Saturday, July 20, 2019

Lunar Anniversary

Dear Mooning,

This is the day to celebrate the anniversary of the moon landing.  Here at the Dodo, we will take a pilgrimage to a nearby Moon Tree, make Moon Pies, and watch this excellent documentary.  Oh, and we will have this song on our party play list, too.  If you aren't having your own party, come over and have a Moon Pie with us!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Holy Moonmen!

Dear Moon Mission Enthusiasts,

Can you believe this amazing recreation of NASA's trip to the moon?  I love that people will make this kind of geeky thing, and that we can play with it, right now, right here, for free.  Enjoy it, and have a moon song for today.

A little cheesecake.

Dear Summer Cooks,

It's been a coon's age since we have had a baking recommendation for you here at the Dodo.  Mind you, we have been baking, but just hum-drum stuff:  Brownies, chocolate chip cookies, Skibo Castle Ginger Crunch, scones, lemon bars, chocolate sheet cakes;  a couple of fancy chocolate tortes, but I didn't get any photos.

This lemon cheesecake was inspired by a really delicious marshmallow lemon cheesecake dessert at Coda.  If you get up to Southwest Harbor, be sure to stop there and have a meal.  The recipe is adapted from this cheesecake.  The meringue is showy and really so darned good on it!

1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
1 tablespoon lemon zest
a pinch of salt

As you would for shortbread, combine the flour and sugar and lemon zest, then work the butter in until it is crumbly and then press it into a 10 inch spring form pan.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

20 ounces of cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
2 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the meringue)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the oven to 475 degrees.  Butter the pan above the crust.  Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add the salt and flour.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Beat in the heavy cream and the lemon zest.  Pour the filling over the crust for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes or so.  It should be set in the center.  Let it cool forever.  Well, like 4 hours at least- it can't be warm, but it can be cold, so you could put it in the fridge and put the meringue on the next day, right before you eat it.

2 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of sugar

Beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy; gradually add the sugar and stop beating when it's glossy and holds nice, stiff, showy peaks.

Spread it on your cheesecake and then caramelize the meringue with a torch.  If you are lucky, your neighbor will have one in his garage that you can borrow.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Art Car


Dear Drivers,

We strive here at the Dodo plant to bring you the best of what there is in the world, and a recent correspondent sent me an article on artist Peggy Noland.  One thing she makes are Art Cars;  a fabulous curiosity that anyone can have and make and drive. 

I met an art car owner/creator once and she invited anyone to make additions to her work/car.  It was like a kitsch museum turned inside out; with lots of little tacky objects glued to it.  It was great, because of the freedom it expressed, not because it was a beautiful object, or because it had been transformed from humble vehicle to something grander.  The Art Car isn't necessarily grand, it's more of a mobile folk art site, which is what the world needs now.

Watching Ms. Noland's Cartoon Up videos brought me another treat; a concept and phrase new to me: ASMR.  I never even knew there was a name for that feeling, and I adore anything that "may overlap with frisson."

If you can spare a little more time for beautiful sentiments and ideas, try this.  If you want a little more Jackie DeShannon, here it is.  If that doesn't give you ASMR, try this song

Monday, July 8, 2019


Dear Still Skating,

It has gone on.  After getting to the end of a year by going to the end of the US with my roller skates, and skating on wet decks, bedroom carpets, and a fine maple roller rink in Auburn, Maine., I wasn't convinced I should hang it up entirely, and once you add another day, you might just as well add another.  Which is how I got to here; 400 days.

Auburn's rink is the Rollodrome, and it is charming.  I haven't added a rink to my list for some time, and it brings the grand total to 38. I can't wait to open my own. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019


Dear Thomas,

Here's the thing about doubt- it's creeping like a shadow all around the place, and if you let it touch you, if you let it fall on your ideas, on your skin, you are halted, stopped, going no where, becalmed.

The thing is to do something, anything.

Today, I am going to my making place, to combine little bits into some things that will go all together in an exhibit 9 months from now.  I am hoping to have loads of oddments, all pinned to the walls.  My mantra for this project:  More than this, there is nothing.  Sometimes, it feels even less than nothing, and that can be a bit worrisome.  But, mostly it seems like a very appropriate response to everything.  Which might be circular reasoning, if you are still with me.

More Than This is our song for the day, and there is another More Than This for you, as well as chords for you to strum while you sing it and believe it, because it is as true as anything yet.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Time of Wonder










Monday, June 17, 2019

Travel blind.

Dear Suzanne,

Here is your song of the day.  It's unbearably good and I am on your wavelength. 

A long time ago, there were a lot of record stores; and they are largely gone, but I still save my money to buy records.  I used to keep the money in a doll's teapot I had on my shelf.  One shop I frequented was Tower Records, and they had a free magazine, with an interesting section called Desert Island Disks.  The idea being that these were the 10 records you'd want if you were stuck on a desert island. 

Here are nine more versions, to make a Desert Island list for this perfect song. 










Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday, June 7, 2019


Dear Questioning, Quitting, and Beginning,

Submitted for your approval: James Benning's film Twenty Cigarettes.

It might be genius, or maybe it is just boring.  It is definitely beautiful, and certainly uncomfortable in the old familiar performance art way, although I love the distance the camera imposes between me and these people.  There's a bit of the *sublime in it, the void, the terrible immensity of us.

I guess what it could be is just a document, or a collection like any other: bottlecaps or Fiestaware or first editions.  I don't think it can be watched in it's entirety, except as a kind of endurance test, like a triathlon.  I love the uncomfortableness of the persons being filmed, and how that reflects onto viewers; like an enchanted mirror.  I also love the way my mind won't stop supplying a narrative in the vacuum of one:  Where is this person?  What are they feeling?  What do they do when they aren't in front of this camera?

* The sublime in art is a delightful concept that we spent many months discussing in graduate school, which is a place made for such pastimes, because no one there has any soil to till or livestock to feed.   I adored it, of course, and you would have too, but for a five second description of what it refers to, see this link.

Monday, June 3, 2019


Dear All,

That is it.  One year.  365 days of roller skating at least once each day. 

So, now what?  It's a bit of an issue isn't it?  This might be the root of fear of failure, because really, if you set out to do a thing and you do it, then what do you do?  There's a lot of drama in the trying, a lot of suspense, but there isn't much in the completion of it.  I would worry, for instance, about an injury or illness that might prevent me from chalking up another day.  I imagined myself in traction, like the cartoons, with my leg in a cast, hanging from a bar over the bed, and I would have to beg the nurse to please just put my skate on over it, just for a few minutes.

I have decided, and I have been considering what it means for the entire time, but I have more actively wrestled with it for the last 5 months or so, as this milestone approached, that what I will do is keep at it, but not because it is a goal now.  Which means you can't complete it, and you can't fail at it either, if you decide, say, not to take your roller skates to Maine and use them for a few minutes in hotel bathrooms or the potholed parking lots of roadside rest areas.  I think this is the part I will miss the most, the absurdity of doing it everyday no matter how small an effort or how ludicrous the surface.  I will miss the counting, which I did by hash marks in pencil on paper at the end of the day.  It's gone by so fast.  In many ways I am not sure I recommend it.  It's a sad sort of an endeavor, except for the few times you tell someone what you are doing and they cannot even imagine doing such a *thing; but that is a very cheap way to get your self-esteem, and I told only a dozen or so people what I was doing.  In that sense, it barely existed as a project at all.

It is best understood perhaps as a performance, or a ritual.  Which has now ended, and I must devise a new way to mark time, or I must extend this one further, indefinitely.

* Like, for example, brushing one's teeth everyday, or feeding a goldfish, or drinking a cup of coffee, or looking into a mirror in the morning. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Images of Matchstick Men

Dear Matchstick Man, 

A sculptor I know asked about the difference between sentiment and sentimentality.  Right now, run and write down what you think it is, before I go and ruin your gestating definitions.  If you like what you write, you can keep writing, and skip this reading.  If you really like what you write, you can keep writing and then write it to someone.  Maybe to me, maybe to The World.  If you really really like what you write, you can put it in a book, on a shelf, in a library.  Then, you should rest, I think, because that's a lot of doing.

Meanwhile, a few of you may have not run and gotten a pencil, and so let us now consider what might be meant by 'sentiment.'  A sentiment is a nice thought or feeling when you look at that sugar bowl that used to be your great grandmother's, as you remember her fondness for tea with sugar, and her enormous aluminum tea kettle, her hob, her back stoop, her crocheted hot pads.  This is well and good and it's what makes Proust great.

'Sentimental', now, is a little stickier perhaps.  It can mean that you are being too soft, or blinded to the hard truths.  Great grandmother is long dead, her kettle is long gone, and there was a time when they thought that aluminum cooking utensils and pots were giving us all Alzheimer's.  Plus what, there must be 7 million other great grandmothers who liked sugar in their tea and Proust has already written all we could hope for in one lifetime of reading.

Now what?  Another thought experiment: let's risk it, let's go ahead and be mushy instead of erudite.  It isn't all that bad, these hearts, flowers, and cliché symbols where a tender, delicacy of expression might have been.  If that is the worst we can do, to make a silly greeting card when we were shooting for a pietà, well, so what? 

I hope your book is done by now, and I hope it is filled with the truths and beauties of a thousand years and a million gestures of kindness and insight.

Oh, yes, and don't forget to take this song with you, when you go.

Friday, May 17, 2019

White Freightliner

Dear Blues,

A song for you today, in three versions. 

Now that you know it, here are the chords so you can play it yourself on your back porch.  Don't you  just love the way the song sounds like the engine and the truck and the road and the speed of going?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

the debate continues

Dear Women,

I have been considering the Bundt pan as a symbol of the tyranny and shaming of 'decluttering' for nearly two years now, and it turns out I am not the only one to recognize the Bundt pan as a weapon in the raging war of 'stuff' vs. 'organization.' 

Why the Bundt pan?  I found it being sold at a friend's house in a garage sale and my friends' explained their Marie Kondo induced epiphany vis-à-vis the Bundt pan.  They used it barely once a year, and really, even though the cake was delicious, they only made it once a year.  The cake may have sparked joy, but the pan did not.  It couldn't be kept for such a minute fraction of duty.  I mentioned that it might be a problem when one wanted to make it and there was no pan, but this wasn't even audible in the landslide of stuff they were shoveling out their garage door.  They were headed for a new life, in a new town, and they needed less and different stuff for their new life. 

So be it.  I guess I can't rescue every Bundt pan in every home in every town.  A one-woman crusade to save occasional cake-making? 

I give you this article, on the politics of kitchen spaces; see what you think about it, and enjoy, above all else, the freedom you have to hold onto your Bundt pan or to give everything away.

Friday, May 10, 2019

optimism in sound

Dear AM,

I left my bed this morning: the covers, the pillows, the cats, and the window filled with pale gloom sky, and turned on the radio to find this sound.  It will be today's song of the day, and I thank my DJ for bringing it to me.

They say, and they are right, that it's the little things.  I had no reason to be ambivalent about the beginning of the day, but I was, and the round, surfy sound of this song's guitar really changed my mind about what the day might bring.  Remarkable.  One look, one chord, one little bird flapping by and it's all worthwhile.

This kind of turning on a dime is something I'd like to invoke, or refer to, in making a painting or drawing. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Fine for a while.

Dear Influencers,

What you are building.

You are building a world.  For people, if you like, but maybe for dogs or horses, or even all three, but the point is, you are building it.  You are choosing what to give to your citizens, your habitués.

 Your people can have whatever you give them.

Don't underestimate the power you are wielding.  You don't have to have your people grow up, or face the facts, or learn some tough love.  Nope, you can keep it nice and easy and light and friendly and fun. 

And tonight will be fine for a while.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Last Flowers?