Monday, May 29, 2006

"Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding."

~ Albert Einstein

I'm recycling a story here, but its one I like, and it's something I keep in mind when the world seems too much -

This is a story one of my children's teachers had on her door - there was a man walking along a beach tossing back into the ocean, starfish that had been washed ashore and would otherwise die.
Another man approched him and said "why do you bother, you cannot not possibly make a difference here, there are thousands of starfish, and there is only you."
The first man replied - "I made a difference to that one."

I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again." ~ Stephan Grellet

Its a beauiful day - I'm going to go fill my birdfeeders . . .

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

death in the arts

Stanley Kunitz

Stanley Kunitz was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1905. He attended Harvard College, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1926 and a master's degree in 1927. He served in the Army in World War II, after a request for conscientious objector status was denied. Following the war, he began teaching, first at Bennington College in Vermont, and later at universities including Columbia, Yale, Princeton, Rutgers, and the University of Washington.

About his own work, Kunitz has said: "The poem comes in the form of a blessing—'like rapture breaking on the mind,' as I tried to phrase it in my youth. Through the years I have found this gift of poetry to be life-sustaining, life-enhancing, and absolutely unpredictable. Does one live, therefore, for the sake of poetry? No, the reverse is true: poetry is for the sake of the life."

Kunitz was deeply committed to fostering community among artists, and was a founder of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Poets House in New York City. Together with his wife, the painter Elise Asher, he split his time between New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

He died at the age of 100 on May 14, 2006.

The Long Boat
When his boat snapped loose
from its mooring, under
the screaking of the gulls,
he tried at first to wave
to his dear ones on shore,
but in the rolling fog
they had already lost their faces.
Too tired even to choose
between jumping and calling,
somehow he felt absolved and free
of his burdens, those mottoes
stamped on his name-tag:
conscience, ambition, and all
that caring.
He was content to lie down
with the family ghosts
in the slop of his cradle,
buffeted by the storm,
endlessly drifting.
Peace! Peace!
To be rocked by the Infinite!
As if it didn't matter
which way was home;
as if he didn't know
he loved the earth so much
he wanted to stay forever.

So why am I writting about a dead poet today, its not one of the 'big' issues? I guess because today it seemed symbolic of the death of the arts. Things like music, art, literature, and yes poetry, are seen as the frivous extras in life - certainly in education. I am fortunate to live where my children can attend 'excellent' schools in the country, yet by the time the come to middle school, Art becomes an extra, Music you can take at the loss of "real" class time and the 'important' subjects are stressed.

Yet its been shown over and over that early music education improves a child's ability to understand mathematics, art study as well. This also follows the brain developement of a child. When a child starts school its the right brain that is developing - it needs to be feed a love of music, shown art, have stories read to it to nurture and feed its developement. The right brain is about larger concents, imagination - it is not about letter memorization, math fact regurgitation and reading ability. Those are the domain of the left brain which doesn't start developing till your average child is 9years old or in grade 4. So what does this mean about the typical child's education? We do it backwards. Instead of forcing letter recognition, math facts and so on down their throats at earier and earier ages we should be showing them spacial math in music, in the compostion of a painting, teach them to love words by reading to them good stories - feed that right brain. Later when the left brain is developing and these foundations have been laid is the ideal time to teach symbols, facts and memorization.

But in our competitive society putting off math facts for art and music, letter recognition for literature and poetry would be considered insane. There is no way to prove your child is better, no state test to evaluate progress - and sadly this will always be so.

My youngest will be 9 in July and has struggled with reading and math - and is even in the 'special help' program in her school. I've always been very active my children's education, but I must say I never really did any of the 'phonic games' that came home - I just kept reading to her (we have about 600 children's/youth books in the house and I unhooked the TV). She is now reading at an "appropriate" grade level and is writting her own "books" (jam-packed with spelling errors, but I can read them). I never worried too much. Just as a never paid any attention when the kingergarten teacher worried about handwritting and 'not colouring inside the lines'. I put the pictures in frames on the walls and bought more art supplies that let them draw their own lines.

Am I raising artists and writers? Maybe, maybe not. One of the highest entrance success to medical school undergrad programs is a degree in music.

On Mother's Day my youngest wouldn't show me the "prescribed art gift" she had made in art. She was furious with it - she had been told there was only one way to do it and that was it. Drawing inbetween the lines again. We are scrapping it (although I think its very beautiful) and she is going to show me what she wanted to paint.

One of a my kids favourite poetry books is one of mine from childhood and Alligator Pie is still our favourite. Its by Canadian Children's Poet, Dennis Lee...

Alligator Pie

Alligator pie, alligator pie,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna die.
Give away the green grass, give away the sky,
But don't give away my alligator pie.

Alligator stew, alligator stew,
If I don't get some I don't know what I'll do.
Give away my furry hat, give away my shoe,
But don't give away my alligator stew.

Alligator soup, alligator soup,
If I don't get some I think I'm gonna droop.
Give away my hockey stick, give away my hoop,
But don't give away my alligator soup.

feel free to add your own verses. . . . .

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Are we missing something here, or is it just me?

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Adopted by the United Nations, December 10, 1948


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as
a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights
should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations
between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas common understanding of these
rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realisation of this pledge,

Now, therefore,

The General Assembly

Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance,
both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

History of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights



I have been told to leave a restaurant.
Been met with suspicion, ridicule, and yes, even come on to.

All in a day's fun.

What a big fat surprise, employers don't want me interviewing and taking pictures of their Mexican workers, and the workers themselves, well only my friends believe me, when I tell them I am doing this to put a human face, a pair of hands, tired downcast eyes, a family left at home to the "Problem of Immigration".

So it's not going to be easy (when have I ever decided to do anything the easy way), doesn't mean its not worth doing - hopefully it won't "get you deported! and everyone you interview too!"

In the meantime I went here to vent some of my frustration (again I must apologize for my tremendous lack of HTML skills)

and sent some letters off. there, at least I did something this morning.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


"Things to do today:
exhale, inhale, exhale.


~ Buddha (Buddha's Little Instruction Book)

Coffee, chocolate and beautiful chanting. I am taking today for myself.

I have several paintings I should be working on, much writing and organizing to do, a photo essay on Mexican Immigration to get started on, ground work and business plans for that organic restaurant which seems to be back on track again, loans to apply for, business plans to write, immigration lawyers, doctor appointments to arrange, and enough house work that would make a Merry Maid weep. Sigh.

Not today.

Today I am spending with myself. Doing simple things. Putting my hands in the earth, nuturing my garden, talking to clouds, and birds, and bugs. Perhaps they will even answer if I am quiet long enough . .

"Feel the consciousness of each person
as your own consciousness.

So, leaving aside concern for self, become each being."
~ Ancient Sanskrit Manuscript

My life, my mind, has become too full - I can't hear my own voice anymore. I am more and more distracted by what is unimportant, and becoming caught up in myself. I have returned to my old friends this morning, Rumi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mary Oliver, Franz Wright, and Pablo Neruda - always Neruda.


ight and silence stood at a bend in the path suddenly;
wind moved, once, over the dark water

and I was back.

Far from the world of appearances,

the world of "gain and mirth."

So soon

there will be n

here going on

about death
and pain and change. No one here!
Spoking hallways of pines where the owls, eyes wide open, dreams --

there is a power that wants me to live, I don't know why.

Then I saw again

e turtle

like a massive haunted head

lumbering after the egg laying toward

the water
and vanishing
into the water, slowly


in that element half underworld, half sky.

There is a power that wants me to love.

~ Franz Wright (Walking to Martha's Vineyard)

I was interviewed the other day by a friend who is doing her thesis on the arts as an agent of transformation. I have always drawn and done photography, but the writing has only come about in the last two years as a way to express things I couldn't with my art and couldn't keep bottled up anymore. It has become somewhat of an obsession now - but may eventually pay a small bit (no such thing as a rich poet, or even a moderately being able to pay the bills one - well there ARE, but I'm not one of them), but I am getting published. A book of my own, a children's book I am illustrating (I am still deciding what kind of toaster oven to get with the profits) - and perhaps this photo essay project on immigration (photo and written essays) - but that's in the future. Part of the interview is to make a collage that represents myself. My interviewer brought in two cases of supplies to pick items from (I took 5 of everything), and have been ruminating how to represent myself as a collage ever since. Maybe that's what today is for, right brain work. Of course I looked at the size of paper I was to use and went out and got one 5x bigger, and am in the process of cutting up my old Picasso Peace & Joy calendar and my Gustav Klimt postcards (Neil's Website is amazing for inspiration, but I think I will skip the sexy women, and the baby Jesus figures).

Tomorrow, maybe, I will be ready to start that. Start painting again, and start taking the photos and writing stories that are going to hurt my heart.


Moths are being burnt tonight, halfway into the
late shift, by men propped up with cigarettes.
Smoke ribbons unfurl in the harsh fluorescent
light and disappear in a twinkling blizzard of
metal and choking bugs that hides the ceiling.
The younger men calculate how much more
money they'll make for not sleeping this week. The
older men roll cigarettes. One man consoles
the other by staying awake, covering for him when
he naps on the toilet, away from the foreman's
blue eye. There are coffee pot holes, and the
gravelly work floor sparkles with scratchy rag-
lung spit spots pumped out by black-blooded heart
muscle. At dawn they let the showers run until
the water is good and warm, so as not to startle
themselves when they step in to wash the dust from
their grey hair and skin.

~ Viggo Mortensen (Coincidence of Memory)

and I cannot end this one without my favourite sonetos de amor (love sonnet) by Neruda


No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,

sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Here Sits the Bride .... da da de dum

You know this even looks a little like the wedding cake we served - May 11, 1991 - 15 years ago today.

Elegant, tasteful, and very edible (chocolate fudge bottom layer, carrot cake middle, can't remember the top), we sliced it up and served it at midnight.

May 11, 1991 -2pm. was printed on the original and artistic invitations.

It was a small and refined wedding. Beautiful (and I mean beautiful) day - if you could have ordered wedding weather, you would have picked mine. Not like today, cold pouring rain - would not want to get married today. (but hey, in the end the weather didn't make a difference in the 'grand scheme of things' anyhow).
Flowers - perfect, Dress - well DAMN it was nice, Wedding Party - dressed smartly, Photographer - excellent (we have a great photographic record of the day). Great people (about 76 - we knew everyone), lovely ceremony (played Ode to Joy), Spanking good reception, food and drinks flowing in just the right measure. My brother gave a brilliant Toast to the Bride Speech (everything from Ode to a Grecian Urn to my ability to apply lipstick while zipping my small stickshift through expressway traffic). My basically evil step-father even became 'verklempt' during his speech, leaving my brother and I completely speechless (he didn't give us a topic for discussion...). My new husband fumbled some, talked of 'ownership', hmmmm - he'd had a tough week and decided he could wing it (admittedly my brother is a very tough act to follow). Ah well.

Then a "Perfect Honeymoon" in Jamaica. We returned to our trendy, centrally located apartment in Toronto for what I can now see as the only really good year of our marriage.

My mother may never recover from the loss of her son-in-law. He's a great guy you see -
everybody loves him, really really. I mean if you met him tomorrow, you'd walk away thinking "hey, what a guy! I think I really could love him". My brother and I joke that our parents have always preferred the people we married to us - "boy were you lucky to find so-and-so, because they put up with you" (whew, I mean I was 26, I had old maid cat lady looming over me). She, and my step-father, both sent him emails to let him know he would always be apart of the family, and that they "loved him". I have yet to hear from my husband's family - other than a slight humming of 'ding dong the witch is dead' occasionally. I mean I married him because he is the great guy everyone likes. He was safe, he was steady, and finally I was doing something that seemed to make people happy! (yea me!) He had some bad habits (credit cards, and overeating) but with love and the right direction I could fix him. Yes, I was going to mold the man....

15 years, 1 apartment, 1 townhouse, 3 houses, 3 kids, 4 dogs, 3 cats, inumeralble 'pocket pets' and fish later - its over.

Today we are roommates. Today we didn't talk about the neon pink, purple and green flashing elephant in the room. Today we are "emotionally separated", working towards "physical separation" and "divorce". 15years - that's crystal you know, just when I was getting into the good stuff too. We've been together 20 years - basically my adult life. Why so long? There were several times I thought I should go - but I always stayed, out of fear - fear of going alone with 3 young kids, fear of the humiliation of divorce
(my parents did that, not me), fear of failing, fear of being alone, fear that no one would ever want me again. Fear. Fear. Fear. Anyhow everyone was crazy about the guy, jeepers I was lucky! (yes, right, thanks) I would be the wicked witch of the midwest if I dumped everyone's fav dude.

But I am.

We have to keep living together because I have no legal status (except as his wife) in the US and if I divorce him, I have to leave. Not that I don't miss Canada, I DO (funny phrase for this blog, don't cha think?). But after almost 3 years here, my kids are settled, I am settled again and I am trying to find a way to get a separation and not get tossed back to Canada and starting over again. If you had ever told me that I would be fighting to stay in the US at any other point in my life I would have laughed in your face, yet here I am doing it. Why? Because the kids are finally happy here, they have great friends, great schools, a good (yet very modest by this town's standards) life. And so do I, or soon I will. I also couldn't take the kids from their father (who has a career here) who they love, and move to another country.

and so sits the bride da da de dum - with no new crystal either
- although I do have a crystal ball, maybe now's the time to try it....

cheers everyone, sorry there isn't any cake.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Oh Wow

Admittedly this is completely frivolous - but once I discovered I was "Greg Brady" on the "Find out which Brady You Are Quiz" (still pondering/recovering from the fact I had an affair with my mother), I was lost in absolutely useless quizzery for ages (thanks Lance for the Brain Candy) -

I've found that I am
"A Poet" (whew),
"Candy Cigarettes" (yuck),
"Redheaded cannibal from Russia who was hung for Treason" in a past life (that would explain those dreams)
oh and that I'm a Hottie something-er-other seducer/flirt/kisser - I mean like wow Scoob!

What a fun way to completely waste my (extremely valuable) time.

but my favourite was .....

Who Should Paint You: Gustav Klimt

Sensual and gorgeous, you would inspire an enchanting portrait..
With just enough classic appeal to be hung in any museum!

Like WOW - sensual and gorgeous? must remember just how I answered those questions...
and hey, I've got classic appeal - I'm going to put this on a Tshirt... I N - B I G - L E T T E R S

not only that but .... he's 'like' my favourite artist! like OMG! (like you didn't already know that by my sign-on picture - which is only part of the painting "Goldfish" - if I put all of it up, I could get into some trouble).

pity he's dead.

and since Gustav is dead, maybe Viggo would paint me? you never know....

sensual AND gorgeous - me? - like wow....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I haven't been the same since that house fell on my sister....

Okay, I'm doing it - responding to the pressure. It has become - how you say? too much. All this loose flinging about of hippie terminology without any knowledge behind it what so ever.

So here it is a list of SIGNS YOU MAY BE A HIPPIE. . .
(read carefully and take very seriously, I realize the thought of any degree of hippieness is terrifying to some)

  • you smell - with your nose, like everyone else
  • you shower, but conserve water and use biodegradable products
  • you have more than one variety of soy or tufu in your refrigerator right now
  • you have a preference in the brand of soy milk you buy, or the brand of organic milk
  • you are a member of a co-op that sells organic produce, free range drug free eggs, organic milk etc
  • you have more than one pair of Birkenstocks (summer/winter, formal/casual, etc)
  • you have a preference in cous cous grains size
  • you understood the last statement
  • you know what Namaste means
  • you have occasion to say Namaste
  • you have a preference on the type of yoga you practice
  • you consider tie-dye perfectly acceptable formal wear
  • you read banned books - proudly
  • you think, therefore you are dangerous
  • you can find Tibet on a map and know why the Dalai Lama doesn't live there
  • you know who the Dalai Lama is
  • you quote Gandhi at your children when they fight or behave badly
  • not only are you a Treehugger, you are a Wormloving Dirtworshiper
  • you know where your chakras are
  • you know what a chakra is
  • you understood the above two statements
  • you have a set of tarot cards
  • you understand them
  • you can read them
  • you have many, many Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Bob Dylan, ska-type-music etc CDs
  • you read poetry - alot
  • you don't shop at Walmart or buy your gas at Exxon (you tend to skip the sheep tommy-crombie type wear as well)
  • you have more jeans with holes in the knees (and bum) than without
  • you wear above jeans to school functions (you have repaired the bum)
  • you have belly dancing chimes (and maybe even an outfit - but that's strictly bonus marks)
  • you can belly dance
  • you've been henna tatooed
  • you can henna tatoo
  • you presently have henna tatoos
  • you have white sage, and smuge your home
  • you secretly long to live in a small cabin-in-the-woods / cottage-by-the-lake / shanty-by-the-sea and get back-to-basics (but would never manage it because you would miss your blog/email/internet friends too much)
and for those of you who think this test is slightly biased I have only this to say . . . well, um, yeah - you never know.
p.s. yes that is Viggo below.