Artist of the Day: Jump For Joy

Jump For Joy Jon Van Gilder

A perfect photograph for a Leap Year day.

Artist Bio:
I am a longtime professional photographer who has seen much and still sees much - I hope! I have been working professionally since the late '70s. My passion is to create beauty by allowing the heart and soul of my subjects to be present in the finished photograph. I like working with children most of all...they never fail to surprise! My wife and I have been married for over thirty years and we have raised seven beautiful children.

In order to insure high quality, I print all of my own work, and use Bay Labs in CA for the printing of large canvas prints. This photo lab is famous worldwide. They are outstanding and guarantee 100 percent customer satisfaction.

Poem Therapy 2:02 February 29, 2012: Leap Year Poem - Mother Goose

Leap Year Poem
Mother Goose

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

I missed being born on Leap Year by one hour and fifteen minutes. Happy unbirthday to me!

Interesting Leap Year News (culled from This Day In History, Info Please):

46 BCE - The first Caesar, Julius Caesar, Dicator for Life, felt the need to even dictate time, and thus, the first Leap Day is proclaimed.

1504 - Christopher Columbus, stranded in Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the West, used a correctly predicted lunar eclipse to frighten hostile natives into providing food for his crew. And we know how the rest of that story went for the indigenous people of the New World.

1692 - Three women, Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba, were the first to be accused of witchcraft in Salem, Mass. Some blame the devil. Some rotten rye or coveting thy neighbors property. Others uptight Puritans theocracy. Nineteen alleged witches were executed to keep Salem witch free.

1784 - The Marquis de Sade is transferred from Vincennes fortress to the Bastille. The original kinkmeister immediately got to work on Justine.

1860 - Herman Hollerith, the inventor of a tabulation mechanism that was a forerunner to the computer, is born. Thank you from the entire world!

1940 - Gone with the Wind is honored with eight Oscars by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.I read Gone With the Wind in the 7th grade. Saying it rocked my world is putting it mildly.

1944 - Dorothy Vredenburgh accepts an appointment by the Democratic National Committee becoming the first woman secretary of a national political party in the U.S. Girl power gets a boost!

1960 - Hugh Hefner opened the first Playboy Club in Chicago. Much teeth gnashing and ogling ensued

1968 The discovery of the first pulsar, a star which emits regular radio waves, was announced by Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell at Cambridge, England. Girls discover a new role model.

1972 - John Lennon's U.S. immigration visa expired. It was the beginning of a 3 1/2 year fight for Lennon to stay in the U.S. Lennon won.

1983 -The final episode of M*A*S*H aired. It was the most watched television program in history. I watched it with my college roommates. All I can remember of it is the scene with the "chicken" on the bus, or Hawkeye's meltdown remembering the "chicken" on the bus.

2004 - Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won 11 Academy Awards, including best picture and best director for Peter Jackson, to tie the record held by 1959's Ben-Hur and 1997's Titanic. Hobbits the world over, rejoiced.

Writing Days: Talent - February 28, 2012

February 28, 2012

Figment Daily Theme:
What are you really good at doing/making? Explain this talent of yours in a few sentences. Then, create a character who also has this same talent. BUT, this character must be the opposite sex of you. Next, have this opposite-sex-from-you-but-same-talent-having character wake up from unconsciousness on the side of the road in an unknown location, unsure of how he/she got there.

As this character tries to figure things out, begin to create a new world that he/she is struggling to understand. How will his/her talent fit into this situation, if at all?


My Sunday School teacher Miss Winterfield always looks straight at me when she tells our class it is a sin to hide your talent under a bushel. Miss Winterfield thinks my talent is the oboe, and my refusal to perform Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf at the Merry Miss talent show, evidence I have my talent stuffed under a bushel.

She's wrong. Music isn't my real talent.

I've been playing oboe ever since I was a little kid when I found my great uncle's oboe in the attic. Uncle William died in WWI and no one else in the family played. No one in the family wanted to give it away, either. When I told my aunt, William's sister I wanted to learn oboe, she looked at me like she might slap me, but instead told me she'd pay for lessons. I've been playing for eight years and I go take lessons at the University in Salt Lake from a professor who also is the principal oboe in the Utah Symphony. He says I should think about a life in music.

I've never told anyone that when I found my uncle's oboe, I also found his letters. From the stories his sister and my grandfather tell, I can tell no one ever knew him.

I think if he had lived, even though he would be old, we would be friends.

Poem Therapy 12:27 February 28, 2012: Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen Things to Worry About - Judith Viorst

Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen Things to Worry About
Judith Viorst

My pants could maybe fall down when I dive off the diving board.
My nose could maybe keep growing and never quit.
Miss Brearly could ask me to spell words like stomach and special.
(Stumick and speshul?)
I could play tag all day and always be "it."
Jay Spievack, who's fourteen feet tall, could want to fight me.
My mom and my dad--like Ted's--could want a divorce.
Miss Brearly could ask me a question about Afghanistan.
(Who's Afghanistan?)
Somebody maybe could make me ride a horse.
My mother could maybe decide that I needed more liver.
My dad could decide that I needed less TV.
Miss Brearly could say that I have to write script and stop printing.
(I'm better at printing.)
Chris could decide to stop being friends with me.

The world could maybe come to an end on next Tuesday.
The ceiling could maybe come crashing on my head.
I maybe could run out of things for me to worry about.
And then I'd have to do my homework instead.

This poem reminds me of the daily news and every conversation I've overheard the last couple months that is like a multiple choice test with varying degrees of terrible answers to the question:

I. Question: What are your thoughts on (insert your own topic du jour here)?

a. the sky is falling
b. imminent catastrophe looms on the horizon
c. the entire world is going to Hell in a hand basket
d. the Apocalypse is real and not a Biblical allegory
e. America is the next third world country
f. Obama is sending us to Hell without a handbasket
g. the 50's were such simpler, wholesome times
h. the Puritans really had all the answers
i. the recession is not over and it the Great Depression will pale in contrast
j. get your 72-hour kit stocked because fire and brimstone happens Tuesday
k. the poor just don't know how good they have it here
l. a-k

I think I'm just going to worry about things I can control, do the best I can, and do my homework.

Artist of the Day: A Moment Awaits - Amanda Keaton

A Moment Awaits Amanda Keaton

Last night the rain started as I drove home from dinner. When I got out of my car to go inside, the rain had turned to snow. It snowed all night. Not the heavy kind of snowfall, but the kind that falls softly, twirling like a dancer in a flowing chiffon skirt.

For the last few hours, the snow finally made up its mind and fell hard enough to cover the ground. Now it's back to drifting lazily in twirling circles.

It's the end of February and all I can think of is the promise of Spring: blooms harboring in the ground, blossoms tucked inside the buds at the end of branches.

The snow feels like a betrayal.

Maryland artist Amanda Keaton's photograph of cherry blossoms dull the edge of this morning's late winter blade. Soon the cherry tree in my yard will blossom riotous pink and all will be well again.

Artist Bio:
Facebook Fan Page:!/pages/Amanda-Keaton-Photography/161866397158094

This Moment: 9:14 February 27, 2012

A small plane buzzes overhead and its lights appear alarmingly close to the roof of my car. A light rain mists the car's front window and I see the night through tiny circular prisms. I am sitting in my driveway with the engine running. I am watching the black starless sky. Tin ornaments on the back seat are making a kind of music. I know the dogs are waiting at the door, but I want just a few minutes more of solitude. My half century will arrive in three days. I thought I would feel wiser, older, more settled. I am a restless ribbon curling and uncurling in the wind. The trees are motionless. Lights are blinking on and then off in the distance. The contents in the bag on the passenger seat shifts and startles me. The shadows from the porch light makes dark purple welts in the dry grass. Snow is coming. The lion of March will be here tomorrow morning. Papers rattle against each other. The world is always speaking.

Poem Therapy 3:26 P.M. February 27, 2012: Consolation Miracle - Chad Davidson

Consolation Miracle
Chad Davidson

In the pewless church of San Juan Chula,
a Neocatholic Tzozil Indian
wrings a chicken’s neck. Through piñoned air,

stars from tourist flashbulbs flame, reflecting
in the reddened eyes, in the mirrors
statuary cling to, inside their plate-

glass boxes. A mother fills a shot-
glass with fire. Others offer up moon-
shine swelling in goat bladders, the slender

throats of coke bottles, as if gods too thirsted
for the real thing. The slightest angle
of a satellite dish sends me to Florida,

where the sleepless claim the stars talk
too much. They stumble to their own
worn Virgin Mary whose eyes, they swear,

bleed. Florida: rising with its dead,
even as it sinks into the glade.
Meanwhile, a coast away, the heavenly gait

of Bigfoot in the famous Super-8,
voiced over with a cyrptozoologist
who’s all but laughed at the zipper-lined torso.

Bigfoot trails out of California
into my living room, a miracle
in the muddled middle ground of the event

horizon, in the swell between each seismic wave
where time carries itself like Bigfoot: heavy,
awkward, a touch too real to be real.

And the miracle cleaners make everything
disappear into faintly floral scents.
Miracle-starved, out of sleep or the lack of it.

I keep watching, not to see Bigfoot
but to be Bigfoot, trapse through grainy screens,
and the countless watching eyes, the brilliant

nebulae bleeding. Yeti, pray
you come again, you Sasquatch. Video
our world for your religions. Memorize

all these pleasure bulbs, these satellites,
our eyes, our stars. Look: how we turn
each other on tonight, one at a time.

Even if you're a citizen of the United States, the conflation of religion and politics, in a nation that prides itself on the separation of Church and State, (capital C, capital S), the recent fatuous remarks of certain persons running for the highest office, can still stun us out of our cynicism and into open-mouthed shock.

Students of history know using religion as a divisive battering ram is nothing new, but the audacity,(perhaps stupidity is a better word?), of today, has me losing my religion, in the Southern sense of the word, (as in seriously bugged).

I give you the following:

Losing My Religion (if it won't load - head over to youtube R.E.M. Losing My Religion video. Great art history allusions, and I love the mandolin).

Religion in American Politics: A Short History - Frank Lambert (perhaps this will lend some understanding into the difference between the ideal and reality).

Artist of the Day: Made in Italy - Janet Hill

Made in Italy Janet Hill

Janet Hill's paintings elevate the ordinary, the every day, to a sophisticated mix of retro and modern tableau.

Artist Bio:
For more information about my work please visit my website:

My sophomore year of college, my parents took the family on a trip to Mexico. I packed a few clothes: shorts, tank tops, sundresses, swimsuits, and a separate suitcase with almost every pair of shoes I owned. I refused to remove even one pair, despite my mother's protests that there wasn't enough room in the car's trunk, and her warning that I would have to carry my own luggage.

You have to understand, this was before suitcases had rollers. This was back in the day when you had to carry, or half drag your luggage, from airport baggage, to the parking lot, to the car, to your hotel room.

I took both suitcases, and lugged them myself. I still remember the strappy turquoise sandals I wore walking around the market. I have a thing for shoes.

Even now, with airline 50 pound restriction and overage fees, I have to make myself hold back when packing shoes for vacation.

I've never worn these shoes before. I created an entire orange and brown (colors I rarely, if ever, wear), outfit around them. They remind me of slippers a genji, emerging out of magic lantern, would wear.

Sunday Crows

While I was reading the last few pages of The Tiger's Wife, I heard the raucous cries of what I assumed were a hundred crows amassed outside my window. Turns out it was closer to a few dozen.

I put out a bowl of seed, but they weren't having it. I couldn't see a raptor or intruder, and this obviously wasn't a crow funeral, so it must be a disagreement of some sort between the crows in the tree on the right and the left. It didn't feel like of portent of some kind.

Any corvid lovers that know crow idioms, please let us know what is going on here.

This Moment: 10:55 P.M. February 24,2012

Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury look like school children qued up and waiting for their headmistress, the waxing crescent moon's glowing almost closed eye, to close completely so they can break from the line and scamper recklessly across the dark western sky. Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 in B Minor is hectoring my last nerve. Prokofiev is more suited for the mood of the evening, but I can't find a listing on satellite so The Allman Brothers Band's Pony Boy will have to do. The dogs are both curled into sleep. Midnight is a little more than a half hour away, and instead of turning to sleep, I find myself resisting and thinking of the sun rising half a world away. The night is filled with a silence I don't recognize. On my drive home from an early dinner with a friend, a radio program spoke of Vincent Van Gogh's gift and his misfortune of being open and prey to the tempestuous emotions of childhood. Vincent never truly grew up. It was only when he committed himself that he found the unfettered silence and understanding he so craved, in the ordered regimen of the asylum. He also found friendship and kindness in his fellow inmates. Eventually the soul finds it's tribe. A train's wheels on rails sounds like punctuated gunfire.

Poem Therapy at 4:09 P.M.: A Thought of the Nile - Leigh Hunt

The Barada River acts as a moat along the north side of Damascus' Old City

A Thought of the Nile
Leigh Hunt

It flows through old hushed Egypt and its sands,
Like some grave mighty thought threading a dream,
And times and things, as in that vision, seem
Keeping along it their eternal stands,—
Caves, pillars, pyramids, the shepherd bands
That roamed through the young world, the glory extreme
Of high Sesostris, and that southern beam,
The laughing queen that caught the world's great hands.

Then comes a mightier silence, stern and strong,
As of a world left empty of its throng,
And the void weighs on us; and then we wake,
And hear the fruitful stream lapsing along
'Twixt villages, and think how we shall take
Our own calm journey on for human sake.

This poem and its subject has me thinking about the Tigris, the Euphrates, and Syria's Barada River. My other thought is that the world is watching, waiting, and hoping.

It's The World As We Know It

The news of the day is of a world gone mad. I feel so utterly powerless watching tanks roll through residential neighborhoods, knowing that families are being wiped out in the dozens, hundreds, daily. Doctors, nurses, reporters are being targeted.

Leaders of the world are meeting, deciding. Please hurry!

I created this playlist of youtube videos to reflect the moment, and what I hope is the near future.

Mad World


It's The End Of The World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine...)


Artist of the Day: Bluebird on the Wing - Sherrie Conley

Bluebird on the Wing Sherri Conley

How about all of us keep an eye out for our bluebird of happiness this weekend? Let me know if it flies into your life.

In the meantime listen to the original 1934 version sung by Jan Peerce or Gracie Field's 1948 version, or Joan Baez's own take on the song.

In case you want to sing along, here are the lyrics for the 1934 Bluebird of Happiness.

Bluebird of Happiness
Sandor Harmati.

-Introduced at Radio City Music Hall.
-Popularized by Jan Peerce.
-Best-selling record in 1948 by Art Mooney and his Orchestra.

The beggar man and his mighty king are only diff'rent in name,
For they are treated just the same by fate.
Today a smile and tomorrow tears,
We're never sure what's in store,
So learn your lesson before too late, so

Be like I, hold your head up high,
Till you find a bluebird of happiness.
You will find greater peace of mind
Knowing there's a bluebird of happiness.
And when he sings to you,
Though you're deep in blue,
You will see a ray of light creep through,
And so remember this, life is no abyss,
Somewhere there's a bluebird of happiness.

Life is sweet, tender and complete
When you find the bluebird of happiness.
You will find perfect peace of mind
When you find the bluebird of happiness.
Two hearts that beat as one,
'Neath a new found sun,
We are in a world that's just begun,
And you must sing his song, as you go along,
When you find the bluebird of happiness.

Artist Bio:
Hi, I'm Sherri and I'm a fine art photographer in Richmond, Virgina. I've worked with many photographic techniques including hand-coloring, TTV, and infrared photography. I love "playing" with in-camera techniques and creating photo-montages.

Photography is my passion! I hope that my images will evoke a mood or response in you, much like the one I experienced when I created it.

Artist of the Day: Pink Magnolia II - Ingrid

Pink Magnolia II Ingrid idni·idniama

Every day I search my yard and surrounding neighborhood flower beds for signs of even one courageous bud that has broken through the hard winter crust. Nothing. Yet.

About five years ago I tried to grow a magnolia bush, despite the fact that Utah is a desert, subject to zero humidity. Or perhaps, in spite of that fact. I planted the magnolia exactly to instructions: x inches deep, water ball installed, and near the house on the west side. The magnolia blossoms were bright fuschia. My favorite color, next to red.

I had great plans for my magnolia. It bloomed beautifully for a week, then the blooms wilted and fell off all at once. The branches withered to a desiccated husk a few days later. Nothing I did could save it. I didn't pull the roots out until the following spring when it was absolutely evident that that bush wouldn't somehow miraculously come back to life and bloom.

I've thought of picking up another magnolia and keeping it inside, but decided that taking the life of another magnolia into my hands is a risk a plant shouldn't have to take.

Ingrid's photograph makes me want to try again. I'll just soak up the succulent pink bloom here and give my plant karma a rest, instead.

Artist Bio:Welcome to my photography shop!!

My name is Ingrid and I live in a town near Barcelona.
I love photography, I found it a nice way to express feelings and emotions. I like to highlight the details of things.

I hope you enjoy your visit in my shop. I take this opportunity to invite you to come in my other Etsy shop.

This is my blog:
This is my Flickr:

Poem Therapy 12:24 P.M. February 23, 2012: Poetry Anonymous - Prageeta Sharma

Poetry Anonymous
Prageeta Sharma

Do not fall in love with a poet
they are no more honest than a stockbroker.

(Do you have a stockbroker? If you do,
they are with you because you have one.)

If you think that they are more sensitive because they care about language
pay attention to how they use language.
Are you included? Are you the "you"?

Or are you a suggestion?
Are you partially included as a suggestion?

Are you partially excluded because you are a concept
encased in some jewel-like nouns, almost throw-away,
and yet somehow a perfect resemblance?

How does narcissism
work for the reader who is also the object of desire?
Do they become the tour-de-force?
What about vague nouns where you can peer in
at the monstrosity as if it were buoyant and not a futile metaphor
(only because you are generous with your imagination).

Consider that poem's vagueness doesn't account for your complexity
and the epithets don't suffice, you are not "one who is a horse-drawn carriage"
nor are you a "sparrow with hatchet."

Perhaps they quote Mallarme when taking you to bed,
carefully confusing you with their sense of charm and faux-chaste sense.

All this before voracious body-pressing.
The lovemaking is confusing until, you remember, they said something:

thus spake the dreamboat, your poet, alarmingly announces during climax:

I spend my fires with the slender rank of prelate

and then fierce withdrawal with a rush of perseverance to flee.

You are mistaken if the language furthers your sense of devotion.
You are a fallen person now.
They care more about their language than for you (you, the real person you).

Line after line, a private, unmediated act done to you with a confusing abandon,
its flailing in its substance however deceptive this might be.

It will point out your own directionlessness,
you will be harmed.

You cannot mediate it with caress.

Do you think because they understand what meaning looks like,
they have more meaning than others?
They are the protectors of a sense of feeling, mere protectors— earnest?
No. They are protectors of the flawed, filling zones of bereft.
The aftermath of pleasure. A contested zone for all.

What about the lawyer who loves the law?
Aren't they the same, a poet with a larger book—
the way they protect and subject language
to a sense-making?

A kind of cognitive patternization.

Ultimately, both undertake the hijack of language,
they won't love you the way
you are; it's in this inability to love—
unless you embody the poem—
you embody the law and its turn of phrase.

Unless you see the poet clearly: loving utterance,
an unadulterated utterance—seized and insular.

You must entice with otherness.
You must catch the poem as a muse does.
You must muse and muse and muse.

All the thralldom of poetic encounters that stand in for sexual ones,
all the ways we terrorize with sense-making,

allowing it to stand in for intimacy.

For it to stand in and suggest that all other kinds of feelings
and declarations must yield to it.

It will move you if you ask for permission
to exist within its confines,
and you move the poet toward you and you hold the poet's head,
wrapping your arms around them
strapped in your wordless hold, but soon words do come
and in the trailing off of speech, you will be permanently lost.

This poem reminds me of e.e. cummings' poem, since feeling is first:
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you

If you, whoever you are, are with a lover, who in the height of passion, has the audacious self-absorption to say, "I spend my fires with the slender rank of prelate", rather than look into your eyes right before they make that face that looks like they're about to go into the ugly cry, well, just excuse yourself as politely as you can, and get out of there, where ever there is. I am not kidding.

Artist of the Day: Ohio 5 - Alicia Bock

Ohio 5 Alicia Bock

There's always been something a little twilight zone about being on the road, when the clouds suddenly congregate and darken the sky, and then it starts to rain, just enough to blur the edges, that makes me want to keep on going past my exit. Just keep driving and see where I end up.

Grand Rapids, Michigan artist Alicia Bock's photograph makes me want to hop in the car and keep driving.

Artist Bio:
My photography is the search of light and shadows, pretty things in pink, the feeling of the ocean, and a blue moon. I strive to create photographs that evoke memories of our favorite days.

I believe there is beauty everywhere you look. My inspiration is found in memories of my grandparents gardens, and boxes of old Polaroids. I grew up in Michigan and Florida, surrounded by water and color, and am still greatly influenced by those two environments.

Visit me online:
Fine Art:
Weddings and Portraits:

Poem Therapy 3:25 February 22, 2012: Poem - Rachel Zucker

Rachel Zucker

The other day Matt Rohrer said,
the next time you feel yourself going dark
in a poem, just don't, and see what happens.

That was when Matt, Deborah Landau,
Catherine Barnett, and I were chatting,
on our way to somewhere and something else.

In her office, a few minutes earlier, Deborah
had asked, are you happy? And I said, um, yes,
actually, and Deborah: well, I'm not—

all I do is work and work. And the phone
rang every thirty seconds and between
calls Deborah said, I asked Catherine

if she was happy and Catherine said, life
isn't about happiness it's about helping
other people. I shrugged, not knowing how

to respond to such a fine idea.
So, what makes you happy?
Deborah asked, in an accusatory way,

and I said, I guess, the baby, really,
because he makes me stop
working? And Deborah looked sad

and just then her husband called
and Deborah said, Mark, I've got
rachel Zucker here, she's happy,

I'll have to call you back. And then
we left her office and went downstairs
to the salon where a few weeks before

we'd read poems for the Not for Mothers Only
anthology and I especially liked Julie Carr's
poem about crying while driving while listening to

the radio report news of the war while her kids
fought in the back seat while she remembered
her mother crying while driving, listening to

news about the war. There were a lot of poems
that night about crying, about the war, about
fighting, about rage, anger, and work. Afterward

Katy Lederer came up to me and said,
"I don't believe in happiness"—you're such a bitch
for using that line, now no one else can.

Deborah and I walked through that now-sedated space
which felt smaller and shabby without Anne Waldman
and all those women and poems and suddenly

there was Catherine in a splash of sunlight
at the foot of a flight of stairs talking to Matt Rohrer
on his way to a room or rooms I've never seen.

And that's when Deborah told Matt that I was
happy and that Catherine thought life wasn't about
happiness and Deborah laughed a little and flipped

her hair (she is quite glamorous) and said, but Matt,
are you happy? Well, Matt said he had a bit of a coldd
but otherwise was and that's when he said,

next time you feel yourself going dark in a poem,
just don't, and see what happens. And then,
because it was Julian's sixth birthday, Deborah went

to bring him cupcakes at school and Catherine and I
went to talk to graduate students who teach poetry
to children in hospitals and shelters and other

unhappy places and Matt went up the stairs to the room
or rooms I've never seen. That was last week and now
I'm here, in bed, turning toward something I haven't felt

for a long while. A few minutes ago I held our baby up
to the bright window and sang the song I always sing
before he takes his nap. He whined and struggled

the way toddlers do, wanting to move on to something
else, something next, and his infancy is almost over.
He is crying himself to sleep now and I will not say

how full of sorrow I feel, but will turn instead
to that day, only a week ago, when I was
the happiest poet in the room, including Matt Rohrer.

she remembered
her mother crying while driving, listening to
news about the war

Children are many times the only witness to their mother's tears. I remember crying in the car over the war, my daughter strapped in the backseat in her carseat, and then later again strapped into her seatbelt directly behind me, and even later, in the passenger's seat up front. She got used to me wiping away tears as we listened to the news of yet another country's conflagration.

Which war? I'm not certain anymore. There's a new one for each year. There's always a war waging, somewhere.

Now that the U.S. is out of Iraq, it feels like a lot of politicians want to jump right back into another frying pan. Listening to all the talking heads, and knowing that they, nor anyone they know will have to actually serve and fight, they seem like the kind of aggressive Internet commenters that leave spiteful messages not even their former junior high selves would have ever uttered, knowing full well that they can, that there won't be any real time consequences, because it's easy writing behind the anonymity of

I've read that war and violence is on the decline.

Does that mean happiness is on the upswing? And what is happiness? For me it's something I'm enthusiastic about doing. It's a wish without longing attached.

What is happiness for you?

Artist of the Day: Peony - Judy Stalus

Peony Judy Stalus

Only three more months until my peonies are in full bloom.

Artist Bio:
I live on fifty acres of beautiful gardens, fields and woodlands in Walpole, New Hampshire with my husband and daughter Despite the harsh climate of northern New England I have flowers in blossom from March through November. I grow hundreds of varieties but have a special love of tulips, iris, peonies and poppies. I have iris in bloom for many months from the tiny iris reticulata and iris cristata of early spring to the summer blooms of bearded, Louisiana, Japanese and Siberian iris. Voluptuous peonies and perennial poppies are followed by dozens of annual and Icelandic poppies.

Photographs:These gardens and flowers are the basis for most of my current photography. I photograph flowers in the garden, in the house, from afar and very close through every season. I began photographing in 1971 and my work has changed with me as my life has changed. I was a film photographer printing both black and white and color in my darkroom. But a few years ago I was seduced by the magic of Photoshop and now print exclusively digitally. I still use a few of my old film camera including my Diana from the 1960s, a Holga, and my Polaroid SX-70 Land camera but primarily shoot with digital camera.

All of my photographs are printed with archival pigmented inks on fine art, watercolor, or rice papers. They are each signed on the back.
Cards include envelopes.

As seen at:
The Soho Gallery
Green Tree Gallery
Walpole Artisans Cooperative
Vermont Center for Photography
Mill Pond Gallery
Silverman Arts Center
Sharon Arts Center
Keene State College
Simply Hue
HJM Art Gallery Blog

What You Love Is Your Fate

The excerpt and response below is from's Life Lines: Vital Words in which, We each carry lines of poetry with us. Words that others have written float back to us and stay with us, indelibly. We clutch these "Life Lines" like totems, repeat them as mantras, and summon them for comfort and laughter.

The line of poetry I carry with me always is,the world offers itself to your imagination, from Mary Oliver's Wild Geese.

I've been thinking about Frank Bidart's last line, What you love is your fate, trying to come up with a list of the things I truly love, and also looking at the direct correlation to my life, and thereby my fate.

My list of what I love, so far, in no particular order:
my daughter
Great Salt Lake

then the voice in my head said




— from "Guilty of Dust" by Frank Bidart

I have been both comforted and frightened by those lines, on countless occasions. To me they are a lasting example of how poetic power does not always depend on image and metaphor; poetic power can come in abstract language if there is enough emotional energy propelling it.

"What you love is your fate"—the central force shaping your life, according to this deeply romantic view, is your love. The idea is attractive, romantically, yet in "Guilty of Dust" there is a fierce sense that we may find ourselves loving in ways not only unwise but desperately troubling. Your love—your deepest and most impassioned desire-ardor-admiration—turns out to be a force controlling you even as you feel you are choosing to be defined by it. A frightening idea, yet preferable to the idea that you are controlled by animal needs, by chemistry, by economics, by tribal politics, or by some imaginary deity.

"What you love is your fate"—the essence of your life will turn out to be a pattern designed by your power to love. But Bidart's lines say that you may rebel against this—with agonizing consequences.

Bidart is interested in people whose deepest desires are transgressive. In my own life, this has not seemed to be the case; but like most of us, I'm very familiar with desires, or kinds of love, that defeat and prevent other conceivable pleasures and satisfactions.

These lines from "Guilty of Dust" have come to me, for instance, when I see myself heading home toward wife and child—or, turning toward a book of poetry—when a beautiful young woman is leaving the room, leaving the building, getting into her car, going away. Or, when I see myself lifting and moving boxes of books from one apartment to another, one house to another, decade after decade. Or, when I imagine all the memorial services, years hence, at which I'll praise the writing of a friend who has died—or I'll be the deceased writer . . .

I once heard Bidart say "You've got to love what you love" (I think he was quoting Robert Lowell who was quoting Van Gogh); and this helped me: the realization that you can at least choose to love with vigor and imagination what you find yourself loving; there is thus some choice involved!

Mark Halliday
Athens, Ohio

Presidents Remembered

Eye Patch Abe Rob Osborne

I had the day off in honor of our Presidents. I spent the day hanging out with my dogs. I took a long, completely guilt-free nap that was filled with a wild dream,(which I am embarrassed to have had and will never, ever reveal). When I woke up I did a little housework, as in swept dog hair into ankle-high piles and got it out of the house. The dogs got busy shedding to make up for the clean floors and rugs. I went for a walk until it got too cold to be outside with just a sweater. I spent a solid amount of time looking in the mirror trying to decide if dying my hair red is evidence of a mid-life crisis. Then had a little outing to a local cafe with my father and uncle. And, I couldn't help it even though I've had numerous interventions with myself about my book consumption; I went trolling the local thrift store for books. I picked up Jill McCorkles Creatures of Habit short story collection, The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht, Celian Rees' Sorceress young adult novel, (and I never read young adult but the the blurbs were seductive), and Travel and Leisure magazine for Francine Prose's Novel Travel article.

For my lovely day, I would like to the thank my following favorites:
John Adams - for his brilliant mind, blinding temper, love and admiration for Abigail, his forbearance and legendary outbursts in the face of hardship and humiliations, large and small, one being likened to a hermaphrodite.

Thomas Jefferson - for his equally brilliant mind, incredible writing skill, Monticello, and although he never righted the wrong pertaining to slavery, and especially Sally Hemmings, mother of his children whom he willed to the University of Virginia upon his death, he had the self reflection to note that, if there is a just God, we are damned.

Abraham Lincoln - for his indefatigable hard work to keep the country together, the 13th Amendment, his patience and love for his wife, Mary Todd, that he was a killer politician in every sense of that word, and lately, because he's been reimagined as a pirate and a zombie.

Theodore Roosevelt - for his adventurous and indomitable spirit, and especially for all the national forests he designated in one giant swath.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt - for his courage in the face of polio, personal tragedy, dire economics, world war never seen before or since, for kicking Nazi ass, for empathizing with the common man, his fireside chats, his respect, if not love, for the brilliant Eleanor, maybe for his love of Lucy, the New Deal, the Historic Sites Act, the G.I. bill, the Lend-Lease Act, his dog, Fala,and so much more.

Jimmy Carter - for showing the world how a much maligned and misunderstood former President can still be relevant, speak truth to power, and exist in the world with grace and courage.

Barack Obama - for his message of Hope, with a capital H, for his obvious love and respect for Michelle and his children, for his oratory prowess, his unflappable sophistication, and charismatic presence on the world stage, and for the promise, despite flaws and missteps, that he will deliver on his promise.

I've been witness to ten presidencies, starting with John F. Kennedy, (when I was in diapers and hardly aware of the world outside of my own small universe). I remember when his brother, Robert Kennedy, was shot. I remember the news that day, the images on the TV, that I could watch standing level to the screen because I was only three years old. I also know I remember this because it was the day the neighbor's dog, Cookie, died.

I don't remember Lyndon B. Johnson at all, except from textbooks and old film stills, although I watched Walter Cronkite every night, (I even told my little sister that Cronkite saved children from a burning building so she'd stop complaining and let me watch the news in peace).

I watched Nixon's resignation speech in my Grandfather's living room. I cried when he spoke of his mother, calling her, as I remember, an angel.In the 5th grade I wrote President Nixon a letter. I have to tell you that I am grateful that Donald C. pilfered the letter from my desk and showed it around until I discovered the theft and the reason for all the snickering, found a circle of screeching classmates, grabbed the letter from them, tore it to pieces, threw it in a neighboring back yard, and threatened to seriously clobber anyone who ever spoke of it again. What were the contents? I wanted to know why the President of the United States would allow women to burn their bras, on TV, and in full view of the White House. Would he be kind enough to explain? Who knows what might have happened had I mailed it. More than likely I would have received a standard reply postcard. What I know is that I am so glad this little girl from Utah did not become a Nixon White House anti-feminism poster child - a movement I would not understand until I became a woman myself and didn't have to burn my bra, because the majority of the burning and heavy, heavy lifting had already been done for me.

All I can remember of Gerald Ford is watching Saturday Night Live' Chevy Chase imitate the President falling down stairs and knocking into furniture.

I was in high school when Jimmy Carter was president. I didn't get the whole energy crisis, mainly, because I didn't pay the bills and the tank was always full so I never had to wait in a long line to gas up, (if I ever got to drive the car). I did understand the Iran-Hostage crisis, although I didn't understand the Iranian Revolution until I was in college and the pro and anti Khomeini's demonstrated on campus, staged mock executions, and I began asking questions and heard first-hand accounts of those lucky to escape, and then much later, the stories of those who stayed and fought. My senior year, I wrote a very dramatic, probably verging on histrionic, poem about the hostage crisis, using dance metaphors. I won second place, and fifty dollars. First place went to The Kiss, about a kiss, furtive looks, teenage crush. That I remember the exact name and content of the poem, testifies to the disgust I felt that such an insipid poem would win in the face of such world crisis. fyi: it was a really good poem with a universal subject. My parents are still really mad about the Panama Canal.

I really hate to admit I voted for Reagan when I was 18, but this is evidence that children many times vote their parent's politics until they grow up and discover their own. And I remember I felt sorry for him when he had to testify about what he did and did not know about the arms deal, even though now I understand that Reagan, and not Bush, is the original bushwacker. His deregulated, economic chickens have finally come home to roost. We are paying for legacy of his presidency. The thing about Reagan though, is that even knowing this, I still like him.

I sat inches from my television screen as George Bush Sr. informed the nation we had just begun bombing Iraq. I felt very much like a child listening to Daddy,(with a giant head and nasally voice). I still remember the visceral fear of watching the "mother of all wars" unfurl,(and stayed up all night watching the weird green lights, which were missiles, light up the sky over Baghdad). I am still more than a little bugged about the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill debacle, but gratified that his "high-tech lynching" rhetoric did not work for Herman Caine.

I know Clinton got the country in the black financially, but I think the saying how you leave is more important that how you enter, (absolutely no double entendre intended), sums up his presidency. I still can't believe Clinton's poor judgement in the personal deportment department, (Clinton had to know JFK got away with his antics because it was a different era entirely, and, that well, he was no JFK). Nor could I believe the furor of the Starr Report. I called and spoke to a number of senators and left messages with their beleaguered secretaries about the outrageous behavior of their bosses. And I called and left a similar message with some poor staffer at the White House. This was before email.

About a year into George Bush Jr's presidency I decided I needed to reread George Orwell's 1984, because it was relevant and I was afraid, really afraid, and a wee bit paranoid, which turns out, I had every right to be. I turned to poetry, especially Sam Hamill's brilliant anthology. I turned to satirist George Saunders. I turned to The Onion. And I started making paper dolls. I never felt the need to create a doll for the president,(Will Farell's imitation, Bush's creepy "hehehe" laugh, malaprops and insane grammar and syntax, were enough: buy something for Ameerika, misunderestimated, and fecal matter rather than fetal matter, repeated seventeen times in one anti-stem cell research speech, are personal favorites). I created a paper doll for Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney, so I could dress them up every time they behaved more draconian than Machiavelli, or said something duplicitous, justified torture, or worked to pass yet something else that chipped huge chunks from the Bill of Rights, or The Constitution. Or shot somebody in the face. Goes without saying that these guys were dressed up a lot, and both looked fetching in ball gowns and tiaras. For the record, I am still very peoed about what happened to Valerie Plame and her husband.

As for President Obama, never, ever Mr. Obama like certain persons refer to him, I've already written of my hopes for him, of his promises for the nation. I want to believe. Time will tell.

So finally, the artist of Eye Patch Abe. I love this image of Abe as a rakish pirate of sorts.

Take a look at comic artist Rob Osborne's bio and link under the image above to see more of his artwork.

Artist Bio:
A little bit about me...

I'm an artist, designer, and writer. I'm a published graphic novelist who has worked in comics for years. I've written for video games, designed pretty things, prepared marketing messages, and editorialized through cartoons.

You can find me online at and

You may read my weblog at

Etsy is a welcome opportunity to share my art and design with nice, art-loving people from around the world.

The idea is to create and share art that expresses the adventure and romance of comic books, the inspiration of Zig-Z, and Lichtenstein Pop Awesomeness. I hope to provide the art enthusiast with intergalactic, Neo-Rockwellian, Pop-Warholian energy through art. Things that burst with Jack Kirby krackle and the gusto of Bill Watterson's Calvin. Providing that "crunch with punch", as it were. Or something like that. It all begins to sound like rather absurd, doesn't it?

If you like these kinds of things, then you'll find things here that you like.

My studio is in Austin, Texas. I create every day, and I eat cereal every day. Thank you for coming by.

Aritst of the Day: Jenny - Tali

Jenny Tali

It's been a very dry, sepia-colored winter here in my little neck of the desert. Utah just barely inched out of the drought of the last decade and the Great Salt Lake is finally starting to look like herself again. The skiff of snow that fell last night looks like November or December. It's February.

I'm sitting here at my desk watching a dove duke it out with the magpie that is trying to take over the bird feeder I secured to a pine branch. The dove won. Finches crowd the other feeder that I hung from a branch in the Cedar Pine outside my window. I can see that it is getting low. I'll have to pick up more seed and a couple sticky birdseed bricks later today.

What does any of this have to do with the painting? I am pining for spring and this painting reminds me of warm riot-colored flowers, sun tea on the deck, sundress days.

After you've soaked up the brilliant light of Tali's paintings, check out her illustration site at

Artist Bio:
Hi my name is Tali! I graduated from Bezalel Academy of Art & Design this year!
I am a freelance illustrator living in Tel-Aviv with my boyfriend. I illustrate for magazines and children's books. I love working in many techniques, to take pictures and to dance.

I have a 2nd shop called TOSYA. You can find a different style there. Not realistic, but happy and homour-filled illustrations.

This Moment: 11:22 P.M. February 18, 2012

The falling snow flutters like moths around the porch lights. The dogs are settled on the rugs in the living room. The small dog scratches at his collar with his hind leg, then suddenly runs to the bedroom. I hear him scratching a place to settle on his pillow. He settles, then leaps up and scratches again. I know from the rustling he is doing his circle dance and will soon tire and lay himself down. My husband's snoring in the other room, the irritating voices of late night news, then Whitney's lovely voice fill the silence. Another light has gone out. By morning the landscape will be laden under heavy white. The dogs bark and stand expectantly at the front door when my daughter turns into the driveway. The small dog has a chew toy pinned beneath his paw. The old dog lumbers over and rests her head on the sofa to receive her pats. Snow is falling in slow spirals. I feel sleep coming on swift feet. A train whistles through the night and I am happy for the company.

Chinese Poets: Li-Young Lee - Zhou Zan - Yu Jian - Zang Di

Coca-Cola Vase(2010), Han Dynasty vase (202BC-220AD) and industrial paint
Ai Weiwei

The news all week has been filled with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's visit, and all things Chinese. His wife, Peng Liyuan, is a famous folk singer, the equivalent of a country rock star. Today, the man next in line to Ha Jintao is meeting with President Barack Obama during his first White House visit.

In his honor, I've included four contemporary Chinese poets poems. Enjoy.

Eating Alone
Li-Young Lee

I've pulled the last of the year's young onions.
The garden is bare now. The ground is cold,
brown and old. What is left of the day flames
in the maples at the corner of my
eye. I turn, a cardinal vanishes.
By the cellar door, I wash the onions,
then drink from the icy metal spigot.

Once, years back, I walked beside my father
among the windfall pears. I can't recall
our words. We may have strolled in silence. But
I still see him bend that way-left hand braced
on knee, creaky-to lift and hold to my
eye a rotten pear. In it, a hornet
spun crazily, glazed in slow, glistening juice.

It was my father I saw this morning
waving to me from the trees. I almost
called to him, until I came close enough
to see the shovel, leaning where I had
left it, in the flickering, deep green shade.

White rice steaming, almost done. Sweet green peas
fried in onions. Shrimp braised in sesame
oil and garlic. And my own loneliness.
What more could I, a young man, want.

Taking a Speedboat from Dongchong to Sanmen Island and Back
Zhou Zan

Throwing on the orange life preserver,
tying slipknots in the slim ties,
I mistook it for a child’s game.
The dark blue boat could take just five or six.
The biggest of us sat in front,
and we joked he would steady the bow.

It isn’t far, Dongchong to Sanmen Island.
From the beach, the ocean wasn’t so huge.
But the little boat unveiled
the vastness of the sea. The next morning
as wind-carried drizzle sought shelter in the ocean,
my friends and I took the boat back to Dongchong,
the driver went full speed to strip away our muddled drowsiness.
All at once, on the hard surface of the water, the boat flipped
like a bratty kid doing long jumps.
Petals of water scattered and with the rain
blurred my vision. For a few blinks,
I felt, several feet deep
in the leaden water, the ocean’s iron essence.

Luo Jiasheng
Yu Jian

every day as the chimneys belch smoke
he comes riding to work on his
old “Bell”-brand bicycle

past the administration building
past the forging shop
past the perimeter wall of the storehouse
to that small hut

workers standing in workshop doorways
say when they see him
Luo Jiasheng’s here

no one knows anything about him
no one asks him anything about himself
the whole factory calls him Luo Jiasheng

the workers are always knocking on his door
wanting their watches repaired electric meters repaired
their radios repaired

during the Cultural Revolution
he was expelled from the factory:
in a suitcase belonging to him
someone had found a tie

when he was allowed to come back to work
he still rode that old “Bell”
Luo Jiasheng
got married without anyone knowing
he invited no one to the wedding
at the age of forty-two
he became a father

in the same year
he died
an electric furnace opened an enormous gash
in his head
it was shocking

on the day of the funeral
his wife did not attend
a few workers carried his coffin up into the hills
they said he was short
he wasn’t heavy
the watches he repaired
were better than new

the chimneys belch smoke
workers stand in the workshop doorways
Luo Jiasheng
hasn’t come to work

No-Name Lake
Zang Di

Here find acceptance, from small things to “not for the likes of us.”
Deep places in the cosmos do not fuss with victory and defeat.
I will not obstruct your soaring lessons, in fact it pleases me
To watch you taking wing. This is spoken from the heart.
Before I came down from the trees I wanted to tell you.
Yes, there is no life to live in the trees, just a position.
The field of view is not bad, but can be narrow.
I will not argue issues with you up in a tree.
I know you need peace more than I do.
Falling leaves have their styles of drifting, but whether you magnify
Or reduce, they boil down to a life of coquettish games.
I’m king-sized, like an ego that contains a strong illusion,
But not hurtful. It just tries for a rhythm fit for a labyrinth.
We have come to a climax, there is really no telling now
If you are ready to greet a divine being
Infinitely open to you: left to right, top to bottom,
Non-being to being, prior to post-, outside to in.
In fact it does not matter if you are absent,
Since every person who loves too hard will encounter
The god that he or she would wish for.
Yes, nothing has been screened from you, but this little lake
Is by no means naked. If you truly have a secret
In the end you will agree with this arrangement.

Artist of the Day: Frida Kahlo - Judy Kaufmann

Frida Kahlo Judy Kaufmann &

I have a photograph of Frida Kahlo and a painting Elizabeth I in my office.

Frida, represents the heart, which ruled her absolutely. Elizabeth represents the mind, which rarely lost to her heart.

I admire them both, but must confess, Elizabeth's writing is far less painful than Frida's journals to read.

Barcelona-based illustrator Judy Kaufmann's illustration of the divine Frida is lovely interpretation of the artist.

Artist Bio:
I'm Judy Kaufmann, an Illustrator who likes to draw animals, people, houses, cars, trees and everything repetitively.
Twitter @judykaufmann

Quote Therapy 6:38 February 15, 2012: Maps in this World

Ireland from Geographical Fun, or Humorous Outlines of Various Countries by William Harvey

What I know now: Even if I had had a map from the start, it wouldn't have done me any good. Like old lives, maps in this world, or any world, are something of an illusion. They change all the time. Katherine Russel Richfrom Turning a Death Sentence Into a Passport for Life

The problem with being healthy, is that you think you have time. And so, you procrastinate, and perfect, in equal measure.

I can't remember which writer was given one year to live, who in that year wrote three novels, maybe six, as I'm misremembering.

I'm not knocking being healthy. I'm grateful. Truth is, I'm living in the illusory world of Time. I think I have a lot. And I really hope I do. But, I haven't finished my novel yet. And I never, ever will, unless I sit my ass in the chair, and finish that crummy first draft.

A day job, is a means to an end. A means that exhausts. What I know, is that I have friends who knock out pages, crummy or brilliant, before they leave for their day jobs.

Upon learning she had stage iv breast cancer, Katherine Russel Rich wrote the following: When I was told I was going to die, I was shredded to realize I hadn't made any real difference. The life of a writer was uncertain, but as a writer, it seemed, I might leave a mark.

Life is uncertain. What is certain is that we're all going to die.

So, what's the worst that can happen if you take that chance, write that novel, switch jobs, get a divorce, tell the truth, take that trip? You might just go up in flames, but you did it, and now you know you did it. And if you fail? So what. Keep going, keep failing, keep moving forward.

I think the real lesson in life is that the heart is the one, true compass. So, go ahead and do what your heart tells you.

Poem Therapy: Sita - Jason Schneiderman

Sita enduring the ordeal by fire Mughal, ca. 1600

Jason Schneiderman

Do you remember Sita? How when Hanuman came to rescue her
she refused, how she insisted that Rama come openly,
defeat her captor Ravana openly? She had no desire for stealth,
no desire for intrigue, and though Ravana could not touch her
for the curse on his flesh, she remained captive until Rama came.
Do you remember that she was tortured? That Hunaman asked her
for permission to kill the women who had tortured her? Do you
remember how she walked through fire to prove her purity,
even though everyone knew of the curse on Ravana? How the people
said the fire didn't matter because Fire was the brother of her mother, Earth?
How Rama was as weak in the face of his people as he
had been strong in the face of Ravana? Can you imagine the eyes
of Sita when she refused another test? When she looked at Rama,
a man she loved enough to die for, a man who was a god, and knew
it was over? Can you imagine her eyes in that moment, as she asked
her mother to take her back, to swallow her back into the earth? I think my eyes are like that now,leaving you.

I understand Sita's "enough is enough" come to Jesus moment,(yes, I know I am mixing my religious metaphors), in which she finally realizes that her love is not enough, that it will never be enough, for a lover like Rama, whose pride, or wound, or ego, or whatever, will always require another test.

I imagine Sita's eyes, a mix of fury and relief when she asks to be swallowed back into the earth.

I think I'd like to write this poet a letter:

Dear Jason Schneiderman,

I read your poem on at exactly 2:45 this afternoon. As my eyes moved across your words, I felt as if a small hand had reached inside my jacket, wormed through my shirt, and plunged its sharp fingers through my flesh, grabbed hold of my solar plexus and gave me a good you have my full attention shake.

Thank you for articulating my emotions so accurately.


P.S. I plan to read more of your poems, but I am going to need a lot of chocolate to survive if this poem is indicative of your oeuvre.

Artist of the Day: Band Aid - Emiko Franzen

Band Aid Emiko Franzen

Some days require a Band Aid, or a beautiful image that evokes the feeling that all will be well with a little strip of cotton adhered in place.

To find an image that speaks to your day, check out the rest of Emi and Mark's excellent photographs.

Artist Bio:
Welcome to f2images. We started f2images as a way to share our photography with others. Our ambition is to capture and present images in a unique and engaging way. Although we enjoy fine art photography, the technical aspect of image capture is equally important. We are in Grafton, WI...just outside of Milwaukee.

**Follow us on Facebook at **
**Check out our blog at **
**Visit us on Flickr at **
**Visit us on Trunkt at**
**Follow us on Twitter at **

Artist of the Day: The Lovers - Maria Dubrovskaya

The Lovers Maria Dubrovskaya

Girl Couple Articulated Paper Doll

I love the simple sophistication of Maria Dubrovskaya's paper dolls.

I wish she offered a voodoo paper doll, or at least a Kali doll in additions to her Lakshmi.

Artist Bio:

Hi, friends! I'm Maria from Siberia, but now i live and create in Philippines.
I love kraft paper, white ink, wood, inspiration and all living creatures on the planet. I hope you'll like my mixes from these things ))
My paper dolls and other products are hand painted, each of them is original and made with love.

Valentine / AntiValentine

I am always interested in how we express our deepest feelings to each other, especially when revealing our true affection.

I remember watching a documetary on Jacques Derrida, where he made a statement that what he was really interested in was knowing the details of fellow philosophers' intimate relationships, and how they related to their partners. This knowledge was how he could discern who the man really was.

We reveal ourselves in our love letters and gifts to our beloved. Check out the letters and gifts below and see what is revealed.

Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 23 December 1782

Love Letters’ Anthologizes 2,000 Years of Passion Put to Paper

Virgil, Jane Austen and Other Authors Can Teach Us About Love

How to Love


Celebrating Anti-Valentine's Day

BitterSweets: Dysfunctional, Dumped, Dejected

JibJab AntiValentine eCards

Poem Therapy 9:25 A.M. February 14, 2012: Brooklyn Anchorage - Lisa Jarnot

image from the Museum of Broken Relationships

Brooklyn Anchorage
Lisa Jarnot

and at noon I will fall in love
and nothing will have meaning
except for the brownness of
the sky, and tradition, and water
and in the water off the railway
in New Haven all the lights
go on across the sun, and for
millennia those who kiss fall into
hospitals, riding trains, wearing
black shoes, pursued by those
they love, the Chinese in the armies
with the shiny sound of Johnny Cash,
and in my plan to be myself
I became someone else with
soft lips and a secret life,
and I left, from an airport,
in tradition of the water
on the plains, until the train
started moving and yesterday
it seemed true that suddenly
inside of the newspaper
there was a powerline and
my heart stopped, and everything
leaned down from the sky to kill me
and now the cattails sing.

" my plan to be myself/I became someone else..."

Isn't this the case for every single one us? I think so.

On this day, Happy Valentine's,
Happy unValentine's, to you.

You choose which.

The Museum of Broken Relationships

Museum of Broken Relationships

I heard about Zagreb's Museum of Broken Relationships located in Croatia, on the drive in this morning. It's on my 100 List of things to see before I exit.

I don't have anything tangible, mementos or otherwise, from my first marriage, save for a few black and white fashion photographs, which I gave to my daughter. I buried the ring in the field behind my house, gave the few shared possessions that were left behind to the goodwill. I burned my wedding dress and certificate. Yes, very dramatic.

A few months after my divorce was finally final, I was invited to a Native American fire ceremony. I had no idea what to expect other than I was instructed to bring something for the fire. I brought my wedding dress, hat, and marriage certificate.

My wedding dress and hat were a modern interpretation of a Coco Chanel 1930's dress, designed by a local fashion designer. The dress was tea-length and was made from cream silk jersey. The hat looked like a combo of beret and pill box. I wore three strands of waist length pearls. My hair was cropped to a chin length bob. I carried a single calla lily,and we stood between two Doric columns while the Mormon bishop pronounced us married. He was a sweet man who had a speech impediment that reminded me of a flustered Elmer Fudd. Anytime I see clips of the marriage scene from the Princess Bride, it takes me back to my own.

Fast forward ten years, post divorce, to the fire ceremony. When I arrived, the bonfire was at its height. I knew a couple there so I stood by them. The participants were asked to gather in a circle around the fire and make a statement about the piece we had brought, and were now giving to the fire as a break with whatever it represented to us. Everyone threw their articles into the fire and we watched as they burned. Some cried. Some screamed. Really screamed. I remember I wasn't emotional at all, which is unusual for me.

I don't remember exactly what I said when I threw my dress and hat into the fire, but a man standing next to me tried to negotiate the hat. He wanted it. I loved that hat, too, but in the fire it went. Afterwards, he said he could have gone in after it.

I think if I were to donate something to the Museum of Broken Relationships from that marriage, it would have to be the ring I buried, but it's still somewhere in the rich soil behind my house. When my daughter was very young, I found her out digging in the dirt with her beach shovel and pail, looking for it.

Perhaps someday, it will unearth itself. I hardly care.

What would you donate to the museum?

Here's a brief description from the website:
The Museum of Broken Relationships grew from a traveling exhibition revolving around the concept of failed relationships and their ruins. Unlike ‘destructive’ self-help instructions for recovery from failed loves, the Museum offers a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation: by contributing to the Museum's collection.

Whatever the motivation for donating personal belongings – be it sheer exhibitionism, therapeutic relief, or simple curiosity – people embraced the idea of exhibiting their love legacy as a sort of a ritual, a solemn ceremony. Our societies oblige us with our marriages, funerals, and even graduation farewells, but deny us any formal recognition of the demise of a relationship, despite its strong emotional effect. In the words of Roland Barthes in A Lover's Discourse: "Every passion, ultimately, has its spectator... (there is) no amorous oblation without a final theater."

Conceptualized in Croatia by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić, the Museum has since toured internationally, amassing an amazing collection. Although often colored by personal experience, local culture and history, the exhibits presented here form universal patterns offering us to discover them and feel the comfort they can bring. Hopefully they can also inspire our personal search for deeper insights and strengthen our belief in something more meaningful than random suffering.

An Anti-Valentine for Henry VIII from His Wives

On this date in 1531, Henry VIII was recognized as the supreme head of the Church of England.
Backstory? Long story short: Henry wanted to rid himself of Queen Katherine, and marry Anne. The Pope refused a divorce or annulment. Henry always got what he wanted, so he broke with Rome. The Pope excommunicated Henry. He didn't care. He divorced Katherine, and married Anne. This worked out very well for Henry. It didn't work out so well for Anne, or for that matter, any of his six wives. Being the wife of King Henry VIII was hardly a walk in the park.

In honor of this day in Tudor history, Valentine's, and the law of karma:

Dear Henry,

We feel an apology is long overdue.

Katherine of Aragon
Anne Boleyn
Jane Seymour
Anne of Cleaves
Catherine Howard
Katherine Parr

February's Books - 2012

How Georgia Became O'Keefe: Lessons on the Art of Living - Karen Karbo
In this distinctive book, Karen Karbo cracks open the O’Keeffe icon in her characteristic style, making one of the greatest women painters in American history vital and relevant for yet another generation. She chronicles O’Keeffe’s early life, her desire to be an artist, and the key moment when art became her form of self-expression. She also explores O’Keeffe’s passionate love affair with master photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who took a series of 500 black-and-white photographs of O’Keeffe during the early years of their marriage.

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir - Elna Baker
It's lonely being a Mormon in New York City. So once again, Elna Baker attends the New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance-a virgin in a room full of virgins doing the Macarena. Her Queen Bee costume, which involves a black funnel stuck to her butt for a stinger, isn't attracting the attention she'd anticipated. So once again, Elna is alone at the punch bowl, stocking up on generic Oreos, exactly where you'd expect to find a single Mormon who's also a Big Girl. But loneliness is nothing compared to what happens when she loses eighty pounds. . . . and falls in love with an atheist.

Gilgamesh - Herbert Mason
Herbert Mason's best-selling Gilgamesh is the most widely read and enduring interpretation of this ancient Babylonian epic. One of the oldest and most universal stories known in literature, the epic of Gilgamesh presents the grand, timeless themes of love and death, loss and reparations within the stirring tale of a hero-king and his doomed friend. A finalist for the National Book Award, Mason's retelling is at once a triumph of scholarship, a masterpiece of style, and a labor of love that grew out of the poet's long affinity with the original.

Girls in Peril - Karen Lee Boren
During a single summer in the 1970s, five 12-year-old girls learn that danger lies not in the external world of their night runs, where parents and their own fertile imaginations conjure visions of anonymous murderers, rapists, and other mysterious figures lurking in the nearby woods. They discover it instead in places they never would have thought to look: in their neighborhood and homes; in uncomprehending parents who steal their time and freedom (and, in one bizarre case, a thumb); in the pull of an uncertain world beyond their all-important friendships; and in their own burgeoning sexuality. Karen Lee Boren’s vivid novel, the premier book in the Tin House New Voice series, begins in the collective first-person point of view, but gradually this reassuring group identity splinters as the girls mature and violence close to home threatens to split them apart for good.

Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson
Tracy Waterhouse leads a quiet, ordered life as a retired police detective-a life that takes a surprising turn when she encounters Kelly Cross, a habitual offender, dragging a young child through town. Both appear miserable and better off without each other-or so decides Tracy, in a snap decision that surprises herself as much as Kelly. Suddenly burdened with a small child, Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge. Meanwhile, Jackson Brodie, the beloved detective of novels such as Case Histories, is embarking on a different sort of rescue-that of an abused dog. Dog in tow, Jackson is about to learn, along with Tracy, that no good deed goes unpunished.

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper - Diablo
Diablo Cody was twenty-four years old when she decided there had to be more to life than typing copy at an ad agency. On a whim, she signed up for amateur night at Minneapolis’s seedy Skyway Lounge. She didn’t win a prize that night, but she discovered that stripping delivered a rush she had never experienced before, and too many experiences to not write about it. While she didn’t fit the ordinary profile of a stripper—she had a supportive boyfriend, was equal parts brainpower and beauty, was from a good family, and was out to do a little soul searching—she soon immersed herself in this enticing life full-time.

Girl in Translation - Jean Kwok
When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life-like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition-Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but also herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

This Moment: 8:32 A.M. February 11,2012

I am refusing to face the morning. A dog from across the street is barking. My dogs join the conversation. The sky is filled with brisk morning light. Cars stream up and down the road. The day is here. I am wrapped in my comforter, sitting cross-legged on top of the bed. The small dog is stretched over my ankles and turns to look at me every few moments to see if I'm going to get up and give him a treat or take him for a morning walk. I can feel his muscles shift with my every movement. He is always ready to leap. The old dog is in the living room. She waits now until she has to move, unwilling to expend the energy on possibility. A plane passes noisily overhead. Now a train announces it's entry. Every vehicle that passes appears to be loaded down or attached to a trailer filled with branches as if it were spring rather than winter. The seasons are confused. The noise of the day is building. The birds are silent. Perhaps they too are refusing to leave their nests. The noise of the past week has been relentless and filled with tales from Grimm. Finally, a crow caws a clipped syllable directive and then is silent again. The small dog jumps from the bed and pads into the living room.

Artist of the Day: Heart Felt - Liz Daly

Heart Felt Liz Daly

Such expression! I love this felted heart, and that it expresses the sentiment of the holiday so succinctly. Our hearts may be organs that pump blood, but they are stitched together with the thread of memory and love.

Okay, I am being sentimental of late. You'd think Valentine's if my favorite holiday, but it isn't. I just love the color red. A lot.

Artist Bio:
I'm a gatherer. I thrive on using re-purposed leather, found do-dads, and anything I come across that can be reworked ONCE AGAIN in a whole new way.

I'm a designer both day and night, but in very different ways. I'm one of the lucky ones. I already have my dream job working as an interior designer for a commercial architecture firm, plus more creative outlets than I can count, but even still, I need more. To put it simply, I have an addiction to creating stuff!

Several years ago I graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Environmental Design, and I really missed trying out new materials and mediums after joining the professional world. That is no longer the case! Etsy is home sweet home and I'm free to experiment with whatever do-dads I can get my hands on: anything from leather scraps to wool roving. My studio is more of a lab and I like it that way.

Interviews: Featured as "Artist of the Week" on Discover South Carolina, a travel and tourism website, in February of 2012. Full interview can be found here:

TV Appearances: Felted Curiosities featured on "Your Carolina with Jack and Kimberly" (September 6th, 2011)

Magazines: Better Home and Gardens DIY magazine featured my felted owls in the winter issue of 2010

Exhibitions & Craft Shows:
Art & Light Gallery: 2011, 2012 (Greenville, SC)
Indie Craft Parade: 2011 (Greenville, SC)
Holiday Handmade Hoopla / Hub-Bub: 2011 (Spartanburg, SC)
7th Annual American Advertising Federation Art Show: 2011 (Greenville)

Featured artist on for 2-day flash sale: 2011

Blogs that have showcased my work:
The Beading Gems Journal
Sew Sweet Stitches
This Is Green
Handmade by Jen
Cart Before the Horse
The Madame Fresh
I Only Like Monsters

Valentine Wish List VI: Vintage & Handmade Gifts

25 seed faces kelsey elise pike

antique 1930's remington monarch pioneer manual typewriter brooklyn retro

black concrete and stainless steel broken heart dr. craze

antique silver anatomical heart cabinet hardware blue bayer

pomegranate rose bath salts brooke marton

Writing Days: Place - February 10, 2012

February 10, 2012

Figment Daily Theme:
Through your writing, return to a place that was once significant to you that you've not visited for years. What is clear in your memory? What can't you quite remember? Where are the holes? Go to one of those holes and using what you can remember as clues, invent what might have been there.

In addition to Figment's prompt, recent news inspired this piece.


February 10, 2012

Figment Daily Theme:
Through your writing, return to a place that was once significant to you that you've not visited for years. What is clear in your memory? What can't you quite remember? Where are the holes? Go to one of those holes and using what you can remember as clues, invent what might have been there.


She stands on the uneven grass before her grandfather's grave and lays her flowers down. He was a man who was clear in his actions and affections. He didn't have much use for granddaughters. Or daughters.

Her daughter is playing among the dead, running between the headstones, careful not to step on the graves, as instructed. She is pretending to read the engraved words and says goodbye to each as she runs. People gathered in small groups smile as she skips past them.

The woman small talks about her iris bouquets and the heat, until she realizes she no longer hears her daughter's singsonging. Time freezes and a small fist pounds inside her ears. She sees the blond halo of her daughter's head and her breath returns. Her daughter is standing silent and completely still twenty feet from her.

Her daughter turns, a serious expression on her small face. Momma, come here.

The woman calls to her daughter to come back, but her daughter is resolute in her demand her mother come to her. She is ready to join in the game until she recognizes the name on the headstone. Her daughter is standing before the grave of Mr. Schoenfield.

Momma, come here. He wants to say hello.

Something close to a scream rumbles through her and she rushes to her daughter, grabs her up, and hurries to the car. Her daughter screams, I want to go back! I don't want to go!

Quiet, she says.

Once inside, she turns the air conditioning on high, and hides her furious tears behind sunglasses. Her hands grip and release the steering wheel.

I don't want to go! I don't want to go! her daughter screams and bucks against her car seat.

The woman thinks to drive to a nearby store and buy a knife, return when the crowds have left for their Memorial Day family picnics. She will leave her child with the sitter and come back and tear the grass over his grave to shreds as warning to stay away from her child.

She is sorry that Mrs. Schoenfield must spend eternity in the ground next to this man.