Saturday, April 4, 2020


Dear Needled,

I am contemplating a yarn project.  Two things come to mind, plus a roadblock.  One thing is socks.  I have never even tried to knit them, because they are all fussy at the heel.  You have to make your tube of delightfully easy and repetitive knits and purls turn a corner, like some kind of Le Mans chicane!  It is nearly unfathomable.

The second idea is this octopus, which is really beautifully and fussily executed.  It's like 8 tiny socks!  Four times as hard as the socks, I reckon, but no heels.

The roadblock is the inevitable mistakes I will make in thin, delicate yarn.  But no, that's not right; the mistakes are just what they are, it's my feelings about the mistakes that are the real issue.

To make or not to make?    

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Meal Machines

Dear Waiting and Watching,

I am waiting too, and here is what we are watching at the Dodo:

Film one.

Film two.

Until we meet again.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

One Final Obel.

Dear Big Fans,

By now, you can't go even a few days without Agnes Obel, so enjoy this final offering:  Agnes Obel at the Tiny Desk.

Bonus Track.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

It's Spring.

Dear Men,

You are bringing me down, a bit, today.  I know my feelings are nothing but my own, and you, Men, are what you are, but....

The whole place has been buzzing and hopping and blooming.  It has only just awaken from winter dormancy; the grasses and forbs just long enough to make wind wolves, and a few things bold enough to blossom are visited by finch and butterfly, and the insects are groggily wobbling out of holes they have spent the cold months in, and Mr. Bun (a cottontail of my acquaintance that lives up under the Cottage in the Pines) is nibbling here and there soft tender blades, and you?  What are you doing?  You are cutting, and mowing, and tilling, and scraping it all down with your horrible two stroke motors.  I can hear you from all points of the compass, revving up to mow down all of Spring's nascent bloom.

Every year, it is the same from you.   The plants grow, and you rush out to cut them, or even spray them down.  Yes, you are bringing me down, a bit, today, Men.  You are bringing me down.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Advice Column.

Dear At Home,

Today, I offer some advice.  No, I am not going to tell you to wash your infernal hands!  But it is going to be advice, and so if you aren't up for any more advice of any kind, you are free to leave the page now, without any blame or shame.

I will give you a few lines of space to make your exit gracefully and discreetly.

First, let's examine my qualifications: I was home-schooled by my parents from kindergarten (there was a short period pf preschool which I remember very vividly and with not a little unease) until age 16, when I began taking courses at the local community college.  I have also been the home-schooler:  we taught my son at home (now 19) until he began taking college courses at age 17.  I have also been writing a book on my experiences of both sides of home schooling.  It isn't anything like ready, and maybe it never will be, but these three things, plus the fact that suddenly many families have been thrust into the position of home schooler and home scholar with little prior experience of either, propels my experience into the upper echelon of experts on home schooling. 

My best advice is brief, but it isn't easy.  There are three steps, and I absolutely stand behind them.  You will achieve astounding results if you follow these suggestions!

Toss out EVERY last one of your expectations of your student.  Really!  All of them.  Be thorough.  Then throw out whatever lame curriculum the school provided you with.  Then, ask your student what they'd like to study, and facilitate whatever that is.

You are now, like it or not, a homeschool teacher.  It is a serious, important job.  It is not (ever!) a battle of wills.

My practices as teacher and student were actually more properly defined as Unschooling, and yours will be too, if you follow my three easy steps!  Also, trot this term out at your next virtual cocktail party- you will impress the pants off of your fellow homeschool teachers!  Also, John Holt is terrific; read his books to inspire you in your new job.


Obel No. 4

Dear Growing in Your Admiration,

Here she is again, your fourth Agnes Obel song, the song of the day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Falling Apart

Dear Avant Garde,

Researchers here at the Dodo have found this interesting music for you; made by time and chance, you are going to love it, just as you love the peeling paint, the streaking rust, and the eroding cliffs.

Read about it here, and listen to it here.  Or, reverse the order if you are adventurous! 

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

coded & codes


A Zizzer-Zoof Seed salesman, as depicted by Dr. Seuss,
in The Sleep Book, RH Childrens Books, 2013.

Dear Language,

I have been trying to raise my awareness- I know, what else would I do with it: try to 'lower' it!?  My success or failure at raising my own awareness is not really possible to quantify at this point, but I found some things that I wasn't really aware of, so I think that is an indicator of being on the right track. 

You probably already know that people are calling out uses of language as coded, or codes.  This stuff is what I refer to as 'doublespeak;' as defined by Orwell's 1984.  This talk uses one or two words to mean a whole lot of specifics to certain groups of ears, and it takes time to establish the meaning across culture.  For example, here at the Dodo, useless things are 'Zizzer-Zoof Seeds' because nobody wants them and nobody needs them.  It is an example of what they call high context language. 

For my research on coded words, I wanted a list; I wanted something concrete, something now, and topical, so I looked it up on the Internet, of course.  I found a decent list and I offer you some of it here;  use these words with extreme caution!  They are saying more than you might intend.  To better know what your intentions might be, put your definition of these words in the blank space provided.  As a further exploration, consider how our culture and media defines these words and phrases.


Urban/Inner City

Radical Islam

Middle Class

Illegal Immigrant



If you'd like to read more about Zizzer-Zoof Seeds, visit the book online, or better yet, get The Sleep Book by Dr. Seuss from your local library.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Obel No. 2

Dear All,

Here it is, the second song from Agnes Obel in our appreciation series, your song of the day for today.

Saturday, March 7, 2020


Dear Others,

I know you are out there, on a Saturday, trying to practice.  It's glacially slow, snails overtake me in my progress, I get nearly no where, and worse, I know the time when I could have improved is long gone.  I also suspect it isn't doing my knees any favors.  There is a barstool with a margarita or a beer on the counter that I could be sitting at, instead of facing my incremental improvements.

I know you could be doing stuff that needs doing, too, I mean, say, if you didn't just go and enjoy that drink at the bar.  You could be doing the taxes, or mopping the floor.  Yep, you could do a lot with this time.

Maybe though, you too are trying to do the Bunny Hop.  I am, and I think, just maybe, possibly, I have got it!  After nearly 12 years of skating and who knows how many tries.  It's a kind of a gallop step, where you jump off of one skate onto the toe stop of the other.  Sounds very simple, doesn't it? 
If you are working at it, study this and this instructional video as well.

Friday, March 6, 2020


Dear Waking Dream,

Here is a song you need.  Note the descending, spiraling sound- isn't it grand?  I have been listening to it regularly; I want it in me for good. 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Discerning Listeners.

Dear Listener of Discernment,

Oh I expect you are even now listening to Agnes Obel, but in the very small chance that you are not, let's have a little series of her music.  Understand me now, I adore this music.  My ears have been waiting, preparing for this sound for years.  It sounds like my favorite choral, avant garde, folk, alternative, local, and contemporary classical, all in one sweet and beautiful package.  Enjoy this now, and stay tuned for more later....

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Falling Down

Dear People of the Past,

Your song for today comes in three fine versions: un, deux, trois.  I first heard this song as a very young girl and it has accompanied me for many years, as an ersatz anthem of feminism, and a declaration of individual will.  I hope it will come in handy for you in some way or another.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Ceiling.

Dear Dodo Gang,

The thing about the Dodo is that, well, it takes time to send you these little love notes, and sometimes Things Get Left Undone.  What things, you ask?  Well, we don't put off our watching the sky, or the creek, or the birds, but we do skip the dishes, the floors, the windows, and the yard.  It's alright, they do pretty well on their own, especially the yard.

Other times, the Dodo staff are working on something that needs doing while I type here.  Today, staff are painting the ceiling of the bathroom, so that I can send you this 'making of' film.'

May it inspire you to make a shadowed film of your own.  Or, maybe today you will paint the ceiling and Get Things Done.

Friday, February 21, 2020

not sorry socks

He told
me not
to say

"I'm sorry."

Women whispered to me:
he hates women
who say

"I'm sorry."

The obvious thing here is that I hate men who hate women who say
"I'm sorry."

But now is not the time for that.

is the time
for how could I be not sorry?

If I wore, on my ankles, the socks I saw
last night in a shop
that said
"Not Sorry" on them,
if I wore them every day,
if I slept in them,
if I never took them off, and
every time I took a step I thought and read: not sorry, not sorry, not sorry, stepping out a
sorryless cadence all the livelong day,
would I be less sorry?

Because I am sorry, really sorry.
I am sorry I interrupted you,
I am sorry I was jealous,
sorry that I didn't listen.
sorry that I missed the boat,
sorry that I was too fearful,
sorry that I hurt you,
sorry that I only thought of myself,
sorry that I ignored you,
sorry I stopped talking to you,
sorry I didn't love you,
sorry I couldn't understand you
sorry that people suffer &

I am not not sorry at all, and
if you think
that you can take the sorry from the girl,
and absolve yourself,
you are very wrong, mister,
and I am not
to inform you.

Monday, February 17, 2020


Dear Highway Goers,

A  beautiful song for you, for today.  Here's another little highway song, because here at the Dodo, we love the open road.

Here's a little film on how to be your own William Tyler.  Oooh, that Organizer box is the bomb!

Friday, February 14, 2020

For all the love in the world.

Dear Celebrants,

Here it is, your song for today.  You don't know it, because sometimes I am very shy about confessing my love for this or that cultural tidbit, but I adore this song, just adore it.  I love the whiny refrain, and the stair-stepping guitar chords behind it.  I love that thinking of what a love song isn't requires you also to think of what a love song is.  I also love that nearly all songs are love songs, and so if you think you have one that isn't, you might have to declare it outright.

I saw Public Image Limited once, in concert, and it was a bit of a sonic mess, because the wind grabbed a lot of the sound, and the keyboards seemed very thin and reedy.  I came home thinking that they needed a studio recording to corral the sounds so they'd be fit for hearing.  But now, I think, no, all outdoor music gets twisted and trampled by the air, and anyway, I am weary of perfection and clean sounding polish.

The call of the muezzin, the punk(-ish) lead vocalist, the opera singer, and maybe even the coyote's howl are all expressing the same passion.  Many happy returns of passion day to you!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Come here often?

Dear Readers, Viewers, Friends,

Here it is, the very first post, from seven years ago today.  Isn't that something?!  Happy Anniversary to us, and here's to the future and all its possibilities!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

In readiness.

Dear Visitor,

These are a few of the odd items I am constructing these days.  I am getting ready to put them all into a small gallery in late March.  It should be a nicely crowded, maximalist sort of an exhibition.  I hope you will drop by to see it all!

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Gather Momentum


Dear Ticketed Passengers,

It takes a lot to laugh but it takes a train to gather momentum.  The glory of the metaphor of the train is the gathering of momentum, and I offer you some songs to illustrate my point.  Use them to pick up speed, or to gather your forces.

With a train the sound is also of going, the decreasing, dopplered -ainnnn sound; the sound of being gone.  You can use it to let them know you have left.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Another rink and triple that.


Dear Ones,

This month I finally got to the World on Wheels rink in Los Angeles.  Skating there brings my total rinks skated to 39.  Look out number 40!

What can I tell you about this rink?  It was like so many I have been to, in Texas, in Utah, in Maine: It was filled with happy rolling people of great variety, and I hope you will join them soon. 

World on Wheels has a smooth and well maintained wood floor, and the rental skates looked well cared for also.  It has an unusual split level building, so you enter the rink at the bottom of two carpeted ramps.  The ramps are a wee bit intimidating, but there are hand rails on both walls, and everyone is sharing the space and the challenges of the slope, so there isn't any real difficulty.  It is interesting to watch the round and round of the rink from the higher vantage point.

One especial thing to note about WoW is that it is back from the beyond- it opened first in 1981, and was closed in 2013.  But happily, in 2017, re-opened under new ownership.  Still, just to be on the safe side, get to it soon.  They never re-opened my town's rink, and there isn't hardly a shred of evidence that it ever even existed.  It was just last year that I reluctantly threw away the flyer I had for our old rink with the phone number and the price for birthday parties.  And what does that mean, you ask?  Well, I guess it means that that is the end of that.

Saturday, January 25, 2020


Dear Days,

600 and counting....  Skating everyday is easy, and much more fun than brushing you teeth.  Doing the Iceberg, that is hard.  But why am I telling you this?  You already know it and you should be skating.  Do it for freedom, man, do it for love, do it because you can.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Not to worry.

Dear Worried,

Be thee of good cheer.  We don't know where we come from and we don't know what we are.  We do know that there is an awful, terrifying, and sublime amount of beauty, love, and truth.  Speak it, see it, feel it.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Face it.

Dear Grooved,

Here is a song my DJ played and I had never heard it before, but now, I can't really live without it.  My DJ was a real gentlemen about this song's dubious & dated descriptions of women, and maybe his acknowledgement of the canned and sexist language made it easy for me to forgive this song, and love love love its stone cold groove.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

His Shirt Said

Dear Whomever,

I have been thinking of you; a lot.  I haven't wanted to write, because I could only think of complaints.  I know you don't want to hear all that.  And you know I am committed to giving you the best of what I have here.

I enclose this poem- I hope you will read it, and know what I mean.

His Shirt Said

I was going to tell you about how it is here,
where I live,
about the beauty of it all;
the branches, the breeze,
even the chrome and the people; but
a man was walking across the road
and his shirt said
his chest read:
Because I Said So.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Dear Only a Few Minutes,

It's ten oh nine, and I have 6 minutes to send this to you!  It's important, it's inspirational, it's what my DJ just played for me:  Cocaine Cowboys, your song for today.   Ten oh twelve, done!

Monday, January 13, 2020


Dear Lo-Fi,

Here is a fine song for today; blown out and muffled, but just like the old days, when you wanted to keep a song to play again, you had to dupe it on your tape deck from the radio, and fidelity would be affected by the reproduction.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Sisters

Dear Harmonies,

Here is a film for you; a slow, languorous film, submitted for your approval:  The McGarrigles.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The One Hundredth Anniversary

Alice Smith, S. J. de Crasse, and G. H. Halleran sell copies of The Suffragist in Boston, Mass.  Bettmann/Getty          
This image comes from The Atlantic.


Dear Worried,

I think where we might be getting into trouble is in thinking that we are somehow smarter than we were some time ago.  It's so nice to feel like we are getting somewhere and celebrate the schadenfreude of how much better it is now.  Of course, yes, it is much better now.  We have no plague and we can vote, and steel can be made into tools, and no one needs to grind acorns at the rock by the river. 

And yet.  We do all this on the backs of those that came before us and we will be the stepped upon of the future, so make sure you are good and sturdy. 

Here is a scholarly article on just what we are celebrating/complaining about, and to mark the 100th anniversary of a women's right to vote in the United States, I give you Girl, a poem by Olivia Gatwood.

i don't think i'll ever not be one
even when the dozen grays sprouting
from my temple take hold and spread
like a sterling fungus across my scalp,
even when the skin on my hands is loose
as a duvet, draped across my knuckles,
even when i know everything there is to know
about heartbreak or envy or the mortality
of my parents, i think, even then i'll want
to be called girl, no matter the mouth
it comes from or how they mean it,
girl, the curling smoke after a sparkler
spatters into the dark, girl, sweet spoon of crystal sugar
at the bottom of my coffee, girl, whole mouth
of whipped cream at the birthday party, say girl,
i think, i'll never die, i'll never stop running
through sprinklers or climbing out of open windows
i'll never pass up a jar of free dum dums
i'll never stop riping out the hangnail with my teeth
i'm a good girl, bad girl, dream girl, sad girl
girl next door sunbathing in the driveway
i wanna be them all at once, i wanna be
all the girls i've ever loved,
mean girls, shy girls, loud girls, my girls,
all of us angry on our porches,
rolled tobacco resting on our bottom lips
our bodies are the only things we own,
leave our kids with nothing when we die
we'll still be girls then too, we'll still be pretty,
still be loved, still be soft to the touch
pink lip and powdered nose in the casket
a dozen sobbing men in stiff suits
yes, even then, we are girls
especially then, we are girls
silent and dead and still
the life of the party.


And here is Ms Gatwood reading Girl, and more, from her terrific book, Life of the Party.