Sunday, September 30, 2018

An exhortation.

Dear Activists,

I need to you to run out and paper the place (all places, every place) with this bill:

The full provenance is not detailed in this copy;  Corita Kent is the true progenitor of this marvelous and deeply useful list of exhortations.  You can get more copies here.  Sister Mary Corita is a master of the serigraph.  See her work here.

See you out on the streets!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Be seated.



Saturday, September 22, 2018

When it's equinox time in old New Jersey, we'll be a peach of a pear.

Dear Weathered,

What of these phenomena:  Why are crumbling buildings the most beautiful?  Why are people the most appealing when they are clothed against a bit of cold? 

Autumnal thoughts, to be sure, but what is it about a hat for the cold that is more aesthetically pleasing than a hat for the sun?

An example:  Read this picture with me.

Yes, they are traveling, they have bags, and coats, and boots.  They are headed 'up' a dirt road.  They have turned, to look back at us, mid stride.  Are they hurrying?  There is no place that the road seems to end.  Where are they going, then?  The picture is split, diagonally, into a dark and a light half.  The line that the two values meeting makes is intersected by the left figure- the figures are also dressed darkly, and they balance the shadowed mystery of the untamed woods on the left half of the image.  The origami shapes of their coats make two upward pointing arrows.  They have also turned towards each other slightly, in turning to us.  They are surprised?  Impatient for us to catch up?  Annoyed at the interruption?  It's a fairly neutral expression that we can read a lot of different narratives onto.  Are they headed out, or returning to home?

Imagine, now, that they are wearing shorts, tank tops, flip-flops; sunlight pours down on the dusty heat of the road.  It's just not as good, no matter how much we might enjoy ogling bare skin.  Wearing a coat says you are going somewhere, doesn't it?   It says you mean to do business with the caprices of nature, with the bodily dangers of the world.

For the few people left in the auditorium, after all the folks who feel that things just are, and that meaning isn't relevant to their puny lives; yes, isn't it grand to play these kinds of parlor games with the cultural artifacts of humanity?  Why this album cover in particular, you ask?  Because I happen, at this moment in time, to have two of these records, and one is out of the cabinet, awaiting a new home.  Perhaps you would like a copy of this fine album?  Let me know, by tying a message to a dove's leg- I'll send it to you next week by bike carrier, or parachute drop.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Dear Moon.

Dear Moon-Fanciers,

You probably already know all about it, but in case you missed this nice plan for taking artists to the moon, learn about it here.


Dear Found and Lost,

Here's another place you can go:  Atlas Obscura.  I warn you, it's very compelling, and you'll surely run out of time to sweep the porch if you keep on searching the internet for interesting items!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

thinking of words to send you

Dear Readers,

The juice of a small white peach on my fingers rolled down my arm, almost, with patience, to my elbow.  The progressing drop decreased in size, leaving a transparent, shiny trail, a little like the beautiful track of a snail.

Our thoughts, ideas, and words head out from where we are, like an enormous army.  They keep on going and they will find sometimes a place to stay for a while, or even to die.  Or maybe they are more like seeds, many millions are blown from the spent blossom, but only a few find fertile soil.  But when?  Our words can sit fallow for many, many decades, and then, there you are, using some words that someone gave you a long lifetime ago.

I try very hard to keep the words, the thoughts, that people give me, but holding them is so difficult.  They just flow away like liquid, or dry up slowly.  And then, there you are again. 

It is the kind, praising words I want to keep the most- I repeat them, over and over, hoping to fix them very permanently in my mind.  I want to keep them for use on a rainy, diffident day; a day where a little sanative dose is needed.  Other words might stick around too long, and try as I might, I cannot get away from hearing them over and over. 

What shall we do with the latent power of our ideas and words?  Annie Dillard advises us to give the best ones now; don't save them up.  Spend it all, good and fast.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

100 Days

Dear Y'all,

In ten years, I've only convinced three people to take up roller skating, and a fourth dabbled for a time.  Still, I keep trying because if you love someone, you take them skating.  If you want to really pour on the affection, you give them a pair of their own.  If you already have half a dozen worshiped pairs, all you can want is a great place to use them.  This year, the people I live with made me the ultimate backyard place to skate:  A mini half pipe.  It's the bees knees!

It's not age-appropriate for me, and so I don't feel comfortable shouting from the rafters about it.  People will tell you that you'll break an arm, or a leg.  Or that it's all fun and games now, but wait until someone gets hurt.  I can tell you that if I didn't try to skate on it, I'd be feeling a painful heap of remorse and regret.  It might seem dull, this back and forth, up and downing on a double ended convex wooden thingummy, but I can tell you it isn't.  All kinds of little shifts in speed or gravity can make one of the descents or accents a crazy near-crash.  The thing, you see, that is fun about roller skating, is the almost falling. 

It was a Chicks in Bowls video that first put the idea of a backyard ramp into my head.  Other great women skaters have helped me to imagine such a thing in my yard; Pigeon and Indy.  This website told us how to go about constructing it.

Today ends a little project of skating every day for a hundred days.  Some days I skated three times, some days 2 hours, some days only 10 minutes.  Some days on my porch, or in the house, or on the beautiful ramp.  It meant I had to take my skates with me if I left overnight- I skated for a few minutes in the parking lot of the Ames Research Center in July.  At a camping site in August, between two cars.  It's a nice appointment to keep every day.  Give it a try, both the ramp and the daily skate- you'll love every bone break-defying minute of it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

It takes a train to cry.

Dear travelers,

We were walking uphill, towards the terminal to meet our flight, at dawn. The sunrise, we said, was so beautiful, but isn’t the violet and blue aurora unusual?  It seemed vaguely menacing, and it quickly became so, as my Aunt was pulled screamingly skyward.  We ran to avoid celestial capture, but there were men with guns in the stairwells, and the end seemed very near.

Isn’t it always so in dreams of travel?  The tarmac is burning, the plane is descending too rapidly, the subway station is too labyrinthine to navigate, and the train rushed by our station without a glance.  Or, worse, it plummeted into a ravine before our stop.  One time, I remember, we rode it many miles beyond our ticketed station, we were chased the length of the train, and throughout the depot, giving up entirely on claiming our bags, walking for miles in starlit Joshua tree forest.  As I walked, I tried to list the contents of my bag; to recall what I had lost., what I would need to replace.

What could these dream journeys mean?  The futility of arrival, the weariness and sorrow of departure?  Is it the anxiety of the future manifested as a transition from here to there?  A new career in a new town? 

Just one good trip in a dream is all I am looking for- a booking that sends you where you want to go, a country without a border incident, a town you don’t get lost in, a connecting flight that lands without disaster, locals with open hearts.

Wish you were here.