. Originally from Rosario, Argentina, living in Plano, Texas US.

WEB: www.rominabacci.com
BLOG: http://milesoflightprints.blogspot.com/
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/pages/MilesofLight/127040074011299

"There’s obviously a strong influence from my mother in all my nature related work. I’ve definitely absorbed her passion for nature, aborigines and their rudimentary work; anything coming from the earth. She used to engrave leather, make lamps with sea shells, seed necklaces, collect dried flowers. I believe my feather obsession is not so arbitrary."

This Moment: 8:12 A.M. December 31, 2011

A chorus of crows sing an ominous hymn this December morning. The sky is separated into thirds: ash-colored haze, pale blue, stark white cumulus. The snowstorms have yet to arrive. Like the sky, what I remember of my dream is divided into thirds: one part modern architecture, ancient Hittite, and torn strips of paper. The new year beckons. The small dog barks furiously at a jogger running past our house. The woman stops to readjust her navy and burgundy scarf. My dog is all animated growl and punctuated warning. The old dog refuses to join the game, her head rests on her crossed fore paws. The Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world at the close of this new year. Cars speed down the road to their destinations, tulips and winter wheat harbor under the cold earth, waiting for the sun to return, a plane cuts it's way through the air overhead, birds venture from their shelters to forage. The end of my world as I know it is coming. I hope for a braver new world.

Artist of the Day: Great Writers Series - Emily Louise Howard

Guest Writers Series Emily Louise Howard thediggingestgirl.etsy.com

It's time to write the book already!

Artist Bio:
Welcome to The Diggingest Girl, fine art and crafts by Emily Louise Howard!

A little about me: I have been a lover of art since childhood - whether I was carving shrunken heads out of apples with my mom or drawing on the underside of her kitchen table. Since then I've matured just a little and I now hold a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Cincinnati (I received my BFA from the University of Kentucky). Many people in academia like to draw a hard line between fine art and craft, but I don't discriminate - I do it all!

One Sentence: December 26, 2011

How is it possible it has taken me almost half a century to understand that what I choose to focus on, see, attach meaning to, is the reality I have made?

One Sentence: December 23, 2011

Explicate - the word that evaded me last night, ruled the day, beginning with a family friend's directive to do, rather than think.

One Sentence: December 22, 2011

So tired, I cannot think of the word that explains analyzing poetry; Instead, I can only think of "break it down."

One Sentence: December 21, 2011

On this day made of darkness, an understanding, night holds the light within itself.

Artist of the Day: Bare Winter Tree with Red Berries - Heather Green

Bare Winter Tree with Red Berries Heather Green briole.etsy.com

Happy Winter Solstice everybody!

Shortest day. Longest night. First day of Winter. That much closer to Spring.

Artist Bio:
Hello, my name is Heather Green and I am inspired by color, nature and travel and think you will find that my photography reflects these passions and more. I grew up on a farm in Minnesota, moved to New Orleans and settled in St. Louis after Hurricane Katrina blew me north. I was lucky enough to pick up a cute Cajun guy along the way. Our friends now all clamber to come over when my husband is crafting his authentic Cajun cuisine. I grew up being crafty and I am a fifth generation quilter, going back to my great, great Grandma. My mom, Jan Douglas, is a nationally recognized quilt designer. I love expanding my perception of the world by photographing everyday items or places in a new or artistic way. I hope you enjoy what you see!

Check out my facebook fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/briolephotography

Poem Therapy at 9:02 A.M. December 21, 2011: You Are Not a Statue - Mark Yakich

You Are Not a Statue
Mark Yakich

And I am not a pedestal.

We are not a handful of harmless
scratches on pale pink canvas.
Today is not the day to stop

looking for the woman
to save you. What was once
ivory is wood. What was once

whalebone is cotton.
My coif and corset are duly
fastened, and your shirttail is

tied in a diamond knot.
You may be the giver
of unappreciated nicknames

and the devoted artist
who has given my still life
life. But we can never reach

each other's standards.
You want to condemn me
to eternity. I want to make you

no more perfect than you
used to be. We are not
together, we are not alone.


This poem and the news of the last few weeks brings to mind Marvin Gaye's song, What's Going On? and the Macbeth witches' refrain, fair is foul, and foul is fair.

Paradox, outrage, disingenuous, dissembling, deplorable are the words of the day.

Paradox:
In response to the image of the young woman being dragged and beaten in Cairo,Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chastised Egypt's military for,
"This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonours the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform and is not worthy of a great people."

Um, like, what about the "systematic degradation" of American citizens (women included) who were beaten, dragged by the hair, and pepper-sprayed during Occupy demonstrations of the past few months?

Dissembling:
And then there's the banker's facile polemic aimed at the "imbeciles".

Disingenuous:
And then Chris Moody's article on Frank Luntz's anti-occupy talking points.

Sigh.

Deplorable:
And then, NDAA - National Defense Authorization Act just passed.

Holy Fourth Ammendment!

Outrage:
Say you want a revolution? Well, mess with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the American Dream, but, mess with our Internet via SOPA- Stop Online Piracy Act, and you may just get one.

Okay. Chillax.

I am spun up today if you can't tell. Perhaps it's just that I can't deal with the idea of less sunlight today, or it may just be that I need to put myself on a news diet, a news fast, and swear off world events for a week, or two.

Or it could be that it's time all of us on this tiny planet should heed the words of Yakich's poem, We are not together, we are not alone.

One Sentence: December 20, 2011

A man insinuates himself into my afternoon coffee circle, and to my absolute surprise, I am presented with the ghost of seventh century Byzantium, and with irrefutable proof of religious fervor as a type of madness.

Chanukkah: December 20-28

Peppy Menorah cardsbybutterfly.etsy.com

I'm making an early start on my New Year's resolution to broaden my understanding of world religions and cultures. I have little more than a surface knowledge of the majority of the world's religions, despite a university survey class, and personal reading.

It's so easy to get comfortable within the familiar walls of your own little universe. There are other worlds out their to explore, it's about time I forge a new trail, and perhaps a neural pathway or two.

Here's an introduction to Chanukkah from Judaism 101.

I love this creative interpretation of the menorah by cards by butterfly. She also has a celery and carrot, and sand drawing menorah photographs that are equally as fabulous.

The Snowman Blues - Will Work for Clothes



Times are hard for everyone, snowmen included.

On my drive home from work, I usually take the same exit on the way to the cafe and my afternoon coffee with my father. The same man is always there, holding his cardboard sign, relying on the kindness of strangers to open their pocketbooks and hand a few bills out of their car windows.

Sometimes I'm a kind stranger, but most of the time I smile and wave, silently wishing him better luck. Some days I can't meet his eyes.

For the last few weeks the man hasn't been there, and now that I write this, I realize I haven't seen anyone standing on street corners or sidewalks, anywhere, holding signs. Perhaps it's too cold, or too disheartening. I hope their luck changed.

Over the last few months, I've noticed that the verbiage on the signs has changed. Instead of the usual messages: stranded,need help, the signs read, lost my job, need help; living in my car, need help; disabled vet, need help. And you know it's really bad when young people and women are out there holding signs.

On my way home last week, instead of the man, there was a snowman holding a sign. I have no idea who made him. Perhaps the man. I was grateful for the moment of levity the snowman provided. His sign read: I feel naked, need help.

I really hope the man found help, secured a job, found whatever he needed. I hope he never has to stand at the exit with his sign and ask for change, ever again.

Over the weekend, the snowman melted.

One Sentence: December 19, 2011

I finally understand it is time to accept my anger that my former sparring partner, my brilliant friend, that her sudden stroke has stolen her rapier wit, forever, but also that her generosity remains.

Artist of the Day: Animal Lover - Kelli Puissegur

Animal Lover Kelli Puissegur retrowhale.com & retrowhale.etsy.com

Over the weekend as I drove from one little store to another trying, quite desperately, and to great amusement, to find gifts that have some kind of personal meaning, I listened to a program about Bonobo monkeys.

We share something like 98.8% DNA with Chimpanzees and Bonobo monkeys. What is really interesting though is that bonobos aren't violent. Chimps are.

Bononbos are run by females, they are a matriarchy, don't wage war, or kill thier infants, nor do they exhibit violence against females, and they have sex, all the time with everybody. Everybody, meaning their fellow bonobos.

Chimps are the complete opposite of bonobos in every possible way. Guess which ape human behavior reflects more?

If only we could be more like bonobos.

Lucy by Lawrence Gonzales, explores this very issue with Lucy, a fictional half human, half bonobo girl found in the Congo.

I went looking for what's new in retrowhale land. I am a big, big fan of retrowhale.Puissegur's piece Animal Lover reminded me of the bonobo feature. We have much to learn from animals.

Check this artist out. Seriously.

Artist Bio:
Feel free to visit my website- retrowhale.com

My drawings are little appreciations for found objects, plants, animals, people who inspire me, family, music, shapes, textures, and what ever else pops into my head. I change mediums frequently because I get board easily but my work generally maintains a child like, playful quality. My goal is to make affordable art that people can appreciate or relate to in some way.

Retrowhale is a member of Etsy for Animals: Artists Helping Animals (efa): www.etsyforanimals.com

If you have a question or a special request please send me a conversation through etsy or email me at: retrowhale [!at] gmail.com

Poem Therapy 11:22 A.M. December 19, 2011: forgetting something - Nick Flynn

forgetting something
Nick Flynn

Try this—close / your eyes. No, wait, when—if—we see each other / again the first thing we should do is close our eyes—no, / first we should tie our hands to something / solid—bedpost, doorknob— otherwise they (wild birds) / might startle us / awake. Are we forgetting something? What about that / warehouse, the one beside the airport, that room / of black boxes, a man in each box? I hear / if you bring this one into the light he will not stop / crying, if you show this one a photo of his son / his eyes go dead. Turn up / the heat, turn up the song. First thing we should do / if we see each other again is to make / a cage of our bodies—inside we can place / whatever still shines.

Oh, I really need something that still shines. Especially this Monday that feels like a morning after a really long weekend of twisting off. Don't you?

This weekend marked the exact moment where we left the key on the nightstand, turned out the lights, closed the door behind us, and left Iraq.

I guess it's up to the historians and Oliver Stone to tell us just what the hell happened, what it all really means. I know how I feel, how I've felt, this last decade of war and social and economic upheavals: terror , apathy, rage, disgust, raw animal fear, complacent, hope, disappointment, anger, disillusionment, betrayal, outrage, duped, pissed off, really, really hopeful.

All I know, is that we have young men and women coming back home, very changed. Now, it's our turn to serve.

How? I'm not sure. Let's figure it out.

One Sentence: December 16, 2011

The sheer pleasure of velvet on skin and the gentle space of unfettered silence completes this week with a lilting note of gratitude.

Artist of the Day: My Sacred Heart - Suzanne Gonsalez

My Sacred Heart Suzanne Gonsalez
http://ravenwolfgallery.com & ravenwolf.etsy.com

It's the weekend and I decided I needed a strong image to act as guide this last weekend before the holiday. I just cannot get myself worked up to shopshopshop.

Instead, I'd rather search for art that inspires. I just found Grand Forks artist Suzanne Gonsalez. Her layered photos are evocative. I love this sacred heart photo, it's Meso-American influences.

I have a collection of sacred hearts. I texture many of my mixed-media paintings and sculptures with this motif. And in the department of the weird, my laundry room is really my sacred heart room. Hidden among the succulents and orchids are statues of madonnas, and one lapis lazuli sacred heart plaque is visible behind the swollen leaves of a yucca.

Instead of buying meaningless gadgets and stuff, I will search for the perfect gift, a gift from my heart to theirs. Enjoy your weekend.

Artist Bio:
I like viewing the world through my camera lens or, through the veil of art. When faced with obstacles I think outside the box. This also means I am very stubborn, but in a good way. I collect friends for life and have been known to come out fighting for them. I run on instincts and listen to them over facts; I am seldom wrong when I listen to them. I hate narcissists and false flattery; I connect to others that show me their souls.

My art training has awarded me a Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Mixed Media and a job as an Assistant Professor of Art where I teach Photography. I have also won several awards and grants on the national scene for my art. The imagery of my art contains the metaphor of myths and dreams. Using the contemporary framework of my personal history and environment, I explore personal loss, religious and cultural identities as well as the banality of life.

More info on me can be seen on my website at http://ravenwolfgallery.com

This Moment: 8:51 P.M. December 15, 2011

There is no other choice but to sit with this mood, this unwelcome guest, and together watch carlights stream through the darkness. My loyal, old dog sits vigil with me. She is resting on the tasseled entry rug, front paws crossed one over the other, her nose pressed against the etched glass of the front door. I hear my husband toss fitfully in the bedroom. He talks in his sleep. Most of his sleep talk is work directives. Rarely, is the talk personal. Sometimes I enter his conversations and he will answer my inquiries until he falls back to dreaming. This is how we speak to each other. A punk rock version of "Over the Rainbow" assaults the evening's quiet. I close the door. On his flight home today, my husband sat next to a returning soldier. I asked him if they spoke. What was said. I wanted to know what the soldier thought of day's news. He said they didn't talk, that he fell asleep, but added that when they landed and he stood to retrieve his bag, the soldier joked that my husband was out the entire flight, and he joked back that this is what happens when you become an old man. I wonder what my husband said to the soldier while he was asleep.

One Sentence: December 15, 2011

The remains of the day wait outside the bedroom door; inside I am folded into the covers watching the flames lift and fall behind the fireplace's glass screen.

Artist of the Day: Imagination - Mystele

Imagination Mystele mystele.com & littleglimpses.etsy.com

Self proclaimed folk artist and painter Mystele's paintings are exactly what I needed to end my day on a more melodic note. The painting featured here is cropped and really doesn't do it justice. To see it, check out her etsy site, and be certain to view more of her work, especially Sojourn.

For whatever reason, I had a difficult time on her .com site. It may just be my filter. In any case, enjoy.

Artist Bio:
i'm here. i get to be a wife, mom of 2 crazy boys, a friend, a singer, and artist. YES! who would be foolish enough to ask for more?

i've been painting since feb/march of 2008 and have had a blast playing around and creating loveable characters. ...i go nuts if i don't get some alone time to paint or create a little sumpin' sumpin'. my perpetual subjects include: women, birds, quirky houses, and angels with some polka dots, stripes and words thrown in for good measure.

i'm so thankful to be able to do what i love especially in today's economy. thank you for supporting working artists.

at 30-something, i can say without a doubt that i absolutely, positively love what i've been given to give away.

Happy Birthday December 15

1986 Xiah South Korean singer
1971 Arne Quinze Conceptual artist
1970 Christopher Daniel, little brother, Superdad, master of the universe
1968 Javid Hussain Bollywood director and film producer
1947 Rodney Bingenheimer Pioneering American radio personality
1944 Chico Mendes Brazilian rubber tapper, unionist and environmental activist
1943 Lucien den Arend Geometric abstract sculptor
1933 Tim Conway,comic
1932 Edna O'Brien,writer
1919 Max Yasgur Owner of the Woodstock Festival site
1913 Muriel Rukeyser, U.S., poet
1912 Ray Eames American designer
1906 Betty Smith, novelist, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
1892 J. Paul Getty, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, oil magnate, Getty Oil
1861 Charles Edgar Duryea, inventor, 1st auto built and operated in U.S.
1852 Antoine Henri Becquerel, discovered radioactivity, Nobel 1903
1832 Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, French engineer, Eiffel tower
130 Lucius Verus Roman co-emperor
37 Nero Claudius Augustus Germanicus, 5th emperor of Rome

According to TLC's How Stuff Works Family Astrology, those born on this day should know the following about themselves:

A Sagittarius born on December 15 is not as unconventional as some members of their sign, but they can appreciate the absurd and contemplate the impossible. These folks are success-oriented yet have too much integrity to go against their principles to get what they want. They never lose sight of their commitments and interests.

Friends and Lovers December 15 people look to their pals for counsel. Romance can be complicated for them, but they never stop trying to make

their love life work. They are much more intense than they seem, and they can suffer more pain because of a breakup than even those closest to them realize.

Children and Family December 15 people may have spent years estranged from family members, but they never give up hope that someday those differences can be mended. They can learn a great deal about themselves from parenthood. Often it's not until they have children that they are able to take stock of their upbringing.

Health The jovial attitude of December 15 people may hide serious food issues. They need to relearn how to appreciate food, how to choose healthful food, and most of all, how to separate emotional issues from the act of eating.

Career and Finances People born on this date are often drawn to fields that allow them to make their living in a semipublic way. Money often comes to them in odd ways. Even if they don't work hard to acquire it, they seem destined to draw material resources into their lives.

Dreams and Goals December 15 people know how to conceptualize a goal and make it come true. They have a strong work ethic and are delighted when rewards flow. They don't become discouraged by disappointments, looking at them as challenges to work harder and focus more intently. They understand the need to remain true to themselves.

Iraq War Over

Shannon Stapleton Reuters www.guardian.co.uk

I heard the news early this morning when a local dj, in between traffic reports and weather, informed his listeners that the war is finally over. I immediately felt the sting of tears in my nose, followed by numbness. The announcement felt random and arbitrary, despite the combat troop pullout in August.

Although none of us know with any certainty the meaning or what the overall impact of this war will be, the human cost is all too clear.

U.S. Troop Casualties: 4,486
U.S. Troops Wounded: 32,226
U.S. Troops Suicides: 1 every 36 hours
U.S. Veterans Suicides: 1 every 80 minutes

Sources: Brookings Institute, United Nations, ABC News, CBS News, NPR, Department of Veterans Affairs

Iraq War over:
The Guardian: US marks Iraq exit with flag ceremony
The Christian Science Monitor: Mission accomplished, really: US war in Iraq officially ends
The Whitehouse: Remarks by the President and First Lady on the End of the War in Iraq
Ogden Standard Examiner: Obama: The war in Iraq is over

War is Over If You Want It:
Happy Xmas(War Is Over)
John Lennon

So this is Christmas and what have you done,
Another year over, a new one just begun.

And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun,
The near and the dear ones, the old and the young.

A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one without any fears.

And so this is Christmas for weak and for strong,
The rich and the poor ones, the road is so long.

And so happy Christmas for black and for white
For the yellow and red ones let's stop all the fights.

A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one without any fear.

And so this is Christmas and what have we done
Another year over, a new one just begun.

And so happy Christmas we hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones, the old and the young.

A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one without any fear.

War is over if you want it, war is over now.

Occupy This: "I Just Don't Get It" Collage

I Just Don't Get It - Danna

Satire is what closes on Saturday night.
George S Kaufman

I just don't get it. Jamie Dimon

It's a full week past "Saturday night", but I'm still thinking of Dimon's Marie Antoinette-esque remark (fyi: Marie, never said, Let them eat cake, but the people thought she did and were rankled by the perceived callousness).

I'm rankled.

I like to sublimate my "rankle" into something concrete, like art. Collage is my usual default. I'm a little late posting this collage I made in response to Jamie Dimon's purposely obtuse comment, I just don't get it, in which he conflated Occupy's frustration with banks and corporate greed with anger at the rich for being rich.

Looks like Dimon doesn't get it.

Actually, he gets it, and so does his audience, he's just dissembling for effect.

Occupy This: TIME Person of the Year - The Protester

thedailybeast.com

Before you click on the links below, please read about Mohammad Bouazizi, the man who set himself afire and the entire world alight.

TIME Person of the Year
Washington Post
Reuters

Artist of the Day: It Ain't Easy Playing Dumb - Mr. Frivilous

It Aint Easy Playing Dumb Mr. Frivilous mrfrivilous.etsy.com

Artist Bio:
Full time artist from Monday to Saturday, 5th ninja turtle on a Sunday!

Eared Grebes Crash Land in Utah

ecobirder.blogspot.com

I was browsing The Christian Science Monitor on an unrelated search when I came upon this story, that 3000 eared grebes had crashed in Cedar City, Hurricane, and St. George, of Utah's Washington County.

Last year over 4000 dropped from the January sky in Arkansas. People lost their bloody minds. Chicken Little ran amok. A few weeks later when I was on a bus at the Sundance Film Festival, in route to a theater, the topic came up, and of course the Mayan 2012 doomsday deadline was mentioned as a possible explanation.

Science came to rescue us from our the sky is falling end of days hysteria. So too, in today's instance of falling eared grebes. The birds mistook Walmart parking lots, high school football fields, and the snow-covered ground for a lake.

You'll be glad to know that 1500 of those 3000 are alive and being cared for by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resource's southern region.

One Sentence: December 13, 2011

Earlier, a friend talks about letting go and creating her own life, a revolution of one; Tonight, I chance upon a documentary about the man whose nonviolent ideology has toppled dictators and regimes, a revolution for all.

Poem Therapy December 13, 2011 at 2:10 P.M.: Blustery - Neil Shepard

Blustery
Neil Shepard

Blustery 25-below, O Walt, I wouldn't go
And live with animals tonight—
Or anytime soon. How do
They survive in their snowy lairs?
How could I, for that matter, who
Haven't taken the wild Swedish plunge
Every chilly night to thicken my fur layer
By layer, I who doze by the fire
With the phone to my ear,
Doze the whole new year
Listening to my wife in such weird
Zone-warping tropical heat, naked,
Whispering her desire for 50-below,
If it brings her home. That's fur
Of a different nature, Walt, layer
Upon layer of love that glows, grows
Over us like a sun-lit coat.
O we are hothouse flowers, Walt,
Naked and limply alive in a narrow
Equatorial band. Otherwise, we die.
Walt, we must make do
With our lovely human hair.


It's been snowing all day and I'm dreading the drive home, but, I am looking forward to sitting next to the fireplace, with my dogs, Otto Friedrich's The Grave of Alice B. Tolkas, and a cup of hot cocoa I just picked up that brews just like coffee.

I am grateful for the warmth of my home, that I have a home in this crazy and dizzingly unsettling start to the new century. We're eleven years in to number twenty-one, and my lord, does it ever have a right hook.

I love that the speaker of the poem is talking to Walt Whitman. That the speaker informs the luminous poet of the people, that we are more than the body electric, we are hothouse flowers.

I am a hothouse flower, I just didn't know it. I'm not temperamental, or high maintenance, but I can't live without love. Who can? If we don't have love in our lives, we wither and turn bitter like the stone at the center of a peach. No matter who we are, no matter our circumstances, how guarded we are, we all find our way to love. We love, that's what we humans do. I'm coming to understand that not all of us find the one, and although I don't want to accept this, I eventually will, and decide that finding a mirror, or multiple mirrors rather than the love of a lifetime, that comes with violins and much fervor, well, that just may have to do.

But, I'm an optimist. Tomorrow is another day, another year, another decade, another life.

Ultimately, each of us find love that nurtures the wild orchid blooming in our hearts.

Artist of the Day: Chihuahua in a Scarf - Lucy Snowe

Chihuahua in a Scarf Lucy Snowe lucysnowephotography.etsy.com

I love this photo. Love this dog. Guess what's happening at my house tonight? Sorry Harley, it's scarf night.

Artist Bio:
"Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is going to cave in." — From the film, American Beauty

To enter my shop click here:
www.etsy.com/shop/lucysnowephotography

I also have another etsy shop for limited edition and larger prints that I am still in the process of opening:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/moonteaphoto

I live as a hermit in the Pacific Northwest, in a tiny town with no stop lights. My neighbors think I've moved away, at the grocery store, they often ask, "Do you still live here?" I miss the anonymity of Los Angeles, but I do like watching the wild duck parade her tiny ducklings around the pond.

I love the cinematography on Wallander. I love reading mysteries with yellowed pages. I love Hitchcock and I would say I want to live inside the Trouble with Harry. Martha Graham slays me. And I love all things vintage.

My husband is a cowboy, riding horses, raising cattle and peacocks, tooling leather, and can't understand for one minute why in the world anyone would buy a photograph of a little dog wrapped up in a scarf... :)

I also have another etsy shop for limited edition and larger prints that I am still in the process of opening:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/moonteaphoto

You can find my shop on Facebook, where I share new items and special deals: www.facebook.com/pages/Lucy-Snowe-Photography/213996281951514

One Sentence: December 12, 2011

In the cafe's parking lot, a man honks wildly and backs out, nearly clipping my car, then slams to a stop, blocking the exit: I see him eye me in his rear view mirror, turn to engage my gaze, then watch as he snaps his head and leaps from his car to inspect his bumper, my car, me, while I ignore him, his diminutive stature, his overt aggressiveness, waiting for this dimunition of would-be destruction, to get back in his car and veer into oncoming traffic.

One Sentence: December 10, 2011

A friend writes the black butterflies from her dream appeared in her waking life recently while traveling to another continent, and I know for certain that my own ancestors are waiting for me to climb aboard the ghost train she saw in the same dream, and thereby reclaim my life.

This Moment: 7:03 A.M. December 10,2011

The fireplace glows a pumpkin orange in the almost dark. Streetlight globes burn like torches. The light is otherworldly, perhaps because the lunar eclipse is suspended to the west over the shallows of the lake. The small dog whines a three syllable plea to be let out. The old dog eyes me from her pillow. She has aged in the last two months. My daughter enters the room and joins me on the bed. The light is coming on. Soon the birds will sing the day open.

Artist of the Day: Magaly Ohika - Supporting each other through the good and bad

Supporting each other through the good and bad Magaly Ohika itsybitsyspider.etsy.com

The title of this piece brings to mind relationships, from the marriage kind to the friend kind. It's a given that very few of us can count more than five true friends that will have our back in flush and lean times, ( or even one friend if we're lucky, and honest). To be honest, I think I count my family as my closest friends and allies. I think I am a good friend, except I'm really stubborn, and a little nutty about boundaries. It takes a lot to get my back up, but once it is, just forget about it.

I remember learning about the Johari window in college. I really would like to know about my blind areas, the parts that are opaque to me, but crystal clear to everyone else. I know that acting aloof in hurtful situations is a way I cope. I know I like direct discussions, no prevaricating around the bush. I really hate passive language, too. I think I can be perceived as intense. I try not to assume or personalize, but I assume and personalize. I think I'm there in the good times and bad, although I can think of a couple times I just had to bow out, very quietly. Okay, I have no idea what I'm blind to and now I'm annoyed. Oh yeah, I default to anger or annoyance rather than weep. I do save my bad behavior and my rants for when I'm alone in the car.

I am a fan of primitive art and outsider art (outside of what? the canon/establishment, but who cares!), and anything that closely resembles this genre. San Juan, Puerto Rico artist Magaly Ohika's art is sophisticated in its simplicity. Hope you like it.

Artist Bio:
My name is Magaly Ohika. I have a B.A. in Illustration and in Toy Design.

I'm an artist who loves to smudge her fingers in paint and make beautiful works of art on paper. And love to share all this beauty to the world. Painting is intimate for me, the solitude of space, my paper, my acrylics and brushes. A connection where thoughts and feelings make beautiful music together . Sometimes they spill loudly across the page. Other times, is like listening to blues lavishly rattling the motions in my soul. My heart, my mind are at a flow. The rhythm feels right and once I'm feeling the groove everything I need in that given moment is in place. And I know the story--the image has begun and I'm having fun.

My Experiences:
Tyco - Toy designer
CyberSapien - Animation
One world Toys - Toy Designer
Just Toys - Toy designer

Art shows:
The wish house gallery - CT
The Re-Institute Gallery - CT
The Cornwall library - CT
The Gavin Gallery - Millerton NY
The West Cornwall Pottery Gallery - CT
Outsiders Gallery - CT

The Poets Passage Gallery - PR
Exodo Gallery - PR
1 Piso Gallery - PR
Espinar gallery - PR
Cafe Berlin - PR

Published 2010
Paper Cloth Scissors

Love to know more about my art?
Come visit:
http://theitsybitsyspill.blogspot.com

The Coffee Project: November 30 - December 2

Told him to open his eyes, and this is what he did.

A good day.

Story of a marriage: Mom with her cronies. Dad at his own table.

Mugging for the camera, trying to appear like a sad sack.

One Sentence: December 9, 2011

I am wakened by the dogs and the light of the full moon from dreams that exist only in darkness.

One Sentence: December 7, 2011

Confusion, then clarity: The end of anything and everything, the alpha and omega of this human life, is embedded in the beginning.

The Day That Will Live In Infamy

USS Arizona

This past July I went to the Pearl Harbor Memorial with my mother and sister. I took my father who was home on his comfort zone in Utah, in spirit. We took the ferry out to the USS Arizona. The oil was still seeping from the sunken ship to the surface and created a prism on the water. Being at the memorial, especially being on the USS Arizona was a moving experience. I had to blink back tears reading the hundreds of names of those lost in the attack, and also knowing the reality that the ship below us served as a tomb. I was standing at the rail when a woman and her son gave me a small bunch of flowers to throw on the water. I thanked them and threw the flowers onto the water.

The enormity of the attack, loss of life, and its lasting effect on the country is still overwhelming. I was also moved to tears by another, more personal reason. My father spent a year of his youth stationed there. The other day at coffee he mentioned how he went over the ruins of the Arizona almost every day on his way to and from Ford Island.

Although there are plenty who remember Pearl Harbor that are still alive today, World War II is something the majority of us have only experienced through film or history class.

I'd like to say war is behind us, that war is over forever, but as Shakespeare said, The past is prologue. War is here to stay. As for Iraq and Afghanistan, we'll have to leave it to the historians and film makers to create the narrative of our current wars.

I've included a couple photos I took at Pearl Harbor, and a few articles from world news to commemorate the day.

Pearl Harbor Day 2011: three enduring mysteries

Pearl Harbor Day 2011: Remembering FDR's Address On 70th Anniversary (VIDEO

Pearl Harbor from above, 1941-2011

Finally laid to rest with his comrades: Ashes of Pearl Harbor survivor interred on 70th anniversary of 'day of infamy'

Presidential Proclamation -- National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2011

Artist of the Day: Walk Out to Winter - Lupen

Walk Out to Winter Lupen GrainnePhotography.etsy.com

This photograph expresses my mood, exactly.

Artist Bio:
I am a self taught photographer exploring the magic and story telling of photography . The diversity of nature and beauty in everyday things are my endless inspiration .I live in lovely Sonoma County California amongst the Oak trees and sunny skies . The photographs in my shop are all original photographs taken by me from travels around the world , and right here at home in my flower and vegetable garden.

Poem Therapy December 7, 2011: My, My, My - Charles Bernstein

My/My/My
Charles Bernstein

Count these number of things you call mine. This is the distance between you and enlightenment.
—Swami Satchidananda.

(for Jenny)

my pillow
my shirt
my house
my supper
my tooth
my money
my kite
my job
my bagel
my spatula
my blanket
my arm
my painting
my fountain pen
my desk
my room
my turn
my book
my hopelessness
my wallet
my print
my sock
my toe
my stamp
my introduction
my luggage
my plan
my mistake
my monkey
my friend
my penis
my anger
my expectation
my pencil
my pain
my poster
my fear
my luggage tag
my eyes
my rainment
my wash
my opinion
my fat
my sleeplessness
my love
my basket
my lunch
my game
my box
my drawer
my cup
my longing
my blotter
my distraction
my underpants
my papers
my wish
my despair
my erasure
my plantation
my candy
my thoughtfulness
my forbearance
my gracelessness
my courage
my crying
my hat
my pocket
my dirt
my body
my sex
my scarf
my solidarity
my hope
my spelling
my smile
my gaze
my helplessness
my quilt
my reply
my enemy
my records
my letter
my gait
my struggle
my spirit
my cut
my thorn
my demise
my dream
my plate
my pit
my hollow
my blindness
my clinging
my projection
my teacher
my homework
my housework
my responsibility
my guilt
my relaxation
my boat
my crew
my peanut butter
my mill
my man
my hopelessness
my fooling
my sweet
my terror
my programme
my judgement
my disguise
my distress
my ladle
my soup
my mother
my basin
my pleat
my cheddar
my ownership
my enmity
my thought
my encyclopedia
my property
my formula
my infidelity
my discretion
my decision
my delusion
my deduction
my derision
my destitution
my delinquincy
my belt
my eroica
my junk
my jealousy
my remorse
my strength
my vision
my world
my fantasy
my anger
my determination
my refusal
my commitment
my insanity
my verbosity
my austerity
my androgeny
my defiance
my insistence
my emastication
my arousal
my mystification
my obscuraration
my ejaculation
my prostration
my wontonness
my cigarette
my belief
my uncertainty
my cat
my penetration
my insight
my obsolescence
my sleeping bag
my temptation
my dedication
my ball
my court
my kidney
my razor
my way
my tissue
my inadequacy
my own
my recorder
my song
my knack
my perception
my will
my canoe
my billiard ball
my content
my cassette
my voice
my sight
my knowledge
my bowels
my beard
my child
my lethargy
my nerve
my incredulity
my banana
my ink
my refrigerator
my car
my change
my pupil
my hair
my tongue
my tenderness
my star
my skill
my persona
my popularity
my pickle
my pinto
my window
my remembrance
my munificance
my country
my fragility
my visit
my longevity
my curtness
my incomparability
my sarcasm
my sincerity
my bed
my bed table
my table top
my bar mitzvah
my laughter
my scorn
my heartache
my sandwich
my call
my loss
my wit
my charm
my jest
my undoing
my practice
my piano lesson
my rage
my toe
my tattoo
my turtledove
my fly swatter
my vest
my notebook
my pocketbook
my sketchbook
my repulsion
my tea cup
my taste
my bag
my handbag
my bike
my jay
my roll
my dear
my milk
my closet
my slacks
my hoist
my ennui
my analysis
my language
my fortune
my vagueness
my mint
my limit
my import
my inference
my affectation
my affection
my insolence
my solitude
my memory
my bottle
my history
my ability
my adobe
my mission
my likeness
my misery
my solipsism
my omission
my regression
my opera
my penicillin
my resentment
my future
my understanding
my apricots
my holiday
my umbrella
my favorite
my mood
my side
my seat
my figment
my contour
my sky
my rainbow
my god
my mask
my reflection
my blessing
my light
my time
my epoxy
my drum
my hammer
my grease
my sand
my story
my top
my past
my mark
my depth
my garden
my silence
my speech
my selfishness
my hunger
my allowance
my letter
my massage
my derision
my epoch
my space
my land
my plentitude
my perversity
my poverty
my transgression
my exultation
my lack
my lustre
my beatude
my remission
my encantation
my white
my pulse
my creation
my grace
my object
my sum
my contumely
my gloom
my idea
my chart
my circumference
my gravity
my polarity
my distance
my eyelid
my planting
my separation
my id
my art
my death
my stand
my preparation
my heart
my life
my impression
my grave
my graciousness
my marrow
my heaven
my appearance
my olive oil
my flake
my self
my porridge
my mind
my function
my nakedness
my illumination
my freedom
my charity
my rose
my pallour
my pomp
my pajamas
my pity
my posing
my prayer
my dawn
my ocean
my tide
my underarm
my spectacle
my drifting
my ground
my body
my angels
my worship
my dew
my hobbey horse
my customer
my bread
my faith
my lies
my care
my restlessness
my sunflower
my weariness
my age
my existence
my sense
my backache
my pie
my thanks
my numbness
my sweeping
my inspiration
my token
my pond
my brillo
my squint
my pound
my rock
my critique
my aplomb
my portrait
my view
my rocking chair
my sisters
my demands
my gumdrops
my word

When I came across this poem, it hit my one, last nerve. Did you notice that selfishness is missing? If it were possible to revise and add one more line, I'd insert my selfishness between my graciousness/my marrow, to read as:

my graciousness
my selfishness
my marrow


We humans are a difficult lot. We are cabaple of thoughtfulness, gracelessness, courage, sincerity, insincerity, all at once. I like the position of selfishness above marrow, so the proximity of the two connect figuratively, alluding that the essence of who we are, who we really are, is metaphorically housed in our bones.

Here's the thing, everybody needs to be a little selfish, put themselves first, worry about their own needs before they attend to other's. You know, put on your own oxygen mask before you worry about the person in the seat next to you. Generally, when someone calls you selfish, it means you're not doing what they want you to do.If more than one person tells you you're selfish, well, you may want to consider you just may be. You may berate yourself for being selfish, and you may be correct, but is it situational, or systemic? Honestly, when you are in pain, your pain is the only pain there is, which reminds me of a slam poet from HBO's Def' Poetry series, who recited, my pain, my pain, my pain, is worse than your pain.

Sometimes, being selfish is liberating and absolutely healthy.

Putting yourself first, while prioritizing and considering other's needs and wants, is not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is selfishness. The I've got mine, you get yours. The mymymymemememineminemine.

Selfishness. The word is an eleven letter abstract noun. You can't experience it with your senses, but you know without any doubt what it is, and what it feels like to be on the receiving end of its ugly embrace. This abstract idea, this state of being, is the death knell in relationship. The proverbial last nail in the coffin.

If selfishness has taken up residence in your bones, get ready, because one is the loneliest number. Think not? Consider: no one wants to work on your team, that this is the second time you and your boss have had the talk,or if you're the boss, employees greet you with fixed smiles and little eye contact, transfer to other departments in alarming numbers, that it seems like hardly anyone is returning your calls, emails, texts, following your tweets, or is liking you on Facebook, that your spouse has inexplicably turned to stone, that only your dog is happy to see you.

No, the world isn't against you. The world no longer is inclined to indulge you.

All is not lost. Perhaps you should write a poem. Begin it with your.
It could read like this:

Your, Your, Your
your pillow
your shirt
your house
your supper
your tooth
your money
your kite
your job
your bagel
your spatula
your blanket
your arm
your painting
your fountain pen
your desk
your room
your turn

One Sentence: December 6, 2011

I am surprised the last straw came this evening, disguised as an abstraction.

Santa Baby Wish List

The Art Museum - Phaidon Press

I don't need anything. At all. My life is full, so is my house. I have a job, insurance, a great family. I have everything I need. Really. I want for nothing.

But, if Santa wants to leave this tome under the tree that I just read about on NPR books, well, I won't complain.

I have been an awful good girl. Truly.

The Art Museum published by Phaidon

Artist of the Day: Never Ending Story - Elitza Ouzounova

Never Ending Story, 34 Elitza Ouzounova elitzaOUZ.etsy.com

I was first drawn into Bulgarian artist, Elitza Ouzounova's, shop by her carved wood relief of a bird. I still love it, but lost myself to the layered lotus in Number 34 in her series of printmaking on wood, and would love to know her process. A little screenprinting, a little painting, subtractive scratching, maybe a collage element here and there is my guess.

Artist Bio:
My name is Elitza Ouzounova.
I live and work in Sofia,Bulgaria-Europe.
I am the creator of the art series "Free Time pieces","Never Ending Story" and other.
The tehnique is mixed media on wood, tempera, acryl, bee wax, patina, foil, glass, paper.
I graduated the High School of Applied Art in 1993.
I graduated the National Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia,Bulgaria in 1998 - Master of Arts degree.
I work as a graphic designer in the advertising business, but I feel most happy when painting and create art form from wood. I enjoy combining painting with wood to create different art pieces and art objects.
I find it exciting when I combine the shape and structure of the wood with colors and I do hope to share with you this emotion.

54 Finch Lane Gallery Holiday Art & Craft Exhibit

Get Ready for the Holiday Craft Exhibit & Sale

I've participated in this annual holiday art & craft exhibit at the Finch Lane Art Gallery in Salt Lake City since I was in my mid-twenties. This is one venue where I get to exhibit the art craft side of my work.

I've been working with greenware and porcelain lately, so in addition to my metalwork jewelry, I've included (ooak-oneofakind), carved and stamped ceramic houses, ornaments, and plaques. (I'll post images later).

One Sentence: December 5, 2011

An invitation to forgive arrives in a pink envelope.

Occupy This: A Bit of Perspective - Naomi Wolf vs Joshua Holland

We are indeed living in interesting times. Enjoy reading the following. I'll leave it up to you to decide who is making the stronger argument.

I absolutely agree with rwatts1 from Matt Seaton's response piece in The Guardian:
Must admit it's refreshing to read educated, well contemplated responses to make us all think. Whether you agree or not we can all gain a bit of perspective.

November 25, 2011 The Guardian Naomi Wolf article: The shocking truth about the crackdown of occupy

November 26, 2011 Joshua Holland's blog: Naomi Wolf’s ‘Shocking Truth’ About the ‘Occupy Crackdowns’ Is Anything But True

December 2, 2011 The Guardian Naomi Wolf rebuttal: The crackdown on Occupy controversy: a rebuttal

Windstorm Aftermath: December 1, 2011

I15 - Bountiful, Utah.
I15 - Centerville, Utah.

I15 convoy - Kaysville, Utah.

Upside down stop sign - Farmington, Utah.

Uprooted tree and lawn - Farmington, Utah.

Felled tree on driveway- Centerville, Utah.

I took these pictures on the way home from work, while I was stopped in traffic.

The drive to work was harrowing. It was dark and the sky was filled with a swirling mass of debris. Semis toppled onto their sides in the hurricane force winds, debris flew like wild birds and hit cars. The wind buffeted my car so forcefully I thought it might send me into the other lane, and since talking to friends and coworkers, in a few instances the wind did pick cars up and set them back down a few inches into the other lanes.

I was lucky. On the drive in, I missed the plastic sheeting that wrapped around the car in front of me. I saw cars with windows cracked or completely blown out. Once off the freeway, the roads were littered with tree branches, shattered store signs, garbage cans, and detritus. The power was off as far as I could see, and the only lights were those of sirens. Giant pine trees were cracked in half or uprooted in almost every yard I passed. I could see employees standing in their dark stores watching the wind have its way. In the parking lot at work, something blew off the roof and shattered. I was happy to be inside, even if the power was out.

On the drive home,the sun was out and the wind had died down a bit. Driving through the stretch of I15 Farmington, a piece of sheet rock flew in front of my car and slammed into a dump truck parked on the side of the road, then a rock slammed into my windshield, but strangely, did not shatter or even crack the glass.

I counted eight toppled semis still on the road, and a seemingly endless convey of parked semis, trucks, and larger vehicles lined the road or sheltered under the overpasses the entire stretch of Davis County.

The closest I've ever been to a hurricane was in Gulf Shores the year before Katrina. I have no idea, no experience or reality of what a hurricane is. The day before the Hurricane Rita hit, before we were ordered to evacuate, my younger sister and were on the beach, thrilled to in the wind and pounding surf. We ran from beach house to beach house, and held on to the deck railings, as the waves pummeled us. Our elder sister was out of her mind with worry. She knew the power of wind.

Sunday, Wasatch Front residents learned that another storm was on the way.

This past weekend, those affected by the winds, were without power. They cleared felled trees and debris from their yards, began reshingling their roofs. Yesterday, church was cancelled so that neighbors could help each other clean up the mess and prepare for the coming storm, that luckily, never arrived this morning.

Since the windstorm, I've found myself returning to a particular scene from Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, when Janie and Tea Cake are helpless in the face of the coming storm and all there is to do is watch God at work.

They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.

This Moment: 7:27 December 3, 2011

The sounds of industry fill the morning. Everyone in a rush to do. I am resolute to be the opposite and remain firmly entrenched in this strange feeling that arrived yesterday once the wind and it's wrath were gone for good. Over four hundred trees felled in my city, more than a thousand in the city where I work. All of my trees are firmly rooted in their home ground. The snow that fell during the night looks like the salt rim on a margarita glass. Car after car speeds past my home. The little dog is in the kitchen ferreting through a paper sack he has pulled fom the trash. My husband is pouring another cup of coffee. I lean into the warmth of my pillows anticipating the cold of the hardwood floors. The small dog enters the bedroom, nose to the ground. He jumps on the bed and stands sentinel, eyes following each car. I ask him if it's time for a walk and he tips his head, whines a quick response. The old dog lifts her head, then settles back into her forepaws. Her breathing is troubled, like a smoker's these last few weeks. A plane overhead. Since the winds I haven't seen a single bird or heard their birdsong. Where are they? A man bundled in a yellow jack speeds down the sidewalk, followed by a woman, her dogs in pink jackets. My mood lifts instantly.

Artist of the Day: Paris - Nichole Robertson

Last Light Nichole Robertson littlebrownpen.etsy.com

My thoughts have been on a Paris loop of late, for a variety of reasons. One, being a new friend recently returned from a trip, filled with tales of Parisian red wine. Another, the current political climate in my own country is sending me on excursions through France's political history. Yet another, I plan to inhabit the city of lights for at least a week in the near future.

Photographer Nichole Robertson's color-themed photographs, are exquisite, and a much needed respite from current news cycles, spinning like lopsided pinwheels in strong wind.

Artist Bio:Hi, I'm Nichole. I began the Paris Color Project when I moved to Paris in January 2009. What started as daily blog photos blossomed into a three-year project. I'm excited to announce that Chronicle Books is publishing a collection of photos this Spring.

When I'm not photographing Paris, eating French butter, or baking cake, I'm writing. I co-run a multi-disciplinary creative studio with my husband Evan and write copy for clients like Real Simple, Bravo TV, Tribal DDB and Estee Lauder.

I hope you enjoy browsing the photos!

Poem Therapy 2:39 - November 30, 2001: First Things at the Last Minute - Robert Hass & The Hour Until We See You - Brenda Hillman

Poet Robert Hass

First Things At the Last Minute
Robert Hass

The white water rush of some warbler's song.
Last night, a few strewings of ransacked moonlight
On the sheets. You don't know what slumped forward
In the nineteen-forties taxi or why they blamed you
Or what the altered landscape, willowy, riparian,
Had to do with the reasons why everyone
Should be giving things away, quickly,
Except for spendthrift sorrow that can't bear
The need to be forgiven and keeps looking for something
To forgive. The motion of washing machines
Is called agitation. Object constancy is a term
Devised to indicate what a child requires
From days. Clean sheets are an example
Of something that, under many circumstances,
A person can control. The patterns moonlight makes
Are chancier, and dreams, well, dreams
Will have their way with you, their way
With you, will have their way.




The Hour Until We See You
Brenda Hillman

When we part, even for an hour,
you become the standing on the avenue
baffled one, under neon,
holding that huge
red book about the capital— ;

what will you be in the next hour,
— bundled to walk
through creamy coins from streetlamps
on sidewalks to your car, past
candles reflected in windows, while
mineral sirens fade in the don’t
return,— driving home past
pre-spring plum blossom riot
moments of your thought...

Those trees rush to rust leaves,
each a time-hinge with great energy—
they can’t bear inexactitude.
News of revolts in the squares —there—
& here, the envious have gone to caf├ęs
to speak in order to leave things out—
Love, literature is in flames,
it was meant to be specific—;
you have driven past these rooms
ten thousand times to make your report;
make your report;
never forget how you felt—


Sometimes poetry is the only thing that is capable of articulating anger,or the very thing to quench anger's fire, or direct anger to more productive use.

We are in dire need of poetry and writers. Lucky for us, we have the shoulders of past and present poets and writers on which to stand, (and in a few cases, we have metaphorical/fictitious shoulders that will serve just as well).

I've posted poems from Poet Laureate of the United States, (1995 to 1997), and Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets, (2001 to 2007), Robert Hass and his wife, Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts award winning poet, Brenda Hillman. I also posted photos of both, because I think seeing photos of both poets, illustrates the outrageousness and senslessness of the violence both recently were subjected to by Berkely police on the campus of UC Berkely.

If you haven't heard, both lauded poets were beaten, as in pushed to the ground, hit with billy clubs, while around them, other colleagues, faculty, students, and alumni, were, without provocation, beaten, dragged by the hair, pepper sprayed, arrested for peaceably assembling or being witness to the Occupy movement.

Hass recounts his experience in the New York Times Opinion section.

Holiday Reading List

I have big plans to sit in front of the fireplace in my vintage sofa chair and read all the books I can over holiday break. Here are the books in no particular order:

Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz as the secret weapon during the Cold War.

Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna- China Galand: One woman's search for the divine feminine through Nepal to New Mexico.

To the Lighthouse- Virginia Woolf: Family life and all it's messiness reveal the inner world of each.

The Lost Books of the Odyssey- Zachary Mason: Homers tale remained.

Thousand Pieces of Gold- Ruthanne Lum McCunn: A favorite daughter is sold into slavery as a child and ends her life in the Frontier West.

The Anthropology of Turquoise- Ellen Meloy: The color turquoise illuminates the human attachment to landscape.

Parrot and Oliver- Peter Carey: An Improvisation on the life of Alexis de Toqueville and his traveling companion's journey to the New World.

Rules for Aging- Roger Rosenblatt: Basically, a guide on how to never grow up.

Alone with You- Marisa Silver: Stories from the author of God of War

An Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian- Sherman Alexie: A young cartoonist leaves the reservation to attend an all white school.

Little Bird of Heaven- Joyce Carol Oates: A brutal crime and it's aftermath.

Blue Flower- Penelope Fitzgerald: A story set in the age of Goethe.

Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind Can Heal the Heart- Tara Bennett Coleman: A thoughtful book about recognizing and transforming emotional patterns.

The Langauge of Trees- Ilie Ruby: A young man returns home to face his past.

How to Love: Choosing Well at Every Stage of Life- Gordon Livingston, M.D.: How to spot a freaking borderline personality at ten paces.

We Are the Stories We Tell- edited by Wendy Martin: Contemporary Women's Fiction.

Black Friday Journal

What are you doing today instead of shopping? Here's what I'm doing:

7 am: back under the covers reading about Occupy Wall Street Thanksgiving's around the country on my iPhone. (before you say anything about the subject or the phone, just really don't think Apple or individual millionaires are the 99% that's the focus of the movement).

8 am: thumbing through Holidays with Matthew Mead - who is he btw? In any case, the glitter projects remind me of mercury glass.

9 am: coffee at Granny Annie's, a local greasy spoon.

11 am: credit union.

12 pm: craft store. Yes, I bought something - intricate cake stencils.

2 pm: plokkfidkur & turkey leftovers.

3 pm: nap.

5 pm: woke from task oriented dreams to smell of unfamiliar male cologne. I thought smell was the only sense that did not lie.

6 pm: local restaurant for sushi.

7 pm: glazing ceramic peices due at the gallery this upcoming Monday. I confess I am a obsessive perfectionist,adrenaline junkie, ( but I always meet deadlines).

Thanksgiving in the Land of Deseret

I've been up for about an hour now. Both dogs are still curled into themselves, asleep. Neither budged when I got out of bed, thinking to take them outside. I'm back in bed, thinking about the order of what should be cooked first, the dishes that will be best for display and will travel best, if I'll wear jeans or a skirt. I'm mentally going down my list - I'll make my checklist one I'm out of bed for the day. Since Thanksgiving isn't at my house this year, I have the luxury of being a guest rather than the host. Instead of mad cleaning the entire house, cleaning my set of vintage silver and mix - matched white china collection, or preparing the entire feast, I'll prepare my three assigned dishes: honey glazed ham, chocolate chili spice cake, and green salad, then get everybody in the car and head south.

I'd love to know the traditional dishes my neighbors and fellow Utahans will be serving today, how they differ from family to family, and what, if any experimental dishes will be on the menu. One new dish we'll be having is a Finnish halibut potato mash. I'm making chocolate chili spice cake instead of regular spice cake because my father objected, mainly because I made it Sunday and he's been eating it all week and he wants something else.

I am a closet sentimentalist, so Thanksgiving always has me on the verge of making cliched toasts about family and love and gratitude. You'll be relieved to know, I've spared friends and family, what could potentially be long winded, platitude filled, never-ending speeches, because I am unusually prone to being sneak attacked by emotion. I cry easily. I can't help it.

I come from a very large family: mother and father; two brothers, four sisters, and me; twenty-eight nieces and nephews, and fifteen great- nieces & nephews. One branch of the family is tangled right now, but I'm hopeful that there will be positive resolution. The prodigal son sort, not The Godfather sort. Today I am grateful for all fifty- two. And I'm grateful for my own tiny clan of twelve. All we have is each other. Thanksgiving is a holiday that reminds me of Rumi's "Guest House" in which being human is a guest house and each emotion is a guest. On this holiday family gathers together, and each member is an aspect or reflection of ourselves, and we should be grateful to them, even if they clear our house, because, they may indeed be preparing us for some new delight.

I resolve to be grateful every day.

The Coffee Project: November 19 & 20, 2011

November 20, 2011.

November 19, 2011.

Two recent photos from the coffee shop after a long hiatus of not posting daily documentary photos.

Artist of the Day: The Mincemeat Pie - Lucile Prache

The Mincemeat Pie Lucile Prache luciles-kitchen.blogspot.com & lucileskitchen.etsy.com

Thanksgiving is in two days. This year it's at my brother's house. It's two years running now that I haven't hosted the big event. I am making a sugar crust spice cake and a honey-glazed ham.

Last year I had houseguests from Brazil visiting. Thanksgiving was at my sister's house. It was just fabulous to bring a dish, rather than prepare the entire feast. And better still to share a very American holiday and my family with my friends.

Four years ago I had six new friends from China I'd met at work, join me for Thanksgiving. They brought wine. I brewed tea , something I had never done for the day before. Also, I had never seen my father act so solicitious. He helped each young woman with their coat, I was shocked. He complimented them on their hair, clothing, eyes. Shocked again. Then showed them to their seat, and he sat right in the middle and launched right back to the Pacific, ca. 1946. He had an audience, and they had a living library. Not shocked one bit.

One year my father requested a mincemeat pie so I obliged by cooking a traditional pie with meat and brandy. He loved it. It was horrible. Truly.

Prache's lovely mincemeat illustration is a palatable contemporary recipe. To see more of her work, check out her etsy shop, blog, or website.

Artist Bio:l
Hello ! I am Lucile, a french illustrator living in Paris, in France, welcome in my kitchen/studio.

Here you will see botanical plates, illustrated recipes, cakes and macarons, artwork on vintage french letters, silkscreens, I am always trying to learn even more about graphic techniques and international food. If I am not in my studio, I am walking in the inspiring parisian streets ...

Work in progress in the lucile's kitchen blog :
luciles-kitchen.blogspot.com/

Please have a look at my illustrator's website, and you will know much more about my work :lucileprache.com

Facebook fan page :
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Luciles-kitchen/197554960274042?sk=wall

November 26, 2011 - Getting Out of My Bubble

A relative will be traveling soon to the Middle East, so my focus is on that part of the globe, even moreso than usual. Rather than current events or news, I'm interested in local culture and religion.

It's very easy to become comfortable in all the our bubbles, the "what you know", about your immediate culture, and to just assume that your experience is how the rest of the world functions. I do not think the rest of the world, let alone the rest of the country functions like the good state of Utah, but I've realized I have huge gaps in my knowledge of world religions, despite my World Religions class, personal reading, circle of friends, and joining in festivals and events.

Here's dipping my toe into a new world of being:
Al Hijra: Islamic New Year’s Day - First day of the Islamic New Year celebrated on the first day of Muharram. Al Hijra is the day when Mohammed began his migration from Mecca to Medina in Islamic Year 1 (1 AH), 622 CE.

Islamic festivals are the days celebrated by Muslims. The Islamic calendar is lunar, like the Jewish calendar, with 12 months of 29 or 30 days each, for a total of 354days, but the Islamic calendar makes no corrections to align it with the solar calendar so each year the Islamic holidays occur earlier and do not always fall in the same season
. from holidaysmart.com

Islam was founded in the 7th century by Prophet Muhammad. Today this is the second largest religion in the world with more than 1.2 billion followers. The Quran is the sacred text of Islam. The Arabic word “Islam” means submission. Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad is the final messenger from God. The goal of a Muslim’s life is to live in a way to please Allah (The God) so that one may gain enlightenment.

The Five Pillars of Islam are:
- SHAHADAH.: Faith - “There is no god except Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”.
- SALAH: Prayer - Praying five times a day.
- ZAKAH: Donate - Each year, Muslims are supposed to donate a fixed proportion of their savings for good deeds.
- SAWM: Fasting - Fasting during the month of Ramadan.
- HAJJ: Pilgrimage - Making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in the lifetime of a Muslim, if it is affordable.
from calendarlabs.com

Shop Local Day - Utah: 11/26/11

I am more of a browser than a shopper. I have my reasons. I do make the majority of purchases at book stores, art supply stores, and thrift stores, but these businesses feel more like treasure stores.

The mall, any mall, or box stores just make me tense. The only time I've been in a big box store and liked it, was when I was in Powell's block-sized bookstore. If you haven't been there, just book a ticket to Portland right now. It's so worth every last penny, and the city is a discovery in itself, and the people are friendly, (when I was exiting a cafe, a waiter gave me an umbrella and told me not to worry about bringing it back, but to pass it on).

This Saturday is Shop Local Day. Instead of heading to the mall or the store that cannot be named, (but can be viewed to great amusement),everyone, everywhere, support your local grocer, baker, cafe, bookstore, etc.

Here's my list:
Grounds for Coffee
Hip & Humble
The King's English Bookshop
Mazza Cafe Middle Eastern Cuisine
Mestizo Gallery
Frosty Darling
Kayo Gallery
Plates & Palates
Slow Train Music
3 Little Monkeys
Dolly's Bookstore
Sweet Tooth Fairy
Deseret Industries
Spoonology
Sego Day Spa
http://gaborbrothers.com/
Tabula Rosa
Blue Cockatoo Gallery
Golden Braid Bookstore
Cedars of Lebanon
Art Access Gallery