Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fast Away.




Dear The End,
I always hate to see you go, even in the hard times, and the difficult years.  Folks say to me, often, at the end, "I hope next year will be better."  I never see how it could be-  not because I expect them to suffer at the hand of fate, as they feel they did this year, but because I love each year as if it were a daughter of my own.  Like a potted plant that finally cannot continue in its confined corral, I hate to see the years succumb to the inevitable end.  Oh, yes, yes I know, it will be a good year also, and I will come to love it just as fiercely as the present year, but for now, I hate to see you go.
Here is a song, that might say what I mean, or might it?  Maybe I mean this: 

Monday, December 28, 2015

There Should Always Be A Cat.

Dear Ones in the Know and the Now,
Here is a lovely remembrance, which as you know is all we have, once we are out of the moment. 
I have just read another Terry Pratchett novel, Going Postal, and I dropped by my used bookshop to see if I could get a copy (the one I read belongs to all of  us- why not go and check it out of the library now I have returned it?).  I asked the book dealer* where the Terry Pratchett books were, and he gestured with his arm swiftly and grandly to the doorway, saying "Out there!"  They did have three copies, that he had just gotten in, of The Carpet People- another delightful book that I read a few months back.
*And isn't that the right name for them?  Addicts go to dealers, not sellers, stockists, or clerks, for pity's sake!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

plink, plank, plunk

Dear Darling Clementines,
Enjoy this fine film on how your music box works:


Now, if you are craving a little more spare, plunky, tinky music, try this.  Oh, and this is good, too!
Oh, yes, and Hannah Peel can plink as well as crank.
The eponymous and onomatopoeic pizzicato link, right here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Dear Skated,
I have added another roller rink to my list:  Epic Rollertainment.  The wonderfulness of the thing is that it is practically brand new- opened just two years ago!  Yes, it filled me with hope too.  Maybe the revolution is coming after all....
I have been expanding my notions of what a place to skate is-  Inspired by Chicks in Bowls, some pals and I tried the skatepark, with its terrifyingly fast skateboarders.  I was fortunate, there were only a few fast skateboarders, and they didn't even gawk at my clumsy, aged skating.  Those boys were real princes about keeping their opinions to themselves!  
Tennis courts I have skated on, at least when the Racketed and Serious Tennis Playing People are not in them, and basketball courts, too.  
A few days ago, I used a perversely large parking lot, at night, inspired by the notion of Dave Hickey's; that one is either a Pirate* or a Farmer.
What do I have on my wish list of places to skate?  Big Box Stores.  Have you seen those polished floors?!  Whoa nelly!  It's the season for wishing, and so I wish you well in your scofflawing schemes, your roller skating, and anything else you have an itch to try.

Enjoy this film featuring some of the Moxi Skate team skating all over the places we don't yet dare to try our wheels on! 
 * Pirates use parking lots at night, or anytime they want to, and they don't use them for parking cars. The security car drove right by me, did the vehicular equivalent of a double take, and then drove on, probably shaking their head in amazement.


Saturday, December 19, 2015



Dear Connoisseurs,
Take a look at these fine socks made by Antipast.  They are socks, but speak of  these delicate knits as stockings.  Hand washing them is a real pleasure, because they are so fine, and so well designed visually.  They are also luxurious, and by that I mean that springing for a 30 dollar pair of socks is a treat, but it isn't one you have to save up for years to indulge in.  I like to get a pair or two every year or so, and when I do, they really shame most of the rest of my sock drawer residents.  Find them here and there* and when you find a shop that has them, you will notice that they are a marker species:  You will like what these stockists have in their Hats, Coats, Gloves, Handbags, and Clothing departments as well.
PS  Another company that makes socks to dote on is Polder.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dandy Candy Canes

Dear Tree-Trimmers,

Enjoy this film showing how the striped and ubiquitous candy cane is made:

Here is another video, of a more commercial supplier of candy cane.

Want to make your own?  It is fun, and it is daring and adventurous, so what would stop you?  Here is a link to a recipe to try.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Melons & Pots.




Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Crash Club

 Crashed Aeroplane,
John Singer Sargent, Gouache &Watercolor, 1918
Imperial War Museum, London.
Dear Troubled Mind, 
I was listening to some people I hardly know, strangers, chance encounters really.  They had all kinds of sorrows;  I wanted to pack them up for them, and I had only "oh!" and "I'm so sorry" as salve.  Which isn't much.
Laurie Anderson mentioned on the radio joining a crash club.  In this club you tell about your crash until it bores even you, until the story loses its power, its energy. 
Let's meet here anytime, it will be our own little virtual crash club, for the emotional accidents, for falling out of love, or falling out of favor, or landing hard any old place.  Bring your struggles, your mishaps, your heartbreaks, your deaths, and we will tell the story until our ears bleed together.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Fond of Faux?


Dear Fashionable,
I overheard, a few years ago, some talk at a book release party, or I think that is what one would call it; when an author has people over to celebrate the publishing of their book.  In any case, a man, a man with style, a man known in my community as Chicago Joe (this is perhaps to distinguish him from other Joes in town?), was conversing with another stylish person, a woman we will call Mme. B.  They were both lamenting a loss of style-consciousness in our little burg- they thought that people used to care more about fashion, and they looked around, and they looked at me, because, just like you, I knew that this was a thing guests could really 'dress' for-  I had an all ivory ensemble:   Ivory shorts with dragonflies, a billowing ivory blouse, and a pair of ivory heeled oxfords to die for.  It was, if nothing else, very style-conscious.  
Chicago Joe has always distinguished himself with short-brimmed fedoras and smart, textured sports jackets.   Mme. B. won my undying devotion by wearing silver (silver!) clogs with a rose-printed scarf  tied at her waist to the opening of an art exhibit some several seasons before the book party in question.  To be perfectly clear, these two pillars of the community have spoken with me, now and then, but we really do not know each other by name.  They know each other, and they know friends of mine, and I know friends of theirs, but I wouldn't bet a fiver that they could give my name.  What we know about each other, and it is communicated by appreciative nods, and subtle stolen glances, is that we three care about style.  Still.  I reckon I have seen these two around my area for 3 decades, and I have noticed them entirely for the reasons they proffered:  they looked stylish.  They looked good.  They looked different, careful, and creative in their choices of cladding.  You might wonder why I am carrying on like this, but I know most of you know exactly what I am talking about.  There is a little wake of envy that follows people like Mme. B. and Chicago J:  People think to themselves:  I wish I could dress like that. 
If you haven't already seen through this little fallacy, now is a good time to say it out loud:  I wish I could dress like that.  Can you hear yourself?  Do you see where you have gone wrong?  Isn't it as plain as the nose on your face? 
Begin by putting your two favorite things together.  Tomorrow add another item.  Be sure these things do not match, be sure they do not go "together."  Be sure that you love them.  Add only things that you love- get them at the five and dime, the thrift shop, a friend's closet.  Make them yourself out of fabric you love.  Paint on them,  pin buttons to them, sew little stitches to the collars.  Cut off 5 inches.  Take the sleeves off.  Add five inches of another fabric.  You look marvelous!
Months have passed, you love to get dressed, and your friends have started to comment:  Gee, you look great today- it reminds me a bit of Mme. B.  I love your hat!  You look like Chicago Joe!
More time passes, you have given all your sweatshirts and fleece to the Goodwill.  Ripstop windbreakers seem too slithery to even touch, let alone wear.  You are ready, now, finally, for faux fur.  Get some here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

¿Qué te pasa calabaza?


Nada, nada limonada.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Get it? Got it. Good.

The Leader of the Luddites.
Hand-colored etching, 1812; in the
collection of the British Museum.
Dear All,
I needn't explain to you, after all this time, all these heartfelt exchanges, where I am coming from here-  you know already, and I am happy that we can be there for each other.  From time to time, I feel a little puny & tiny, a little too marginalized in my outsider place;  paralyzed, ostracized; whole technologies have passed me right by- my Brothers and Sisters talk of television shows, music, games, apps, and social media that I don't have the foggiest notions of- I am relegated to the attic, I am not relevant. 
You might, feeling as I know you do, find yourself in a similar funk.  As the man who built our house says "Be thee of good cheer." 
Somewhere, there are places for us.  Here is one now.
PS  Another little something.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Mashed Potato

Dear Feet,

Where can we get some shoes that can move like that?!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Lurkey's Turkeys.

Dear Friends and Family,

     May your holiday be filled with cats, dogs, and thankfulness.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lost Highway.



Nearest, Furthest and Dearest Ones,

I am little threatened, a little scared, a little loathe to lose my highway.  What I mean, of course, is that I prefer to continue to drive my car, and make my own mistakes, and not have to discuss too much of it with Hal.  The car, for me, is a symbol of a kind of sovereignty.  It is a wildly powerful machine, a car; and they let you first drive one in your formative years.  Which might be why it will always feel to me a little like Christmas morning to pull the strap across my chest, bandolier-like, turn the key in the ignition, place my hands at 10 and 2 o'clock, and think:  Is everything go?  It will always feel like a fine beginning to me, like an adventure.  Driving has never felt like a chore to be avoided, like cleaning grout or filing taxes.  This, they tell me, is partly due to genetics, but I prefer the conceit of believing that it is my own personal choice to be a pirate, a gadabout, a pilgrim, and a gallivanter.

Did I tell you about the thing with the light bulbs?  I abhor those efficient bulbs with their ghastly bluishdeath glow, and so I bought a C-note's worth of incandescent bulbs some years ago.  Yes, it did feel like I had gone a little mad, hoarding light bulbs like that.  And so we come to the automobile: Can I get a big box of older cars that will let me do the driving and just use them up for the next however many decades?  Would that seem crazy to you? 

By the time the self-driving car hits the shelves, I will be through with my mourning, because I am already seeing that what I really worry about, what I am most afraid we might lose, is not just the chance to drive along in an automobile, but some piece of being human.  When I figure out precisely what human attribute I fear we are losing, you will hear from me, and we can try to save it together.  In the interim, please enjoy these three songs:



Friday, November 13, 2015

Written down in a tear-stained letter.

Dear Recipient, or, To Whom it May Concern,

You know why I still write to you this way, don't you?  I send my love like this because I have lost your address, and I don't think you are driving past the billboard I wrote my message on; in large red spray painted letters, across the lugubrious grins of a pair of 10 foot high lawyers.

In any case, I send you all my love, mostly, and occasionally a few news items-  here is something that seems especially salient.  

The wonderfulness of this particular moment is that I received a message with this noteworthy item in it, and so I wanted to pass it on to you, but more than that, I am also reading a terrific novel about mail, and letters, and technology and pins, and pigeons and golems and well, you really should read it too- it's a delight:  Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett.

The letter un-received is a powerful metaphor and I must consider it carefully, and organize my thoughts by writing them down.  I hope you will get my letter, but if you do not, please know that I am thinking of you.

Until my next missive,

A Tear Stained Letter.  And another.
- S. W. A. L. K.

The Big South.






Monday, November 9, 2015

The Hard, Brown, Nutlike Word.

Dear Darlings,

I am all rabid with enthusiasm for this tale, Indian Uprising, by Donald Barthelme.  I think it might just say it all.  If you have had the pleasure of reading it, black marks on white paper, I rejoice with you.  If you are one of the ones with less patience, with less bookshelves, with whatever it is you have instead of time to read, please enjoy an auditory reading of it, here.  There is an introduction, which, if you have a shred of sense, you will skip, by starting at 4 minutes and 18 seconds.

There is much superfluous closing material, also, after the story ends- remarks between the interviewer and the reader, Chris Adrian.  Which, given your hurried day, your busy life, you should also skip.  On the other hand, you may itch for explication, and then, you will open that Pandora's box, and your own definitions, your own precious meanings, will fly off, never to be heard from again.  And so, you are forewarned. 

In accord, in solidarity, may we nonevaluate everything, always.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hey! Did you see that?! Updated.

Dear All,

I hope you did see it, because I have never seen anything like it!  Update:  Not, alas, a Taurid, but a damn fool Navy Submarine fired rocket test. This kind of a thing is going to scare the meteors off!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Will the Taurids be torrid this year?

Dear Watchful Ones,

Of course, you are still reeling from the astounding conjunction, and you have been spying for Taurid meteors since mid-October, and now you are ready for the smoking hot South Taurid meteor shower!  Use this handy tool to find a good place to watch them, and listen to this wonderful song on Radio Dodo.


Another star song.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What you can and what you caint.

Dear Roger,

Yes, you can't roller skate in a buffalo herd, but you can roller skate on a stand up paddleboard, on the sea.

Here's another thing that reminds me of what you can and what you caint.  In English

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mojo Dust.

Dear Friends,

Do you remember when we wanted to be magicians?  To amaze with sleight of hand, to defy perception?  I put a spell on you, and I practiced, and I had a top-notch deck of trick cards, but I also had sloppy hands and poor showpersonship, and so I sleight, defy, and amaze by following another shamanistic path:  the way of the artist.  I have never regretted my decision to be a artist/magician, but watching these three clips gave me a little pang; a small yen to be a magician/artist.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pastries I have known.


Dear Financier Fanciers,

My good fortune continues-  I received three sweet birthday treats last week from one of my oldest and dearest friends.  She had been out to the beautiful coast of Maine, on an island even, just like Time of Wonder, and she brought back two nice cakes in a pretty handmade bowl.  The cakes came from The Standard Baking Company.  One was a multi-armed star shaped pastry, which I astounded my friend by recognizing as a Financier.  And was it good! 

The whole episode got me to thinking about pastries I have known, and pastries I have yet to meet.
I have planned for years to make Financiers, and also Friands, which are a kind of Australian close relative.

I have made many Madeleines, but I have not yet made Canelés.  I have made Tarte Tatin, but not Île Flottante.  Pithiviers and Paris-Brest, but not Le Succès.  Reine de Saba, but not Charlotte Malakoff.  I have made Mont Blanc, but not Blancmange, and I have made Pain d'Epice, L'Opéra, and Langues de Chat, but not Savarin.

Oh!  I know, so many lovelies that I have yet to make; no time to chat!  Try this recipe, if you like, from Eric Kayser, whose Financiers are a favorite of David Lebovitz's.  They were very good, but not quite as good as the one from Standard Baking. 

Yes, we love Robert McCloskey here at the Dodo, and if you are anywhere near Hamilton, high in the middle and round at both ends, stop by this museum.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

When Life Gives You Etrogs.


Dear Darlings,

Do you find yourselves delighted with your good fortune?  I do, and so darned often!  I hope that your good fortune is as delightful and varied as mine. 

As evidence, an etrog.  A few months ago I took a position teaching, where I met an interesting, insightful artist and teacher, and then, out of the clear blue, she brought me this gorgeous etrog from her orchard. 

Now that you have admired its form, color, and sheen, read a little more about this fascinating citron.  Intrigued?  Learn even more.  It smells as lovely as it looks.  If you come by in a while, a few weeks from now, we might share a candied piece of this marvel.  Or maybe I will make jam....

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Today is a good day to resist.

Dear Comrades,

What will you do to resist today?  If you don't know what to resist, well, you are on the wrong blog.

It is very inspiring to see how others interpret their duty to humanity.  Here is a fellow I know you will admire greatly-  They are clip-clopping nearby today- celebrate in an appropriate manner!

Keep up your good work!  Oh, and a song.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Regrets? Not exactly.

Meret Oppenheim, 1936.

Dear Boys and Sisters,

Boys, you know I do think of you all- now and then, when I am tying my sensible shoes.  I think of you, when you were sitting a little too near, and I was a little too shy, and I sometimes, very infrequently, hardly at all, really, wish I'd said to you it's now or never.  Or, that I'd leaned closer, to say, I'll be your baby tonight.  But, I drove an insured car, got good grades, and brushed my teeth, instead of calling your bluff. 

There are a lot of us out here, women that take care to be sensible, and many of you boys will never meet us, will never know us, because we can see from very far off that what might have been would be too little. 

To my sisters, to the women in sensible shoes, I say, we are legion, we are worthy, even of the attention of flakes, screw-ups, and bad boys.  However, proving this is not necessary.  You and I know it, and that will suffice.  Correspondingly, should you say "it's now or never," do not wring your hands, do not beat your breasts.  Just move on down the line.


If you are wondering why I have begun this little diatribe with Ms. Oppenheim's sculpture, it is because there is no finer symbol of feminism and femininity.  This sculpture subverts the power of progeneration by rendering the dish useless to hold nourishment, and sexually totemizes the container by lining it with hide.   


Yes, sisters, there are men you could make a mistake over, and it would be worth it. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Following the Winged Ones.

Dear Field Guided,

We followed this skipper around the zinnias a few days ago-  an intimate look into the world of the nectar sippers.  I consulted with my Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America, and my best guess is that she might be a Fiery Skipper.  Kaufman and Brock say of the skippers that "they make up a very large worldwide group of mostly small and confusing creatures."

The authors continue: 
Beginners are often driven to despair by the skippers, because there are so many of them and because they are so subtle, so challenging to identify. 

On second thought, perhaps it is a Rural Skipper, or a Whirlabout.  Or maybe a Sachem.  Or a Juba.  It could be an Alkali Skipper.  No, I bet it's the Sandhill Skipper.


I may have mentioned my interest in collecting field guides?  I have many of them for birds, of course, and wildflowers, but also shells, eggs, nests, rocks, trees, snakes, insects, mammals, holes and scat.  There is a lot of pleasure in perusing field guides.  Have I mentioned also that writer Terry Tempest Williams is a great one for field guides?  If you don't feel like looking at the images in guidebooks, you could read her fine books on place, nature, and the search for truth.    


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dear Paper.

Dear Creamy,White, Blank and Slightly Toothed,

     As you sit there in your limitless potential, please consider how paper, 'good' paper, is made, by watching this charming film.

     Once you have learned all about the age old methods of papermaking, get yourself a nice sheet and fill it up!  For a really nice empty sheet, shop this catalog:  New York Central Art Supply.  And, shop soon, because, well, you know why.

     If you happen to have a Dodo pencil, all the better-  I hope you found it in a knothole on a quayside, or a brick ledge on a wall, or even under a mirror in a bathroom.  If you have not yet found a Dodo pencil, keep your eyes peeled. 

     Oh, and keep filling up blank sheets and empty pages!

     If you wonder at the wonder of Hayle Mill itself, you might be interested in this location. 

     If you wonder what the difference between one pencil and the next might be, look for a Blackwing.  Need a more thorough review?  If you get one at this site, you should order some replacement erasers, too.  Or, look here at Bob Truby's fabulous collection of pencils.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Do, do!

Dear Doers, Doings, and Dodos,

Of course, you all are already signed up for AWAD's emails, because you all are all curious, intelligent, and eager to learn ever more words.  However, you might have acquired a new email address, or some other such change in your electronic existence might have occurred, and receiving the Word of the Day might have slipped away and out of your consciousness.  Today's word is 'dodo' which I knew instantly was a message to me, to remember to remind you, to be sure you get your daily Word.

Another little something from the birds.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rind Heart/Reinhardt

Dear Members,

Today, I invite you to consider initiation into a secret society.  You will need to take some time and effort during the pledge period- many will not complete the training.  The society gives you, however, a very generous amount of time to complete your quest:  The rest of your life.

To begin- study the beauty of this melon's rind:

And now, regard this Ad Reinhardt painting:

Now comes the challenge, and it cannot be completed here, online;  all I can do is to point you towards a path that will intersect an image like the next one, another Ad Reinhardt painting:

This is one of his black paintings-  It will look like nothing here, like the void, the sublime abyss.  That in itself is sufficient, plenty, more than enough, even; but, there is more to Ad Reinhardt than nothing.  To touch it, to feel it, you must visit one of these works in person.  A great pilgrimage is necessary.  You will need a spear and magic helmet- named Curiosity and Intellect.  Undertake this quest with all my best wishes.  Once you have completed your mission, seen and felt, and understood these pure paintings, you are in, you may wear your special hat and pin, and your membership is lifetime.  As it is a secret society, it has no name, and we have no meetings, except for when we stand in the glory of these paintings and meet transcendentally on the plane of appreciation.  See you at the next clambake or convocation!

More about the man.  I know you will be smitten by him!  He is a delight in every way.  Be sure to enjoy his droll art comics.

Here are some places you can find a black Ad Reinhardt painting:  The Guggenheim, The Whitney, Moma, The Tate.