Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Mishmash

 On the Shabbat before Christmas it's home for the holidays, challah and poinsettias on the table, a merry blend of food, and. . . birthday gifts for all.    To read the post, please find me on Open Salon  or

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a healthy, peaceful New Year.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Are You Ready? Best Chocolate Pound Cake Ever

Oh, joy of chocolate.  

Working in the night kitchen. Getting ready for tomorrow's post at


From my kitchen to yours, wishing you happy baking and merry holidays. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Enough is Never Enough with Latkes

Nothing like a plate of potato pancakes to inspire excess.   For more,  see Editor's Picks on Open Salon  Vivian Henoch's Blog or follow me on Wild Turtle Crossing

For the source of today's scrumptious photo with recipes for toppings, see  Small Latkes, Large Toppings — A Good Appetite - 
Article by Melissa Clark, photo by Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times.

For a good laugh go to 
Hanukkah, Rekindled -
Op-Ed Contributor Howard Jacobson, this year's Man Booker Prize winner for "
The Finkler Question."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blogging down?

Yup, and still slogging away
every morning for nearly two weeks now,definetly not writing the novel of my dreams.  

Instead,  I've been rolling out of bed around 4 a.m,  tapping at the keyboard until I actually wake up and the fog clears around 6.  I admit to few if any aha moments where the writing breaks through and takes wing. How could it, under the circumstances?
In the process, between glimmers of insight and morning light,  I've caught the sniffles (cough, cough) and grown more irritable with each passing day, adding my slapdash words to the count, racing the clock before daybreak.   

In short-lived triumph, I post the morning's output on the NaNoWriMo site, hit submit, and watch the words melt away, disappearing into a graph, charting my "progress."  
My cumulative word count?  Around 21,000 words.  Give or take. My  "stats" assure me that at the present pace of 2000 messy words a day, my ETA for the finish line is November 25.   

And that's a good thing. 

Starting next weekend,  I expect to be diverting most of my energy and attention to Thanksgiving prep, recipes, groceries and cooking... joining family out of town.      
From monkey-at-a-typewriter to turkey.  Sounds about right.

Hey, thanks for dropping by. I find that you're here strangely encouraging. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

NaNoWriMo, nahh-na-na-na-nahh

The craziest thing happened on the exit ramp of this blog... 

Go, see Ann at Lake E: NaNoWriMo

See me at Wild Turtle Crossing

And find Maura, Maura? Where are you?

The three of us are jumping into National Novel Writing Month, a marathon on keyboard starting Monday, November 1.   The goal?  To draft a 50,000-word novel/novella/long story from start to finish (well sorta) in 30 days.   

I can't imagine how this will go for me. Which is pitiful, considering the entire point is to exercise the imagination.  Open on my desktop is a long letter from the NaNoWri-To Team outlining the rules of engagement (no rules), the opportunities for discovery and literary madcap fun (I think not) , and suggestions for getting through the month despite the  "specter of personal humiliation" looming at every page. 

"You've read a lot of novels," the email states, "so you're completely up to the challenge of writing one."  Oh really?  I don't know about you, but I find there's a distinction between a reading an actual book and facing an actual blank page.

I don't have a plan, other than to crawl along the page, at my own pace,  one word at a time, 1667 words a day, sweeping every last crumb, note, and passing observation into the word count.   I barely have a glimmer of where to start.  Breaking the first rule to "write what you know," I'm heading down the road, knowing nothing whatsoever  -- winging it, a wild turtle crossing.

Wish us luck.  And thanks for stopping by.        

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Besides orange barrels on the road, chili dogs, Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Ford Country, shipwrecks, Mackinac Island, Frankenmuth, Leelanau Wine Tours, Comerica Park, bow-hunting season, Au Sable River, Petoskey stones and Autumn passing in flying colors, what makes Michigan so Michigan?

Welcome to my adopted state of mind. Wild Turtle Crossing: Pure Michigandering

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Blogging on. Still tap-tap-tapping at a keyboard, lost in concentration on one bumpy sentence after another, scrabbling on the rocks of one word at a time.

Chewing pencils into alpha-bit shavings, figuratively speaking. Noting lists and links, tags and twittering friends, books to read, movies to see, games to play, technology to ponder, and other points of interest across the galaxy of the internet.

The voice of the turtle calls. Welcome to

Photo source: miniature alphabet pencil sculptures by Dalton Ghetti

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Slowly crossing

How does it feels to start-up a new blog?

  • like working in your pajamas
  • like moving into your first apartment
  • like scrubbing floors, opening windows, unpacking boxes, arranging sock drawers
  • like lighting candles
  • like Trick-or-Treat with no one coming to the door
  • like a turtle crossing in heavy traffic
  • like dancing at water’s edge

Welcome to

(A new path, just down the road.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On a slow day

Have you ever actually seen a turtle crossing the road? Indeed a pitiful sight, an exercise in futility, surely to meet with shell-cracking, body-flattening disaster. Death by speeding rubber. But still, imagine that act of faith in the motion forward. Onward. Proceed at all costs to the other side.

Because I am slow to cross the road, because I am slow to read signs, even when the handwriting’s on the wall, because I am slow to say goodbye, troubled by closings and endings of all kinds, because I’m slow to write, a procrastinator by nature, because I’ve developed the habit of checking this blog from day to day and dropping my line or two, because habits die slowly, even when splattered on the road, here I am.

Here. Present. Hand raised. Eager to answer a question no one has asked of me. Ready. Notebook open. Seated in a classroom, where no one is taking attendance, where I am the sole student. Slow learner. Stringing sentences together. Writing for the sake of . . . writing. On a blog that I did not begin. Okay, let’s see how this goes. A turtle. Crossing the road.

Friday, August 6, 2010

When one road closes....

You know the old saying, "Close a window. Another window opens."  And so on.  I'm saying that now.  Time to close the blog. 

Time to set the Wayfarers free to explore new paths on the Artist's Way or new paths off the Artist's Way. Viv and I have talked. (It turns out there's this crazy thing that's not on the Internet.  It's called "The Phone."  Cool.) We agree it's time for us to move on.  I have a lot of baby blogs in the Blogger nursery, not to mention about three novels on life support.  Viv has a couple of URLs ready to go.

I know -- because I have heard from several of you -- that your paths are diverging through the summer.  And your creative souls are as rich as ever they were.  Merely a little diverted... like mine.

Now, when I say "close the blog," I do not mean "kill the blog."  As far as I know, the blog will be right here and fully operational for possibly years and years.   Feel absolutely free to come here and read the old posts or leave a new post. 

I'll drop by from time to time to see if weeds are popping up through the pavement.  Did you ever see that show, "Life After People"? It's a vivid demonstration of how the dust bunnies would REALLY multiply if all the folks on earth left for some unknown reason.  Anyway, I think our little blog may soon get overgrown with vines and have zoo animals roaming around in it.  (Which would be different, how?  I hear you.)   But it will still be here.  For the Blogger version of Forever, however long that may be.

I'm building a new blog that's not all about the AW.  It's called Lake E and I intend it to be kind of a journal, kind of an exploration, kind of an excuse to keep writing.  It's at  Right now, it's an empty lot.  Later, we'll see. 

For now, I have to say this has been great for me.  You've been great, all you Artist's Wayers, from January right on till August.  Isn't that fine?  Take a minute to consider one fabulous thing you've learned about yourself in 12 weeks or 24 weeks or a week and a half.  Whatever it's been for you. 

You have absolutely everything you need to continue whenever the road calls to you.  The Book.  A pen.  Or pencil.  A notebook.  Or just paper.  Or just a blank wall and a crayon. A scrap of fabric.  A keyboard.  A knitting needle (or two.)  Whatever.  And you have your Artist.  Waiting to go on a date with you.  Standing right there.  (She's got your back and you are NOT Sandra Bullock.  So, lucky you.) 

I have your back, too.  You can take the Sherpa off the mountain, but you can't take the mountain .... rats.  What does that mean?  That doesn't work.  I hate it when cliches don't pan out.  That's their job.  To always pan out.  Rats. Rats.

At any rate, you have me.  My phone number.  My email address.  My absolutely forever promise to support your creativity in any way I can.  Let's stay in touch.  Or get back in touch.  Let's share our projects.  Our plans and goals.  Our promises.  Our blood oaths. Our vacation schedules, our recipes for panna cotta.  Really.  I count you all among my very best and most valued friends.  I get tremendous strength and encouragement simply from knowing you're in the world.  Let's stay in touch.  And whatever I can do to boost you along your path, let me know.

Let's give Bilbo Baggin's the last word.  I love him.  And you.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.


Sunday, August 1, 2010


Can you imagine? Who would think to write a book where every sentence is a question? Have you read anything before by Padgett Powell? Do you find him as wickedly funny and remarkably clever as I do? Out of curiosity, have you paged through the author’s latest novel at a book store and decided not to buy it? In fact, can The Interrogative Mood even be considered a novel? Have you ever judged a book by its cover and been terribly mistaken?

Do you use exclamation points when you write letters? Do you find elegant the hypothetical question? Are you forever asking yourself how you are? And do you really care? Are you ever bored with your interior dialogue?

Do you religiously wash all your vegetables when you bring them home from the store? Do you prefer paper or plastic? Have you ever wished you could just drive off into the sunset, with or without your mate? Are you amused by the smallest thing sometimes? Have you ever heard voices in your head? No, really?

Can you explain relativity to a child? Can you even explain your relatives to your children? Have you ever considered taxidermy as a profession? Are you bothered by non sequiturs? Do you have a high tolerance for nonsense? Are you troubled by Spell Check? Do you ever miss the big picture? Do you often get the point? If there really were a genie in your bottle, and he could grant you just one wish, what would it be? And would you then change your mind? Does the inquiring mind really want to know? Exactly how much?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Confessions of a mummy mover


They came to us with names they were given. Some came wearing clothing, a suit, a soldier’s uniform, a lace gown. Some wore only socks or shoes. Some were old. Others were infants. We gave them their personae, based on guesswork, and the prerogatives of our work at the Detroit Science Center: to create a national touring exhibit celebrating their history, science and culture.

There was Rosi, the beautiful, and Lulu, the gossip. There were the Miners. And Roberto and Gloria, who once lived in a hacienda. There was sweet little Magnolia, and tall Simon . . . Sarita, Ara, Mima, the dancers and singers, and the “Toothless One,” and the one with magical powers they call La Bruja, the Witch. Altogether they numbered 36. An astonishing 36 mummies, never seen before outside of Mexico, from an old mining town called Guanajuato.

Freaks of nature. “Accidental mummies” we call them -- meaning they were not wrapped in linen, embalmed or preserved in any way. These were ordinary people who had been laid to rest in a municipal cemetary, and by circumstance of desert air and placement in airtight crypts, their bodies dehydrated - rather than decayed.

Like raisins in the sun. Like leaves fallen from a tree.

The Accidental Mummies of Guanajuato on exhibit at the Detroit Science Center (soon to move to another venue) are on loan from the collection of 119 mummies in El Museo de las Momias, where more than a half million people visit each year. Their story has become something of lore - a series of curious bodies exhumed from the walls of the tombs between the years 1865-1958, removed as relatives failed to pay a grave tax of 50 pecos or so. The mummies were collected in the basement of the cemetary ossuary, where caretakers started to charge admission to a steady stream of gawkers early in the 1900’s. Today the mummies peacefully reside in a sleek museum, a central attraction, where visitors are greeted with kitch and candy skeletons and the words:

“Do not be afraid. They are only cocoons. The butterflies have flown away.”

Past the shock - the ick factor - of seeing your first mummy is a startling recognition of an individual, once living and breathing. Just like you. At closer look at hands and sinews, fingers and toes, empty eye sockets and gaping mouth, you get the eeriest sensation that even in death there’s energy still in the body. Who was this person? How did they live, and how did they die? What secrets are written in their bones?

Do I sound obsessed, haunted, morbid, slightly mad? Hard as it is for me to believe in retrospect, last summer I spent almost every waking hour thinking about mummies, researching mummies, photographing mummies, even moving them. (Creeping out my family and colleagues.) Not so much by choice, but by some sense of productivity. In my mind, working on this exhibit was a once-in-a-life opportunity to help build something unique and extraordinary. My particular assignment was to create the content for a forensic science lab, a gallery where visitors would explore the methodologies used in mummy study. Whoah, I’m no scientist, but by default I took up the role of “curator” of sorts, investigator set loose on the assignment, consulting with experts in the field -- anthropologists, radiologists and foresic scientists who had spent years studying our collection -- all too happy to oblige us in providing new radiographic, endoscopic, and CT studies for the purpose of our exhibit displays. Heady stuff!

Turns out, mummies are great teachers. Studying them. Imagining them as they lived, looking after them, and weirdly “caring” for them, can be oddly peaceful--almost sacred work. Like tending a garden in some long forgotten past, talking to ghosts.

Was there a deal struck with the devil to bring the mummies of Guanajuato to Detroit? No doubt there were plans to make a profit, if not a killing at the gate. Is our beautiful exhibit, “celebrating the life and lore and culture” of Mexico, “for real?” As a dreamer-catcher and writer in the transaction, I am but an instrument playing to the audience, guilty as charged for being unaware or insenstivie to the machinations or the process that put the living dead in lit cabinets in their present state of stalemate. The fate of our mummies on tour has yet to be sealed. Their next destination is unknown. Could there be a more existential state of affairs? 36 lost souls with no place to go, but back to their homeland, back to their graves.

As the curator of the museum in Mexico warned us, knowing mummies can get under your skin. They are still people. Not museum artifacts. Call it respect. Reverence. Empathy. A human connection. I will miss their gentle faces, astonished, agonized, ravaged, moth-eaten, and grisly as they seem to others, they have become strangely familiar to me. And though I've never heard a peep out of any one of them, there were those among the staff that thought they did. There were those who said blessings every time they entered the gallery. And there’s Maria, the shopkeeper who operated the gallery store filled with beautiful Mexican crafts and art objects - she swears she returned after closing one evening to retrieve some items when she heard whistling -- long, lost strains of an old Mexican tune -- a lullaby, out of nowhere.

About accidental mummies some things just can’t be explained.

Sherpa: AWOL.

Hey, Gang.

It's me.  I've been getting the occasional question about what week we're in.  No clue.  Really.  None.  I'd place me at Week Six and holding.  We should place the Vivster on a pedestal for keepin' on keepin' on. 

Okay, I checked the Mayan calendar and they say.... Wow! Did you know that in 2012.... Oh.  Sorry.  Let's cross that bridge some other day.  Now I checked the Mac Calendar and it seems to suggest that the week we are at the end of is Week 12.  My. My.  What's up with that?

I lost my place about three weeks ago when we had a round of illness that eventually touched everyone but the cat.  Nothing big but very disruptive and unpleasant for the participants.  Kind of like a Monday in daycare, if you get my drift.  Who knew that there's a virus named after Norwalk, OH?  And who knew your kid could still get strep at 31???  Oh, it was like old times.  All I can say is don't come 'round here lookin' for chicken broth.  We are plumb out.

Something else happened, too.  I rediscovered weeding.   That's what the photo is about.  Me in the garden with a large cup of coffee, just moving slow and soaking up the motherly vibe of Ms. Nature.  Here's a secret which my great grandmother knew:  the mornings are cool and quiet.  In my garden you can hear the birdies.  You can see them also, if you look.  Swallows skim over like grace on steroids.  You can hear waves from Canada and traffic from Cleveland and trains from somewhere going somewhere else and making that fabulous train-goin' woo woo sound.   

The weeds are passive resisters in the morning dew.  They lie low and come up easy.  Progress can be made.  The mind rests.  In a garden this big, you have to give up the idea of Being Done.  So, I've been going slow.  Brushing the dirt and leaves off stones, revealing their uniqueness. Blessing Curtis for laying them down in the first place. 

I notice that somewhere along the way, I have stopped caring if there there are critters.  I don't worry about snakes.  I don't mind spiders.  I feel affection for potato bugs -- they worry about me, though. 

Where am I going with this?  Almost nowhere.  Except: the garden has been my morning pages the last few weeks.  I have given myself over to mindless musing about earth and sky, birdsong and bug buzz, this and that. 

Which is a pretty way of saying that I broke my word. 

I said I would do it and I didn't.  I promised myself I would do pages, artist dates, exercises and instead I ran right off the rails.  How about you?  It is a very, very good thing to say, out loud even, how you did with your promises.  Because here's the deal.  The difference between doing what you said you would do and not doing what you said you would is not the difference between Good You and Bad You.  Really. 

The difference between doing what you said you would do and not doing what you said you would lies in the the gap between what is done and what is not.  For me, that gap contains morning pages, the boring and the uplifting, artist dates that might have been thrilling, might have been a bust.  Exercises that might have opened my eyes or passed right over my head, trailing yawns instead of glory.  Insights. Agent queries.  New words laid down.  Fresh ideas.  Or not.

It's the road not taken.  That's all.  But the fact that it was a road I promised to take makes it a problem for me. As a practical, housekeeping, orderly kind of thing, it's better to keep your word than to break it.  It makes it easier to figure out who you are if you are consistently who you say you are. 

Likewise, it is a healthy and healing thing to say you broke your word if that's what you did.  And that's exactly what I did.

So, now that I, Sherpa Annie, am back on the path of posting, I am here to hear from you.  Send me an email.  Drop us a post.  Call me on the primitive device we humans name "phone."  This is the end of the Artist's Way that began back on May 10th.  Where are you?  What have you seen?  How are you doing?  Are you done?  Are you beginning afresh?  Are you starting for the first time?  What's up?

As for me, I'm still weeding. I declare my promise broken, but my spirit strong.  When I get ready to do the next non-weeding thing, I'll post my new promise.  My promises are excellent.  They kick my fanny and keep me going.  Sometimes I let  them down.  That is the human being part.  Sometimes they lift me up.  That is also the human being part. 

Let us love ourselves, our paths, and each other.

Now where did I leave my coffee cup.....


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

MI Way

Those Michigan sunsets, especially after a summer rainfall: pure magic.

What looks like a long and winding road is just my street in a subdivision of Northville, on the cusp of Wayne and Oakland County, 15 minutes east of Ann Arbor. An ordinary suburban neighborhood, refreshed through the lens of the camera. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. And so it goes.

The dog-eared page in my journal suggests we might find ourselves in “Chapter 11” of The Artist’s Way -- as appropriate a place as any to consider creative inventory and bankruptcy. Moving on, moving forward. “This week we focus on artistic autonomy,” proclaims the intro.

So. Make festive plans. Play. Explore. Travel. Write. Ride. Even on ordinary and lonely roads, there’s discovery.

Below, a quick thought, grabbed haphazardly from the marginalia of the Cameron text, a quote from Norma Jean Harris (googled Norma Jean, and no, I have no clue as to who she actually is, but here are her words for the day)

"Art does not reproduce the visible; rather it makes it visible. The moon develops creativity as chemicals develop photographic images."

Heading to the Ann Arbor Art Festival this weekend (Thursday thru Saturday) - my annual pilgrimage for photography, glass flowerworks, and ceramics. Anyone coming my way??

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not my photo . . . as I pedaled on a 40- mile bike trek (on a Trek bike) west of Ann Arbor last Saturday morning in “One Helluva Ride” from the Chelsea Fairground through rolling MI farmland, (time in the saddle 3 hours and 15 minutes), I was happy to land without harm.

Meanwhile, downtown in the D -- a Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet crew got permission for a low-level demonstration flight, as part of the ceremony for a speed boat race on the Detroit River.

This is what sunmer looks like, for Motor City residents. Surreal.

And no, the fighter jet did not land.

Just a fly-bye for A-wayers, here, or out of site. Wherever you may be.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Loving Pema Chodron

Love is a pretty big word.  And we no doubt make it small by applying it to things like chocolate.  (I don't actually believe this. I put it in there to raise my righteousness quotient.  Chocolate is an elevation of love.  We just don't like to admit it.)  Oh, anyway.  Love is good.  Let's go ahead and spread it around, even on the trivial.

Pema, though, Pema is not trivial.

Here's why I love Pema though we've never met and likely never will. 

The other day I was agitated to a degree I almost never achieve.  Anxious.  Unstrung.  The physical experience was not unrelated to pure, curled-up, 'possum-in-the-headlights panic. The encouraging things I usually say to myself when I feel like that (Shut up, Ann, you dope.  Sit down.  Chill out.) were not working.  So, I figured:  Go to the grocery store, Ann.  That will fix you right up.  Silly moi.

So semi-fear-frozen in my car, I remembered that in my iPhone I had a brand new recording of a retreat Pema Chodron led on The Three Commitments at Gampo Abbey. (Doesn't that sound so lovely and calm?  I don't think it really is.  At least not all the time.  People are there.  Enough said.)  So I found it (Woo!  It had downloaded.  Technology works sometimes.) 

Right off the bat, Pema started talking about the essential groundlessness of the human experience.  And death, of course.  You'd think this would have been the straw that drove me right off the road.  But no.  The Truth, the Real Truth, can be da balm.  Even if the real truth is "Change Happens." Even when the change that happens is not that cool, uplifting Obama Change we still believe in. ( I do. I do.  You go, Mr. President.)   Even if the real truth is "Death Happens."  Because it appears that is so.

Pema also holds out the interesting idea that emotions and states of mind clock in at about 1 1/2 minutes per :-) :-( .... :-) :-(   That's us there to the left of this sentence.  Happy. Sad. Worried. Crazy. Cheered.  Pissed.  All over the place.  And, listening there in my car, I noticed that, oops, the unstrungness that I was so INTERESTED in, had crept away without even saying hasta la vista, Annie. 

My interpretation of some Pema advice I've encountered from time to time is that if you approach every moment and its mood or its thoughts with a spirit of gentle curiosity -- if you don't try to push it away or shut it down or exchange it for a mood or a thought you might prefer, you can do this sort of surfing thing.  You can ride the present moments, the very NOWs of your life, staying awake, not being in a war with whatever's there, tending to your balance, being kinder than is my innate nature....  If you can do this, you can then experience it All.*

And, in this moment of calm reflection -- which, as noted, is now and not necessarily a minute and a half from now -- I ask myself what better could we reasonably hope for in a world of change and inevitable death than to experience our lives moment by moment?  To live while we're alive.

This is probably the most ridiculous interpretation of Pema's teachings ever, ever, ever in the world.  However, one of the things I love about her is her generosity and compassion for those who try.

Thanks, Pema.  Love you,  XOXOXO Annie

*An important corollary, which I also believe Pema would agree with, is that when you find yourself UNDER your Surfboard of Life and skinning your nose on a coral reef, you should be neither surprised, dismayed nor disempowered.  Just try to re-find your board and climb back on, all the while being very Pema-Kind-and-Forgiving to yourself.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tapped out?

Did you know MRI works because the body is mostly water?

Sorry, that's all I got this morning, in prep for a "Day in the Life" of an exhibit developer at the Detroit Science Center.

Today, the subject is MRI -- more specifically, an MRI exhibit in progress. The exhibit consists of a model Siemens "Magnetom Essenza" -- appropriately disarmed of its 1.5 Tesla power, but otherwise "operational" in the sense that the table and lights work.

The exhibit fabricators will build an 8-foot wall to house a 21" video monitor which will carry some of the burden of explanation . . . but the vast rest of expanse is mine to fill with text written on a 6th grade level.

Explaining MRI on an elementary level, well. . . the first skill required is patience with the inquiring reader. I must furnish just enough information to be credible and authoritative, without being overwhelmingly technical. (Not hard for an ad writer, with no background whatsoever in physics.) Second task is to be. . . engaging. Museum people know that the attention span of a visitor -- is about three seconds -- less than your average flea. So be clear, be concise and get on with it.

In my mind, at least for today, until review later this morning by a radiologist at Beaumont Hospitals, and a marketing representative from Siemens traveling from Philly to visit the museum -- my best shot at explaining MRI is in storybook style-- using a rebus. (Literally, words and pictures together) Very elementary, my dears, the text can be scanned in a glance, letting illustrations add the 10,000 words to explain just how hydrogen atoms behave in the body like biological compass needles, how radio frequency signals create a resonance - or a chatter in the matter -- and send off energy that is transmitted - this part I still don't get, but anyway. . . somehow the scanner can capture with precision this diversion of energy in your body, and according to different levels of H2O in its various tissues (blood as opposed to brain as opposed to heart or bone) it picks up the signals as gradients in hundreds of cross-sectional images that a computer assembles with remarkable clarity to show what's going on... thus, a perfect diagnostic tool for tumors or other abnormalities... and more recently, functional brain studies.

MRI is harmless, painless, uses no ionizing radiation, a totally noninvasive procedure. But it is a blast- a bit too confining for the claustrophobic and very loud. Best medical advice I can give you is my grandmother's: eat well, be well and with good fortune, you'll never see the inside of one of these monster scanners.

Sorry, creatively, that's all I got today.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fran's Website

I got Fran Belkin's okay to put her web address on the blog.  I tried to lure her onto the Way, but she dodged because she is the busiest, travelingest, readingest, having funnest person I know.

She's a serious artist and has, as far as I can tell, has made her creativity and her art a huge priority in her busy life.  She takes classes (last year one at the Cleveland Institute of Art!) and engages in local competitions -- like the giant guitars downtown and the funny dogs. She hangs out at the Apple store way more than I do!

Right now she's blogging from Israel.  Take a peek at her life and her art.  And be inspired.  And entertained.  Her site is so artfully done, almost all the photos are in frames and when I do my usual evil cut and paste I only get the frames.  But here's Fran on the right with her family in Israel.  Aren't they having fun???

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In other words. . .

Imagine: waking up one fine-printed morning to discover you can’t read.

What would you do if ever you lost the ability to decipher letters? The condition, most-likely to be stroke-induced, is called alexia and its history and characteristics are described in detail an article by Oliver Sacks in this week’s edition of The New Yorker.

Reading is a complex human gift, which works independently of our ability to communicate by spoken word, a capacity that is believed to have evolved through the process of evolution. In other words, the origin of reading - and writing - cannot be understood as an evolutionary adaptation. It is something more profound, “dependent on the plasticity of the brain, and on the fact, that even within the small span of a human lifetime, experience - experiential selection - is as powerful an agent of change as natural selection.”

As it turns out, the “brain’s letterbox,” even when dumped upside down like a jumble of foreign Scrabble tiles, doesn’t necessarily lose the remarkable capacity to write. Imagine that. The act of writing things down actually works to stabilize eratic memory. Imagine: writing not as an option, but an imperative, a palliative measure, literally repairing, feeding and stirring memory and creativity.

And so it would seem, the “artist’s way” is naturally the “brain’s way” of finding new pathways - even through injury - to recharge, renew and to create.

Building the case: for keeping a “memory book.”

To read more

Also: Howard Engel, The Memory Book (novel -published in 2005) and The Man Who Forgot to Read, a Memoir (2007).

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I hope nobody's in need of a tent pole or anything because the sherpa's been a little out to lunch this week.  Yes. I AM doing morning pages.  Because morning pages keep you sane.  But no.  I'm not counting or reading the chapter or going on artist's dates.  None of that.  Instead, I'm drifting.  And posting.  But not thinking about it too hard.  I'll be back full force, starting tomorrow.    

Last week's date was a trip to the Apple Store.  I heart the Apple Store.  Or maybe I Apple it.   That would be a good bumper sticker.  I (apple graphic goes here) my iPhone.   My iPad.  My iMac.  My my. 

My creativity gets very activated at the Apple Store. 

First artist date I went on in January, I walked out of the store and had this epiphany in which I saw that I have always thought in terms of good "artistic" creativity and bad "marketing-type" creativity.  (Interesting aside regarding my 25 years in advertising, huh?) 

What I saw that day at Legacy Village was that designers and thinkers and builders had created a very appealing world for me to walk around in and if I could get down off my creative high horse, I could celebrate their accomplishment. 

And, taking it further, I could say that the guy out there somewhere (hopefully not next door, but really what does it matter?) sticking a pink plastic flamingo in a circle of rocks in his front yard was answering that same flight of the imagination. 

Humans create.  That's what we do.  And although I can't exactly lobby for more flamingos, I can say, "You go, Flamingo Guy.  God bless you. God bless us every one."  See? An artist's date can change your life.  Go on one today.

Anyway.  Drifting.   I was last week.  I hurt my knee and tried very hard, Monday through Thursday to do nothing.  Nothing is kind of boring.  By Thursday I was feeling very, very bad about myself.  My morning pages were blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.  Whining like crazy.  So I went back to work.  I sent out a query.  And I took a trip back through the first three chapter of my novel and made some tweaks.  Bingo.  Much, much better did I feel.

So, here's to you, wherever you are.  Drifting.  Scaling the heights.  Lost.  Taking risks.  Doing the same old same old. Remember that this moment.  This thing that's working for you or dragging you down.  This forever nemesis of yours.  This crisis.  This whatever.  It's your way in.  It's your way through.  

Right here, right now, is the access point to the truth.  This crisis is the access point for its assimilation into the reality of your world.   This drift is access point for everything we need to put us back on course. 

Don't step back.  Go through. 

I'll be right behind you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pure Colorado

Gotta a plane to catch in Denver this morning -- a two hour ride from Bachelor Gulch, where we're staying just west of Vail. Gorgeous summer days. . . hiking. Maroon Bells (in the area, near Aspen) . . .above. . . one of the pleasures of hiking. Biking? Just follow the river . . . down hill. More later.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


. . . there's a certain craziness in day-to-day sanity. As we get older and figure out how to live grown-up lives, a deeper weirdness slips away. It's a form of absurdity to master life, to edit miraculous oddness of human existence into a tidy routine. . .

These aren't my words: Chris Colin, author of What Really Happened to the lass of 93" wrote them in an essay for the end page, Lives, in the New York Time Magazine last week.

Thought I'd take them on my way this week -- taking a week off -- breaking free of tidiness and routine, heading to Colorado, with the camera and hiking shoes, sunblock, and yeh, biking shorts and gloves.

Incidentally, the jpeg image comes from a fab site for designers who use the color wheel and computer: check out kuler (pronounced cooler)... a site run by adobe, I believe.

For those, still checking for smoke signals on this path . . . cheers!

Will post from the road. . . perhaps.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What's on your desk?

Don't ask what it is or what it means. Just fill it.

On my desk this week, in small celebration of a birthday (age not to be disclosed) I've placed a whimsical purchase from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Don't ask what its real function or significance is. Had I visited the African gallery where similar work was featured, perhaps I'd know -- or find out the truth that it's a paperclip holder, or a small urn for ashes of a treasured family pet. No matter, it's mine for the present - a hand-built black clay pot with a decorative lid. It has significance now only to me. Yesterday, when I took it out of its box and placed it on my desk next to the keyboard, it struck me: I have given myself a "job jar" -- a place to keep ideas in passing, assignments-to-self, grand and trivial, whatever comes to mind at the time, like a genie in a bottle. . . to savor, to dream. . . to act upon. . . to put into words. And to "post" for later.

Cheers. For now & to later!