April 18, 2014
Despite my good intentions, my painting has been derailed for some time. Life intervened, and making art fell to the wayside. Thank goodness for friends whose support jumpstarted me into picking up a paintbrush once again. I was invited to tag along one of their regular weekly painting get-togethers. We met at Jello Mold Farm to paint and enjoy a picnic lunch.
How satisfying it was to put brush to paint and make a sketch. I resolved once again to make watercolor painting a higher priority in my life. Here are my new (resurrected) rules for living:
1. Begin again.
2. Take small steps.
3. Be prolific.
4. Slow down.
5. Enjoy the process.
6. Welcome mistakes.
7. Fail better
Here are some words of encouragement and advice from David Bayles and Ted Orland from Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Art Making:
“For most artists, making good art depends on making lots of art,” and
“In time, exploration gives way to expression.”
April 18, 2014
National Poetry Month. 18
“Poetry, to a poet, is the most rewarding work in the world. A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape and significance of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.”
– Dylan Thomas, “On Poetry,” from Quite Early One Morning
April 17, 2014
National Poetry Month. 17
by Mary Cornish, from Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, ed. Billy Collins
I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.
I like the domesticity of addition –
add two cups of milk and stir –
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.
And multiplication’s school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.
Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrows take away two,
the two in someone else’s
There’s an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.
And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.
Three boys beyond their mothers’ call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn’t anywhere you look.
April 17, 2014
” . . . is there anything like a perfect April morning? . . . It is youth and hope. It is a new earth and a new sky.”
– John Burroughs, from A Sharp Lookout: Selected Nature Essays of John Burroughs, edited by Frank Bergon
“One of the best-tempered spring days I ever experienced. Perfect in every respect. Neither hot nor cold; no spring languor on the one hand, and no chill on the other. The air was simply delicious, and the whole body of it softened and tempered with warmth. There were no raw, cold streaks in it. The warmth and deliciousness were uniform and all-pervasive. It was not cold in the shade, not hot in the sun, as it was last Sunday, but equally fresh and renewing everywhere. There was no wind, and only a slight film in the air. A few clouds flecked the blue sky. . . . Radiant, equable day, when shall I see your like again?”
– John Burroughs, from The Heart of Burrough’s Journals, edited by Clara Barrus, April 21, 1874
“A perfect day in April far exceeds a perfect day in June.”
– John Burroughs, from The Heart of Burrough’s Journals, edited by Clara Barrus
April 16, 2014
“It is a great relief when, for a few moments in the day, we can retire to our chamber and be completely true to ourselves. It leavens the rest of our hours.”
– Henry David Thoreau, Walden
” . . . [The home is a] microcosm in which man can search and unfold his personality, unobstructed by his demanding fellow man.”
– Heinrich Engel, The Japanese House: A Tradition for Contemporary Architecture
“Sorry the man, to my mind, who has not in his own home, a place to be all by himself, to pay his court privately to himself, to hide!”
– Michel Montaigne
“Home is where the heart is . . . A house can be a simple shelter, but home is the carapace of one’s inner life.”
– Diane Ackerman, Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day
April 16, 2014
National Poetry Month. 16
Ten Definitions of Poetry
by Carl Sandburg
1. Poetry is a projection across silence of cadences arranged to break that silence with definite intentions of echoes, syllables, wave lengths.
2. Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly the air.
3. Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for explanations.
4. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable.
5. Poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue sky in spring.
6. Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a sunlit blossom of that flower.
7. Poetry is the harnessing of the paradox of earth cradling life and then entombing it.
8. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.
9. Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.
10. Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.
April 15, 2014
National Poetry Month. 15
Things the Wind Says
by William Stafford, from Sound of the Ax: Aphorisms and Poems by William Stafford, ed. Vincent Wixon and Paul Merchant
Everything still ought to move.
Of all plants I believe my favorite
is the tumbleweed.
Water will talk if stirred.
There are places in the mountains I am
afraid to tell about, but at night
you can hear me hint about them.
Islands aren’t so much.
I never saw a cloud I didn’t like.
Steam is all right, but I prefer smoke.
I was born in Kansas, but now I
travel all over the world.
I spend my vacations in Texas.
The best job I ever had was with
Sir Francis Drake.
My cousins live in water: they’re a
I’ll dance with anyone — royalty, commoners,
but especially refugees. . . .