Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dance Again!!

June 5 - 13
au centre ville at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
Danse Encore
the 15th annual

Here are some of the Artists who will perform. Click on links below to see a mini-video of their different dance styles:

Vanill É Kola (West African)
Party Time (Hip Hop)
Step Afrika!
Ballet Flamenco Arte de Espana
Tapestry Dance Company (tap dance)
Shaun Hounsell (contemporary dance)
Vanessa Lawson & Jaime Vargas (ballet)

Check here for list of FREE performances outside, this Friday and Saturday night (scroll down).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Little Neighbors

[Photo by awyn]

Play break in the courtyard
talk about Junior's lost stickball
compare the boo-boos on our knees
lick the sticky remnants of the orange popsicle
off two laughing lips
Let's go chase the butterfly
Nah. Let's just watch.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Days until an investigation was ordered into the Pearl Harbour attack: 9
Days until an investigation was ordered into the Kennedy assassination: 7
Days until an investigation was ordered into the Challenger disaster: 7
Number of days until an investigation was ordered into the sinking of the Titanic: 6
Number of days until an investigation was ordered into the 9/11 attacks: 411

Amount of mone
More..y allocated for the 1986 Challenger disaster investigation: $75 million
Amount of money allocated for the 2004 Columbia disaster investigation: $50 million
Amount of money allocated for Clinton-Lewinsky investigation: $40 million
Amount of money allocated for the 9/11 Commission: $14 million


Monday, May 25, 2009

I'm renting a farm!!

farm n. A tract of land cultivated for the purpose of agricultural production

What was I thinking? I already have a garden at the back of my house, several small plots carved out of the lawn that over the past three years have gradually increased so that it is no longer a lawn anymore. I realized the green grassy part the cats love to sit in and my bare feet love to walk on is slowly disappearing. Do I really want to make of my favorite summer sitting place a mini-farm?

Exactly five blocks down the street, behind the soup kitchen, sharing land with a church, is the Friendship Community Garden. I passed by this garden at summer's end last year and was astounded at the number of abandoned, weed-choked plots with hanging, rotted tomatoes and neglected, shriveled peppers. Who would take the time to cultivate the soil, plant and start a garden--and then simply leave it to die?

Only eight people came last week to sign up for a garden plot in the community garden this year. Eight! The monumental lack of interest in taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity, to me is staggering. Here you can have, for a mere $10 [Cdn.] per year, a 15' X 15' plot of enriched, tilled earth that gets FULL sun; a key to the shed, with free rakes, hoes and shovels; barrels full of water available and all the help you need if you have never gardened before. For $15, you can have TWO plots.

Imagine, your own little "farm"--a mere 10-minute walk from your house, where you can grow and harvest your own organic vegetables. How many people living in tin shacks in poverty-stricken countries while their children scavenge among trash mounds for objects to sell to buy food--or dwellers in urban high-rises surrounded by concrete--would give anything to have access to such land. It's not fair, that such opportunities exist but the people who could most benefit by them won't ever get the chance, and the ones for whom they do, simply aren't interested.

My mate asked me if I was sure I wanted to tackle three separate gardens this year--the one at home and these two huge plots in the community garden. "No problem," I said, envisioning the long, neat rows of carrots, beets, cucumbers, chard, radish and lettuce on my newly rented mini-farm.

On Saturday I stopped by to locate my plots, which I marked with some Tibetan prayer flags. One fellow gardener had already planted his onion bulbs and cucumber seeds and was watering them. Another--a 90-year-0ld man!--was stooped over his plot, digging and scraping. Yesterday I spent two and a half hours getting the ground ready for planting and realize it is going to be far more work than I had ever imagined. Every bone in my body ached and I haven't even put the seeds in yet. I can understand now why some might want to just give up. You have to really really want to do this, to make it work.

The advantages to having this second, larger garden:
(1) It's possible to grow more vegetables there;
(2) the soil is richer than in my back yard;
(3) the water barrel's always filled and their shed has more and better tools than I do;
(4) it's located further away from the dastardly Wayagamack paper mill whose noxious fumes and toxic air-borne particulates float daily over the river towards my sector.
And so for all these reasons, I am determined to keep renting these two plots and give it my all.

My main crop will be Swiss chard. It's very rare that you find it in the supermarkets here. On Wednesdays, sometimes at Panier Sante you can find chard imported from California, and at Metro market, sometimes chard produced regionally (but it always seems too limp and lifeless, and is expensive).

There is nothing so great as plucking vegetables directly from the garden, while they're still "live" and eating them fresh out of the earth. So much better than sprayed, irradiated produce that sits in a crate or refrigerated truck and travels thousands of miles to get to you.

I've only been gardening for six years. Before that I knew absolutely nothing about it. People would go on and on about their gardens and I found it boring. About dirt, for example. The Ph balance, acidity, nitrogens; fertilizers; natural ways to discourage bug takeover; but especially about dirt--I mean, really, what is so fascinating about DIRT?

And now I am one of those dreaded people, ha ha. The soil is really important. You don't just throw something into the ground and it grows....


Mitso's Accidental Garden

One summer in Greece we were staying in the countryside and I watched my then father-in-law sweating and swearing over his garden, at which he worked endlessly, planting things in neat, symmetrical rows with the utmost care--and the curses that ensued when the crop did not turn out as he expected.

Meanwhile, a short piece down the road was grizzled old Mitso, sitting on his ramshackle porch swigging ouzo. His method of planting was to (and I actually watched him do this) literally scoop up and throw a bunch of seeds from his chair on the porch and toss them into the air, letting them land where they may. What eventually came up was a little patch of cucumbers here, tangled in with some radishes, followed by a big dusty bare spot there, next to a hilly mound of weeds; some more hilly humps of peppers over there, with an occasional onion mixed in; and there by the fence a tomato plant sharing space with a raspberry bush bordered by the most gorgeous wildflowers---really, it was very hodgepodge and all the more ironic because Mitso's peppers were far nicer looking than Yorgo's (my father-in-law), a fact that grated Yorgo no end.

Mitso, the accidental gardener. We think his garden flourished despite his seeming disregard--because he sang to it. He was always singing, Mitso . They were compatible, he and his land. I can still see him, there on his cluttered veranda, the devilish squint in his eye, waving his hand toward his lumpy, prolific terrain.

I stand corrected. Dirt IS important. But singing to Life, perhaps even more so.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Their words spoke to me. Still do.

Hello Darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again ....

In restless dreams I walked alone
narrow streets of cobblestone ...

People talking without speaking
people hearing without listening
people writing songs that voices never share ...

Silence, like a cancer, grows

My words like silent raindrops fell
and echoed in the wells
of silence.

-- Simon & Garfunkle, in "Sound of Silence"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

All my words come back to me
in shades of mediocrity
like emptiness
in harmony ....

-- Simon & Garfunkle, in "Homeword Bound"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Here and There, Everything and Nothing

A while back I wrote a poem describing what it feels like (to me) to be physically firmly planted in one place but find myself still mentally there in another place that nostalgically gnaws at the heartstrings. Apropos my posting the other day about location disorientation, I revisit the memories but can’t imagine actually living there again because Now is not Then, and I am not the same, and even if I were, it still wouldn’t work because There isn't the same there anymore.


When you reside in one country
but your heart lives in another…
the Here becomes the new familiar.
What may have begun as reluctant acquiescence
turns to habit
as the Now slowly compartmentalizes
all former knowns.

Sometimes, lured by the pull of nostalgia,
you return to the There,
only to be met with a chill of alienation
wrought by time
and changes,
prompting you to question:
Where do I belong?

You vacillate between the There
and the Here,
between the Then
and the Now,
struggling to hold a life remembered
against the blistering winds of change
that take you sometimes
where you may have never
to go.


This morning I came across a poem called “Here and There” by French poet Jean-Michel Espitallier.

I was intrigued by these particular excerpts regarding his take on the Here and the There because it seemed to clarify something that I myself have been unable to articulate:

The world is all that is there... one cannot conceive a universe comprised of there only. However, all that is not here, does not exist... and thus the world does not exist. Save here... The totality of other people over there corresponds to the totality of the potentials of here... Each there is the there of all the other theres at once... The frontier between here and there is not very neat... The statement “I am there” is a logical impossibility.

And he ends the poem with these lines:
"Just one here for two there is a logical aberration. Or is it the war."

[Click here to hear Espitallier read the poem in French, with the accompanying complete translation in English.]

Nicholas Manning’s Review of Espitallier’s Theorem gave me a somewhat more complete picture of Espitallier and his style of writing. I like the way Espitallier pushes the envelope, so to speak. His poems make you think. Of course the problem with satire is that it can get overdone, become the sole costume for which one is known, obscuring the unexpected insights hidden in the play on words that could open doors of perception previously inaccessible. Reading a satirical poem--one starts laughing (or perhaps, as Manning suggests--ending up groaning).

Manning's review includes Espitallier’s poem about:

"Something rather than nothing ... Everything rather than something ... Something rather than everything ... A little nothing in each thing ... All of everything in each nothing ..."

(excerpts, not in order [apologies to Espitallier] , but it’s like a song that if I listen to it over and over again, pieces of the puzzle slowly begin falling into place.

I’m not making much sense. I don’t pretend to understand Wittgenstein, or mathematics “poetically rendered”, or what this particular poet might actually have been trying to say in these poems. It could be that what resonates with me here is applicable solely to my own personal conundrums re: the Here and the There, the foggy worlds of Somethings and Nothings, and existence in general, and the trail threads more to philosophy than poetry.

Sometimes a single poem or story is innovative and interesting enough that you seek out more writings from the author, and discover a pattern--but when the pattern gets sequelized, reader boredom can set in. Not always. Some readers, insatiable, demand more. But for me, when the formula becomes predictable, such that what jumps out at me IS the pattern, not the content, my interest wanes. And that's a shame because the single poem, on its own, is still powerful. The pattern should not be dominating the content. When all one's poems start sounding alike--the impact lessens. (Or does it? I suppose that depends on the poet.)

Linguistic combination and intentional attempts at satire aside, with this Here and There thing at least, I’m finding in Espitallier's poems certain threads that have particular current meaning to me, which is neither here nor there [no pun intended], but it’s helped me understand the nature of the Here and the There, of Something and Nothing, not in the Wittgensteinian sense but more in a kind of Buddhistic sense--if that makes sense.

Perhaps the confusion lies in our frame of reference. You try to understand something and you can't express it in words. Someone suggests maybe you're not using the right WORDS. Let's analyze the words. What do they MEAN? No, let's just be quiet and BE. Stop dissecting and just breathe it in. It is what it is. You feel it. You ARE it. Why do you need to SAY it?


Can a painter not paint? A dancer not dance? A writer not write?

I’m babbling. How can I express this?

Let's see:

I disagree that THERE does not exist. (Jean-Michel says “All that is not here, does not exist.”)
(Define Exist.)
To exist is to be. (Define Be.)
To have real life. (Define Real).
Be where you are (they say).
I was There, but now I’m Here.

(Sometimes I’m not Here, though.
Sometimes I’m still THERE--the There that is there but now different… that one.)

Which one is a place?
Which one a state of mind?
Does it matter?
All the Theres are me. The Collective Me.
The Here is me and Not-me. Both, all.
My choice.

Espitallier believes that "Today, the poet is no longer the spokesman of the deeper Self – that is completely outmoded. Writing poetry does not mean cutting yourself off from the world. You are right there in it.” [1]

But the "deeper Self" is part of the Here and Now. Be where you are. Be here.
And included in the Here is all the Theres that ever existed--even the ones that don't exist.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“It must be the war.”
You’re right, Jean-Michel.
It must be the war.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Some of Jean-Michel Espitallier's other poems:

Monsieur Cossus's Thoughts
History of Amorous Discourse
On Civil War [audio]

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I went away for a week and ended up staying a month. Sometimes things happen that you just don’t plan for.

S. is home after 15 days in two hospitals, not quite in the same condition as when she went in. It’s rather disconcerting when the top neurologists can’t decide on a diagnosis, but the suggested one is tranverse myelitis. Transverse Myelitis is a rare neurological disorder for which there is no effective cure. About a third of those afflicted experience good or full recovery; a third are left with significant deficits; and a third show no recovery or get worse. We don’t yet know into which category S. falls. They can’t do a biopsy because it’s IN the spinal cord, and so, way too dangerous to operate. Meanwhile, life goes on … with limited functioning, loss of income and only questions regarding the future. But we are hopeful.

Meanwhile, I got to bond with the grandbubs, especially GB #1.

Kid-facts learned from conversations walking on the way to Kindergarten:

You can put a ladybug in the plastic bag containing your inch-worm collection and not worry about them eating each other because … “They’re cousins.”

If you touch poison ivy, your fingernails will fall off and you will die.

A tennis-ball whose outer skin has gotten wet has forever lost its bounciness and will no longer bounce the same, even if you dry it out. Its bounce-force will never come back.


I have enjoyed the little morning walks, through shady lanes under towering pines and spruces, past the manicured lawns of mansion-sized houses on the way to the crumbling high-school-turned-elementary-school that is falling apart, for which they don’t have the money to rebuild.

I got to bed earlier, but still woke up exhausted.
I walked more and lost 5 lbs.
I missed my mate and hearing spoken French.
I was torn between needing to stay and having to leave.
The sounds and images of there still play in my head.

Woke up the first morning I was back, disoriented, thinking I was still there, in Massachusetts.

I miss seeing their little faces--I, J, and V--hearing them laugh and watching them play. I miss breakfast talks with S. I wish I had had more time to visit with A. I miss the daily morning walks to the school.

Here, there, here, there, it’s all a big tangled mesh.

Now, four days later, it’s as if I’d never left. Almost. Time and physical distance are such disorienters. So many images/perceptions accumulated, I don’t know where to start—or even if I will. I’ve missed reading and writing. The arrival of Spring in the back yard.

The small notebook I took has not a single space available. It contains to-do lists, budget projections, telephone numbers, grocery getables, hastily scribbled recipes, herbal formulas, contact reminders, overdue library book dates, bus schedules, rideshare references and occasional “jottings” of a more creative nature. Not even one space left even in the cramped margins.

Getable, as a noun. Not "It is getable" (able to be gotten) but "It's a getable" (i.e., a thing that you can get). It sounds like something Abu's creator would say. [Abu is a fictional character created by another fictional character in an unpublished short story, sitting in my desk drawer, begging for revision.]


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Morning Randoms

The leafless cherry
old as a toothless woman,
blooms in flowers,
mindful of its youth.
-- Matsuo Basho

La recherche de l'absolu ne doit pas sacrifier ce qui la fait vivre.
-- Robbert Fortin (1946-2008)

The day when homeowners devote an entire room in their houses to a library is probably a thing of the past.
Paul L. Martin

Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.
-- Meister Eckhart

A cappy hamper descends
on the cocky roast of Maine,
falling, in one swell foop
into the prior batch.
-- an unapologetic wordplayer, unable to stop :)

Live simply
Love generously
Care deeply
Speak kindly

Wheatgrass is indigestible to humans--
you have to juice the blades and drink it.
It's dark green and it tastes awful
but has an abundance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes,
protein and chlorophyl & contains every
amino acid, vitamin and mineral necessary for
human nutrition. My cats love chomping on it.
Personally, I can't get past the taste.

Some people seek to profit from any disaster.
Last month, the housing crisis.
This month: the swine flu 'epidemic'
"How to Profit Off Swine Flu"
What a mindset. :(

Notes for next week:
uprootedness in culture;
chosen ideological homes;
soil analysis for the veggie garden.
Traduire le livre d'Ani Choying Drolma;
get my energy back!

Good news. S. will come home from the hospital tomorrow!
Double Yay!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Haydn Orgy!!!

Rain today, under gloomy Boston skies.
S. is still in the hospital, 10 days now. We wait for her return.

Meanwhile, during a quick run to the market, from a car radio, such beautiful music, it suddenly surrounds me, it transforms Everything, makes everything bearable. All the gray and gloom and anxiety--for some hours at least--disappeared!! A thousand, hundred thanks for the reminder, from Dr. G., that this is Harvard's Haydn Orgy week, and had I not heard it on his car radio this morning, I might have missed it!!

For anyone who is interested, from Tuesday, May 6 (today) at 5:00 AM through midnight Friday, May 8th and next weekend will happen WHRB's Spring (musical) Orgy. Listen to 175 hours of continuous music, airing most of the complete surviving works of Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809), in chronological order. [For the complete schedule, click here.]

Harvard Radio Broadcasting Co., Inc. is a private, non-profit corporation operated on a volunteer basis by undergraduates at Harvard College.

Legend has it that the WHRB Orgy® tradition began over fifty-five years ago, in the Spring of 1943. At that time, it is said that one Harvard student, then a staff member of WHRB, returned to the station after a particularly difficult exam and played all of Beethoven's nine symphonies consecutively to celebrate the end of a long, hard term of studying. The idea caught on, and soon the orgy concept was expanded to include live Jazz and Rock Orgies, as well as a wide variety of recorded music.

The Orgy® tradition lives on even today at WHRB. Each January and May, during the Reading and Exam Periods of Harvard College, WHRB presents marathon-style musical programs devoted to a single composer, performer, genre, or subject. The New York Times calls them "idealistic and interesting," adding, "the WHRB Orgies represent a triumph of musical research, imagination, and passion."[1]

What magical music--it soothes, it heals, it makes it seem like everything will, finally, be all right.