Writing and Living Locally

Since moving to the Upper Delaware Valley, I've been writing magazine articles for the local newspaper.  Some are on line, but most are just in print.  These articles have ranged from my own personal loves---barns, to subjects I knew nothing about--fly fishing.

Recently I took on a volunteer position for our local arts alliance writing for their newsletter.

Rivoli Theatre, South Fallsburg, NY

I just finished writing my 500-word, no more, no less article about our local community theatre, the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop.

Coffee roasting at JavaLove

Coffee klatch at Java Love, Bethel, New York

I am about to complete one of two articles I am writing for the magazine.   Java Love, a recently opened coffee roaster in Bethel, New York (not far from good old Woodstock) is a terrific spot along route 17 for coffee and ambience. 

I wonder what Jodie and Kristine (the owners) will think of this recipe for iced coffee.  I am going to try it this weekend.

Commerical Street, Honesdale, PA

The bridge entering on route 191 from the North, Honesdale, PA

My last piece will be one I suggested to my editor and was accepted entitled either "Where the Sidewalk Begins" or "Walking Honesdale."  This local Pennsylvania town is upscaling and providing lots of sites and sounds to enjoy.  I interviewed about half of my folks, and will have to catch up with the rest of the Honesdale gang when I return from Pittsburgh and still make my deadline.

And in theatre parlance, Pentamento will be dark until I return from Pittsburgh.  

Have a happy holiday.

IFJM and Rabbit Girl

If you read Roz Stendahl's blog, Roz Wound Up, you may know that several years ago she inaugurated "International Fake Journal Month. " I believe I joined the first year, but have fallen behind and haven't since.

This year I am thinking of joining publicly or privately with an alter-ego I had in the 90s: Rabbit Girl.

I was living temporarily in an alternative community in Shutesbury with folks I met whilst conducting workshops for people living with HIV/AIDS.  I met the group through a public health administrator in Boston.

Bill, like too many of my friends, colleagues and acquaintances during that period, has passed beyond.  He had lived in the community before joining the MDPH (Massachusetts Department of Public Health).  MDPH was, then, one of the most dedicated and generous of funding agencies and public health providers in the country.  They funded my projects with a vigor I never found elsewhere, including these weekend long psychological workshops they helped me provide throughout the State.

Lower Berkshires, Shutesbury, MA

After I left one of the agencies I directed in Western Massachusetts, I decided to see what it was like to live collectively.  I was fortunate to have a beautiful room, with fabulous views of the lower Berkshires, and two huge closets, in a custom built house on the property.  What I didn't have was any privacy.   Two young male adolescents, two scattered adults, and an untold number of undisciplined animals were my house-mates in one big untidy mess.

When I fulfilled my duties for the day,  (I was the in-house publicist and fund-raiser for the community) I'd roll down the hills (saving petrol) to Amherst and find refuge at the Black Sheep Cafe.

Black Sheep Deli and Cafe, Amherst, MA

The Black Sheep has good coffee, great perhaps and excellent food and desserts.  Sitting outside in good weather, and indoors in bad, I'd plot my next moves.  Rabbit Girl was part of those planning sessions.  I found her in Northampton (MA) waiting for me in the window of a pastry shop on Main Street.

She went with me everywhere, a dangling miniature white stuffed rabbit.  I loved her to distraction, and ultimately she became so messy, dirty and straggly that years later I put her away.  Now I can't remember what I did with her, but I did buy a replacement--a larger rabbit that sits on top of my pen and ink cabinet.  In this way Rabbit Girl stays clean, safe and remains relevant.

Norwottuck Rail Trail Bridge, Northampton MA

Whenever I am out of sorts, I think about Rabbit Girl.  You may ask why.  Rabbits are known for their skittish nature, run fast and in Native lore represent a form of timidity, or fear.  I am not known for either, but Rabbit Girl could be both and she often was just that: fearful.

For many personal reasons, Rabbit Girl, emblematic of the lore is very present in my consciousness, and I wonder how she could have her very own journal.  

I am still wondering!  

I did start to prepare a spiral bound journal following Richard's lead and intend to have it finished up by the time I reach Pittsburgh.

Film: The 1% - a Greenwald documentary

Fascinated by the rich and infamous? Frightened by the 1%? Alert to the exigencies of wealth's influence on health, education and welfare.  This new documentary in DVD format, ably done by Robert Greenwald is the ticket to learn more about these issues and the Family Koch.

Georgia Pacific product, one of dozens of Koch Family businesses

Alternet did a fine interview with Mr. Greenwald here .


and shared a clip of the documentary.


Book Review: The Pulse of Mixed Media

As luck would have it, and a typical Mercury retrograde moment, the day after I went to Ellenville and met Seth Apter, my copy of his book, "The Pulse of Mixed Media" arrived.

I haven't read each and every word, yet, but I can say without reservation, it is as different as I believed it would be and a reflection of Seth's two hats: psychologist and artist.

Probing anyone within is a delicate matter and having now met Seth Apter, I recognize him as a refined questioner.  He looks one in the eye and with a certain gentleness asks and when he asks he also creates a non-threatening intimacy.  His approach is difficult to resist and it seems that the 31 artists in "The Pulse of Mixed Media" did not resist.  Each came forward both with their thoughts and feelings--two different things (see the Jungian Personality Test for definitions of  the F in "feel" and the T in "think" for a clearer distinction.

Although I've met, worked with or followed several of the 31 featured artists and a number of the 100, many of the artists are new to me.  Of those with whom I have some familiarity, I learned about passions, interests, creative processes they have I was totally unaware of.  And I  got to read and see the work and thoughts of the unfamiliar.    Perhaps the artists, too, learned secrets they had internalized or recognized and hadn't put words. 

It's a varied group and a secondary tribute to Seth is his inclusion of five or more males and several highly recognizable mixed media artists (Lynne Perrella and Danny Gregory, Michelle Ward and Sarah Fishburn, to name four).

It couldn't hurt to ask oneself these same questions, and I intend to do that and use the information in positive ways.

After I've read the full text, I'll write a review for Amazon, but I must say I took advantage of my membership with the publisher to order it directly from them.

I certainly will give it all five stars.

Adrienne Rich

A young Adrienne Rich

A mature Adrienne Rich

I could write my own obituary but after reading this wonderful blog post from Cole Wardell this morning, all I want to say is "for women nothing changes, everything changes" and I hope we have a flourish of new Riches (small and capital letters) among women writers in the days and years ahead.


if I could live ten more lives

I often wonder what if...

What if I finished medical school instead of teaching 2nd year students parasitology?   What if I kept souping up go-cars?   What if I studied physics and became a bonafide meta-physicist?  What if after I graduated from acting school I auditioned for a play instead of teaching kids ad lib or working at a legitimate theatre for its general manager?

And what if I had really put my attention to writing, really writing, not just an article for the newspaper, or a newsletter for the Photo Club or producing an art zine but rather fully formed stories, even a complete but tight 278 page novel.

All these wonders hit me after seeing the headline of Francine Prose's piece on Edith Wharton.

Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton would have been 150 years old this year, having a birthday just weeks ago.

Mabel Luhan
Remember I have her pen, not her actual fountain pen but one that is nearly identical.

Conklin Fountain Pen

When I stayed at Mabel Luhan's in Taos, I asked for the Wharton room.  What if...I slept in the same bed dozens of years later would I be inspired to be a novelist?  I settled for Willa Cather instead.

Luhan House, Taos NM (Cather room far right)

Perhaps some of this wondering started this morning before I saw the Review because  I captured the names of six literary journals at P&W and looked at their requirements.  Then I decided that a different environment would help, it often does, in editing and possibly finishing some of my scribbles.   I will bring my incomplete novel, finished but unedited short stories and dozens of poems which I've already thinned out to a manageable whole to Pittsburgh next week and submit, yes that threatening but valuable word, "submit" the one story I am most proud of writing whilst at the Theological Society Writing Group in Boston more than 10, no nearly 20 years ago.

After all...I only have this life.

Meeting the man behind the Altered Page

On Monday, 26 March, Seth Apter, The Altered Page, had an opening at the Ellenville Library (NY) and shared his work, his book, "The Pulse of Mixed Media" and his thoughts on how he started to create his mixed media work and where he is now in his development.  It was a joy to meet him and see his work close up.  

I ordered the book days ago but unfortunately it hasn't come yet.  I will do a follow up review after I receive it and  I've had time to sit with it and read it.  Yes, it is one of those books you not only look at but read.

Photo via Ephemera

I thought to bring a camera, but was distracted by the changing weather from Spring to blustering winds, the adventure of getting from my country lane to Ellenville and my inner dialogue about an article I was writing, so alas I didn't snap any photographs of the event or of the artist.

More on Seth's schedule for his book tour is here.


What I miss about no longer living in the Apple

I drove into NYC for the first time in eons for a family event about two weeks ago, stayed at Westbeth, enjoyed the 10th floor view and the convenience of a parking space in front of the building--the Parking Goddess was in evidence early on a Sunday morning.

I was thrilled to be in the City, so thrilled in fact that I walked too much, ate quite a bit more than usual, and did very little shopping.  I did however breath in the Apple air, soak in the pleasure principle, and see my lovely and loving New York City family.  Lennox celebrated his 1st birthday and Annika her 3rd within days of each other and both were in full form.

After Lennox received the sacraments at the Ephiphany Church, we all wandered over to lunch.

 My three meals were marvelous, but uber expensive.

La Folia, 19th at 3rd Avenue, NYC

Family late lunch at La Folia (19th Street and Third Avenue).   This was a repast to remember. M&M went way overboard and the dishes kept coming out as if we were in a Chinese restaurant and having dim sum.  It was excellent and I highly recommend it for superb service and very tasty and tasteful food.  Cheque on M&M.

Pastis, NYC

The next morning we had breakfast at Pastis.   This very West West Village (former Meat Packing area) gathering hole could be a transplant from Paris, including the decor, menu and prices.  We had more coffee than food, but I did take away a free matchbook (a rare sighting) and two wee jam pots that I've turned into ink bottles.  My treat to Lucianne.

My last meal was with Judith at the Chelsea Market; her treat.   We needed some time alone together and I needed to transfer some paperwork over to her.  She's not come up to the country (my regular abode) for ages and I've been mailing her stuff and taking stock of her very sober and unlived in home nearby.   I had a good bowl of soup, some dessert and a wonderful pot of coffee.  I also feel in love with the coffee pot they used to serve the coffee and have put it, along with dozens of other unnecessary items, on my wish list, especially inasmuch as I am really fine with my loyal Chemex.

MXYPLYZYK, Greenwich Avenue, NYC

My single stop on Sunday morning before the christianing was at MXYPLYZYK for a browse and buy.  I have always gone there to shop and miss the luxury of just walking in whenever I was in the neighbourhood--which was frequent.  I didn't plan a visit but walking over from Westbeth to the East Side gave me the opportunity to at least see, if not fully savour, several of my old haunts.

Now, nearly two weeks later, there are exhibits and sites I want to see and I just can't get back to New York but instead am heading out to Pittsburgh to see my other wee, but older grand-children, also about to celebrate births and joyful holidays.

When I did live in the City, I would regularly walk from work through Madison Square Park to 23rd Street,

then cross the wide expanse to Aperture and soak in the gloriousness of photography.  The bookstore and gallery have since moved to 27th Street.

Davinci Supplies is hosting a demonstration on March 28 with Don Colley and his unique way with Faber Castell markers.  It would have been interesting to see what all the fuss is about his use of the markers and a first hand view of his work.


Books: The Lady in Gold (Klimt)

The Washington Post has some good reviews of books infrequently covered elsewhere.  Here they review Anne-Marie O'Connor's" new book "The Lady in Gold," an exhaustive look at the Gustav Klimt painting and its history.

It is a pity the Klimt work is out of circulation and in private hands, and also a pity that too few artists are explored, while others are over-exposed.

Several years ago the Neue Galerie New York museum had a retrospective of Austrian painters I attended and was more than fascinated by.  After seeing the exhibit, I searched out more of their work, and their history.

Some remarkable tidbits, other than gossip, about the Vienna group I stumbled on is information about their materials or lack therein.  It was remarkable how little attention was paid to issues that are exhaustively analyzed these days, i.e., archival materials.  Many of the Viennese School and many other artists of the early 20th century used paper that we'd often reject as unusable and writing instruments we'd pass by. 

Egon Schiele, Self-portrait, 1912

Several of Egon Schiele's works, all having survived, are on plain sketch paper, and 

Das Undbild, 1919, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Kurt Schwitter's work is often on newsprint (German, not Austrian).


Cathy "Kate" Johnson at Strathmore

I've never taken a class from Cathy "Kate" Johnson but I have and have had for years many of her books.  She is a tender hearted teacher with great knowledge about art, watercolours and their properties.

Sign ups for her workshop seem to still be open.


Rules, yes, no, maybe so

Rules credited to Sister Corita Kent of  The Immaculate Heart College Art Department, via Skip Lawrence and Diane Santarella at Skip's blog.


BBC talks pens in the Stationery Cupboard

This audio came up at several blogs and I had to do a sit and listened with great jolly-ness to the "Stationery Cupboard."

Image via BBC

School children, physicians and many from the Writing Equipment Society participated in the podcast.


Just plain gracious: Meryl Streep

The Boston Globe reported that Meryl Streep's foundation, "Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts "

gave $10,000 to the "Upward Bound,"  a scholarship fund and project Viola Davis

started in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

Ain't that a nice touch.

Politics: Senator Snowe explains her decision not to run again

I only lived in Maine for short periods of time, but it was one of few places I considered for retirement, in particular Belfast, among my favourite holiday spots.

Belfast, ME 1920

Belfast, ME harbour at night, via

With that in mind, and as a former, long time New England resident, I follow what happens throughout the region. 

So naturally I paid attention to Senator Snowe's decision not to run for the Senate again.  Here in her own words she explains her decision.

Senator Olympia Snowe, although a boomer, apparently holds the same values of those Republicans I came to know and work with in the 60s in New York and in the 90s in New England.

Those values appear to be gone and replaced by something I don't understand.