I was searching for information on a Marlen fountain pen which took me to postcards, then the FPN search engine and the word "graphomania." The word was misused but the word made me think and thinking is good.

Graphomania and Scribomania are synonyms and undoubtedly little used words.

The context however of its use at FPN was the inability to write in an unpenned journal, the opposite of the word's meaning.

And a pithy response to some form of writer's block, again the opposite of either mania appeared here.

How this seemingly unrelated search occurred would take too long to explain, but how a journal can go unpenned for weeks or even years could be worth an entire entry--someday.

The outcome, no new pen, but a new lust after this particular Marlen, and too many unpenned journals sitting in a basket.

What possible good could come from another fountain pen, I ask myself, with 60 fountain pens already housed in one pouch, place, cupboard, cubbie, box, or handbag already and at least a dozen demanding adoption.

It is rare that I admire a new fountain pen, on line, but something about the red trim on this black pen captured my imagination, enough so that I searched it out and discovered it was being offered for quite a good price. By the time I got back to admire it again, it was sold. The sale was good because frankly if another fountain pen slips into this house, I will need to add another room and what I'd really like to do is just stretch all the rooms by 6 or 8 feet.

So, no new fountain pen, a magical architectural plan aborted, and several unpenned journals considering the introduction of a DSM-IV diagnosis.

Context: Mumbai

Seeking a world view, I go to the Spiegel International to read their attempt to put the Mumbai violence into some context.

But context, content or incident it is difficult to accept that terror is not going away.


The Well Tended Bookshelf

Interesting this piece, not only about the writer's view of tending a bookshelf or collection, but how others view their books.

When I left home, my black foot locker wasn't filled with clothes, but books.

Year after year, it took boxes, trunks, more boxes and crates to transport my books from place to place. Several times books took up entire walls of storage units.

Then one day my entire cellar was flooded. It housed thousands of dollars of photography, 1st editions and art books. It was so depressing that I couldn't do anything until my daughter came and rescued me by taking all these beloved books away--away from my sight and my dismay, or perhaps despair. Not only had I loved these books they were cherished friends.

Since then I've collected fewer books, sold more, given away hundreds, bought more second or fourth hand, used the library with greater regularity and in some way experience a profound sense of freedom, freedom from attachment and lighter.

And it may be time to review those books on my shelves again!

Friday's New York Times Book Review: 10 Favourites

Michiko Kakutani’s 10 favourites appear here.

While Janet Maslin's 10 favourites are here.

Of these 20 books I'll be looking for Louise Erdrich's "The Plague of Doves."

My last Erdrich read was The Painted Drum, a simple, yet poignant story of a mother, a drum and her daughter. Several passages from the book had been read at a Writer's Workshop I attended, passages that seemed to foretell a good read, and one I took immediately. I'm glad I did.

Terrorism: India, Everywhere

It is surmised, not verified that two of the terrorists found in a Jewish Centre were British-born. The Christian Science Monitor has an overview of the events from various news media here.

What more does this say about the breeding of terrorism?

If this report by BBC is true and Brits and Americans were the primary targets, the focus narrows, but still goes fully unanswered.

The angry unrest in the Muslim communities exceeds those in numbers than the Crusades.

What has transpired in the minds (and hearts) of this particular segment of the Muslim population that is perpetuating terrorism. And, if it can be stopped, how?

My last stop was CNN and my heart stopped beating. A video popped up identifying two Americans as dead: Allan Scheer and his daughter, Naomi, from Virginia.

I didn't see the spelling of the name nor look carefully at their faces. I have a good friend with this name who lives in Virginia. For about 5 minutes or more I thought my friend was dead. As an immunologist he might have been in Mumbai for business and pleasure.

Death is always close, isn't it?

Shame on the Sham Lieberman

My vote for the worst person in the world (see Countdown's Keith Olbermann), is Senator Joe Lieberman.

Once more, or repeatedly, he is a sham, and a pitiful blight on the Independent Party he run under in 2006.

Why didn't or doesn't he just change parties or better yet give it up--that is his Seat in the Senate.

44 or 41? It is to early to tell

Defining anyone in words is as slippery as a mountain climb, you never know in advance what to expect up ahead.

Yet, in the days and now weeks since Barack Obama was elected to hold the office of President, everyone on the right, left and in the middle, and in particular the press, has attempted to define a Presidency months before Senator Obama is inaugurated.

The New Republic says, Obama will resemble the 41st President.

How do they know in advance? Do they have a crystal ball? Was it written in one of the thousands of Nostradamus quatrains ?


Castro to Obama: Let's Meet

What a huge change in public policy it would be if the President-Elect Obama would meet Castro, that is Raul, on neutral ground.

I would love to see this happen in my life-time.

Although I have had more friends who are or were anti-Castro and perhaps less than two who were pro-Castro, it has never made much sense to me why of all the countries in the world Cuba was ear-marked as such a serious threat and remained so for nearly forty years.

After all we talk to Korea, Russia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and waltzed into Iraq.

Just think: cigars, sugar, beaches, etc.

And neighbours!

Card of the Day: Magician, I

Asking the same question, "Can I do it" I pull the Magician.

What is it I am asking about?

Can I paint the Princess Room, cut the molding, put up the molding, construct damask curtains all before Christmas? In order words, can I get the Princess Room finished before the Bean Family comes on Christmas Eve?

I've now given the molding one coat in the cellar where it is so cold I can only stay down there for 20-30 minutes at a time.

I've tested the back wall paint to see if it needs to be primed. It looks as if the paint will cover in two coats and not require a primer.

I don't have a proper ladder so I'm going to use the 2-stepper from the kitchen and cover it with plastic.

I've masked the seams on the windows, and the door frame.

If I can keep up this pace, and still do all the other things on my list, and go to NYC for 3-4 days, I might be able to do it...arthritis and all.

I need focus and better weather as each day it snows I lose a day getting to those towns that have the goodies I need for various projects, and these towns are not in the same direction and all 30-60 miles away.

But, the Magician says, "You can do it."

Image: Karen Black's Golden Tarot (©)

Puttering Memories

While attempting to make a pseudo-Nasi Goreng, I keep touching more on memories than food preparation. Nasi was the first Indonesian dish I learned to cook. Nasi Goreng is the Netherlands. Nasi Goreng is woks, gas ovens and yesteryear.

Putting away the olive oil, my hand seems to discover some Citrucel. I wouldn't doubt that this package of tabs is more than 20 years ago, and that my father gave me these packets in 1985 the last time I visited him in Los Angeles.

Then when I wash up the odds and ends around the sink I wipe off my bread knife. I take a look to see what brand it is as it has held up since I got married in 1968. It is Rostfrei Solingen. Certainly a bargain as it cuts today through a slice of bread like the day we received it for a wedding gift.

Of course my knife looks different--made so many years earlier.

Knives make me think of Mexico, Fred Hoffman, one of my favourite colleagues, friend and mentor, long gone and knives. A month before I got married I was in Mexico City making a film, with funds from Pfizer, on diabetes. Fred was my medical advisor on shoots like this while I acted as Project Supervisor.

Fred and I went shopping one day, alone I think and I admired a set of carving knives--four pieces: two different length knives, a sharpener and a large fork. He bought it for me for a wedding gift, and I have that set, also, in perfect user condition today, used less often than when I was a pampered matron, but use it I do.

Fred like two other terrific men in my life, Armando and James, died too young of heart failure. I miss them all, their wisdom and good humour.

Perhaps it is the prospect of going to Mexico again or the quiet day...but I am flooded with memories.


There are planners and then there are planners

I was eager to receive a Quo Vadis planner to review. Unfortunately, it appears my communication with the marketing department did not reap the end result I was looking for and instead of a Planner 21 I received a Notor today.

The Journal 21 is

Day-per-page diary

* 12 months daily, January to December
* 15 months monthly, October to December
* 8 AM to 9 PM schedule
* Full line per half-hour
* Blank space for daily notes
* 72g, acid-free paper
* Elegant round corners, tear-off corner opens to day in progress
* Lightly tinted vellum paper
* Annual planning calendars for 2009 and 2010
* Current and following month calendars
* Sewn binding, lays flat when open
* Bound in address book
* Refillable

while the Notor is
* Each page divided into schedule and large area for notes and day's priority
* 12 months, January to December
* 8 AM to 7 PM schedule
* Monthly tab
* 64g, acid-free paper
* Tear-off corner opens to day in progress
* Sewn binding, lays flat when open
* Bound in address book
* Refillable

One of the immediate differences is paper weight. It is less likely that a 64g paper will take to fountain pens as well as a 72g, especially as it has been my experience that any paper with a weight of less than 80-90g is not fountain pen friendly.

Another major difference between the two is size. The Notor is 4-3/4 x 6-3/4 (12x17 cm) and the Journal 21 is 5-1/4 x 8-1/4 (13x21cm). As it was my intention to not just review this planner but use it, I had it in mind as a desk planner.

I was hoping this planner would be a better choice than my current Exacompta Gulliver that I bought at Pear Tree Inks.

I am disappointed and I haven't even taken the planner out of its wrapper.

Blog Edit Tips at Urban Sketchers

This is the second tip I've read at Urban Sketchers, the first was how to increase the size of an image.

The first tip.

Harvey Milk: Hollywood Style

I'll be interested to see other reviews for comparison to this one in TNR by Christopher Orr. I'll also be curious to hear what folks say about a film made about this martyr of the gay rights movement.

One of the tributes to Mr. Milk is the Harvey Milk High School in New York City. Hetrick Martin Institute ran the school until the City embraced it and made it a part of the Board of Education.

Yet, 30 years after Harvey Milk's death, Prop 8 was passed and hate crimes continue.

I think when I visit New York City next month I'll stop by HMI, not the school, and see how they are doing. I worked directly with the program for about five years and have a great affection for their newest executive director.

I didn't have to wait long for the New York Times review.

A more personal perspective in Salon.


Six of Pentacles (Coins)

It was only 8 days ago that I pulled the Six of Pentacles but this time I asked the card of the day a question.

Can I do it?

2008 Drawing to a close....

And no planner yet.

New York Review of Books is offering this one.

Stalin's Children

It's Tuesday but I haven't gotten through the Book Review. Snowy landscape, cold feet from shoveling at the door, chill in the air, dinner on the stove, and a lethargy I can't name, I get back to the reviews and discover a whispered memory in Stalin's Children.

Matthews writes,

“If languages have a color, Russian was the hot pink of my mother’s ’70s dresses, the warm red of an old Uzbek teapot . . . the kitschy black and gold of the painted Russian wooden spoons which hung on the wall in the kitchen.” English, the language he spoke with his father, was “the muted green of his study carpet, the faded brown of his tweed jackets.”

and I remember:

My material family came from two villages in the East, traveling by land and sea with their own treasures, treasures that would remain a mystery to me all my life, never revealing their history.

They left no letters to read, no onion skin papers to record a prison of the mind, just sudden, out of context memories of wisps of smoky, deep voices in a foreign language, visions of huge pots and pans steaming on the stove on cold winter days and the warmth of a grandmother's aproned bosom reaching out to me for a hug.

Something propelled three generations of this family to seek other shores, but what they left behind in history, dwindled as the silences grew longer and the days shorter, until any chance of a story was gone.

I am left an orphan except for those smells that occasionally waft into the air, or the eruption of a recollection when reading another man's story.

Russian soil was where my own Stalin's Children grew up.

NPG's Red Room

The NPG (National Portrait Gallery) is exhibiting Liebovitz' work in conjunction with World AIDS Day, 1 December 2008 and highlighting RED's work to eliminate AIDs in Africa.

One of many events I wish I could attend.

Photograph © Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rob Besserer, Cumberland Island, Georgia, 1990
From Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer's Life, 1990 – 2005


Moleskines on my Mind

Okay, there are other journals

many sketchbooks, different covers, colours, sizes and choices, but in the end, I'd like a fountain pen friendly Moleskine and not a substitute.

So, I wrote Moleskine a letter and asked them to consider designing a Moleskine specifically for fountain pens--90g paper.

They did it for watercolour.

Perhaps they'll do it for fountain pens.

Stay tuned!

Banking Busts

The three major Dutch banks will merge and Citibank is bailed out.

Both my banks.

Doesn't help me sleep at night.

One of thousands of reasons health care needs a watchdog

Deregulation practices, or lack of oversight has slowly crept into our daily fare so much, and so perniciously, that most of us haven't noticed.

One of those agencies that appears to have slipped and not evoked its charter is the FDA. Health care practices are sloppy but the indiscriminate use of prescription drugs is sloppy and potentially lethal and does cost more money than it should.

AP reports some serious problems here.

Although I am a strong proponent of patient self-advocacy, I am totally against what I consider indiscriminate pill pushing.

Since the mid-60s I've sat through dozens upon dozens of seminars, symposia, conferences, journal clubs and bull-sessions about health care efficacy from public health to infectious diseases, addiction studies, reproductive health and congenital diseases to just plain old daily health practices.

Profit is often at the center of drug policies not good health.

Someone has to take a stronger stand on how drugs are tested, who produces them, who gets them, who can advertise them, who prescribes them, how much is charged for them and who follows through on side effects.

Having worked in a medical think tank in the 90s I know it's not that the medical community is unaware of egregious practices, but that regardless of how much has been said, or how often pleas are made, the lobbyists win in the end.

Isn't it time to make health our business and not money.


Meet Obama's Team

I asked, and the Globe came through with keeping up with the Obama appointments.

I've been keeping tabs on a Word document, but perhaps the Globe will keep this current as new appointments are made and/or confirmed.

Turning to the New York Times today, Monday, 24 November 2008, I see another tabulation of the new team.

In many ways some of the appointments, formalized or not, are fascinating, while others are perhaps a remarkable indication of the President-Elect's temperament, style and personality.

He doesn't appear to be afraid of challenges and does appear to show an enormous sense of loyalty and/or gratitude to those who kept him moving up.

Quo Vadis Planner 21

An email from Exaclair confirmed that the the Quo Vadis Planners offered for review are in the mail.

I'm hoping to get the 21.

Sometimes History intersects with Life!

In this case my life.

On the sidelines, but nevertheless, the Iran-Contra Affairs stands out in bold type for me.


I suppose even now it would be unwise to breach confidences, but one day I suspect all the dirty dealings will be exposed after all the players, and me, are gone.

18 Gifts for Writers

Quite a good list here of gifts for writers.

I think I'd like a spare thousand.

The Imperfect Moleskine ... could be perfected

Everywhere in notebook and journal land folks praise Moleskine notebooks except where you also find a fountain pen.

Here's an honest appraisal once more where the Moleskine just doesn't cut it for the writer, who otherwise might be buying 10 at a clip of the black boys instead of 10 softcover Mujis.


Social Democracy, Motherhood and France

France is not alone in offering kinderbijslag as it is known in the Netherlands and kindergeld in Germany, but it appears France may offer more benefits than other EU countries.

What would happen if we proposed this type of fund in the US?

What is the program? The Children's Funds (liberally translated) were originally set up at the end of World War II as an incentive for women to give birth. These programs continue 60-odd years later.

The stipend is supported by tax revenue, and cheques are sent monthly for each child. In late 1975 I believe we paid about 33% in taxes.

I can't recall how much each monthly allowance was when I lived in Amsterdam, but it probably equalled about the cost of one Lamy Safari and a bottle of ink.

I cut my teeth on Amerika, the Penal Colony and

All things Kafka.

Yes, I stole into his life as I read his works all the time, until none was left and I had to resort to books about him.

One of these landed on Harper's pages here.

If I recall this book was a disappointment, and although several others, in particular Max Brod's biography and interpretations were most useful, it always felt as if, like his writings, Kafka was an enigma, a man so elusive no dissection would bring him closer.

After about a decade of enquiry into his thinking, I gave him and myself leave to move on.

Yet, somehow I miss him and persist in wondering.

Banking at its best or worst

NRC reports that two Dutch banks have merged. Why do I care?

Well for one I had an account in AMRO for many years, even when I lived in the US, but somewhere, sometime the bank changed hands and I found myself at another bank altogether.

So, reading this piece has me totally confused...again!

I remember questioning the merger when it occurred as I was more than annoyed, I was actually angry that once more a bank I selected with care was taken over by another financial institution I had not personally vetted.

Now what is really going on with the mergers between and among banks, and how can these two banks float between two lowland countries?

I don't have an answer, but I do persist in asking questions.

Journals on my mind not in my hand

Biffybeans has done it again--another review of a journal that is tempting.

I had talked to the Journal Shop by email months ago about the Ciak journal but never did buy it or take them up on their generous 3 for 2 offers. Perhaps I should have, but now that I've settled into a "no spending" mode, I will just admire the journals and notebooks as they get reviewed and see what strikes my fancy on the road or when I do a little shopping in the Apple in early December.

I probably need to make a list of the places I'd like to visit when I do go to New York on/about 10 December as it is not my intention to spend more than 3 days in town and the list in my head is getting mighty long.

And as for journals, I probably should just take out that basket I have filled to the brim and spilling over to remind myself that it takes time to fill up all those I already own.

A love song to Rural America Poor

Carolyn Chute's "School on Heart's Content Road" receives a terrific review in this week's New York Times.

And while I have a stack of books, unread, waiting impatiently to be held and treasured, this book may turn up at the top of the pile and get my attention earlier than others, also worthy, but not necessarily as topical.

What do I mean by topical?

While I am no longer in Maine, I am in another heart land of the rural poor, with disappearing farms, hardscrabble folks trying to make a living on slate embedded in soil, short growing seasons, and families living on roads named after their forebears and nothing much else in their coffers.

I started to write about it, the poor, the shrinking dairy farmer, the soil, for our local newspaper. The barns are in decay, some are being rescued, but fewer than .01%, and Dan's barn above is just being held up by his own spit and his relentless need to survive.

Photo: Dan's Barn, 2008, by Blogger

Friday's New York Times Book Review: Awards

Annette Gordon-Reed wins the coveted National Book Award for her book, "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family."

A rather in depth interview with Gordon-Reed on PBS is a good introduction to the book.

And in Slate we get quite a good overview and a strong review of the book.

Crooks and Liars on Conservatism

This is too good to forget so I'll repeat it myself a few times and perhaps it will sink in.


I'd like to work with Daschle

And the top two simple items on my HHS agenda would be

- banning advertising of drugs anywhere, but especially on television

- monitoring the prescription practices of physicans, especially for psycho-social diagnoses like attention deficit disorder in <children.

I wonder if the new secretary will agree?

Memory: A subject all too close to my heart, or is it my head

Memory or recollection is as strange as dreams, or at least these mirror each other in my own mind. I ponder where and why certain events elude me and others seem to come at will. Upon searching, I discovered this article that takes a similar if not identical point of view.

One of several passages strike a bold hypothesis:

It seems likely that in dreams, as in waking life, retrieved fragments are subject to narrative smoothing, in which educated guesses are made about what might have occurred.

I spent several hours, on and off, these past weeks trying to recount certain events in my life, events that are directly contradictory to purported facts imposed upon me by my elders, and in particular my parents.

While I can remember the telephone number my family had when I was fourteen, I have huge blanks in recall of myself at age six-eight and even negligible recall of events that occurred 20 years ago.

The term "narrative smoothing" is rather pregnant with possibility and promise not only for the various perceptions we all share, but also for what can be viewed as disingenuous banter.

Then I discover this article in the Spiegel and it tells of quite a different sort of memory, and one that perhaps is not seen as a gift to the beholder.

Abortion: A very touchy subject

I decided to add a Dutch and a German newspaper to my daily and/or weekly reads. They may help put national and international issues in perspective.

In the Netherland's where medical diagnosis for birth defects can be performed into the 20th week of pregnancy, late-term abortions is considered good public health.

The New York Times reports that the President of the United States wishes to grant more protection to health workers who resist performing abortions and an article in The Washington Post references speculation about pushing for a means to reduce the number of abortions as over-turning Roe vs. Wade seems unlikely.

I suppose that like gay marriage, I don't fully understand why so many believe it is their moral right to interfere with other people's choices.

Kenneth Cole's New Book

Some stories in the newspapers or on-line blogs can bring a smile to my face, and this story in the Globe about Kenneth Cole did just that...a smile for his new book highlighting what some can do with their prestige and purse, and the signs he apparently plastered on the West Side Highway.

Holiday Shopping

Having had a long talk with my own children last night in which the subject of gifts turned to decision making, this article in the Washington Post entitled, "Save Now, Buy Later " caught my eye.

I've always been an impulse buyer, but when it came to gift giving, I've taken great pains to ensure that folks I care about and love get what they want. Now what they want may be frivolous or practical, but it is what they wanted that mattered. Sometimes this philosophy was mighty expensive: trips to France, cashmere sweaters, or year-long courses, subscriptions, cameras, amethyst rings, among others.

We have on occasion discussed the vast differences between what we want, and what we need, discussions that from time to time changed gift request lists.

This year we determined, with relief on all sides, that only the under 12 will get gifts, and the over 12 will get eats, love, a big Christmas tree, and lunches out.

Notebooks, Journals

When I saw that the Daily Planner was offering the Rhodia e-pure's for half price, I snagged two based on Biffybeans' review.

Now I haven't taken these out of the cellophane, or tried them, but when I turned them over it says, 100g.

Is this a newer version?

From the back Left to Center Stage

Bill Ayers makes the news at The Washington Post, a strong push from the left to center stage.

The readership of the WP is not the same as Democracy Now, Huffington or is it?

Imagine: Chicago Magazine

When our Voice is Silenced so is our Freedom

Alternet is one of the progressive internet sources that qualifies as taking up a charge for change against right leaning media and put the two in balance.

Naming Bill Moyers as a potential leader in such a change is a strong indication to me that the writer of this piece, Robert Parry, is sincere and has carefully explored the landscape of journalism at its best.

How to achieve the balance will be a challenge in itself, as money talks in this country, and folks like Scaife, among others, and including Murdoch, have held sway for so long, money alone will not move the media to a progressive platform. People, in general, have bought into the news they read rather than the news that is often unreported.

And while it is understandable that the Conservative Right is concerned about the fairness doctrine and so am I but for different reasons, it is a premature reaction but possibly based on real fear rather than fear promoted for gain.


NRC Reports: Drug Detection Device

It's interesting to read NRC and see the changes in the Netherlands. Cannabis Cafes decreasing and Philips developing a drug detection device.

Latin America

Trying to zone in on travel plans, I called Taca to confirm that the quote I received for airfare a few weeks ago was correct. It appears it is lower than expected rather than higher. However, it does not seem as if I can finalize plans between and among countries and that booking in advance will be more expensive and also place too many constraints on my loose way of traveling.

I hope to spend one month in Guatemala and visit at least two other Latin American countries and make a major detour to San Luis Potosi to see an artist friend with whom I've shared materials, art and interests.

Senator, where is your cap?

My Senator needs an end-cap. I am wondering how difficult it will be to find one. The one pen I found that appears to be the same or similar is being offered for more than $300.00 on the 'bay--out of my ballfield.

Holbein Watercolour Sale

Cheapjoes, generally not that cheap, is having a web site only sale on Holbein. As I am just reading Charles Reid's Watercolor Secrets in which he praises Holbein the sale caught my attention.

Like so many other art supplies, I have more watercolour than is necessary for a single painter in one lifetime and will probably pass this sale by.

However, I am wondering if there are any possible trades that would work for some. I love bartering and perhaps I have colours I don't use that others might love and vice- versa.


Sketch Crawl - January 10

Hand Book - Dick Blick

I went over to see what's happening at sketch crawl after I received a notice about the next official date: January 10, the first for 2009.

And I looked around to see if anything new had been posted. No, but I did check out Jamie's review of these sketchbooks and wonder if Biffybeans has these?

Ignorant yet thinking

Waterbury, Ct plant

Interesting take in Massachusetts on the automobile bailout request in the Globe today.

It made me turn the clock back 30, 40 years ago and remember how the manufacturing industry slowly went from lighting up the skies in towns like Fall River to extinguished, dead zones on creeks, rivers and roads all across New England.

First the plants moved South, as in North Carolina, then they suffered disputes on labour issues, unions, and took themselves to the East and places like Taiwan, Formosa and Hong Kong.

How would New England look today if they had been bailed out? Would we see those warm pile lined coats and jackets selling with "made in USA" labels? Would the throttles be churning and burning up oil along the Connecticut?

How would Rhode Island look if the jewelry industry, Cross pens (yes, fountain pens) and other light industrial plants survived in Providence?

Ship building, clothing manufacturing, metal and steel working, and the list goes on all have nearly disappeared from view, from our consciousness, and shrank the blue colour workers in this country.

Is this the global economy? And if it is, what then?

Pen and Inkwell in Rubber

After the subject was raised on FPn, I asked around and discovered that Leavenworth Jackson has some deep etched rubber of a fountain pen and an inkwell.

A few other rubber companies also have some too.

Begich topples Stevens

Interesting piece in a blog I've not read before about Begich's future.

Selfishly I'm plugging it because I want to see Ms. Starry Eyes pushed out of the news and sent packing into the wild.


Card of the Day: 7 of Swords

Deceit and treachery occurred today.

Now who lied and who told the truth?


Six of Pentacles (Coins)

Writing is going better, and my trip planning is slowly moving forward.

Today I heard from my friend Mary in San Luis Potosi. I am hoping to somehow get to Mexico during this trip.

If I look back on my trip to Peru and Bolivia, I know that 2-3 days on a bus is exhausting, but this time I will have more time. What I won't have is a good translator.

I think I will explore the possibility of Latin American aeroplane travel and see how expensive travel is among the countries I'd like to visit. Perhaps like South America they won't be frequent but somewhat affordable. And it does seem as if petrol costs are more moderate.

Image: Victoria Regina Tarot, Sarah Ovenall (c)

Ted Kennedy: Back at Work

Another Resignation from Review

The best and the brightest leaving the Review.

The Danish Girl

David Ebershoff's book, "The Danish Girl" was quite the read and now I hear it might become a movie.

As the project manager of several LGBT direct service programs in New York City for five years I found reading books like Ebershoff's, and others a responsibility and part of my ongoing education.

However, as much as I was enthralled with the story, several TG friends and acquaintances felt it was unrealistic. Whether they are correct or not about the value of the Wegener story, Ebershoff's book and the movement does appear to be gaining positive traction. While still not a mainstream topic recognizing transgender behavior as normative may be blessed by the DSM-V in the coming year.

The Atlantic had a lengthy article about gender and children, a subject covered last year I believe in a two part interview on NPR.

Some important questions that persist when discussing social norms is nurture and nature, the medical community's proof positive and neurology.

Nurture and nature are too variant to qualify or quantify, in my humble opinion. The medical community has been wrong as much as it has been right, and neurology or brain function studies are in their infancy and thus premature to use as benchmarks.

Take the work of John Money, a respected scientist and practitioner who helped destroy the lives of male twins, and then attempted to justify his actions and theories rather than revisit the possibility of error in judgment, diagnosis and approach to treatment. The Money research is well documented.

The Reimer twins case was brought to public attention first in the Rolling Stone, and later in "As Nature Man him " a troubling yet brilliantly presented book on nurture and nature written by John Colapinto. Today both twins are dead.

Direct experience I had with a young adolescent seeking recognition as a female born male mirrors the patterning described in The Atlantic piece--tears, distress, isolation, confusion and insistence about being born in the wrong body. While I was able to find a sympathetic physician, I was not able to ameliorate the pain or sign off on hormone therapy and after some time the youth got lost in a system unable to cope.
I rank that loss as among my greatest failures.

Will we find a way to work through the psycho-physical dilemma faced by a growing number of our own?

Bill Ayers Talks ... Back like Democracy Now is presenting the other side.

It seems more reverential, more respectful to both President-Elect Obama and from and to Bill Ayers that these interviews are coming after the fact rather than raising the bar on inappropriate dialogue during the campaign.

What do I mean by inappropriate?

Blooding bickering!


John Cheever's Daughter: Susan

It appears that the famous, infamous and family members of writers are newsworthy authors in this week's New York Times Book Review. A focus or a fluke?

Susan Cheever, the daughter of John Cheever, writes some out of the closet and highly provocative books, the latest of which is "Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction."

I ask myself, if her father hadn't been a Pulitzer Prize winning author would we find it interesting to read about her sexual proclivities or those she's shared about her father?

Food for thought or just gossip?

A World, and Alan Keyes

Alan Keyes is pressing suit for President Elect Barack Obama's birth certificate.


American History: Scrapbooking

The Boston Globe did a piece on scrapbooks sometime this month and it reminded me of several art projects I've done or thought about doing.

I have a turn of the century empty black scrapbook I was going to sell, but might keep and use for a grand-daughter project--something I envisioned doing when the Bean was born.

Now she is 4 years old, and her sister Slippers is 20-months old.

My daughter warns me that when they come I have to get the house child-proof because Slippers can get into anything and everything.

I'll do a real good proofing the week before they arrive and take all the breakables out of range of her hands.

And I do hope to take photographs galore this visit which may be useful for such a project.


Who has the money?

I don't know who has the money, and I wonder if anyone does! I certainly don't have it--the money or the data or any analysis of where it went or how to get it back.

The telephone rings off the hook with requests for donations, the mailbox gets overcrowded with appeals, and the news gets grimer.

The Boston Globe had an article this week about how the Christmas tree industry is fearful that folks will give up wreaths, tinsel and yes, the tree.

Citicorp. purportedly will reduce its cadre of employees by a whopping 23,000.

Unemployment numbers are rising and foreclosures are increasing.

In my lifetime I've said on several occasions, "I never thought this would happen ..." but it did.

I never thought we'd have another war like Vietnam. I never thought I'd reach the ripe age of a grandmother. I never thought I'd see a deep recession that is beginning to sound and feel like a depression of economics.

And I want a Christmas tree.

Friday's New York Times Book Review: Letters

Some letters are easier to read, more inviting, personal yet accessible. Perhaps Ted Hughes' letters are of the latter ilk.

Yet I ask myself what has been written about Mr. Hughes that doesn't include his relationship to Sylvia Plath. Nothing I've ever read.

And would Ms. Plath have become a well known name and popular writer of poems and "The Bell Jar" if she hadn't decided that writing was enough?

I ask myself this question not only about this relationship of two writers, but other famous or infamous personalities.

What made them famous? And would they have been well known and highly regarded if they had thrived to their natural majority?

The Lovers VI

In the last month I've pulled, Lovers VI, twice.

Today was a bleak day with much sunshine. I went to the DVA show and met up with many acquaintances and neighbours.

I had too much coffee, once with Nancy, then with Beverly.

I found a bag to take to Guatemala at Anna's Nest in Narrowsburg.

And I got home before darkness fell and the storm began.

Image: Jesse Marion King, "Happy Day, 1913, Studio Magazine (Illustrator,

Huffington meets Maddow

Apparently I missed this show as I am trying, with some success, to reduce television viewing and political punditry watching, but here is Arianna Huffington speaking to Rachel Maddow about the future of the Republican Party.

Like Huffington I believe in a two party system or perhaps 3, 4 or 5 parties, and also like her, I was a Republican.

Ashamed is a good word for what I feel about the present state of the Party, and most particularly the right wing evangelical sector.

Is there a Knight in Armour who might emerge in the next few years to recapture the basic principles of the GOP?

What's left on my Ink "Wish List"

El Lawrence, an oil leak colour that I love.
Legal Lapis that looks something like Galls.
And last but not least wished this Violet colour that resembles smashed berries on a summer day.

Senator Patrick Leahy Speaks ... out

This is precisely why I adore, yes, adore, Patrick Leahy.

He says, "no Senator Lieberman should not (repeat after me, not) keep his chairmanship."

Traveling Light

The bikers who did a world tour, each had at minimum

* 5 sets of socks/underwear
* 2 pairs of convertible pants (legs zip off to make shorts)
* 5 T-shirts
* Button-down shirt (nice)
* Micro fleece top
* Long underwear (top and bottom)
* Fleece jacket -- Windproof
* Bathing Suit
* Day hikers (sneakers)
* Sandals
* Cap
* Packable poncho

How will I convert this to non-biker garb?

Imagine: Ellington Black Duffel (own)


The Green Pond

Other than the desk, neither my house or me resemble this painting caught my eye and reminded me of my struggle to write.

Non-fiction pieces seem to flow especially at deadline, but the creative juices are remarkably hidden from my view these days.

Although I did manage to commit to starting an official journal and take each day as it comes. What it seems I've been doing is scribbling rapid thoughts in a Rhodia reporter and then transferring the sentences and paragraphs with minor editing into this larger, sturdy Black Book I discovered I had down cellar.

Imagine, Guy Rose 1867-1925, "The Difficult Reply, 1910."

The Barack Whisperer aint the Horse Whisperer

Well apparently the Washington Post has access and this piece is very revealing about what is probably his second appointment: Press Secretary.

A Man and Artist who understood symbology

A most fascinating look at Michelangelo, again.

The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo's Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican," coauthored by Vatican docent Roy Doliner and Rabbi Benjamin Blech, expands and explores the symbols in the Sistine Chapel.

When I was actually studying art, and not playing at it, I went to Italy and sought out everything Michelangelo created. It was a marvelous journey and one that might have been lost on a youth propelling herself from city to city, street to church, church to Cathedral in a frenetic summer if I didn't have a near eidetic memory, and a way of calling up a Florentine street filled with Davids, and an excellent meal in a trattoria with new found friends.

The Vatican on a June day looked like Oz, and the dark chambers of churches with quiet alcoves of Michelangelo sculpture, like the Moses, were palpably alive and might have spoken out from their marble bodies if I had cared to engage them in conversation.

I've put the book on my wish list.