Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sense Emerging

Light snow overnight. Morning sun. My intent was to capture the size and shape of the tracks of wild turkeys. As I looked, however, I stopped seeing tracks altogether and saw something else...Silhouettes of mourning doves and swallows. Falcons, and parrots flying...if I believed in angels, I probably see them too. 


"...sense emerges like the outline under a rubbing." - William Gass

Saturday, January 22, 2011

No Chain

Cruising along at nearly 20 mph on the road bike...

No chain.


No chain. There's this perfect point on the ride when you no longer feel the push on the pedals. It's effortless, like flying. The road is smooth, the view is beautiful, the bike is running flawlessly, and you feel great, like you could go on forever. Perfect cadence, perfect breathing. You no longer feel the muscles in your legs, and you don't feel the chain.


Lance Armstrong writes about that in one of his books. It's a joke between him and George Hincapie. I guess it's why I ride.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Better than Old Friends

In a van going 85 mph, the driver said...

Trees. I love trees.

Cruising down the highway like this, and getting back to places I haven't been in long time, seeing trees is better than seeing old friends. 

Loblolly pines, slash pines. Magnolias and live oaks. You can know more about what kind of place you're in from the trees than from the people and the maps. If you know your trees, you'll never feel lost.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Brushing My Teeth in Winter

Shared by cousin John as we jogged along the Schuylkill River Trail in East Falls, Philadelphia yesterday in a bitter wind:

The only thing I don't detest about winter is ice-cold tap water. I love how cold the water gets in the pipes.

Brushing my teeth before bed in that cold water coming out of the faucet...I love that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

To Paint Hereabout

"Study of Emile", 1918

To me, the artwork of John Holmgren (1897-1963) captures both the sophistication and the simplicity of the first half of the 20th century.

Holmgren was President of the New York Society of Illustrators during the Second World War.

"Grand Central Station", 1948

His work was used in numerous magazines and advertisements of the era.

While he was still in his 20's, Holmgren started bringing his young family to the village of Freedom, NH for the summer.

"Freedom Village in Autumn"

There's a small exhibit of his work currently on display at the Freedom Public Library that features his paintings, illustrations, and drawings of life in both New York City and Freedom at that time.

Holmgren's daughter, Gail, has lived in Freedom for 40 years.

"Gray Building (Drake's)"

Holmgren himself is buried in one of the village cemeteries under a stone that reads, "He Loved to Paint Hereabout."

The Time Between

Told to me on a blustery night as a rainy Nor'easter rattled the cottage windows...

What I love is that brief timeless and nameless moment between when you are thinking about something that is about to happen, and the instance you become aware that it is actually happening. 

Like when you step into the cold ocean for a swim. The water feels brutal, but you tell yourself you've done it a million times before, and you can do it this time too.

You dive in and the pain takes over as you sputter for breath. You swim like hell for a moment, toward anything that catches your eye, such as a distant buoy. The cold bites in. 

But there's the gentle rock of the waves...and the sun on your face...and a gull gliding over...the voices of kids from the shore...and the slow, rhythmic 'tink' of a pulley on the mast of an tethered sailboat...and, then... realize where you are. You could have been swimming for a minute, or an hour.

It's no longer cold, and you tell yourself, "Hey, I am doing it, despite what I first thought." And right then the moment is over. You're back in reality, anchored again in time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lynnie's Red Coat

On days when the wind isn't too strong, Lynnie walks to the Post Office at the other end of the village.

She's in her 90's now, and the red color helps make sure that drivers see her.

When she sees me, she'll stop and ask the same two questions: "How are the girls?" and then, "How's school?"

The only day she doesn't go to the PO is Sunday, when she walks to church instead. She wears her long wool coat then. It's red, too.

Joe Blog

My neighbor, Joe, is one of those busy guys I usually only see long enough to wave at as he passes by. But thankfully, he keeps a remarkable blog where he documents his travels and also his life at home with an eye that is perceptive, patient, careful, and unique. He's got a certain way of capturing light at a special angle, or grouping objects in a frame that causes one to look more than once. Most of all, he'll find that look on a face that tells you that there's more going on than first meets the eye. Click the picture above to see it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Big Fat Trombone

Onda Vaga. I want this band for my next party.
Of course, that party might have to be in Buenos Aires.

I have a soft spot in my heart for trombone players, having been a not very good one early in life.

All musicians who play in public have to be willing to put one's self out there. But there are few instruments I can think of that require more heart and fearlessness. In other words, trombone players have to be brassy. It's a sound that can't be ignored. And when the trombone solo comes, everyone else has to listen.

The problem is that playing a trombone isn't all that easy. Your lips create the sound. The positions along the slide are merely approximate. Some notes will inevitably be off. But, the notes that are on, to me, are more beautiful than a bell. And no instrument, I dare say, is more fun.

The video was recorded for a series called Take Away Shows. It's a favorite site of mine.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Learning to Twirl and Spin

New Year's Eve, told to me by a friend, age 55:

Skating. I love ice skating.

I'm taking lessons now. I've known how to skate my whole life, but I've always wanted to be able to twirl and spin and dance on the lake where I live, so I'm doing it. I've been going for about 8 months.

You should see me. I'm not very good, but I've got a good teacher. I love it, but I also love the feeling of learning new things. I love doing new things.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Above all Love Project

Is there a difference in how we perceive and express love? Or, is our understanding of love basically the same, no matter who we are and where we are from?

Above All Love is a new blog started by artist Rose Mahanor. She's looking for original submissions - poetry, photographs, artwork, and more - that express the idea of love in various ways. Check it out:

Given the originality in her own artwork, and knowing all the interesting and beautiful ideas she tends to attract, I'm excited to see where this project goes.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cold Milk

Here's something shared by my friend JLH --

I love cold milk. I have always loved milk but not as much as when I lived in Senegal and would have done anything for a large glass of really cold milk. I enjoy milk even more having had that experience. It's just not the same buying it warm from the farmer as he walks by your hut on the way to market.

The Wolof word for milk is "meow". Each night around dusk the farmer would peer over my fence and call " Meow, meow, Dio-Dio ( my Wolof name), Meow, meow, Dio-Dio". It makes laugh thinking about it. Milk and millet makes quite a good dinner, but cold milk is really awesome.

Sometimes you don't know what you love until you are without it.

It's Got that Swing

In "The Never Ending Ball," an interview on the website All About Jazz, the distinguished writer and critic Nat Hentoff discusses giving a talk to some 4th graders in Manhattan about jazz. To start his presentation, Hentoff puts on a recording of George Lewis. Immediately the children get up from their desks and start dancing. The teacher joins in.

Here's some George Lewis now.

I played this recording for my daughter the other day. She said, "Of course they had to dance. It's got that swing."

What Do You Love?

"What Do You Love?" is a question that I sometimes ask of new acquaintances and old friends, too. I’ve gotten some very surprising and touching answers over the years...
"That feeling when the tennis racket strikes the ball just perfectly."
"3000 people dancing."
"Goodnight, Moon."
"A little tree by my kitchen window that was dying until I began watering it every day."
As I look through my list of online friends and email contacts, I'm struck by what creative, thoughtful, and energetic people I've known in my life. You are professional and non-professional artists, musicians, photographers, writers, actors, filmmakers, even circus performers. You are students, parents, gardeners, cooks, educators, builders, pet owners, athletes, soldiers, volunteers, and more…some of you even express yourself through your Facebook posts.
This is a blog about what makes us unique. In other words, what do you love, and why?
First of all, I want you to participate by sharing with me stories or narratives about something you love. It can be simply words, or if you want to add a little music, art, photos, video, movie scenes, poetry, lyrics, blogs, websites, games, recipes, architecture, or whatever else that inspires you, that's OK. Don't just send me a list of your favorite things, you know "whiskers on kittens" and stuff like that. Choose one thing if you can.
Send me links or emails that tell the story of something you love. Explain why it is meaningful to you. For now, message me on Facebook, or send it to:
It should be something that you don't mind having published or republished. With your permission, I may edit some things, and post them on the blog for everyone.
Secondly, you can participate by commenting on what you experience here. Occasionally, I'll post something that inspires me. You can can comment on that, or on what others have shared.
And, if you stumble upon this blog on your own, and you're not a friend yet, you are still invited to share.
Or, you don't have to share anything at all. You're welcome to be here on your own.
A request please…nothing political or polemical. If I get enough help here, I'll share some of your inspiration, and occasionally share some of my own.