Thursday, December 29, 2016

Jan 2017

A Time Piece for Father Time...

He's busy carving another notch on his ancient scythe,
As our tired old year washes back into eternity.
We do a countdown with our own timepieces,
And this bright and hopeful NewYear washes ashore
And laps at our feet,
Ready for our perusal.

Daylight Savings Time will be back soon
Somehow, that promises us more time…
In some time zones, anyway.
In the meantime…
Let’s indulge in some personal
Daylight Wasting Time:

I never seem to have enough time.
After all,
Time is money.
Time keeps on slippin’ a-way-ay-ee.

What time is it anyway?
Is it lunch time yet?
How do Time Lords tell time in that blue phone box?
The White Rabbit is tardy.
The mail's a little late today, too.

Life moved more slowly in Olden Times.
We all know that.
We still have The London Times
And Times Square.
I’m just marking time now with this job.
Romeo was making time with Juliet.
Time is fleeting.

      Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
      creeps in this petty pace…

When the big hand is on the seven
And the little hand is on the six
It’s time for the baby’s bedtime story.
In my time it was
Howdy Doody time!
Sh, sh, now…
It’s time for you to go to sleep.

This is my favourite time of the year.
Time and time again.
Time marches on.
Soldiers sometimes march in Quick Time.
Do they call their other marching
Regular Time?

There’s no time like the present.
It’s about time!
So many chocolates, so little time.
Spending time now
Remembering across Time…
To bring focus to today:
If you had a Time machine,
Where in Time would you visit?
Oh, and...
When was your First Time?

Time-saving devices.
Time’s a wasting.
It’s closing time.
Once upon a time…
Not this time.
Not thyme.
Time to go.
Time flies when you’re having fun.
It’s all relative.

Today I use yesterday to create tomorrow.
Each year I do more things
For the first time and
Fewer things for the last time.

Pay attention this time…
Take time
To notice slow time.
And fast time.
And how you can decide which
Kind of time to live each part of each day.

      Time embeds the memories
      That create your own
Timeless identity.
      Without Time we are not.
      Time is our most valuable
      Non-renewable resource.
      We gotta use it or lose it. 
           Enjoy it.
                  Share it.

A L L   W E   H A V E   I S   T I M E

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dec 2016

We're all here... just being ready for plenty...

Autumn's cornucopias give way
To festivals of Light...
And to trees lopped into pointy perfection,
Ensconced in homes and be-decked
With garlands and geegaws...
Guarding gifts for warm
Family gatherings. 

We lucky ones welcome
All this with open arms
And expectations of glee...
We even sing and hum along

We're like these huge Chihuly bowls:
With vast capacity for all things
Wonderful and magical
And glowing with sparkling hope.

Greetings my friends.
If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

              Kurt Vonnegut, of course

From Sand. From Fire. Comes Beauty.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembrances 2016

Rembering Vonnegut's admonitions...

Last year I told you about Arthur VanTowsey, one of my touchstones of remembrance. Every year I remind you to remember Kurt Vonnegut's birthday today, along with his admonitions to seek peace and to enjoy today, both lessons he learned as a WWII POW in Dresden during those devastating firestorms and shared in his famous Saughterhouse Five.

As I was writing this month's missive the sad news of Leonard Cohen's passing reached me. So I offer you a memory of his style and grace. You're probably already listening to streams of his melodies, as am I.

As Kurt wrote so many times in his Slaughterhouse Five, "So it goes." Alas, we've seen too many go this year.

My favourite Vonnegut book, however, is Cat's Cradle. I think I might have been happy to be a follower of Bokonon.

My favourite L. Cohen song, is Tower of Song. "I asked Hank Williams how lonely does it get. Hank Williams hasn't answered yet."

Both Leonard and Kurt were blessed with a profound understanding of lonliness and unique golden voices that helped us to accept and appreciate and love. I offer my thanks to them both. So it goes.

If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

              Kurt Vonnegut, of course:

Monday, October 31, 2016

Nov 2016

Watching the evolution
proceeding in my viewfinder..

         and pondering...
         with help from this:

The leaves of the oaks are like the leather of bookbinding. How to speak otherwise of them, when in October they take on a brown hue and are as if leathery, ready to be set with gold. Why this excessive poverty of language any time we deal with colours? What do we have at our disposal when we try to name the splendor of colours? Some leaves are yellow, some red, and is that all? But there are also yellow-red, and flame-red, and bull’s blood-red (why this recourse to comparisons?). And birches. Their leaves are like small, pale-yellow coins, sparsely attached to twigs which are of what hue? Lilac, from the lilacs, and violet, from the violet (again, these unwieldy comparisons). How does the yellow of birch leaves differ from the yellow of aspens, underlaid with copper, stronger and stronger, till copper wins. A copper colour? Again a thing, copper. And probably only green and yellow are deeply rooted in the language, for blue the etymologists associate with flavus, yellow, while red again, in its old Norse forms, goes back to trees, the rowan or reynir, the mountain ash, or perhaps to rust. Is the language so resistant because our eyes are not very attentive to details of nature unless they serve a practical purpose? In October, pumpkins ripen in the fields and their colour is orange. Why this recourse to orange, how many eyes saw oranges in a northern country?

I put all this down, for I have encountered difficulty in describing autumn in the valley of the Connecticut River in a precise and simple manner, without the props of comparison and metaphor.
                      ~ A Little Treatise on Colours by Czeslaw Milosz

If this isn't nice, I don't know what is. 
             ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course, whose birthday is November 11th...
                and who always reminds us to remember to remember.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Oct 2016

Wonders in Basalt... via the Olmecs and Isamu Noguchi

I had reason recently to share some of my images from the Noguchi Museum in Queens. This detail makes me wonder about the star-filled galaxy in the circle... is it convex or concave??? Sort of like the wonderments of our own universe. I show you Noghchi's whole wonder-full basalt piece to the left. He worked a lot in basalt and with my long-dormant sculptor's curiosity I wondered how it feels to work this stone. Basalt is mostly a result of lava flow and often is marked with rough air pockets but can be compressed into a solid mass... both with various specs of different minerals.

Then TVO brought me a doc about the Olmec civilization near the east coast of Mexico. Ancient Olmec sculptors found a basalt quarry quite a distance from their main city, San Lorenzo. About 1500 BC those guys started their colossal portraits while still in the quarry, probably to reduce their weight (to a mere 20-40 tons each) for transport via barges and brute force to San Lorenzo, high upon a hill. Once in place, they carved the details.
Archaeologists found over 10 of them formally arranged in San Lorenzo, and others in the other Olmec cities. Their quarry still holds some barely begun heads, so we know that part (see left). How they accomplished the actual transport remains a wonderment, sort of like Easter Island on the other side of the world.

I watched the scenes in the quarry with some more wondering about the feel of working basalt. I turned to Wikipedia, of course, to learn more and through that search realized that the staple Mexican mortar and pestle, called a molcajete, probably came from the same era and is traditionally made from this same basalt! I still haven't carved basalt, but I am from Texas and I have used such implements for grinding as well as for serving vessels. Now I wonder about what it would feel like carve into one and then to polish part of its surface. I might be letting you know some day.

If this isn't nice, what is?

           ~Kurt Vonnegut, of course.


More about Noguchi at Artsy's Noguchi page.

"Everything is sculpture...any material,
      any idea without hindrance born into space, 

         I consider sculpture."
-Isamu Noguchi

Saturday, September 24, 2016

AUG 5, 2016

RIP My Beloved Philip John Evett
You heard about him in my Nov calendar of last year when Phoebe and I visited with him at our Trinity University reunion. Evett had been our sculpture prof... and the one whose influence I've felt most profoundly. 

His talent and his encouragement... and his pre-pun pause that was mostly punctuated with a puff from his ever-present pipe. He accepted groans as his just reward. 

As Phoebe said, 93 is a good long run. Memories are flooding in right now, along with tears of gratitude and love.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sept 2016

    Misty Blue Morn
        Fog comes
        on little cat feet.
        It sits looking
        over harbor and city
        on silent haunches
        and then moves on.
    My Toronto misty fog
    Settles in heavily
    And engulfs with
    Endless muffled silence.

    I greet it with
    Sad, solemn acceptance,
    Return to bed
    Harkening to voices
    That have rendered
    Misty Blue...
    Mostly those women
    Who have taught us
    The Blues:
        Etta James
        Dorothy Moore
        Ella Fitzgerald
        Gladys Knight
    And more recently,
        Jann Arden.
    The saddest I think, though,
    Is this haunting version
        from Van Hunt.
    Go listen, and see
    If you're not ready to crawl
    Back under your own covers...
    Until the Sun forces it's way
    Through again and demands
    We all return to Ecstatic Joy
    Here: now and for always!

       If this isn't nice, what is?

               ~Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Aug 2016

My home beyond the veil...
The history of bridges is rife stories of the drive for communication and expansion. In 1911 my mother was being being born in NYC, home to over 2,000 bridges and tunnels... lots of expansive talking going on then and there. At the same time in Toronto citizens were trying to decide whether to build a bridge across the Don River to further their own expansive conversations. Referenda were held each year from 1910 til 1913, with residents voting against its construction in 1912 by 59 votes and finally in favour in 1913 by 9236 votes.

Known officially as the Prince Edward Viaduct, today we mostly now call it the Bloor Viaduct. It's part of a set of three bridges: this big one crosses the Don River (and now the DVP and the train tracks and the Bayview Extension plus a well-used bike path), then there's the bridge that crosses the Rosedale ravine and the other that connects the original terminus of Bloor Street to the Rosedale section.

The three-bridge system was designed by Toronto architect Edmund W. Burke. He also designed Trinity-St. Paul's United Church and the Robert Simpson's Department Store building, now home to The Bay and most recently Sak's Fifth Avenue. Time marches, eh?

But back to the Viaduct. Because it was second only to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge in attracting suicides, in 2003 a barrier of steel rods was added to shield would-be jumpers. The barrier was designed by architect Dereck Revington and is called the Luminous Veil. Yes, it is. And last year lights were finally added to the veil so it glows in colour at night. Yes, it does.

Edmond Burke's bridges opened in 1918 and just a few months ago a great little pub bearing his name opened near the big bridge and its enlightened veil... and just around the corner from my home in the sky.

You can see that home beyond the veil here... it's that tall building in the background with some lights on, but not mine, because I was standing on the Prince Edward Viaduct taking this picture for you.
If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

                                    ~Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Friday, July 1, 2016

July 2016

Blueberries now and remembered...

Soon after arriving in Canada, we lived in a hidden part of North Vancouver, BC, called Deep Cove. Our backyard there was a mass of brambles and vines. Indeed our yard was a tangle of blueberries and salmonberries with a few raspberries dotted here and there. We spent our first spring clearing paths so we could gather our bounty... and the rest of our time there trying to maintain those paths against nature's rampant power.

Turns out we had some serious competition for our berries. As the last house on a street at the foot of Mt. Seymour, we were a part of The Wild. Visitors included countless raccoons of course, but the most dramatic visitors were bears. We could always tell when they were around because the neighbours' dogs went wild. Guess bears are really smelly. Like our neighbours, we kept our garbage secure in our basement, but those berries! Bears loved our berries... and they loved our easy-access pathways. They came in the night. We never saw them in person, but those barking dogs warned us to stay indoors. We always saw evidence the next day... and those bushes kept creating more berries for all of us.

Many years later, driving on Salt Spring Island, we stopped and picked berries on the sides of the roads. I wondered then, if bears shared those bushes, too.

Now, I get my berries from the grocery store... and when I'm lucky, local markets.

I always think about the bears... and how generations of both our species keep sharing our treasures.
Thank you to David's sister Annie, for this perfect pic of your yummy Portland picks.
This month, I invite you to let all your berry feasts
remind you of the bears—and Kurt Vonnegut's urging:
      . . .  please notice when you are happy,
       And exclaim or murmur or think at some point,

      If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June 2016

Exploring Esperanto ~ Finding Haiku...

Some link somewhere led me to find out just what Esperanto is. I'm enthralled... mostly because I'm grammar obsessive and this invented language from the late 19th century is constructed with gloriously simple and consistent grammar... and vocabulary... and pronunciation! I found a neat site to learn and explore, lernu!. What it lacks in graphics it makes up for in earnestness. There's even a Toronto bunch who meet and speak Esperanto not far from my home! I'm trying it all out at Duolingo and finding it fun and incredibly easy.

A friend at work is from France. He tells me there's even an Esperanto version of Tintin! This month's pic is the cover of a book of Esperanto haiku. It's called Senokulvitre (which means "without eyeglasses") and it's by Steven D. Brewer. He and his brother learned Esperanto when in school they still write and speak it. Seems people become devotees.

Here's a sample from his book. It's called hajik:

la mondo estas
     mola kaj bonveniga…
          the world is
soft and inviting…
     without glasses

I'm inspired to try my own tranlation of my email sign-off:
Pri la abelo la floro ne sonĝas. Ĝi floras kaj la abelo venas.
The flower doesn't dream of the bee. It blooms and the bee comes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Luke Skywalker Day 2016

That's it... grab your light sabres today...
y muchas cervezas mañana!!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

May 2016

Sunrise on an elusive spring slides over the Don Valley...

As I've often shown you in these past few years, from my balcony I overlook the western sunset view of our city..The lights of the skyline amaze me still. Every night.

But lo! I also overlook this sunrise in glorious reflection. Every morning. Sometimes it's SO bright I must close the curtains for a little while, just to be able to check my email. Then as the sun rises into the sky it enlightens more and more of the valley's sides and eventually its floor... wherein zooms the morning rush-hour traffic.

From this perch I will be monitoring the green-to-come. It's not here yet, but I share hope with people I meet on the elevator, in the grocery store line-up and on the subway. We are all impatient and we are all filled with hope... and a burning desire to complain about the heat.
And again, from Kurt Vonnegut:
       I urge you to please notice when you are happy,
       And exclaim or murmur or think at some point,

      If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

April 2016

My Balcony Buddha's got cold toes...

Saved this til now.
If I'd sent it on the First
You would have thought
It an April Fool's prank.

We wish it were.
But wishes aren't horses
And we beggars still have a cold,
Wet and snowy walk ahead.

This Buddha doesn't complain.
He sits and steadfastly
Collects alms of flakes.
Cuz he's soooo here now.

My here now is cozy...
Inside looking out,
With a nice cup of
Hot chocolate to sustain.

I'll watch through glass
As our here becomes
The long-awaited now
Of sandals and lemonade.

Then I'll try to learn from
This same balcony Buddha
Not to complain too loudly
About the heat.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Mar 2016

Steam rises as we all seek warmth at sunset on Valentine's Day...

We had snow and winds and the general stay-home-and-watch-Netflix kind of cold. Then we slid into a pseudo spring. Some brave souls even went out this past weekend in shorts! Not I, of course, but I did enjoy walking about my bustling neighbourhood in shoes instead of boots!

In Toronto we know we still have at least another 4 to 6 weeks of Netflix before we can trust the sun again. Now Anwar Knight's telling us to gird ourselves for 6-12 cm of snow... arriving by the time you're reading this.

In like a lion, eh?

Thanks to my new windows, I'm staying cozy this year.

And... thanks to a lovely gift from Peter, these cozy evenings I'm adding Metropolitan Opera On Demand to my Netflix cocooning time.


Friday, February 12, 2016

2016 Feb

Canada Post keeps making history...
too bad most of us have given up on snails.

No broken arm, I'm just late, but I'm including a little Valentine heart for everybody!

This Year of the Fire Monkey portends a time where anything can happen. This cheeky animal bursts with exuberance, bringing a lightening fast pace and fantastical motivation. The Monkey increases communication, humor and wit, helping us get through stressful times with grace and ease. Business flourishes and risks tend to pan out. The Monkey’s gift is the ability to find unconventional solutions to old problems. Daring to be different can lead to success.

Overall advice: be prepared to work hard and stand up for what you deserve.
and never, ever forget Vonnegut's request:

I urge you to please notice when you are happy,
And exclaim or murmur or think at some point,

"If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

Friday, January 1, 2016

Jan 2016

The Empire State Building Shows Off...

New Year's Day brought snow to my hilltop perch above the Don Valley... and earlier this week Kate's new New Jersey perch showed off NYC's seasonal sparkle. Yes, I spent a happy Christmas week in Union City, hanging with Kate, lazing with Jessica Jones and London Spy and more HGTV than anyone could possibly guess is even possible. Upon David's return from Portland we entrained for the greatest tacos in this Texan's life... at Manhattan's Chelsea Market, followed by memories of Italy with deep chocolate gelato at Eataly on 5th Avenue!

I'm looking forward to a year of creative joy and reflection... and remembering Jack Cheng's entreaty, I wish us all a year that is "restorative, overwhelming, spent with loved ones, quiet with solitude, everything, everything."

Yes, especially everything!


and never, ever forget Vonnegut's request:

I urge you to please notice when you are happy,
And exclaim or murmur or think at some point,

"If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”