Friday, December 30, 2022

Mrs. McGillicuddy


Dear The End,

Mrs. McGillicuddy is dead.  Long may her memory live.

There are people, often even strangers, and quite by chance, who let you see the layers and depth of the pond we call our lives.  They give you glitter, and politesse, and mystery, and a wink.  And then, one day, they are gone.  The traces they leave are large and small, and everywhere.

A long ago friend of mine, a lover, really, is dying or dead already.  I am not going to check which.  I haven't seen them in ages.  I don't need or want to see them, but, oh!  That night at the Chinese restaurant with the tiger tapestry on the wall- I don't ever want that to leave my framework for understanding the world.  By the world, I mean love, I mean people, I mean meaning.

Mrs. McGillicuddy was a cousin of my Mother's: there were, um, like 75 cousins, at least, and everyone of them nearly identical to the novice and infrequent visitor.  I was a very novice and infrequent visitor, and also, very young, and so I suppose I needed entertaining?  What were the aunts, uncles, parents, and other people doing while these cousins would spin their yarns of Mrs. McGillicuddy?  I don't know, and a few questions about who or when she was have yielded nothing.  She was going to 'get you' if you didn't watch out, and she once chased me around some parked cars in the dark, shoulders hunched, with her hands out in front of her, clawing towards me.  It was a game that scared you just the right amount, like a roller coaster.  But the powerful thing was that she was a different being than my cousin: Mrs. McGillicuddy was more than just a different name for a person you know.

I wish this was more clear, this magic she made... but magic often cannot be explained, and when you try to, you get blank faces and 'that sounds awful.'  But it wasn't awful, and these liminal spaces where taboos are broken are amazingly vast, and so vertiginously free- I don't mean free like you think I do, I mean free like flying, free like falling, like jumping into the sea.  Like being one with all.

And so, then, this is Mrs. McGillicuddy's eulogy, and I am here, reading at the altar, to say a final goodbye to her, to a room full of people who somehow never even met her.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022



Oyster bed.


Dear Curious Oysters,

Have you wondered, long, hard, and deep into the night just how the Dodo is made?  Where do these notions come from, and how are these serendipitous snippets assembled?  

Well, I'll tell you: one thing leads to another.

Here is what an early draft or rather, sketch, of a Dodo post looks like:

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

the weight


Dear Waiting,

I have been thinking on weighted blankets.  I love a heavy blanket, it feels comforting.  Not everyone does, of course; some feel claustrophobic under the heaviness.  

Why now?  I ask myself, why heavy blankets now?  You may (or may not) recall the euphoria of the fluffy Duvet years, in the 1980's, '90s, and even the early 2000's.  We were all going to get good and intellectual by ditching the top sheet and doing like they do in Europe: duveting it up every night.  I had one, in college; it was down, and shedding feathers all over, and I hadn't the money for a nice cover, so I sewed two cheap top sheets together and slid in my lunpy fluffy duvet.  The sheets were unfortunate colors- very saturated:  a deep unnatural purple and a dark and chemical green.  Also, it was a real chore to get the duvet into this envelope, so I hardly ever washed the cover, but that was okay, too, because, well, I was using the top sheet for the most part, because the sheets I had came that way, as a set: a bottom fitted sheet, and a flat top sheet and a pillow case or two.  It seemed silly not to use them both when making the bed.

I had a second duvet, and when it got all lopsided and thin everywhere but the feather filled far margins, I got a quilt, with techno-fiber batt stuffing.  It never moved, or seeped through the seams, that batting.  Since 1999, it's been wool and cotton blankets and quilts.  But, would a thirty pound blanket be more of a good thing, or too much of a good thing?  

Enjoy your longest night, under blankets heavy or light!

Monday, December 19, 2022



Dear Readers,

Don't ya love a word that sounds like another?  The heir/air.  The flour/flower.  The alter/altar.  The beech/beach.  The peak/peek.  The pore/pour/poor.  These words are known as homophones, as distinguished from homonyms.  Although, these examples are also homonyms!  There is some overlap; if it sounds indistinct, you can explore the differences, and check out the less commonly sighted/cited/sited third sister: homograph!  What a wonderful world of words we live in!  And, here is your song of the day!

Monday, December 12, 2022

I'm with her.


Dear Luscious,

Your song of the day is an old favorite, and this is a fine, heartfelt rendition- by the end, I am sure you will feel that you, too, are not made for these times.  But, we are living them anyway, and so it sure is nice to feel understood, even if only for the length of the song.  Songs never let me down in this way; they always understand me perfectly.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

moon song


Dear Night,

Ooh, you are having some moonlight!  Here is a song to celebrate the glistening reflection of day.

Friday, December 9, 2022

Your Girl Friday: Bravely fighting monomania for you and me!


Dear Friday,

Oooh, I love your girl!  I love all your girls, Friday, and I am not afraid to say it!  I love you, Rebecca Morris!  Check out her beautiful, and essential for abstract artists, manifesto:  read it here.  Actually, you don't even need to use paint or brushes to love this manifesto.  Here is a website for appreciating more of her work.  As for me, what am I going to do with my great love for Rebecca Morris?  Well, I thought I might transmute some of my desire into large paintings.  

Saturday, December 3, 2022

meso meso


Liu Bolin, the artist behind door Number One.

Dear Ones,

How are you?  If you, too, are feeling meso meso, I offer you a few oddments, amuse-bouches.  See if one of these little distractions doesn't lift you up a little bit:

Door Number One.  Number Two.  Number Three.  Number Four.

PS  Bonus Cowboy Junkies Track.

Thursday, December 1, 2022



Quilt, Inez Storer, 46" x 46", 2007.

Dear Archeology,

I wanted to be one, once, you know?  An archeologist.  I thought it would be fun to piece together the past by digging for broken shards and pieces.  

I saw a woman I used to know on the street the other day.  

I ducked, and hid, and ran.  

She was standing, a little on her heels, a little bit back, maybe her arms were half crossed.  She was looking towards the pavement, down.  There was another woman there, taller, blonde, I think; much more substantial.  She leaned kind of forward, in contrast, like maybe she had to be closer to hear the words.  I wondered why, or rather how, I recognized her.  It was the shape, the attitude, yes, but perhaps also the aura.  

I felt that creeping stiffness, when I saw her- that invisible forcefield one tries to erect when under fire.  I remember that feeling so well, from so long ago, when I was just a young woman, and not nearly as sure of my right to be here, and so, when I see her now, I am reduced to a quaking jelly that is not able to move, or defend itself.  I saw her, and I hid, and I thought of you, growing up under that wing, and I saw so clearly that you were maybe always the parent, and not the child, and oh!  I cried for you, and for her, and for me, too, and for all the fragments buried that are the evidence of all the lives and wounds and sufferings.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

the written word


Ed Ruscha

Dear So & So, and You & You,

I woke up wondering what in the world to bring to the potluck.  Roasted squash?  Gingerbread?  Cheese and crackers?  Shortbread?  Jello?  None of that sounds right. 

Next I wondered what kind of narrative a son or daughter would create of the deeds and words of a parent.  What story would one write:  My mother was a good woman.  My mother was honest.  My mother was a fish, she smoked, she vacuumed up my toys out of spite.  My mother was distant, on another planet.  She never had time for me, just her cases.  My mother had eyes in the back of her head.  My mother was an octopus.  My mother could fix anything.  My mother soothed with chocolate.  My mother always sprayed stinging medications on injuries.  My mother was vain, she obsessed over her looks.  My mother was heartbroken that she could not fit into the standards of beauty.  My mother never learned to drive.  My mother was confident.  My mother was controlling.  My mother worried too much.  My mother didn't care enough.  My mother let me down, she lifted me up, she put me on a pedestal and I could never live up to it.    

Why such a narrative in the first place?  Because people will ask you who you are and why you are.  You will be called upon to have to some answers, and people are accepting of the kind of answer that seems to contain causality:  I am this way because my parents were that way.

This is not all I woke up thinking about; I was also counting the books on the shelf, and thinking about writing.

When I was in preschool* they would write, on little lined sheets of paper, stories I would dictate.  I always supposed all 3 and 4 year olds narrated in this way; but now, I wonder.  I was inordinately pleased with these little sheets of loose paper.  Like the murky, magical workings of the world had been captured and made manifest.  Look at this amazing evidence of the invisible mind!  Look at how it can be read, over and over!  And so, maybe, everyone does "write" these stories in preschool, but maybe not everyone experiences their words on the page as a miracle.

* Preschool was my introduction to formal education, which, when we moved, was put on hiatus until I was 16; community college.  The other 12 years were spent in what would now be called "unschooling."

Tuesday, November 22, 2022



Rocketbuster Boots

Dear Y'all,

Here are two fine songs to give your best compare and contrast efforts to:  Song oneSong two.  I give them to you in chronological order, not in order of preference.  Of course, considering these two will invite you to consider this song, and this one.  If you still feel like some more, try these versions of the last one:  Version B, CD.  Also, E, and F.

That's all!

Friday, November 18, 2022

Your Girl Friday: Bake Club Captain Tosi!


Christina Tosi

Dear Friday,

Another great Girl for you!  You are the lucky one, Friday!  Here is a girl who knows all you can do against hopelessness and grief is to bake.  She is wise, and you can be too, by joining Bake Club!  I did, and I love it, and Christina Tosi!  Whose recipes for Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milk Bar Pie have been lessening my sorrow, and the sadness of those around me for 11 years!

Monday, November 14, 2022

a lesson


Artist Louise Nevelson and her work.

Dear Studying,

You might recall that I resigned from my job trying to make a place where people felt like they could make something.  It's okay, I like the hours of my loafing life better, and I don't need to commute via automobile anymore either.

I am left, though, with a lot of papers to sort through, and piles and piles of what might be inspirational instructional materials.  I am not sure what to do with these things, and so I thought I'd put one here, because this has always been a place for mélange.

Anyway, file it under "art lesson" if you like, and if you don't feel like a lesson, listen to this instead.

How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare.

The title of today's chalk talk is taken from the name of a performance given by artist Joseph Beuys in 1965.  I use it here to acknowledge both the difficulty and the ambiguity of my two topics, and, hopefully, to encourage you to check out Joseph Beuys' other artworks and performances.  I want to address the related questions of how to know when is an artwork "finished," and how can a person go about becoming less rigid, more open, more loose, in their art making?

Like so many things in art, there are no fixed answers, no definitive answers for either of these questions.  But, let me give a few suggestions for how to expand your thinking on these two topics!  

You can always work longer, harder, on a piece.  You might keep on changing a painting for years!  Most artists come to the 'end' by either reaching a level of satisfaction with the piece, or by becoming so frustrated that they 'set it aside.'  Both of those feelings constitute 'done' in an artwork.  One thing to keep in mind, is that the work you do on a piece does not need to be continuous.  Many artists set a thing aside for months, even years, before working further on it.  It is helpful to set aside a piece for some time (How long? it varies!) and then look at it again, to see if it seems to be asking you for more.  Many artists will turn a painting to the wall for a while, and then come back to it with 'fresh eyes.'  Other artists choose to live with a piece for a while before pronouncing it finished.  I kind of fall into the latter category, but not always:  with some pieces you really know, it feels very certain, that it is done.  As an example of an artist who worked for a very long time on individual paintings, take a look at the work of artist Jay DeFeo. 

Now, how to approach your process with a broader acceptance of 'how' it can be done and 'what' it must look like?  This is even more difficult to answer in a direct way.  For some people, little tricks can help:  Use your non-dominant hand, use awkward tools, try to make a deliberately 'bad' painting that breaks all your personal rules.  This last one is a really useful experiment; to begin it, you must examine first the rules you have accumulated.  I say 'accumulated' because I think the rules we make for ourselves as artists are like barnacles growing on a boat below the waterline- you might not even know that you have adopted rules for making your art.  Here is an example of some rules that one might go about breaking:

Things must be representational.

Compositions should not be centered.

There should not be too many strong diagonals.

Things should not be 'ugly.'

This is the top, this is the bottom.

There should not be too much dark, or black.

There should not be too much light, or white.

The space should be illusionistic.

The painting MUST look like THIS!  (What 'this' is varies).

The materials used should be archival, so you painting of a hamburger or Pikachu will last 500 years (wait, why do I want that to last 500 years?).

Stylizations or abstractions should not be allowed to 'mix' with representational or realistic looking objects on the picture plane.

If you go about inventorying your own list of rules, you will find some very funny little ones.  Maybe you always begin your work a certain way; with a drawing, or maybe you always treat your picture plane a bit like a coloring book- filling in colors after you have established a totally resolved underpainting.  Should you try to break all your rules intentionally, don't worry about whether you like the work; the goal is to look for new ways of seeing and working.  You can always return to your trusty old methods on the next piece.

Lastly, a painting is its own world, with its own light, and creating it can be a very intuitive, flowing experience.  Imagine this:  A blank space.  Add a mark.  Respond to the mark, with another mark.  What would those two marks like next?  And then, now that these three marks are interacting with the picture plane and the four edges (lines) that define it, what is next suggested?  A painting is not just a window, or a picture plane, it is also a record of movement over time.  It need not be choreographed ahead of time, it may feel organic, like a conversation with a friend.

That's all!




Friday, November 11, 2022



Dear Moss Maiden and Tree Elf,

I read your tale, and I love your shoes!  

Friday, November 4, 2022

a letter about things


Untitled, Dan Flavin, 1973.

Dear You,

Hey!  It's me again!  I have bee thinking and unearthing all kinds of detritus and ideas.  Ideae?  Idee? I would like an apostrophe s-less plural here, and I am going to have to make it on my own, I guess.  Anyway, I found an old poem, a pome, a pomme, which I give to you here, but, in characteristic Dodo style, I also want to associate by proximity and whimsy, these other items:  

A song, and

A bit of writing on Dan Flavin's pieces.  

Ooh, now maybe the order is all wrong?  I should have given you the poem first, then the Flavin thing, then the song?  Or, no, you have the image of the Flavin first, or no, the first thing you get is words, in the title, and then the image.  Well, wrong or right, these are the details I consider when I am addressing you.

(found in desk drawer in October 2022; written in, 2009?)

A poem about time’s inner workings.


If you come in here,
I’ll show you a little bit of how
time works.

You turn the world down to one mile-
this would be the old days-
then, more miles, 
less miles,
four miles,
two miles,

Then it’s zero miles, because 
we don’t know what’s going to come 
after that,
I think.


Sunday, October 30, 2022

Hurray for the Rhododendron


The Pontic Rhododendron, color aquatint, Peter Charles Henderson, early 19th century.

Dear Shrubbery,

Here is your song for today!  It's a great favorite of mine; I often wonder what it would mean to turn my back on the mainland, and what it will take to carry on.

Friday, October 28, 2022

your girl friday


Cyndi Lauper's new women's rights and health fund.

Dear Friday,

Your girl is Cyndi!  And, guess what else?  You are the dance party day, even in Fall!  Here are your dance tracks for today:  One, two, & three.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

1600 Days.


Dear Skates and Skaters,

I sprained my ankle, and it has been a hilarious and very short daily skate for the past few weeks.  The first day I don't think I rolled more than 8 feet out and then back!  I shoved my hugely swollen foot into the boot with the laces as loose as possible, and shambled painfully up and out, with the help of my paramour.  By day nine I was rolling on my own, but, never far and never well.  It's feels like going back in time, to when I first tried skating- it's awkward, and clumsy, robotic and stuttering.  

You should know that I did not sprain my ankle skating- I was just walking, like everybody does, minding my own business.  It was a bolt from out of the blue.

If your ankle is not sprained, I hope you will go out and try roller skating!  Here's a great first lesson for you.  If your ankle is sprained, well, do be careful, stay off your foot, and maybe watch this video and fantasize about which color of beautiful light up wheels you might want to get!

Thursday, October 20, 2022

how it is


Sidereal Angle Clock movement

Dear The Past,

Of course I still love you!  It's just that, well, The Future keeps on calling all the time, and he offered to pay for dinner, so, well, I said yes!  Wouldn't you have?

I know, I have a lot of explaining to do.  It's just that there are all these new things, you know?  And, I never did look that good in orange, and, yes, I know, it's just superficial, and all is passing, but, I don't always want to be the person I was!  I don't see why I have to keep on going like this, just because you want me to.  And anyway, The Present doesn't agree with either of you, so, I figure it's time I lived my own life.

I suppose you aren't going to want to see me anymore, and I guess I understand that; but what we had was special, it was real, and I used to love you, I really did!  But, now I just feel trapped by you and threatened by your size.  

I know you are going to feel hurt by this, and I am sorry, I really am; it's not you, it's me!

Saturday, October 15, 2022

baby, baby

Untitled (Roses)
, Cy Twombly, acrylic and crayon on wood, 252.5 x 741.9 cm, 2008.

Dear Radio-Dodo Listener,

Check out these two songs for today:  One, and two.  These are from the dusty back room stacks, and I had never heard either of these versions; but I was looking, you know, like I do, for something special for you today, and I found them, just like you do when you are searching.