Artist of the Day: Paris - Nichole Robertson

Last Light Nichole Robertson

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 cafés
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 &

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 :

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

Facebook fan page :

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

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.

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
Sego Day Spa
Tabula Rosa
Blue Cockatoo Gallery
Golden Braid Bookstore
Cedars of Lebanon
Art Access Gallery

Black Friday: Ten Things To Do Instead of Shop

1. Sleep in.

2. Make breakfast using NPR's Splendid Table recipes - try Wheat Berries with Ricotta and Honey (Cuccia), Smoked Salmon Benedict with Sorrel Sauce, Savory Cheese Souffle, or Asparagus Quiche with Tomatoes and Tarragon.

3. Wrap up in a warm coat, sit outside, soak up the sun, and revel in the brisk air. Even better, walk the dogs, (or, your imaginary pet).

4. Settle in to your favorite chair and read Sabina Murray's Tales of the New World.

5. Check your local theaters for playtimes for Michel Hazanavicius's silent film
The Artist.

6. Occupy a space other than the mall.

7. Set aside at least two hours to create your Life List,'s Maggie Mason's brainchild.

8. Eat Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch.

9. Take a nap.

10. Go for a drive by yourself or with someone you really like. Turn down the radio, and talk.

NaNoWriMo 2011 - How to Leave

This is the beginning paragraph/s of the piece I am writing for NaNoWriMo 2011. I'm taking it slow, mainly because its coming to me very slowly. I know what the heart of the story is, what I want to happen for this character, but its like being in a terrible snowstorm, all I can see are the brake lights of the car directly in front of me, which I follow, hoping, together, we stay on the road. I can't really see where this piece is heading. I'm just trying to stay on the road.

I tend to overthink absolutely everything, so I'm chosing to see this process as positive. fyi: this is a first draft, so tense problems and general messiness is the norm, and I am really going to try to leave it alone, and not edit a thing, (although I already have a wee bit, but no more!)

How to Leave

The honey locust tree is a cluster of thorns and ancient bark. Its roots have held to the rich soil since the ground was first home to herds of mule deer and pronghorn sheep, later home to Shoshone, and later to pioneers, and later still to a blur of inhabitants until the present day. The finger-shaped leaves have fallen from the branches weeks ago, and the tree looks like an angry drunk, all tangle and fist. Because of this, or in spite of this, a great horned owl and red tailed hawk have taken up residence in the tree’s upper branches, in shifts: the owl at sunset, the red tail when the owl decamped at sunrise. Both bring their kills to the tree. Small bones and an assortment of feathers and sinew circle the base of the tree, a kind of unholy halo.

When an underground spring burst through layers of loam sand and silt clay to the surface, it quickly insinuated a a meandering row-wide swath through the newly plowed dirt toward the lake to the west, both the owl and hawk, waited patiently for the hidden to furtively dash from the underbrush, and follow their noses to the source of the sweet water.

The spring, the last descendant of the ancient Pliestocene sea that once covered the ground, went undiscovered until the first snowfall. The woman who lived in the property in front of the alfalfa field, walked out in the glint of morning light and saw a mirage of crystal shimmering across the field and thought for a moment she was witness to an artwork created by the finger of an ancient god.

This Moment: 6:14 A.M. November 19, 2011

The dogs and I are wrapped in the dark cocoon of early morning. My dreams have vanished. Their only reminder is the dull ache in my jaw from clenching through the night. I am filled with a juxtaposition of calm and anger and try to ferret the dream's content. I wonder about the owl in the willow and the hawk in the honey locust tree, their small heads tucked into the down of their breast, both secreted in the tangle of branches weathering the first real storm of the season. The owl's foraging is completed for the evening, but moments from now, the hawk will pounce on the slight scurrying under the snow and bring it's find to the tree and tear the small body apart. The world outside my window slowly emerges in a white shroud. Plants that have survived the first frosts, are surely dead. I will pull their limp bodies from the terra-cotta pots later today. The small dog is coiled into a tight knot next to me licking his left fore paw. The big dog readjusts her old bones on her pillow. I hear my husband cough in the kitchen. The cat is yowling, almost wailing a dirge, from the living room. She desists, bored with her own suffering, and we are offered a respite from her incessant complaints. A train racing down the track is the only sound. Now snoring from the living room. I imagine my husband sitting on the living room couch wrapped in the velvet patchwork throw, his coffee beside him, entering the territory of dreams. I hear a train coming, it's voice ushering the day and it's promises. For a fleeting moment, I think to run to the closet, grab my coat, boots, hat, and race to it. I want to tell the train to wait for me. Tell the train I am willing to go as far as it will take me.

Quote Therapy: The Seven Deadly Sins - Mohatma Gandhi

Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Science without humanity
Knowledge without character
Politics without principle
Commerce without morality
Worship without sacrifice.

If you think about it, all human suffering stems from one of these.

I hate the word sin. It implies a sucker punch of judgement, so, instead of sin, I like to think of mindful living.

I can't say I am anywhere close to the abode of mindful living, but I have the address, and that's a start.

Years ago, I was a single mother, short on patience and emotional reserves, just trying to do what had to be done and enjoy my daughter and life. I remember a story on the radio I heard from this time about Gandhi. He was in an important meeting and his nephew stormed in demanding something, acting like an angry child, and the observer said that Gandhi, instead of being annoyed, sending the child away, merely put a finger over the child's mouth, and his other hand over his own heart until the child calmed. Another part of the story was how he used everything for its purpose, as in he had a pencil that he continued to use until it was nothing more than a nub.

I think I am a pretty typical American. Something cracks or chips, I throw it away and buy another. That is, until lately, with the economy and its wake up call. Suffering of any sort is a call to mindful living.

If you look closely at any of the sins, the yin yang quality is so obvious, but it wasn't about an hour ago.

Occupy: Two Months Today

A picture is worth a thousand words.

In addition to the photo, I've included articles, political cartoons, and lyrics from Crosby and Nash they recently sang on linktv.

NYDaily News, Occupy spreads across United States

Christian Science Monitor Occupy Wall Street at two months: Hundreds arrested across US

The Economist Time to participate in democracy

US News: Evictions Mark a New Start for 'Occupy Wall Street,' Not an End

How 'Occupy Wall Street' Started and Spread

Jack Ohman Tribune Media Services

What Are Their Names
David Crosby, Neil Young, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh and Michael Shrieve

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask

Poem Therapy at 10:28 P.M.: The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart - Jack Gilbert

The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart Jack Gilbert

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient tongue
has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind’s labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not a language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses and birds.

This year for NaNoWriMo I am writing, How to Leave. So far I don't think it's a novel. I'm not even sure it's a short story. It may be a very long prose poem. And, I'm not sure what it's really about. It usually takes three years for me to figure out what I wrote. What is it about? is always the first question. I like Toni Morrison's response to the meaning of her novels: I leave it to the grad students figure it out.

I like the title of my piece so far.

What I am discovering is that I am writing in code, as if it's dangerous for me to know what I'm writing about.

I love the line in Gilbert's poem that words almost mean what they are supposed to mean. And also, that there are no words for emotions, for what we feel most.

At Home with the Dogs

Ellie and Harley

Wild Child sculpture and Harry Taylor owl and crow prints

Eclectic rhinoceros and figurine collection

As I've said before, I've been rearranging and clearing clutter from each room. The pictures featured here are from my living room, my new favorite place to hang out with the dogs.

Procrastination Tip #1

Instead of finishing the laundry last night I decided to click through as many cable television channels I could until I found something interesting. I landed on a program about Annie Liebovitz and her creative process. She was fascinating, her process and the images shown unexpected, but the laundry still had to be done, and watching a fascinating program can be an anxiety ridden experience, since watching is a passive activity. So, I grabbed my iPhone and started taking pictures of the program, Liebovitz, the commercials, and started flipping channels and taking pictures of whatever presented itself. The laundry could wait. Laundry can always wait.

The images turned out grainy like old pinhole photographs. Try this with your cell phone and see what you come up with.

The pictures featured above are from WWII in HD.

Occupy SLC - November 12, 2011

Pioneer Park November 12, 2001.

Gallivan Center November 12, 2001.

Occupy SLC has exactly fifteen minutes to decamp or the SLPD will begin arresting protesters. Since the death of a homeless man yesterday evening at the park, Cheif Burbank (on orders from Mayor Becker) issued an eviction notice, stating health and safety issues. In an official statement from the Mayor's office, Becker promised that free speech will be protected, but camping permits will no longer be issued.

I am watching local news waiting for news, but football wrap up shows dominate.

I was in the city earlier today taking pictures of the camps at Pioneer Park and the Gallivan Center. (I'll post the pics a little later). People were standing in groups outside their tents, the tent kitchen was serving food, and I saw numerous people coming and going, dropping off donations. It didn't look like the hundred plus protesters were planning on going anywhere.

On the way out of town I drove by the park I saw a few police cars and police milling around, a few officers speaking with small circles of people. As I left SLC, the snow had just begun to fall.

I was listening to Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, possibly the most beautifully meloncholy piece of music, and burst into tears. It took to Bountiful to gather myself. Politics aside, I am moved.

4 News just reported that police are in force at Pioneer Park and intend to arrest anyone refusing to leave on their own volition.

The protesters have five minutes to leave.

Protesters are chanting, "We are 99 percent". Lights from the fleet of police cars lining 4th South are flashing. A policeman on a megaphone is instructing the crowd to disperse. Police are threatening arrests while journalists interview individual protesters. A young man says "they want their voices heard...that they're not going take it anymore". Chief Burbank said " the city is supportive of free speech, but that protesters will no longer be allowed to camp overnight".

What I know, is that Occupy is not going away. This movement reminds me of what I've read and the programs I've seen on the beginnings of the 60's protests. The groundswell started small, was disparate and seemingly disorganized, then as now. The political leaders dismissed and demonized the protests and protesters. The news barely reported the protests, until the voices were too numerous and too vocal to dismiss.

So far, the park looks peaceful.

CNN U.S. reported that Salt Lake City police arrested nineteen protesters Saturday night.

The Christian Science Monitor reported about police evicting protesters, Salt Lake City included.

The New York Times reported that protesters around the country are shifting from taking it to the streets to taking it to college campuses. Everybody, take your shoes off and get comfortable, Occupy is here for the long haul.

This Moment: November 12, 2012 6:52 A.M.

The porch chime clangs loudly. The full moon is shrouded in thick clouds. Shadows finger crawl cross my windows. Wind is a low rumble like voices heard through walls. Shadows fade as light slowly emerges from behind the mountains. The storm and it's snows will soon arrive, its coming has been announced, and will be greeted like an uninvited guest to a private dinner party. The dark days are here. I feel their cold grip on the back of my neck. Gunfire in the distance, probably near the lake's shoreline where wild geese bed down in the marsh grass. The small dog jumps to attention, but soon circles himself back into the comforter. I wonder why the geese wait so long to fly south for the winter months. It will not be long before the ground will freeze and the lake made of salt will glisten like crystal held to the light. The wind has ceased. The chimes sway gently in a leftover breeze, their music of metal on metal a reminder of entering the darkness of a Buddhist temple, the gong's deep voice reverberating along the wooden walls and across the golden surface of the Buddha. In the morning light, as the darkness takes its leave, I am drawn to a dream, not my own, of a ghost train train filled with the souls of my ancestors bearing down nonexistent tracks behind my home. I wonder at the meaning of this, and wish I could ask them the way forward. The chimes begin again. The old dog breathes heavily on her pillow. The ground, its cache of yellow orange leaves will be hidden away under a thick cover of white in a matter of hours. I hear geese call to each other as they pass over my house and I cannot keep myself from smiling, knowing they will find their way home safe.

Poem Therapy 11/11/11 at 2:37 P.M: Before the Deployment - Jehanne Dubrow

Before the Deployment
Jehanne Dubrow

He kisses me before he goes. While I,
still dozing, half-asleep, laugh and rub my face

against the sueded surface of the sheets,
thinking it’s him I touch, his skin beneath

my hands, my body curving in to meet
his body there. I never hear him leave.

But I believe he shuts the bedroom door,
as though unsure if he should change his mind,

pull off his boots, crawl beneath the blankets
left behind, his hand a heat against my breast,

our heart rates slowing into rest. Perhaps
all good-byes should whisper like a piece of silk—

and then the quick surprise of waking, alone
except for the citrus ghost of his cologne.

Artist of the Day: Home Safe - CAPow

Home Safe CAPow &

I thought this image from Troy, New York artist CAPow's Hometown Heart series, a moving Veteran's Day wish for all our service men and women to come home safe.

Artist Bio:
Creating and crafting since birth, CAPow is formally trained in Audio Recording and Graphic Design. She has lived in Boston MA, Brooklyn NY, and currently resides in a 120 year old house in Troy, NY.

Veteran's Day: November 11, 2011

Today is Veteran's Day.

I listened to the news on the way to work this morning, and the topics reported focused on veterans, past and present: President Obama will lay a wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier, there's a bill proposal to help returning vets find employment, suicide rates are alarming, two marines were seriously wounded at Occupy Wall Street protests, post traumatic stress disorder, homelessness, high divorce rates are the norm. What? I know the news focuses on the negative, but the state of returning vets and their families seems dire. Can this really be true?

Flipping from one news report to another, I realized there isn't an "on the ground" way for me to find out because I don't know a single man or woman currently serving in the military.

The only veterans I know personally are my father and his friends. They served in WWII, during the war, and as peace keepers after the war. From their stories, books and programs, I know the sacrifices soldiers, their families, and every American bore during the world war. I live near an air force base and see soldiers in uniform almost every day, but I don't know any of them or the sacrifices they and their families bear. I think this is true for the majority of Americans. We watch the news, read the paper or Internet, but the war, the service men and women and their realities, are not our reality.

All of us, me included, should realize that the men and women, who serve and have served, are our reality. They're our neighbors. We may not know them yet. There are 23 million veterans in our country. Who are they? How many do you know?

There are numerous ways to get to know our service men and women right in our own neighborhoods. Oprah aired a program last January on the US Wounded Soldier Foundation. This is one way.

I've posted veteran statistics from the Christian Science Monitor article from today. Click on the link below to see the images and to read more related aritcles.

Veterans Day: America's wartime vets, by the numbers
By Leigh Montgomery, Monitor Librarian
posted November 11, 2011 at 8:18 am EST
The Christian Science Monitor -

Veterans Day (US) and Remembrance Day (British Commonwealth) are observed on Nov. 11, the day in 1918 that an armistice ended hostilities in The Great War. Some 41 million Americans have served in the US military since 1775; 23 million of them are still alive, of whom 17 million served during a conflict.

Source: 2010 American Community Survey, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs

1.Vietnam War
Vietnam War(1964-75): Many of the 8.8 million who served in uniform were draftees; 7.6 million are alive today.

2.Korean War
Korean War(1950-53): Often called "the forgotten war," it finally had a memorial dedicated to it in Washington in 1995. Of the 5.7 million Americans who served, 2.7 million survive.

3.Operation Desert Shield/Storm
Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm(1990-91): America's first encounter with Iraq's Saddam Hussein involved 2.3 million military personnel, of whom 2.2 million are still present.

4.World War II
World War II(1941-45): America's most massive mobilization involved 16 million men and women, of whom 2.1 million are still alive.

5.Global war on terror
Global War on Terror(2001- ): Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have involved 1.4 million military personnel.

Bibliophile - Collector - Hoarder: My Life in Books

I love books. LOVE. I collect old books, first editions, author signed books, books on every imaginable topic and I'm not kidding. Eclectic is a good adjective to describe my hoard of books. Books fill every room in my house. The bookcase of vintage books, some dating to the early 1700's, pictured above, is only one of my collections. Not all my collections are contained, nor can be or should be, and herein lies the problem. Can I let a book go? Give it up, or away once I've read it. So far, the answer has been no.

Years and years ago when I was married to my first husband, we moved a lot. I remember the boxes of books, and the arguments they caused, and that giving up even one book was a deal breaker. The "deal" broke anyway, but not because of books, but I won't get into that.

I've always been obsessed with books and have kept a pile of books near me, as early as I can remember, (and I can remember way back. My first memory is of my father leaning over my bassinet saying, "shut up you little shit". It's funny if you really think about it that this is my first memory, but I digress...).

As soon as I had the motor capabilities to grab and run, I had a book with me. I was not a doll girl. I was always a book girl, (and a tree girl, as in climber on, hanger out in, reader of books in, and so on). My first grade teacher upgraded me to third grade privileges - I could check out more than one book at a time. I also spent as much time as my mother had to take us, in the public library. I still frequent the library, but checking out books and returning them does not work for me. I have to possess the books. Returning books turned out to be a problem. I have to own them, and then I can't let them go. Not even one.

When I was first working I spent equal money on books and shoes. I still have the books. Books were literally breaking my bank. Enter thrift stores and used book stores! Books of every sort could be had for a few dollars, sometimes even a few quarters. As you can imagine, my book collection exploded, but so did my reading universe. I have stumbled on books I never would have in an ordered bookstore or library. I've read more science and memoirs this past year than I have in the last thirty. And more fashion, children's, literary theory, self help, business, etiquette, how-to, autobiographies, cookbooks, travel books...

A book I just read stated that humans are hard wired for hoarding to survive. Okay, but, the abundance of the 21st century has nothing in common with the scarcity of Paleolithic times. It appears we are our biology.

Even though I am a believer that books (and art) can save your life, and many, many times it's been a book that has been my lifeline, it's time to let a few go. A few. Baby steps.

I've been spending the last couple weekends getting my books under control. It's either that or I post a Library sign over the front entry and open the doors of my home to the public.

Artist of the Day: Pompeii - Emilia Kaminski

Pompeii Emilia Kaminski

I've been reading about Pompeii the last couple weeks and learned something I missed in my Art History 101 class with Mr. Tibbets, (although I'm certain he covered it)- Pompeii had four separate fresco styles. Lucky for us when Vesuvius blew and buried the city, it preserved the art, and literal world of this ancient city until it was rediscovered some 1700 years later.

If you care to know what they are and see examples, click here. Or about Pompeii and its destruction by volcano here, (be sure to check out Discovery Channel's virtual volcano!

Emilia's painting, to my mind, is influenced by the First Style, also known as encrustation style. To see more of her work check out her website and etsy shop.

Artist Bio:
For many years I have been involved with art and design, and their history and development. I have graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts. Know and unknown artists and designers inspired me to create a new paintings and to develop my abstract skills.

I use different techniques, forms, composition color and emotion in my paintings. I am primarily focused an expressing the qualities, and texture of the painting's surface. I wish to liberate myself from any form and coping reality and nature in my art. I don't want to show the real object, I want to use the colors and forms freely.

I express a wide spectrum of emotions in my abstract art such as despair, ecstasy, resignation and many others.

My paintings can be found in galleries, on-line shops and private corporate collections in many parts of the World.

Presently I collaborate with designers and work as an Abstract artist.

Thank you so much for your attention and interest in my art.

Artist of the Day: Autumn Leaves - Jeff Friesen

Autumn Leaves Jeff Friesen

I am not a happy girl this week. Somebody messed with my daylight!

Fall back, Spring forward. Grrr. We fell back Sunday when Daylight Savings Time (aka the Uniform Time Act of 1966 / 1986's Daylight Savings Time / the 2005-07 Energy Policy Act) foisted itself on the circadian rhythms of residents of the US, save independent Arizona, whose residents refused to be jerked around by a decision to conserve energy and daylight and let Nature mind it's own business, they'll mind theirs.

If you really want to curse somebody other than faceless, nameless government, how about George Vernon Hudson who started this way back in 1895.

Members of the EU fell back in October, so they've had more time to work their cranky out.

I know this is not that important of an issue, maybe I just need a nap, but I like driving to work in the dark, watching the sun come up and the blue screen of my computer fade as the light grows. What has made me cranky is that the sun has all but disappeared by 5 PM, and there are at least five more peak hours left to the day. More importantly, maybe I'm just wary since it's around this time the blues arrive: the sun gone down dum dum de dum and it's so bad sitting in this here dark.
Lucky thing for fluorescent light, eh? And art.

My first thought, other than gorgeous, was architectural. Architectural is how Nova Scotian artist Jeff Friesen photographs them, with the intent to emphasize the architectural beauty of the mundane, thereby elevating an ordinary leaf. Read his bio and check out his work on his website and etsy site.

Artist Bio:
You never know what we’ll find. I spend a lot of time exploring outdoors with my daughter. One autumn day we were sitting amongst fallen chestnut leaves and I was struck by their resemblance to Frank Gehry’s architecture. We gathered some leaves and brought them to my studio. I propped up the leaves by planting their stems in clay and photographed them from a low angle using window light bounced off of tin foil for a metallic effect. In the camera’s viewfinder the fading leaves became *wabi-sabi towers and temples.

*Wabi-sabi (侘寂) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete."

I enjoy elevating the modest into the monumental. As Walt Whitman said, “I believe a blade of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.”

My name is Jeff Friesen and I'm an international award-winning photographer. You can find more of my work here:

This Moment: 7:59 - November 6, 2011.

Back under the covers. A thin scurf of snow fans across the front lawn. Trees are still heavy with fruit and leaves. It is the in-between of seasons. Fall has yet to cede to Winter. It is difficult to let go. Geranium blooms hold the first trace of frost and their fuchsia will retreat into withered browns by day's end. I hear the dryer whirring, a periodic clang of metal on metal. The blue spruce across the street is frosted with snow and appears to be auditioning for a spot on a holiday show. The small dog is foraging in the trash. I call to him to stop. Silence, then the bells of his tags, and he enters the room holding a paper towel that smells of bacon grease. I take it from him. He watches me throw it into the outside bin, happily follows me back to the bedroom. He jumps on the bed for a quick pet and then positions himself to guard his territory from passing cars and joggers. Dogs are creatures of the moment, they don't hold grudges. I should learn from them, drop my heavy bags I've been carrying all these years and focus on the moment, this moment: a train humming down the track, the morning light on yellowing leaves, crisp air that fills the empty spaces.

My Space, My Office

My Space

Everyone needs a defined space to claim as their own. We need a place to put our stuff, coffee mug, pictures, action figures, you name it, where everyone else knows, "hands off"! I recently relocated to a new office. This was harder than I imagined. Change isn't that daunting, but moving spaces turned out to be.

My new office is tiny and when I first saw it I told myself it had um, er, potential. The space used to be absolutely dreary and depressing. A multitude of wires hung from the ceiling. The windowsill was populated with an assortment of dried husks of flies, beetles, and the occasional wasp. Spiderwebs held the dust of decades. I foreclosed the spider's domain, and put her out on the literal street, the sidewalk directly outside my office. Sorry Charlotte.

The floor was stained as if it had been submerged in brackish water for at least a decade, and the back bulletin board had at least one thousand push pins and tacks stuck in it.

I spent weekends at local thrift stores looking for furniture and eclectic furnishings. I also spent probably far too much time cutting up old art history books making collages to fill the stained bulletin board.

My space feels comfortable now.

What is your space? Send a pic and a brief description, and I'll post it. (note: I am turning over a new leaf and checking comments and actually replying. In the past I didn't notice a comment until it was at least a month or so old)

Poem Therapy: Opal - Amy Lowell November 3, 2011 8:09 A.M

Amy Lowell

You are ice and fire,
The touch of you burns my hands like snow.
You are cold and flame.
You are the crimson of amaryllis,
The silver of moon-touched magnolias.
When I am with you,
My heart is a frozen pond
Gleaming with agitated torches

Opal was my paternal grandmother's name. In truth, I didn't know her well, and at a very young age, I appropriated my father's anger with her. All I knew is that she took the other children and left him with my grandfather, who in truth, spent the majority of his days, drinking his paycheck on the backstreets of 25th. I knew that my grandmother didn't like my mother very much, that the feeling was mutual, and that she never accepted my older three siblings from my mother's previous marriage.

I knew the wound was deep, both for my father and my beloved grandfather.

Now that I'm older, have two marriages and one divorce, a child and stepchildren, I'm coming to know her in a more subtle light than the harsh black and whites of childhood. I understand why my grandmother, a nonMormon,poor, fatherless, girl married at fifteen to a man fifteen years older, would look to another man, any man, to provide an escape, to a supposed happier, richer life. It didn't happen that way for Opal, my grandmother. Yes, she left my grandfather for the neighbor, and they were happy, for a time. But then he died suddenly, and she was again at the mercy of the gods.

I also know now that my father chose to stay with his father, as a kind of moral judgement. He was twelve, old enough to understand that my grandmother was leaving his father for another man, a "Greek", but not old enough to understand that not every choice has to be judged good or bad. Some are just necessary, regardless of the details.

I also understand now that life broke my grandfather very early: the death of his closest brother, coupled with the death of his eldest brother in WWI, the sudden death of elder sister, being spurned by his fiance, his family's rejection of his new wife and the subsequent divorce, crushed his poet's heart irreparably. Woe on treble woe.

After all this, my grandmother was his last hope at happiness, and he drank it away.

I've been reimagining their lives, off and on, mostly off, for the last few years in my novel, a reimagining of a Greek tragedy. Opal is reimagined as Ruby, Archie as Lawrence. They're minor characters in the novel and yet through reimagining their lives I see just how little we know anyone, including ourselves. We are all blind to our deepest impulses, our deepest selves.

It's this truth, our inability to see,that makes us so fascinating.