Friday 29

Softly and Slowly.

Holiday Celebrate
Holiday Celebrate


If we took a holiday, yeah
Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life
It would be
It would be so nice
Everybody spread the word
We're gonna have a celebration
All across the world
In every nation
It's time for the good times
Forget about the bad times
One day to come together
To release the pressure
We need a holiday


You can turn this world around
And bring back all of those happy days
Put your trouble down
It's time to celebrate
Let love shine
And we will find
A way to come together
And make things better
We need a holiday


Holiday Celebrate
Holiday Celebrate


Thursday 28

Heaven Can Wait. Someone is watching over (out) for me; today I was scheduled to have three half-hour appointments at Reader's Digest to discuss how my company can help them with their printing, personalization and mailing needs; giving them greater value for their money because we can do it all for them in one location (value, value, value); I had one one hour meeting instead, with seven people; they just kept coming into the small conference room; where there was one there were two, then three, four; oh my god, five, six, seven--and I took home five jobs to quote. And I have the four from last week I'll be faxing tomorrow. (say a little prayer for me)

Price or Value? Two Roads Diverge in a Yellow Wood. Or Sleepless in Northampton. According to in business-to-business selling, it is always important to build and sell value and not allow yourself to compete with the rest of the pack on "low price." Salespeople and sales managers who build value for their customers and sell product packages with that value "added-in" commonly make six figure incomes for their efforts and have a much greater sense of self-fulfillment.

  1. When you sell on the lowest price basis, you build little or no customer loyalty. Face it. They are buying from you because you are offering them the lowest price on what they need. NOT because they value what you are doing.
  2. Selling for the lowest price means that your margins are razor thin, your profits slim to none and you commission checks small--a great formular for starving yourself and your company.
  3. When you sell on lowest price instead of best value, you will be dealing with a class of customer that will make your days long and bitter and your nights sleepless.

Customers really should be partners, not adversaries who are trying to squeeze every penny of profit out of my side of the transaction. In sales (and we are all in sales), learning how you want to do business and who you want to do business with are the most important lessons of all.

Okay, I got that out of my system. On the way home from Reader's Digest I stopped in Kingston, New York to introduce myself to the painter Julie Hedrick; alas she was not at home--but I left a note saying Bruce from BirchLane was here.

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In the evening I called Letitia (for the first time) and talked about the next issue of BirchLane. She is going to be my co-editor. I am very excited about this and believe she will add a dimension and vision that will improve the journal's integrity as a vehicle of artistic expression.

Wednesday 27

Seeing and Listening.

Listen my child with the ear of you heart.

--Jewish Shema

The benefit of seeing...can come quickly if you pause a while, extricate yourself from the maddening mob of quick impressions ceaselessly battering our lives, and look thoughtfully at a quiet image...the viewer must be willing to pause, to look again, to meditate......the camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.

--Dorothea Lange

Danielle woke with a swollen eye. I drove her to school. During her final exams, the teacher asked "is it too bright in here?" She wore black sunglasses. I took her to the doctor and he said it was not infected; the venum, thanks to gravity, first infects the area of the bite, then travels down; thus, the swollen and somewhat black eye. Before work, I read Miriam's work for one hour, delighting in her observations and sense of humor. And then I thought about seeing and listening. Yesterday, I wrote a short letter to a friend about how she inspired me to pick up a camera after so many years of neglect and how I found that quote above to be so true: "the camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera," and of course to see better with a camera--and, I think, to listen, too.

And this reminded me of John Cage:

If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.

Which is more musical: a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?

There are people who say, "If music's that easy to write, I could do it." Of course they could, but they don't. I find Feldman's own statement more affirmative. We were driving back from some place in New England where a concert had been given. He is a large man and falls asleep easily. Out of a sound sleep, he awoke to say, "Now that things are so simple, there's so much to do." And then he went back to sleep.

And what is the purpose of writing music? One is, of course, not dealing with purposes but with sounds. Or the answer must take the form of a paradox: a purposeful purposelessness or a purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life—not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the very life we're living, which is so excellent once one gets one's mind and one's desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.

Tuesday 26

Why am I Here? I woke up this morning and saw a beautiful photograph of Katharine and James, which reminded me of Betsy and I when we were "young and in love" and made me ask "why am I here in Northampton and not in Cape Hatteras?" So I spent a lot of time here this morning finding creative inspiration.

After a fairly successful day work-wise (I scheduled three new appointments at Reader's Digest for this Thursday), I worked in my gardens; weeding and planting; I planted 8 pickling cucumber plants, 6 jalepeno plants, 6 Big John Bell Pepper plants, 12 more basil plants, more zinnas, marigolds, and other assorted flowers--and I bought a hanging cherry tomato plant.

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Peppers coming soon.

When I picked up Danielle today at Katie's house, her forehead looked like she had got hit--hard--with a softball; it was a bug bite. We called the doctor and they said to put ice on it and take benadryl; she did. The swelling went down but an hour later her right eye puffed up and started to close--and the ice and benadryl didn't seem to be working. Despite the swelling, we had a lovely dinner on our front porch; I made chicken/sun-dried tomato/basil sausage and salad. She fell to sleep on the couch studying for her last two finals tomorrow; I fell to sleep reading on the love-seat.

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Monday 25

Fretting (needlessly). Last night at dinner Danielle didn't want her picture taken and today I worried all morning about the transfer of BirchLane--needlessly.

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Sunday 24

The Third Ear. A Sunday meditation:

We "listen with a third ear" to the quiet movements of the emotional/intuitive depths in us, knowing that feedback from our entire organism is more trustable than the limited, one-sided reactions of the waking self.    
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness,
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

T.S. Eliot

The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard spoke of his own spiritual evolution in the following manner: "As my prayer became more attentive and inward I had less and less to say. I finally became completely silent. I started to listen -- which is even further removed from speaking. I first thought that praying entailed speaking. I then learnt that praying is hearing, not merely being silent. This is how it is, to pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking. Prayer involves becoming silent, and being silent, and waiting until God is heard."

Saturday 23

Unsung Here. At a New England soccer tournament at UMASS, Danielle gets a round of applause from her teammates (and parents) when she shows up on the field, and parents tell me how much the team relies upon her for inspiration. And this, below, from today's newspaper.

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Friday 22

The Outer Banks. Man has attempted to draw a line and prevent the sea from passing. The results have been unexpected and negative.

......a chain of barrier islands that juts more than twenty miles into the Atlantic Ocean off North Carolina......In the continental United States no stretch of coastline except Florida is more vulnerable to hurricanes and northeast storms than the Outer Banks, the belly of the eastern seaboard that curls out just south of the Chesapeake Bay......Known to mariners for three hundred years as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, the Hatteras coast bears scars from storms that have flattened dunes and gouged new inlets in a single day......unusually severe erosion on the Outer Banks, especially on Hatteras Island just north of Rodanthe......Seismic readings have indicated that Rodanthe sits near the edge of the Pleistocene rock that forms the foundation of Cape Hatteras and the shoals offshore. Because the rock is unusually close to the surface here, the layer of sand and peat that covers it is unusually thin. As a result of this and other factors, the beach at Rodanthe is migrating more quickly than other portions of the cape, and the rate of erosion is unusually high.

"Hatteras Journal," Jan Deblieu (John F. Blair, Publisher, pp '98)

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Our house (rental) in Rodanthe.

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Looking North from our house in Rodanthe.

Betsy and Daryl have left for Rodanthe today (a 14 hour drive from Northampton). Danielle and I are staying at home; she has final exams, a soccer tournament, and staff orientation for her summer job with the recreation department--I need to work. For the past 12 or 13 years years Betsy's family has had a reunion at Cape Hatteras and we have rented this house, I think, for past four years. But the beach is disappearing and they will be staying in a different house this summer (with hot-tub, pool table, and swimming pool; why am I here in Northampton!!!.)

The violence of Hatteras weather and the instability of its inlets combined to discourage settlement on the cape for more than four hundred years. With the exception of the Croatoan Indians, a small tribe that lived in the vine-filled woods west of Cape Point, the Indians came of the coastal plain came to the Outer Banks only occasionally to hunt and fish. By 1525 the North Carolina coast had been charted by Spanish explorers and visited by an Italian navigator, Giovanni da Verrazzano, who mistook Pamlico Sound for a wide seas that stretched to the Orient. But before Sir Walter Raleigh financed an expedition in 1584, no country had laid claim to the land.

In 1587 two British ships set sail for the North Amercian coast, carrying 150 men, their families, and enough supplies to build a small permanent settlement. The expedition was led by John White, a noted artist whose detalied etchings of the Indians, plants, and animals of the Carolinas provided the British with some of their first glimpses of the New World. White's planswere to stop at Roanoke only long enough to pick up about fifteen soldiers stationed there at a small British fort...But when the expedition reached Roanoke Island in late July, the admiral of the ships refused to sail on...White and the colonists were abruptly set ashore on Roanoke Island and left to fend for themselves. They found the fort leveled and a single skelton nearby--the only remains of fifteen soldiers.

As the colonists constructed small log houses and learned the tricks of gathering food...At least two of the settlers were pregnant, including White's daughter, Elenor, the wife of Ananias Dare. On August 18 Elenor gave birth to a girl, Virginia--the first English child born on American soil.

"Hatteras Journal"

Thursday 21

working on this:

Green Beans

She carried Tolstoy's book and cried in the motel
bathroom where crying happens, for months
we had been learning and writing
and by May or June her eyes
perfect and perfect memory
haunts in a tiled room eyes bleed
black sky
clear water
and white
it is
this way of seeing, light
from a constellation, blinding
while I waited halfway across
the country searching the stars and the sky
for that tearful sign I called out in the dark wet haze
Leo, Capricorn, Orion you who
are never there again when I
look I see roses blooming
in the backyard memory tells me
this her sigh pictures a landscape
with mirror image and I saw growing
in the old sandbox green beans and
this brought tears to my eyes

Wednesday 20

I am on the train heading for New York City. I am reading. Today, I would rather be listening to music. Yesterday, when I drove to New York in my rental car (my Honda Civic is in the auto body shop having the bear dents and bear hair removed) I listened to music the entire three hour drive: Beth Orton "Central Reservation;"  Dido "No Angel;" 10,000 Maniacs "mtv unplugged;" Catie Curtis "A Crash Course in Roses;" Cheri Knight "The Northeast Kingdom;" and Frank Sinatra "Live in Paris." Last night at 11:30 I took Daisy for a walk around Birch Lane; Angi's remarks fresh in my mind; the sky was filled with stars and I thought that I had not been out for a walk this late in days, since Saturday, and what a beautiful time to be out and about on our street in the quiet night. In New York City today I saw the senior art projects at Parsons School of Design and was very moved by a few of the projects that I had the opportunity to critique in the Fall; how they developed into challenging works of art: let's keep our eyes and ears open for more from Soojin Choi, Lena Dolata, Carlos Cazalis and Ozlem Parker. Lunch with Ann; we discuss her new business venture and my vision for BirchLane--wonderful time, as always. Then off to the internet cafe to get that name of the magazine Heather and mirrorproject are featured in; alas, no newsstand in New York City seems to have a copy (Heather must be very famous). An appointment with the president of a large sales promotion company (a friend); alas, again, they do not buy printing. Before I catch the train home, I stop for a drink at the Wet Bar.

Tuesday 19

Truth of the Present Moment.

Wow! I am showered with blessings. First family. And friends. And greetings that come from friends. I had two excellent appointments today at Reader's Digest. And between the two appointments, I had one hour to myself; I read Helena's new essay and the sample lesson from Siddha, which talks about the truth of the present moment. The writer says "the only power we really have, the power of free will, which we can exercise in the present moment only...We don't have free will over the stage props, the karmic circumstances...what we have free will in relation to is our inner experiences of everything--our attitude, our approach to things."

My lunch date from last Friday suggested that a worthwhile exercise is to write a list of all the people who have been part of your life, who have helped you to grow. She said you could start anywhere: birth or last week; what is important is see how/when these people came into your life and what happened.  I haven't written this list yet, but I intend to do so; but I think first this evening of Betsy, my wife, and then my children, Danielle and Daryl, and then Heather Anne, and Katharine, and Jouke, and Jennifer, and Letitia, and Paul, and Helena, and Alaina, and Terry, and Dennis, and Tom, and Heather, and Amber, and Judith, and Mitsu, and Yen, and Alysha, and Caternia, and Pat, and John, and Stacy, and Ann, and Laura, Linda, and today, Angi, a woman in Germany to whom I sent BirchLane because I read her LiveJournal and found her words inspiring and peaceful, I  thought she, too, might find inspiration, like the author from Atlanta, Tara, in BirchLane, and Angi writes:

i walked down birch lane today...

and it was the most wonderful walk of thought that i've had in so long.

bruce's zine was a gift out of nowhere... some kind of light, some kind of hope, some kind of treasure.

when i walked in the door today, i just wanted to come down from it all... i was feeling tired, worn and used by the day. it wasn't a bad day, just one of those days that takes every little bit of energy out of you. a day when you simply need to step outside for a moment, and recollect.

and then this gift...

i grabbed a cup of coffee, a cigarette and walked with the dog down to the stream... finding the birch tree. the evening sun was slowing drawing the curtain, taking it's bow... reflecting the warmth and light it's been hiding over the days and days. it was like it was waiting for this moment, saving itself for this moment and me under the tree.

i read the words, i embraced the photos... familiar and new.

it was something strong, something humbling... something awakening.

bruce, thank you for walking me down birch lane.

thank you

Thank You, Angi. Thank You.

Monday 18

Depth Perception.

DepthPerception.jpg (12783 bytes)

"Depth Perception," by Julie Hedrick, 1999, oil on canvas, 79 x 96 in.

Ten thousand beaded tears across the plain
from these lips
seeds against the wind
painted earth in red to match my blood
I am like a blind sail talking to the dead
and like the wind that whips the salt from your eyes
where will you be when the sky turns yellow
when did the dreaming stop

"Poppies" Julie Hedrick

Sunday 17

Father's Day.

Rain. All day. But more joy. And I watch "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" three times: first in the afternoon with Betsy; while I cook dinner with Daryl; and then at night with Danielle. And I read a moving tribute to a dad here.

Saturday 16


Today was such a wonderful day. I am blessed. First, I woke to find a touching e-mail waiting for me in my in-box. An author in Atlanta writes to say she takes "creative energy from BirchLane," and I share her kind note with my family. Later, Daryl and I attend the Bar Mitzvah for his friend, Sean. It was a moving service and his dad read the following poem by Rudyard Kipling which he said was displayed in the hallway at the newspaper his family owned in Capetown, South Africa.

If you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good or talk too wise:

If you can dream and not make dreams your master;
If you can think and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear the words you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a man, my son

The service ended and we went over to their house for a party. A number of people spoke on Sean's behalf: his sister, mom, old friends from South Africa, and his dad, who read the following:

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?”  Actually, who are you not to be?   You are a child of God.  Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.   There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us.   It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
– Nelson Mandela – 1994 Inaugural Speech

Friday 15

Fair Bianca. And an Epiphany.

'Fair Bianca' is an English Rose. It was developed by David Austin and introduced into trade in 1983. The parentage was not recorded. This cultivar is named after Bianca, the sweet sister of Katharina, the shrew, in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.

Unlike many of the English Roses, the pure white blossoms of 'Fair Bianca' cut well and last in both arrangements and bouquets. 100 English Roses for the American Garden by Clair Martin says, "One commercial grower uses this cultivar for the cut-flower trade - it is cut in the bud stage and shipped all over the country. Removed in this way, the blooms open slowly and last particularly long."

'Fair Bianca' is a small rose that works very well, design-wise, in small gardens and also grows well in pots. The small snow white blooms have an old fashioned quality remininscent of heirloom roses. 'Fair Bianca' opens into shallow cups that are full of many petals. The stems are full of small, fine thorns and a green button eye is at the centered of the perfumed, silky, white cups. The scent is like myrrh and a soft hint of lemon.

And my first Fair Bianca of this year bloomed today.

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It felt wonderfully satisfying  to see this in the backyard when I got home today; I have struggled with my rose bushes for the past few years--a few infact have died. This year, however, looks to be a great showing; who knows why; I prunned as always, fertilized, and water (they don't like wet feet at night).

But more bloomed today than roses in my yard. I had a wonderful luncheon appointment with a business prospect, a manager of advertising and promotions for a major American financial institution. We went to eat at a small restaurant run by volunters from local churches; I had a delicious Thai Shrimp Salad. As soon as we sat down, she began to talk about spiritual growth and change. She told me of an epiphany (Websters Dictionary defines epiphany as "a manifestation of a spiritual nature, or a moment of profound insight; an extraordinary event...") she had in 1987 about careers and fulfillment, life, and then the search she took for greater an deeper personal enlightenment. (aside; all my business meetings are not of this nature; earlier in the morning at another major financial institution I had a great meeting but the talk was of golf).

My new friend told me about her practice of Siddha Yoga Meditation. She told me all about the home study course she has been taking for six years.

"This course is a course on opening the heart, and learning to truly see, hear, understand, and relate most openly to others, while maintaining a genuine love for our own Self. The course represents a birth into a greater life. It is a vehicle for the shakti of the Siddha Yoga lineage and it makes it possible for us to receive, in the form of the printed word, the instructions and suggestions necessary for our development right here and now in this modern world. This course is yours to have and to refer to for the rest of your life. You are invited to try it, just to see for yourself what happens. If what you have read here resonates with you, chances are good that you will enjoy this course. Your own experience is the only way you will know the Truth about this or anything else."

-from the Introduction to
In Search of the Sel

An excerpt from a sample lesson:

Everything that we are looking for, all our highest goals, are to be found in the present moment. And they can only be found in the present moment. They can never be found "later." God is not going to be any more later than he already is now. The Self is not going to be any more, Consciousness is not going to be any more. It's already everything it will ever be right now. This is the simple secret to this seemingly vast mystery. Yet the essence of this truth is too refined for the mind of the ordinary person to grasp, and its significance remains generally unrecognized.

The only thing that can stop the momentum, reverse the pattern, is the activation of will and application of will in the moment. Not Oh, that's a good idea; maybe tomorrow I will try that -- but in the moment. You've heard the expression It's now or never? Well, interestingly, this is true for most things. We just don't realize we have the choice to do it now, if we activate will.

This brings up a very powerful phrase -- a mantra, if you will -- that can be used to activate will. It's three simple words: Do it now. These three words can change your life, because there is a certain way that we can go through life with the very best intentions, yet never doing anything about them -- just because we never actually do it. It can become a good habit, a positive samskara -- all the things that we do naturally without thinking about them that are good for us. These are samskaras, too, but I don't usually talk about them this way. We can develop this positive samskara, this beneficial habit, of being able to say, and act on, Do it now.

A great attitude is developed when we are consistently aware of what we can feel gratitude for. Look at all the ways God has so generously taken care of us, all the great gifts he has given us. Instead of going through life saying Why me? What did I do to deserve this? we can say, in amazement, Wow, what did I do to deserve this? We can see our life, as it is, from a greatly expanded perspective: What did I do to deserve such a great life? Why has God showered me with all these blessings? How have I become so fortunate?

Everything we experience and perceive originates within our own consciousness.

She also challenged me to set some specific goals for BirchLane. Tonight, I see this site continuing as a place of memory and thought--my journal/notebook/sketchpad; I want to continue publishing BirchLane, the journal, edited by me and sometimes have a co-editor and possibly a guest editor; I also envision a publishing arm to all this, a BirchLane imprint, and publish journals/zines devoted to one poet, one photographer, one essayist, etc.

Thursday 14

Antique Roman Dishes.


Let's make one thing clear: our house on Birch Lane is not air-conditioned. It is one of those many "things" we should have done when the house was being built; roll the cost right on into the mortgage; the cost is now probably prohibitive--but I will have to investigate the cost; when I am not in New York City, I am working from home; 2-3 days a week; and when the inside temperature climbs near and often above 80 degrees, there is simply no way to get comfortable; dressed or undressed.

Tonight it is HOT. What we do to help to try to keep cool (keep our cool) is this: open all the windows at night (if it is not raining; that's another problem) and then close all the windows first thing in the morning; lower all the blinds and shades and pray our dog, Daisy, does not die from the heat. And then early evening open all the windows once again. They are now opened. The leaves are still. The yard is in a black haze. And Daryl and Tim just cooked three Antique Roman Dishes for their school Social Studies class. Well, they helped and I cooked. I had everything prepared; the mixing bowls out, the measuring cups placed in the bowls, the measuring spoons, the chicken cut, the leeks, cilantro, and dill washed, the oven on (oh, god, it is hot), the frying pan out, the griddle out, the butter softened. Daryl got home from soccer tryouts at 8:30. Tim arrived. And then the fun began. We made three dishes as listed above and threw one away into the garbage. It seems like just yesterday I was cooking three Chinese dishes for Danielle to bring to school (Iron Pot eggs--very yummy; Spring Rolls; and Tamago-Yaki; a favorite of mine and--ok, Japanese really, a sweet rolled omelet, but what 10th grader would know).

And we're all wondering if the injured bear is out lurking on Birch Lane.

Oh, dear reader (all two or three of you), if you would like the recipes, e-mail me.

Wednesday 13

It's all good. Not.

...Stephen Cope, the author of "Yoga and the Quest for the True Self," explained by telephone lastw eek that he often hears the phrase ("It's all good.") in the halls of the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, where he is the senior scholar-in-residence. Cope said that although he believes Americans often need a corrective to an embedded Puritan world view--which might be characterized as "It's all bad, especially you"--the phrase does, nonetheless, raise his hackles. "There is a way in which that mantra can lead to a fatalistic view of life, and can leave out the incredible power of choice," he said. The first time Cope heard the expression was shortly after he arrived at Kripalu, twelve years ago. "My car had broken down in the middle of a nor'easter, and I ended up having to walk home through the storm and got pneumonia," he said. "I remember someone proposed to me the notion that this was all good, and I definitely had a reaction to it: it is not good being sick, and it would have been good if I had a cell phone. The only thing that is definitely all good all the time is anything that comes in a blue box from Tiffany."

The New Yorker, Talk of the Town, 6/11, Rebecca Mead

As I typed "Rebecca Mead" above, Danielle came running into the house, crying hysterically, screaming, "Mom. Dad. Mom. Dad. Help. I was in an accident. I hit a bear." Definitely not good.

Black bears are large-bodied animals that have a small, narrow head, powerful limbs, and small ears. Bears in the Northeast typically are entirely black with a brown muzzle and, occasionally, a small white chest patch. Adult females weigh 100-180 pounds whereas adult males are larger, at 150-300 pounds. The existing state record (dressed weight) for a male black bear in Massachusetts is 467 pounds (or greater than 550 pounds live weight). Black bears have 5 toes, each with a well-developed claw, on both front and hind feet, and teeth adapted for feeding on both plant and animal matter.

And this from our local paper:

Wednesday, June 6, 2001 -- Don't feed the bears.

That admonition - a staple for years in our state and national parks - is becoming good advice for residents of Northampton.

Sightings of bears, which have become common at this time of year, have hit a new level this season, raising questions about how best to deal with the hungry bruins. Bears are more abundant now in this area than they have been in a century, so there is no model for how to best co-exist. We are seeing more bears than ever because there are more bears than ever. Rapid growth of about 9 percent a year has pushed the state's bear population to 2,000.

I thanked God she was okay. I put my arms around her and we hugged and I told her it was okay. And then after a minute of hugging, I laughed; and she laughed, too. A bear! Danielle was returning from the local newspaper office where she had her photo taken for being named a lacrosse all-star. One hundred feet before our street an adult black  bear ran out from the woods and collided with my green Honda Civic (recently repaired from a different accident), which sustained damage on the front hood and entire passenger side. The bear wandered back into the woods. The police came. And then we went to her lacrosse banquet at Look Park.

Tuesday 12


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

Not quite so dramatic but; And it did make a difference: I did take the road less travelled and it did make all the difference. I am driving home to Massachusetts from New York City on a country road looking for photographs to take; not to take but to share; I am driving through the counties named Putnam, Duchess, Columbia; the names like train stops along the way home to Birch Lane; "All Aboard for Duchess County. All those going to Duchess County, all aboard. Last stop Columbia." But I am not on a train; I am in my car driving past antique stores, holsteins grazing on rolling green hillsides, red tractors moving slowly through fields of dirt, clouds lifting from the wheels, trailing behind up and away, at first full and dark, then faint and light, like a dirty blanket being shaken above the plowed field; and there are grapes and farm houses, red, white and brown; barns and silos and then there on the left side of the road I see a sign, not from God, but from--who--the road less travelled led me here, to this place, to this store in Millerton, New York, to the home of Aperture, publishers of fine art/photography books. I slam down on my breaks, make a u-turn, park my car, and enter this little shop of heaven. I buy a book for a friend and leave the good people in the bookstore with copy of BirchLane, the zine.

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Baby in the backyard, Weehawken, NJ

I was in New York for an appointment with the president of the company I work for. He had scheduled this for the two of us. It was an excellent meeting/lunch and work will come from it, but more importantly, I had the opportunity to hear him lament the state of business ethics; he asked how can a ceo who is making millions of dollars have the nerve to lay-off thousands and thousands of people in an effort to improve his bottom-line. I was happy to hear him talk.

And when I got home there was a postcard from my friend, Susanne Stewart, announcing her Artist Reception, for new paintings.

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Cheesecake, 1999, oil on canvas, 11 x 14

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Monday 11

Raining Cats and Dogs. It is dark and stormy as I write this; a June early evening thunderstorm. And I was wondering where/how that saying "raining  cats and dogs" originated:

We're going to rely a little on the writer, Christine Ammer, who has produced a marvelous book called, fortuitously, "It's Raining Cats and Dogs and Other Beastly Expressions" (Paragon, 1988). The first verified use of "raining cats and dogs" was in 1738 by Jonathan Swift (of "Gulliver's Travels" fame), though there were earlier versions of the phrase.

Why would cats and dogs be a metaphor for a heavy downpour? According to Ms. Ammer, it may have been because in Northern European myths the cat stood for rain and the dog for wind. Or perhaps the clamor of a full-tilt thunderstorm reminded someone of the sound of cats and dogs fighting.

It's also possible that the phrase is a grisly reference to the fact that, as Ms. Ammer puts it, "In 17th century Britain, after a cloudburst the gutters would overflow with a filthy torrent that included dead animals...." That's a bit too grim for my taste, so I'm going to stick with the bit about cats and dogs symbolizing wind and rain. As any teacher will tell you, the first step in creative writing is always to edit your own reality.

and this:

Before the modern days of houses with roofs as we know them, houses had thatched roofs. This consisted of thick straw that was piled high, and there was no wood underneath. It happened to be the only place where animals could get warm. All the pets in the house — cats, dogs and other small animals along with mice, rats and other bugs — lived in the roof. When it rained, the straw became slippery causing the animals to slip and fall off the roof. That's where the saying "raining cats and dogs" comes from!

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And sometimes after a thunderstorm on Birch Lane, a Rainbow brightens our day:

Sunday 10

A Beautiful Day on BirchLane.

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5:30 a.m.: birds singing: cardinals, bluejays, crows, sparrows; and sunshine calls, too; first blinding in its complete whiteness--then sky blue and grass and woods green, lush, weeping with delight. Children's Sunday at Edwards Church; Daryl reads aloud to the congregation. Daryl leads the children in their "Gospel Lessons and Reenactments." After we sing "I Love To Tell The Story," he says "that is one of my favorite hymns." And she says, the little girl standing on her tippy toes, straining to reach the mircrophone, "Tell us some stories about children." And he says "this is one of my favorites" and he tells us three children's  bible stories. Worked on new poem; Home Plate. Then color film developed (more mirrorproject photos like this one here

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and photo of house this morning pictured above); black and white film purchased. Treat Daryl to lunch at Burger King; bad taste in mouth rest of day. A note from Amber about a possible trip east from California makes my day. Rake weeded garden beds; plant basil and tomato plants; zinnias and marigolds; sage. Barbeque at Candice's (and Don's) house in Amherst for Remy who graduated from high school this week. Candice being friend from junior high school with whom I just reconnected. Both modern dancers; he a former football player. And before bed a few pages from Primo Levi's If Not Now, When?  It begins:

"In my village there weren't many clocks. One on the church steeple, but it had stopped years and years ago, maybe during the Revolution. I never saw it working, and my father said he hadn't either. Not even the bell ringer had a clock."

"So how was he able to ring the bells at the right time?"

"He would listen to the time on the radio, and he would judge by the sun and the moon. For that matter, he didn't ring every hour, only the important ones. Two years before the war began, the bell rope broke. It snapped near the top; the stiars were rotten; the bell ringer was an old man, and he was afraid to climb up there and put in a new rope. So after that he announced the time be shooting a hunting rifle into the air; one shot, or two or three or four. That went on till the Germans came. They took his gun away from him, and the village was left without any time."


Saturday 09

For Amber (you are right):

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River Edge, NJ

Friday 08

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Hoboken, NJ

Thursday 07

Photographs and Wallpaper.

The exhibition, "Rooms with a View: Landscape & Wallpaper"  (through October 14, 2001) at the Cooper-Hewitt is simply wonderful, beautiful--a must see--bringing together a remarkable spectrum of European and American wallpapers that reflect our desire to bring nature indoors.

When I was a kid, one of my great pleasures was walking "into" the wallpaper and imagining myself among the forms, completing their story. I always sensed wallpaper was something beyond mere decoration.

-Elizabeth Murray

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Detail of El Dorado, 1849, Zuber

For more than three centuries, from French estates to American suburbs, changing cultural attitudes toward the landscape have been reflected in this medium. In the 18th century, when wallpaper was an expensive luxury and the wealthy were fascinated with Italy and the ancient world, wallpapers depicted idealized landscapes, featuring pastoral imagery and classical ruins. A common subject in the 18th century, landscape became the aesthetic obsession of the 19th. People travelled to natural wonders, wrote about the landscape, made it the subject of paintings, and covered their walls with images of it. The wallpaper of the 19th century created large-scale scenic papers, small postcardlike views, and elaborately framed scenery to fit the budgets and tastes of a wide range of consumers. In the 20th century, abstracted landscapes prevalied, following the trends in fine art and design.

--from the museum exhibition catalog

I was moved by Mary Ellen Mark's retrospective at ICP.

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On the wall at the exhibition was this Maya Angelou poem:

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England's moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

And the day began with a phone call from my friend, Anezka, who sends me this e-mail after we say goodbye:

Thank the goddesses of invention for the connected world. Thank the ties of old friendship for sharing the wonders of reflection. Yes, the hung head of Daryl and the little round mirror (plus story) really made me laugh. And yes, the fact that you are my friend continues to enrich my soul and eyes. Thanks to the goddesses we are still part of each other's lives. Anezka

MFA in Design and Technology show 66 Fifth Avenue and 2 West 13th Galleries. Check out Carlos Cazalis' surround show of bullfighting. Hugo Espinosa's digital video museum portraits. Ozlem Parker's kiosk and the Animation loops at the 66 Fifth Ave gallery, too.

Thank you, Anezka.

Wednesday 06

Make it Beautiful. And the Botany of Desire.

Driving to New York City today I receive a phone call from Susan (pictured below/Tuesday). She said it was great to hear my voice, which got me thinking about "voice:" our imprint, our fingerprint, our sound. What is it about "voice" that can open the doors of memory? And does it relate to the voice of the written word?

I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may--light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.

John Constable

There was a fascinating interview on Fresh Air today; Terry Gross talked Michael Pollan about his new book, The Botany of Desire.

......the garden suddenly appeared before me in a whole new light, the manifold delights it offered to the eye and nose and tongue no longer quite so innocent or passive. All these plants, which I’d always regarded as the objects of my desire, were also, I realized, subjects, acting on me, getting me to do things for them they couldn’t do for themselves.

And that’s when I had the idea: What would happen if we looked at the world beyond the garden this way, regarded our place in nature from the same upside-down perspective? This book attempts to do just that, by telling the story of four familiar plants—the apple, the tulip, cannabis, and the potato—and the human desires that link their destinies to our own. Its broader subject is the complex reciprocal relationship between the human and natural world, which I approach from a somewhat unconventional angle: I take seriously the plant’s point of view......

The interview centered mostly on pot and one idea I found interesting was the importance of fogetting; a doctor from Israel, interviewed by Pollen, talked about how forgetting was as important as remembering. Pot's chemcial components allow, for example, cancer patients to "forget" their pain; additionally, Pollen talked about this "forgetting" (or intense focusing) in relationship to peak performance, religious experience, etc.

Tuesday 05

Memory = Photos/Words.

Someone recently told me that memory is life; memory tells me I am alive; and tonight I thinking about a few old photographs/friends:

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Anna Maria

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Monday 04

The Proof. I hold the proof for BirchLane in my hands and I think:

Thank You

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Thank You, Terry.

Beauty. Emerson said:

The production of a work of art throws a light upon the mystery of humanity. A work of art is an abstract or epitome of the world. It is the result or expression of nature, in miniature. For although the works of nature are innumerable and all different, the result or the expression of them all is similar and single. Nature is a sea of forms radically alike and even unique. A leaf, a sunbeam, a landscape, the ocean, make an analogous impression on the mind. What is common to them all--that perfectness and harmony, is beauty.

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May 30 on Birch Lane

Sunday 03

The Holy Grail.

"Let's not go to Camelot; it is a silly place."

Daryl and I are watching "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." We are laughing. But I am also thinking about the poems I heard read this morning at church. I haven't been able to get the poems and the experience of hearing them read out of my mind. The first Sunday in June is usually "Clarke School Sunday" at Edwards Church in Northampton.

Clarke has long been known as a world leader in educating hearing-impaired children. For more than 130 years the school's pioneering auditory/oral programs have taught deaf and hard of hearing children to listen and talk. The school was founded as the first oral school by the strong advocacy of a parent who wanted his deaf daughter to learn to talk. The mission remains the same today: teaching deaf and hard of hearing children to listen and talk and enter the mainstream with their hearing peers. From the days when Alexander Graham Bell taught at Clarke School to the emergence of newest technology, such as state-of-art computers and cochlear implants, Clarke, located in Northampton near Smith College, has been in the forefront of auditory/oral education. What struck me, moved me, was the will to create, to speak. Two young women, age 14, Clarke students, reading their poems to us in the congregation. Daryl and I turn to each other, tears welling in our eyes, and say without speaking  this is beautiful, this is wonderful.

The Holy Grail. Robert A. Johnson, the noted lecturer and Jungian analyst, author of numerous books, writes in HE:

The Grail castle is always that close (a short way). The Grail castle is always just down the road and a turn to the left. If anyone is humble enough and of good heart, he can find that interior castle.

Saturday 02

The Beginning and The End. This is Saturday at 8:30 in the morning: five twelve-year-olds boys and me driving 45 minutes in the pouring rain to a soccer game; listening to The Offspring and Nirvana, Jay Z and Nelly and, yes, Faith Hill. Loud. And they are all singing. They get out of the car and I change the radio station and hear:

When your mother sends back all your invitations
And your father to your sister he explains
That you're tired of yourself and all of your creations
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

Now when all of the flower ladies want back what they have lent you
And the smell of their roses does not remain
And all of your children start to resent you
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

Now when all the clowns that you have commissioned
Have died in battle or in vain
And you're sick of all this repetition
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

When all of your advisers heave their plastic
At your feet to convince you of your pain
Trying to prove that your conclusions should be more drastic
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

Now when all the bandits that you turned your other cheek to
All lay down their bandanas and complain
And you want somebody you don't have to speak to
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?
Won't you come see me, Queen Jane?

Later, Daryl has a party for 20 friends--20 private school friends. Daryl goes to public school but these are friends from a local private school; it is where he went to slow dance the day after his appendictimy. That girl is coming tonight; the girl he slowed dance with--Della, daughter of the poet Ellen Dore Watson. But here is a photo of when he really was young and still innocent:

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Friday 01

A Good Start. I had a particularly good day today. I woke up and waiting for me were the jpeg files from Helena for BirchLane the zine. Here's one of many I like:

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I spent the morning at the kitchen table with b/w copies of all the photos for BirchLane, copies of the poems, a scissor, tape and put my first issue together. It was quite exciting and I was reminded of when I worked at Hearst Magazines and the current issue was always tacked to the wall. Later I brought the dummy and the disc to the printer to resize and place all the photos and copy. And I made phone calls and got two big appointments this coming week.