Scientific Breakthrough: Stem Cells

Another way to cultivate stem cells, and not controversial here.

With the exception of Britain, I'm not sure where embryonic stem cell research has gone on without histrionics.

Poetry Month

For several years, perhaps as many as seven, Knopf has been sending out a poem a day in April, poetry month.

I received the first today, a poem by John Updike, recently deceased.

Sold for a mere $660m at auction

John Hancock Towers, Boston, MA

Can you imagine?

The John Hancock Tower, center stage, was auctioned.


Port Townsend, WA Seaport

Teesha Moore, widely known for her original art, terrific 'zines and her fest in Port Townsend, ten years running and going strong, is inaugurating her first Journalfest in October 2009.

When I was on my pre-retirement search in 2002, Port Townsend was one of dozens of towns I floated into coming from Vancouver and returning to Portland, OR.

Unfortunately, my visit did not coincide with any of the Artfests, although I did meet and see many an artist friend and/or acquaintance who shared their work, some of which had been created at or inspired by one or more Artfests.

I did manage to check out the entire town, probably not much bigger than, say, Northampton, MA or Belfast, ME.

What I remember best was an old soda fountain restaurant with some wonderful 40s and 50s decor; an enclosed shopping area with a good crafts shop, several other off Main Street eye openers and the wonderful views.

In fact as I think back it is similar in feeling to some of the East Coast's seaside resorts, but with its own West Coast flare.

I also vaguely remember, but with a smile on my face, getting lost several times in this part of our vast country, and getting stranded for a day on one island having missed a ferry, and staring in bewilderment as I drove onto a 2-car ferry from one island to the next that reminded me of my trip across Lake Titicaca or trips to Shelter Island (Long Island)--dangerous looking but reasonably safe.

Now very much back on the East Coast, with airports hours away, it is unlikely that I will attend, but dreaming can be sweet and perhaps someone I know will go and report back.

Registration is open. Limited participation, 200.


Generosity, Community Spirit...Everywhere or?

Boston Skyline

Is this a Boston or Massachusetts phenomenon, or are other communities coming to the rescue of, or contributing to, and offering up parts of their income to friends, colleagues and neighbours?

I hope it is contagious!

Adventure: on your laptop

National Geographic has organised an online ocean voyage. The voyage will take 6 weeks and bring you to the Southern Line Islands.

Want to go?

Handmade: The Petite Press

Some of the most ingenious notebooks, journals and greetings cards can be gotten at the Petite Press, an imaginative, creative binder discovered
via artsyville.


Walking around the garden

When MS joined me for a walk through the back yard Saturday, we started to plan a vegetable garden. One of the serious challenges: deer.

I don't think I've ever as many deer anywhere before and they love to munch on all edibles.

The second challenge: poor soil.

Well, with those two issues to contend with I might consider more patio pots.

Book: Every Man Dies Alone

Decades after it was written, "Every Man Dies Alone" has been translated into English and reviewed here.

Based on a true story, Hans Fallada, a pseudonym, provides the reader with yet another side to resistance in Nazi Germany with a mere postcard.

The protagonists, like their real life characters, took on Adolf Hitler with dozens of inflammatory postcards. The two knew the risks. They were discovered and unmasked, and ultimately put to death, but as expounded in the review, "even little is more than nothing." [paraphrased.]

What I don't see is why it took so long to translate the novel.

Book Essay: Boarding House Blues, Caleb Crain

Boarding House, Maryland (still standing) 19th century

Boarding House, New York State, 19th century

Caleb Crain offers an amusing but somewhat serious essay in this week's New York Times Book Review on the reprint of, "The Physiology of New York Boarding-Houses,"by Thomas Butler Gunn, originally published in 1857.

If you have ever gone on any sort of retreat, stayed at a pensione (pension), stayed at a hostel, or sojourned for more than 2 nights in a town's best or worst bed & breakfast or inn, you might discover that even with the virtual disappearance of boarding houses, the atmosphere can easily be recreated in the 21st century.

As a long-time member of the hostelry system, I stayed at my share of both imaginative and folksy lodgings, with all the colour we humans can provide even without a palette. I've also made it a habit of staying at local pensiones (aka pensions), delightful B&Bs and several inns.

Entering the town of Arroyo Seco (NM)

Within the last three years my travels took me to a hostel in Arroyo Seco (NM) that was equal to a 4-year college education, with socio-economics, violence against women and poverty, the 3 main classes. It took less than two nights to learn the ins, outs, facts, fancies and stories of the hostel's residents.

In Belfast, ME, I found friendships blossoming after a few days, quick recognition, lending hands, pleasure and a great view.

In Brattleboro, VT, I found an entire 4-generation immigrant family running the least expensive spot for long or short term stays, good manners and a willingness to turn a blind eye to my unwillingness to commit to a night's lodging more than two days in advance. They also provided me with a good breakfast and more than adequate coffee.

In each, like the vignettes described in Crain's essay, occasionally sharing food and separate beds, anywhere can make for good stories, and a storehouse of memories.

Handmade Journals: The Vespiary Shop

Vespiary Journal, 4-1/2" x 7" Red Snakeskin Cover, 100 pages

Via Notebookstories, I checked out Vespiary's etsy shop, and fell in love with her snakeskin journal, a winner at any price but at $18.00 almost a steal.

But having learned that I would like my journals to be multi-purposed, I sent AudraLoyal a correspondence inquiry about her papers. No, they are not fountain-pen friendly, but she will make journals in a paper of your choosing.

Charcoal Grey and White journal, 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" (bloggers)
with printmaking paper

This journal reminds me of one I had in 1993-1995; mine is charcoal grey and white and appears to have print making paper folios. It takes light washes, sharpies and yes, fountain pens without any discernible bleeding, feathering or show-through.

If I'm not mistaken I bought it on the Wharf in Providence. In those days, the Wharf was a regular weekend and summer weekday hang out and Ellen had her XoX gallery (long gone) on the corner. Up the narrow walk way towards the hurricane barriers was a gift shop that carried a great many paper products. Later they moved to North Main Street, tripled the size of the shop and raised their prices.

I wonder if they are still there? I couldn't find them doing a search, but then so much changes in cities they may have moved, gone out of business or changed their stock.

Books: Laish, Aharon Appelfeld

Jerusalem, 1900

Appelfeld was totally unknown to be until last May. An Israeli friend of nearly forty years (is it that long?) came for a fortnight's visit and during our talks, arguments, banters, cooking, eating and traveling she mentioned his name and how much she appreciated his writing.

I am still guilty of lack of familiarity. Although I found three of his novels at Websters, a second hand bookshop in State College, PA, my reading habits have changed so much they have gone unread.

I trust that I may enjoy them, or at least respond to the author's words just as I am fascinated by his newly translated book Laish, a story of pilgrimage from Eastern Europe to Jerusalem.

Stark, austere, perhaps Appelfeld uses the act of living, often wordless, to demonstrate the depth of emotion involved in unsettling change, relentless searches and as Charlie Chaplain said, "Nothing is permanent in this wicked world - not even our troubles."

And it appears that it was indeed troubles that followed the travelers even on the brink of their arrival.

I shall pluck his earlier novels off the shelves, and perforce read them.

Books: Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

Edmund White, a fine writer in his own right, reviews a first short story collection of Wells Tower and makes me want to get back to my own short stories, several playing volleyball in my head.

What makes the collection appealing is the instant images that floated, free form, in my mind as I read about one or two of the stories themselves.

The story about a man setting up small plots in the New England woods, reminded me instantly of living in Vermont. I'd often find myself on the backest of back roads--by chance or happenstance, often in an attempt to avoid Brattleboro traffic or stay off the highway.

On one of those detours I ran into a lone man on the side of the road as I turned a corner that signaled to me I was lost.

We engaged in the longest discussion before I retraced my way back to Marlboro and home to Guilford.

What was remarkable about this encounter was the man's isolation, his evident boiling rage, our political discussion, the sudden sense of danger that wrapped the clear air into a damp denseness, and my instant recognition that it was time to go--or else.

The encounter stayed with me for days, weeks and reading White's review brought the memory back.

A perfect plot for a short story of my own.


Signs of Spring

View of the Creek

Bubbling creek at rock formation

Formation of more crocuses in different part of the front yard

Today it reached nearly 60ยบ here in the Upper Delaware Valley. More crocuses in bloom, the creek bubbling rapidly and evidence that winter played havoc among trees, shrubs and grass.


Infinite Debt

Harper's magazine writer, Thomas Geoghagan, talks truth, or at least the truth as I know it. Just last week I called a creditor who charged me a late surcharge. My bill $9.95; the surcharge $29.95. If I am correct their mail back time from receipt of the bill was under 7 days.

I blew my stack and demanded that they remove this charge.

After all, would I, their user, neglect to pay $9.95 on a $9,000 credit line because I was negligent, remiss or a credit scoffer. I believe I actually threatened them with a suit or a reprimand from some authority or another.

In the same week, my primary banker, one of those seeking government bail-outs, offered me an immediate $5,000. loan--no credit check. All I'd have to do is walk into their representative's office (they don't have local branches in my community) and pick up the cheque.

And as funny things are often not always self-evident, my primary bank owns the credit card company--something I've always suspected but only had confirmed during this conversation.

Irony in the world of banking!

Earth Hour: Saturday, 28 March @ 8.30pm-9:30pm

Could help to turn off your lights for a wee hour tomorrow.

A sensitive story in words & photographs

International Women's Day, 3 March 2009, Logo ©

Unfortunately, there are too many stories similar to Fatima's, but knowing about them, revealing them, might, just might, bring them into the open and eradicate them, discovered at ParisParfait.

Today I will donate to Women for Women International.

Mother's Day Coming - Broke my no buy commitment

When Etsy sent the Mother's Day finds today, I was compelled to buy two pair of these xo ear-rings for my two daughter mothers.

The designer's other jewelry can be found here.

I'm really Rosie - a Sendak Sensation

One of my all time favourite children's stories and children's book writers. I bought this book for the Bean, and the CD.

When we waited together for Ruby Slippers to be born we listened to the CD and danced around like Rosie.

Perhaps I identify with this little girl as one of the scenes Sendak drew was of our old neighbourhood in Brooklyn. Yes, Mr. Sendak lived not too far away.

Perhaps he caught me dancing on the street.

Megan's Chair

Red Chair, Megan Dyer, oil on canvas, 1995 ©
Collection of Blogger

Thirty years in science and thirty paces in art should have taught me something--but I am afraid I have been a slow learning.

I should have paid more attention to what Megan was up to with her chairs.

She was focusing.

During her years at university, she focused on chairs.

To see her recent work check out her website.

What is a collection? Lamy Safari Update

Visa (F); 2009 Orange (1.1); Yellow (1.1); Red (1.5); Blue (F); Charcoal (B); Lime (1.1); White (B)

Since posting about my Lamy Safari's here, I've traded, sold, given away and reconverted my stash of these colourful pens.

Here's the latest hoard.

Still unsettled about the Red 1.5--too wide even for me.


Pens Found

Right brain work solved the riddle.

I was making a pen case. I was using my pencil case as a pattern.

The pens were in the pencil case in my sewing basket which I had put into the pantry when the family came.

It took journaling about the loss, accepting losses and letting go for my right brain to kick in.

Letting go often works!

Sketchcrawl Spring

The next sketchcrawl is April 11th.

I am determined to make it an outing.

Where are my pens?

Chart for the hour/minute of question

I have misplaced not one, but two fountain pens. I have searched everywhere but can't find them. I think when the children and grandchildren came I de-cluttered so well that several personal items got put in some unlikely places.

So, after searching everywhere I can think of, including some of the most unreasonable places, I thought I'd try horary (astrology) something I was once good at.

With every horary astrology book I've owned sold, I have no references and must rely solely on my memory.

It appears immediately that I am blocked about the pens whereabouts (Moon sq. Pluto), especially as it is clear that the pen is in the house (4th hse=home).

It is obvious I will have to do some serious right brain work to go farther than the obvious: lots of activity in the 7th and the "other 'Western' quadrant" might mean I will need someone else to help me unravel this mystery.

With Saturn (unaspected) in the 12hs, I suspect the pens are hidden, under something or in something.

There are no malific influences to preclude my finding the pens; the Moon will continue to aspect other planets in the 7hs; it is neither too late or too early to ask the question.

, the Moon won't make another major aspect, hence, the question may be moot.

I also know that the Bean was very interested in my art supplies...I wonder if she saw them, or might know where they are and if she might remember (this is an intuitive rather than a horary response).

Horary is not a well studied or well understood branch of astrology and I haven't been in touch with any of my on line astrology acquaintances for many years--so no help from that quarter.

This may take me as long as turning the house upside down!


Books: Get out of Jail (Gaol) Card

I missed this article in the New York Times Book Review a few weeks ago but I generally check back before I delete the emails.

I love this idea: read a book, do a course in literature and you get out of jail (gaol) instead.

Before I left New York, I had hundreds of books and donated them to a prison system non-profit organisation. I heard about the group through a free-cycle notice I placed that I had boxes of books that I wanted to part with to which they replied.

Two young, strapping men came up to the house and took them away but before they did we talked.

I've always been interested in how the prison systems work, have visited a few and always come away disoriented and sad.

I can't image how it must be feel to be locked up, and I can't really understand why so many find their way into the system. Oh, I understand the psychology of poverty, the feelings of alienation, but I don't quite get the need to act out our rages, resulting in incarceration.

My last visit was to the Boys Section at Riker's Island. I prepared myself for the potential shock of seeing so many young men in one room, but even after sufficient preparation I was alarmed at their dialogue and attitude--so much anger, so many misconceptions, so little grasp on facts and too little social bridging with day to day life.

I was there that day to talk to them about HIV/AIDS prevention.

I don't think I made one iota of difference but I did try.

Federal Hill, Providence

Federal Hill Photo: Courtesy Boston Globe ©

Federal Hill was a Providence neighbourhood I often frequented, not only for good food, excellent pastry, some of the best wine, but I had three friends that lived on or near the Hill, and several who lived just off the hill.

It seems like Little Italy (New York City) the Hill is going trendy and international.

Modern Photographer

Check out Lenny Foster's work here, a Taos, New Mexico artist.

The USPS in the Red

It seems that when Chip, my local Post Office supervisor, told me the USPS was in trouble weeks ago, he was knowledgeable about the loss of revenue stream, the tightening of the budget and just how strapped the USPS is with a red flag at their door of more than $2.3b.

It doesn't seem that an increase in postage could possibly cover such a huge deficit.

I know I use the USPS more than the average person but my contribution isn't enough to make any inroads into the change that has occurred in postal use in recent years--a steady decline.

And it is another balancing act: The journals who mail their issues are getting strapped by the increases, more of them are offering on line subscriptions (something I deplore) and regular users of the USPS are probably using its services for bill paying not services.

What a mess!

Now how will Washington handle this?

Compare & Contrast: Man Ray & Lotti Jacobi

Lotti Jacobi (at the NMWA)

Man Ray Foundation ©

I've been going through my older National Museum of Women in the Arts journals (a quarterly publication for members) and re-discovered the museum was gifted this Lotti Jacobi--Niura Norskaya, dancer, gelatin silver print, 1930.

During the 80s, say between 1982 and 1989, I was an avid photographer, Nikons (F, F2, Nikkormat) in hand, lens wrapped around my shoulder, and a sturdy, varied collection of camera bags to grab for various outings.

I was often on my Raleigh so sturdy was important but light didn't seem to hamper me much.

Unfortunately in a move from New York to Providence every single one of my photographs disappeared, totally disappeared--all the negatives, prints, everything. It was and remains a mystery how this happened but it did me in and I stopped taking photographs for years.

Before I left Rhode Island, I sold much of my equipment to an avid, young photographer who paid me for the cameras and lens over a period of a year.


I retained three of the cameras, one of which is a Nikkermat, circa 1970s. Unfortunately, it is among the heaviest of the period of Nikons, but I had some sentimental attachment to it then that totally eludes me today.

It is likely as my memory starts to kick in that I gave up photography when my cellar flooded and hundreds of art books were destroyed including all of my photography books.

I had a massive collection of these, as one of my dreams was to open a photography gallery.

It seemed like an omen.

Lotti Jacobi and Man Ray, established photographers of their day, remain so today and have always been among my favourites.

Today I see a similarity in intent, vision and subject matter.

Zoe, Maid at Athens, Julia M. Cameron (Metropolitan Museum) ©

I also see some similarity in subject matter in Julia Margaret Cameron's work, a brilliant Victorian photographer, whose work preceded theirs by more than 50 years.


It's a stapler

It looks something like a Morriset inkwell, but it's a staple-less stampler at, via Bibliophilebullpen.

Card of the Day on the Move

Red Dog Scott, Artists Inner Vision ©

Card of the Day will appear in its own home starting today.

I thought it needed a special place separate from Pentamento.

If you are among those interested in tarot and beautiful images, please check there in future.

And thanks to all who have admired and asked questions about the images and occasionally about tarot.


Card of the Day: Knight of Swords

Yale Carey (unusual female Knight of Swords)
Bea Nettles ©

Two thousand dollar car: Tata Nano

This little car being made for the Indian market (that is the country) is selling for $2000.

It looks a little like the Morris Mini which sells for 20 times more.

Cute, interesting, comes in about 4 colours and not available in the United States.

Working on Dreams

Antique French Brass Inkwell

Have you ever noticed that although dreams generally fly away, some stay with you forever?

Avenue des Champs-Elysees, Paris Signage

I had a dream about 25 years ago that included a jaunt down the Champs Elysees with my brother and a window shopping spree. In the dream, we approached an antique store with double windows and apparently no glass. G put his hand into the right hand window and snatched some object out, I just admired the left hand window with an antique inkwell similar to the one above.

A fellow psychologist and I spent ages analyzing the dream and he suggested that I find the inkwell and use it to explore why I hesitated taking it. We concluded it was an issue of anima vs. animus.

Now twenty five years later I find a similar, but not identical inkwell. In the dream the sun was shining quite brightly, a lovely day and the inkwell was silver. It was silver I kept looking for and never found.

I suspect a lesson here somewhere.

A glowing Bean

Anya, January '09

It's hard to image that this little smiling face will be five years old in June.

I remember the wintry days her mother and I spent in Sicily, trudging with glee in ancient ruins, she pregnant, me thrilled, and now time has passed and turned a seed into a beautiful girl.


Card of the Day: 10 of Cups

Fabriano Venezia Sketchbooks

Roz Wound Up, who generally makes her own sketchbooks, recommended these on her blog.

As I have the largest of these and like the texture and weight of the paper, I was wondering what it would cost to buy the smallest, a more convenient size for carrying around in my sketch bag.

It appears that three of the online web sites show these at different prices, although I did not check the cost of shipping: Wet Paint in MN, New York Central and Kate's in New York.

Perhaps on my next visit to NYC, I'll make a point of stopping at New York Central.

Maddening Weather

It says,

partly cloudy,

but the truth is,

it is snowing,


with high wind,

and light, wet flurries.

It started about half an hour


and I hoped it was a


At six o'clock

the sun came


the snow


and the birds appeared

searching, in the light

for food.

Dreams are made for exploring

Aerial view of the Jordaan

I had the most wonderful dream last night that took place in Amsterdam and found this terrific site about my old stomping grounds in the Jordaan.

The Jordaan might be compared to the West Village at its least commercial end, or at least that is how I viewed it when we lived there--lots of bisecting and narrow streets, a surprise at each turn and some of the best food shops.

Shopping was an art form, a pleasure and took time. Fish, poultry and meat all sold in separate shops, bread not sold with pastry, fresh fruits and vegetables sold at the green grocers, and diary products most often delivered in the mornings to your front door.

Most of the shopkeepers lived in the neighbourhood, their children went to school with mine, and we were often also friends.

Freshly cut mixed flowers

It did not mean we got special privileges and come Saturday morning, "Ik ben aan de beurt" (I am next or it is my turn) rang out stridently for attention and the joys of freshly baked bread or newly cut fresh flowers.

Ripe Purple Plums

And our local Prinsengracht green grocer would let me buy a crate of plums and peaches in spring and summer if I came at the end of the day for a pittance. I would make jars and jars of plum and peach jam after searching and traveling by train to an outlying town for pectin, something I never could seem to find in Amsterdam.

To be a huisfrau in the 70s seemed to be easier than today, but then I used a bicycle or my feet, not a car.


Card of the Day: Page of (Pentacles) Coins

Antonio Cicognara (Painting based on Tarot) ©

Review: J. Herbin Vert Empire Ink

J. Herbin Vert Empire ink,
Lamy Safari 1.1 and Exacompta Planner

J. Herbin inks have been among my favourites, and certainly one of the first bottle inks I used in my fountain pens. When Quo Vadis blog offered some greens to try out for St. Patrick's Day, I volunteered and Karen Doherty, Exaclair's Marketing Vice President, graciously sent along the ink.

Sample Writing in Exacompta Planner
(purchased at Pear Tree Pens)

Text Reads:

A test of J. Herbin Vert Empire in my Exacompta planner.

A much more muted colour than my swab and more subtle than the dip pen samples.

Swab and dip pen samples
(Left: Diamine Umber, Right: J. Herbin Vert Empire

It is rather like Diamine Umber, although the Umber is more saturated.

It is smooth writing - does have some very obvious shading in a Safari Lamy 1.1.

It is also quite a professional looking color.

And it dries in about 7 seconds on this paper.

I rather like this ink, and pleased that I filled my Lamy Safari Lime with it, a rather nice combination. I think it will be a regular in this and other pens.

Ink and planner can be purchased at Pear Tree Pens, inks are also available at many vendors, including Pendemonium & Swisher. Prices vary.