Of stockmen and stock markets

Stockman's holtelIn an email exchange, a friend who is attending the Cowboy Poetry Festival in Elko Nevada, mentioned that she is staying at the Stockman’s Hotel.

“I’m assuming that’s not a name that was decided on by a marketing agency, so I’m bracing myself for lots of weak coffee, overfluffed potatoes, and modern day stockmen,” she wrote.

Larry replied, “Times have changed. You might find that today’s stockmen drink green tea and go to morning yoga classes.”

On the same day, the NY Times headline read: Continue reading “Of stockmen and stock markets”

Poetry Monday

rainbowHow quickly the weeks roll by! I can remember lying on my great-aunt’s chaise lounge while visiting with my mother. Maybe I was 10.  I watched dust motes sift slowly down in a shaft of sun and thought life would never happen–time was standing still. But now it goes so fast it’s like the old movie image of calendar pages flashing by, dates streaming away in the wind. Which is all a prelude to a poem for Monday. I decided to use one of my own, as we finally had some rain, and in the clarity of an after-rain morning, I remembered this one. Continue reading “Poetry Monday”

More gadgets

I probably could do four or five posts on kitchen gadgets. I have several on eggs alone. For example, here’s Henrietta hen, who makes perfect softboiled eggs:





A little slicer that snips off the top of said egg:
egg topper1_optegg topper2_opt-1





egg separator An egg separator (great for baking with children who want to separate eggs, but can’t quite manage it).  Continue reading “More gadgets”

Two events and a footnote

Jay defeo_optUntil February 3, you have a chance to see the Jay DeFeo retrospective at SF MOMA. She is best know for her gargantuan work, The Rose, a composition layered together over years. This image shows her working on it. But the last paintings, very small and heartbreakingly beautiful were my favorite. She was a painter very interested in space and edges, and though abstract art generally doesn’t move me, hers does. Continue reading “Two events and a footnote”

Sorting through boxes

snowwoman_opt Does everyone have boxes of children’s art, old letters, and other paper memorabilia they’ve saved over the years? I have at least half a dozen of them that I haven’t looked at in decades, and this week I tackled the first one, labeled “Calendars.” From 1976 through 1980 friends and I put together and sold “The Whole Woman Calendar,” a wall calendar with quotes and art by women. It also had little drawings in ink in the margins by my children. The first two years, Simone (a frequent commenter in these pages) did intricate line drawings in black ink.

who_optThe next two years were black and white photographs (mostly by my friend Maureen), and for the final year, the calendar was picked up by a NY publisher, and had full color photographs by a variety of women. The box contained make-ready from various years, ideas, calligraphy, and some original photos. This snow woman is one of my favorites, and I think it went with this poem by David Montfort (we didn’t discriminate against men…don’t they hold up half the sky?). Continue reading “Sorting through boxes”

Talking to the dead

altarWe have a small alter in the living room with photos of the closest group of our beloved dead, parents, my older brother.  I put flowers there daily, and think of them, sometimes talk to them. But this is different than what goes on in the movie, The Sixth Sense, in which a young boy saw dead people, that is physically saw them and spoke with them. Or the TV series, Medium, that was based on the real-life Allison DuBois, in Phoenix, who helps police solve crimes because she sees and speaks to the dead, mostly in dreams, but sometimes just sitting in her kitchen.

Friends and I were talking about this phenomenon and what it could mean. Is it possible for someone to actually see and talk to the dead? We talked about physicists’ current theory that there is no matter–that everything is just energy bumping around and jostling and causing random events–a belief that is also posited in the Secret Oral Teachings of Tibetan Buddhist Sects, by Alexandra David-Neel. If this is true, then pretty much anything is possible–someone could have an unusual sensitivity to that energy stream. In fact, death and life and time and matter are all pretty much up for grabs. The amazing thing is that in this astounding chaos, we are able to build bridges that hold weight, catch planes on an agreed upon schedule, and recognize and cherish our loved ones.

sunflower and corn MRI_optIn any case, we had an interesting evening talking about it. And this morning, I found these animated MRI scans of vegetables (via the Bennington Garden blog) that seem appropriate to this discussion. You might call them, the inner life of vegetables. I especially like the garlic.


Renaissance Man

larry celebrityAside from baseball, bridge, collecting blues and jazz autographs, and having taught me to cook many years ago, before he tiptoed out of the kitchen for several decades, Larry is also the publisher of hit & run press, and has an extensive collection of broadsides–poems printed on oversize sheets of paper for display, often with graphic ornamentation.  He has published many of these.

He also collects others’ broadsides. His most recent acquisition was of three broadsides done of original calligraphy by Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Lew Welch–three of the “beat poets” of the West Coast. They had all studied calligraphy with Lloyd Reynolds at Reed. Steve Jobs also studied with him, and Jobs’ study of calligraphy led to the wealth of fonts he introduced to the computer. Continue reading “Renaissance Man”

No liability

Larry at batAlthough the pros wait until the end of February to start spring training, Larry’s Senior League, the Creakers, has it’s first pickup game today. Larry’s off to test his new bat. With  the warning label in mind, I told him to be careful not to kill anyone.

“Okay,” he replied, “But we have them all sign waivers, you know.”

And with that, the season begins.


Larry’s bat, plus kitchen gadgets

Larry's bat_optLarry’s birthday is coming up and luckily he has bought himself a present, a new Miken Ultra II bat, made of the same composite as the stealth bomber. He doesn’t usually bat left-handed but needed to here, because of the light.

This bat is so powerful that it comes with a warning label that says it is “capable of producing batted ball speeds that present a risk of serious injury or death to players, coaches and spectators.”  Not to mention nagging wives.

In any case, he’s breaking it in for the spring season. Apparently composite bats start out stiff and need to be broken in for resilience and flexibility.  Watch out Creakers!! Continue reading “Larry’s bat, plus kitchen gadgets”

More transcendence

damselfliesAfter the last post, Simone sent me a report on a heron rookery, and it mentioned damsel bugs and dragon flies.  I wasn’t going to post two poems in a row, but the coincidence with this poem and its damselflies was too strong to resist.

I’m not crazy about the beginning, the old “poet looking for a subject” opener, but once it gets going, I like it a lot. That said, my friend and fellow poet likes the opening just fine. And the way  it uses nature is quite different from Mary Oliver’s poem, but the impact just as strong, I think.


I sat, as I do, in the shallows of the lake—
after crawling through the rotting milfoil on the shore.
At first
the materials offered me were not much—

just some cattails where a hidden bullfrog croaked
and a buckhouse made from corrugated tin—

at first I thought I’d have to write the poem of its vapors.
But wait
long enough and the world caves in, Continue reading “More transcendence”

The transcendental poem

Mary OliverThere is a great tradition of poetry that elevates the experience of the natural world to provide a feeling of deep connection to the cycle of life and death. I can think of no better example of this type of poetry than can be found in the early work of Mary Oliver.  Here’s one.  (This poem’s lines are centered on the page in the original, but WordPress won’t do that):

heron risesHeron Rises from the Dark, Summer Pond

So heavy
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings

and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks

of the summer pond,
and slowly
rises into the air
and is gone.

Then, not for the first or the last time,
I take the deep breath
of happiness, and I think
how unlikely it is

that death is a hole in the ground,
how improbable
that ascension is not possible,
though everything seems so inert, so nailed

back into itself—
the muskrat and his lumpy lodge,
the turtle,
the fallen gate.

And especially it is wonderful
that the summers are long
and the ponds so dark and so many,
and therefore it isn’t a miracle

but the common thing,
this decision,
this trailing of the long legs in the water,
this opening up of the heavy body

into a new life: see how the sudden
gray-blue sheets of her wings
strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing
takes her in.

Mary Oliver

If you like this one, I recommend Vultures, Moles, Ice, Crows, and the probably her most famous (but not my favorite!), Wild Geese.

No words needed

Larry battingIt’s not baseball season yet, not even time for spring training, but on TV the other day they were interviewing a new Oakland A’s player, Hiroyuki Nakajima. He’s Japanese, and was speaking through an interpreter.

“How can he play in the majors and not speak English?” I asked Larry.

“Baseball is a game of signs, not words,” he replied, and proceeded to illustrate this with a story from his trip years ago to play baseball in Nicaragua with a group of volunteers called “Beisbol por la Paz.” Continue reading “No words needed”