On Obsessing about the Ill Way I Behaved in Writers Group

I said a dumb thing and now I can't get over it.

Is it because I know better?

Is it because of my reputation of coming on too strong and later regretting it?

Only one arrow I tell myself and launch two dozen more.

The details really don't matter.

It's the general trend that is of concern.

I get all wound up by the energy in the room,

All these people, just like me, 

Suspended by this fragile thing.

Obviously, I'm still learning how to channel it.

Encourage and ask questions.
What's so hard about that?

The writer advised me: Stop making assumptions

and telling other people what to write.

And of course,

she is right,

a reflection of myself. 


"no reasaonable interpretation can entirely explain it away"*

And what about Marianne Moore,
Robert Pinsky?
Do you try to write like her?
Do you sometimes wear a tricorne hat?
Secreted away in your wife's walk-in closet?
Admiring how the angles of your strong jaw and sharp nose
Reflect against the angles of this poetic relic?

Searching always searching
Like those whiskered cats
Fishing for poems on lake bottoms.

Like my father used to say,
"A word to the wise is sufficient,"
Though we never knew what he meant.

Did he feel his words were wasted
On our dumb deaf ears?
Or was he open to wider interpretation?

It's hard to say, oh Robert Pinsky,
When Marianne Moore says it so well,
An idea full of tangles
A sensation thick with thorns.

*A quote by Robert Pinsky (Singing School) in the introduction to Marianne Moore's poem "Silence".
It is his response to her line "the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth".


In Search of the Unifying Principles of Composition

I ask my cousin:

Is there a unifying principle of composition that stretches across all arts?  Whether choreographer or filmmaker or painter or writer or musician etc., shouldn't it be that the principles of composition are the same?

He says:

It sounds intuitively correct, but you'd have to ask experts from all those fields in order to really know.

I thought that was a good idea.

But other things happened.

In Twyla Tharp's book, The Creative Habit, she, a choreographer, suggests an exercise she likes to do to warm up.  She arranges coins on paper.

I tried it with a couple of classes, adding pebbles, push pins, rubber bands.

What art is not an arrangement of something, whether objects, sounds, ideas, experiences, movements, words?

What are we if not arrangers?

Why do I prefer making nonsymmetrical arrangements?

Why are symmetrical arrangements so pleasing?


A Few Things I Remember About Thomas Riedelsheimer's film Touch the Sound

When Evelyn Glennie was young, she lost her hearing.
Her doctor said she would have to give up piano.
 Evelyn's parents didn't agree.

I remember finding the movie at the library.

I remember thinking that a deaf person couldn't be a musician.

I remember thinking there was such a thing as silence.

I remember thinking, for a good ways into the documentary, that I must have misunderstood the blurb on the cover because clearly, this is a hearing person.

I remember trying very hard to understand.

How do you hear?

How do you?

With my ears.

I hear with my whole body, says Evelyn Glennie.

I remember being riveted by her snare drum solo in Grand Central Station.  She played with her whole body, her face, her hair.  When she was done and people clapped, she seemed suddenly embarrassed.  Out on the streets she is easily confused by the many sounds coming from everywhere, whereas in an empty warehouse, or a concert hall, or a quiet restaurant, she's a star.

I remember thinking Fred Frith seems like a great guy.

I have many favorite scenes, but one I especially like: Evelyn playing in a restaurant in Japan, with an impromptu drum set she assembled with cups and kitchen utensils.


Another Lucky Little Free Library Find: Lady Murasaki's The Tale of Genji, Written One Thousand Years Ago

Lady Murasaki 
mentioned only three times in her diary
The Tale of Genji
her masterwork
which some argue
is the world's first and best novel
written in early 1000's Japan 
the story of the lady chasings of
the handsome Prince Genji
who travels the land
spying on beautiful girls
whispering through paper screens
falling desperately in love

(page 57)

"Take me to where she is hiding!"

"It is difficult," (his boy servant) said. "She is locked in and there are so many people there.  I am afraid to go with you."

"So be it," said Genji, "but you at least must not abandon me," and he laid the boy beside him on his bed.  The boy was well content to find himself lying by this handsome young Prince's side, and Genji, we must record, found the boy no bad substitute for his ungracious sister."

blossoming blossoms
flowering flowers
always sending poems

fine handwriting
making quite a good impression
on our handsome Prince Genji

In chapter 5 entitled "Murasaki", Lady Murasaki writes how, while visiting his wet nurse who was old and ill, Prince Genji becomes curious about the house next door because of its lovely garden, drawn shades, and the ladies he spies inside.  

He arranges an affair, and causes in the chosen one such an emotional stir that she dies.  The prince chases about seeking council and formulating stories to cover his tracks, least his wife find out.

Prince Genji becomes so emotionally drained that he too falls ill and eventually travels to the remote mountains in search of an old medicine man.  While there, Prince Genji hears about an old hermit whose estate nearby is so lush and currently housing a number of fine ladies and girls. 

Prince Genji is revived!

He goes to visit the hermit and when he catches sight of a 10 year old beauty and imagines her grown, he proposes to adopt the girl into the Emperor's palace.  The girl's maid is appalled by the idea and refuses, which only fuels Prince Genji's obsession.  He becomes so desperate that when he hears that the girl's father is planning on retrieving the girl the next day, Prince Genji arranges to kidnap her under dark of night and take her as his own, to the Emperor's palace, where the prince delights in watching her play.  

And I am only half way through the first of six volumes.  


Rare Strawberry Moon - Always a Work in Progress

listen to a new improvised song by 
Tad Neuhaus, Loren Dempster, and Joanna Dane:

Our practice is to spontaneously make songs,

lyrics lifted from my notebooks

sung to whatever Tad starts playing on guitar.

That seems to be the easiest way.

And now Loren joins us with his cello.

Every song is flawed and unique,

of the moment,

a bird flight,

a cloud rolling,

a river flowing,

a rare strawberry moon.

"For me personally 
strawberry moon 
at 38 seconds 
sounds pretty bad on my end 
for a few seconds, 
but the cello solo sounds good.  
Overall blog post worthy.
Maybe it would work
for you to call it 
a work in progress 
or something like that 
to explain your process?"

Loren Dempster on Strawberry Moon


Love Letter to an Urban Planner

What do you see while you walk around the city?

What does an empty street tell you?

What messages do you read in the patterns people walk?

Why do I turn here rather than there?

Is it true that these streets create our lives 

or is it our lives that create these streets?

If water flows in the direction of least resistance, 

doesn't it make sense for us too?


Strange Summer Reading Coincidences

first published in 1936,
this second printing of the first paper-bound edition
published 1971

In Minneapolis, at a Little Free Library in the Lake Harriet neighborhood, I find The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky, a famous Russian dancer of the early 1900's who I've never heard of, who winded up in an insane asylum after being dumped by the man who made him famous.

He obsessively kept a diary during the time leading up to his asylum stay.

He wrote about loving everyone and about god and how he is god and how he loves everyone and how everyone thinks he's crazy because he loves and does not hate and how angry he is at Diaghilev for cheating him and how much he loves his wife.

The book is divided into two parts: Life and Death

Nijinsky writes in Part One, Life (page 13):

I know if everyone thinks I am a harmless madman they will not be afraid of me.  I do not like people who think that I am a dangerous lunatic.  I am a madman who loves mankind.  My madness is my love towards mankind.

And then, in the mailbox is the latest New Yorker and an article by Joan Acocella with the sub-title:

Baryshnikov plays Nijinsky in the grip of insanity.

Mikhail Baryshnikov, the world famous Russian ballet dancer of my youth who rose to popular American fame with the movie White Nights, my father forever impressed, "He does that wearing jeans!"

The New Yorker, June 27, 2016

Baryshnikov, now in his late sixties, is playing Nijinsky in a one man show by Robert Wilson. According to the caption, they both "share a fascination with Nijinsky's diary".

Me too, picking it up every evening and reading a few paragraphs thinking, maybe he wasn't as crazy as everyone seemed to think, until the thought dissolves and I can not remember what I was just thinking and I fall asleep.

Nijinsky writes in Part Two, Death (page 119):

I will behave like others because I want people to take care of me.  I am not an egoist, but a man of love, and will do everything possible for other people.  I want to be looked after.  I hope that people will love my wife and my child but I want love for everybody.  I want to act in plays which will interest the public because I know that people like to be pleased, but in this excitement I will make people feel what love is.


Summer Reading Recommendation from the Dane School of Rigid Cursive: The Sibyl by Par Lagerkvist

a recent Little Free Library find

Set in ancient Delphi, a man climbs the mountain seeking the old woman rumored to live alone, once a revered and feared pythia, who long ago had forsaken god and was chased out of the village by an angry mob.

And indeed, the man finds the old woman and a mute man-child.  The man explains to the old woman that he is seeking the answer of his fate and tells a story of how a criminal carrying a cross stopped to rest his head on the man's house.  And the man told him to move along.  So the criminal cursed him to live forever. 

The man didn't think much of it until he heard people saying that the criminal was actually the son of god.  So now the man is feeling deep anguish.  

The old woman listens to his story.  Then she tells her own: When she was young farm girl, the temple priests came and told her that she was to be the new oracle since the last had died of snake bite.  They prepared her in a wedding dress and lowered her into the holiest of holies, a cave full of snakes and goats where she chewed medicinal leaves, allowing her to be overtaken by god.  

And she was very good at it.  She thought she would become a beloved member of the community, but instead everyone avoided her, afraid of her power.  So she lived a very lonely life.  

Until one day, by the river, she met a one armed stranger.  And they made love.  She didn't know whether or not he knew she was the pythia.  Still they met in secret each day.  And she grew to love him deeply.

When the next festival came and the pythia had to go to the temple to be lowered into the holiest of holies, she was afraid of what god would do since she had betrayed him for a man.  And she was overtaken with a force stronger than any had ever known, and in the midst of the screaming violence that shook her body, she was aware that the one armed man, having heard her screams, having ran past the guard, entered the underground chamber and saw her being taken by god, and fled.   

Soon after, he was found dead in the river.  

She became pregnant, and when her body showed it, the people grew angry at her infidelity and, fearing god's reaction, chased her up the mountain where she gave birth alone to a baby that grew into a gray haired man-child with a smile frozen on his mute face.  

When she is done with her story, she curses her fate, that her love turned into this grotesque being that ruined her life.  

And after some silence, she admits that at times she wonders if perhaps this child she bore is actually the son of god.

The old woman had been so consumed with talking to the man (she hadn't talked with anyone in years) that she didn't realize her man-child had wondered off into the night.  She panics.  Did he actually understand how she cursed him?  She jumps up and runs out calling for him.  

The visitor, amazed at how agile the old woman is, follows her as she hurries up the mountain in the dark. Just before the top of the mountain, the footsteps grow smaller and smaller, changing from a man's to a boy's to baby's until they disappear altogether.  


Borrowed Tool

I met a guy in Tucson who knew how to weld. He lived alone, hand washed his clothes, and for the university's sculpture contest, for a design to be installed in front of the bursar's office, he made a giant metal dollar sign and put it on the bursar's lawn.  His design was disqualified.

This guy, Brian, welded a frame for blue silks and white lace I was sewing for an aquarium of wire fish.

Brian's wire cutters on my patio table in Appleton

Before my husband and I left for Black Rock City with the aquarium disassembled and loaded into our van, I asked Brian if I could borrow his wire cutters for making the wire fish. 

He said he didn't lend out tools because he found out that people didn't return them.

I assured him that would not be the case with me.

After we got back from our trip, I saw him a few times, neglecting each time to return his wire cutters, and then I never saw him again.  This was over a dozen years ago.  I do not know his last name nor where he went.

If you know him, tell him that every time I use his wire cutters, which is more often than you would think, I hope that someday I will be able to return them.


Nzapa Bata Mo, Joseph Tambo!

Joseph Tambo at the Madison Maker Faire, Monona Terrace

When people asked Joseph Tambo,
How has your trip been, how do you like Appleton?
Joseph would shrug and say, "Fine."
which, to our American customs, 
conveys he wasn't much liking it at all. 

So I would jump in,
We're having a great time!
because we were,

it's just not
the Central African habit
to constantly evaluate
as they unfold.

Joseph at the Wriston Gallery, Lawrence University

Dear Andrew and Joanna,

How are you? 

I am fine. I had a nice trip, I arrived last Tuesday, May 24th. 

I resumed work yesterday, but I could not have access to my computer at work office (password issues). Now I have more than 300 administrative e-mails to read.

Joseph with Daniel Powers,
photographer for the Post-Crescent
My visit in Appleton and specially at your house is a blast for me; as it opened my eyes a bit to american culture. Your country is well organized with several 
culture. I learnt too much things in few days. I hope to share them to everyone if the case happened. 

You introduced me to your relatives and everybody you know, I really enjoyed that ! I made good friends there, I will keep everybody and everything we said in my mind and my heart.

I enjoyed the 602 club, the visit at renaissance high school, the visit to the mayor, the visit to the museum, the interview with the journalist, the concert of Rosanne CASH, the concerts and coffee table at Lawrence University, the bike ride and any other places that your friends, relatives you have taken me to visit.

Joseph with Ronald Wahl of Wahl Organbuilders,
at the workshop in Zion Temple
I also enjoyed Madison, the game of baseball at Milwaukee stadium.
I learnt a lot during that visit. Again, thank you for everything!!

I miss all of you !!! I hope we could visit each other one day.
Pass my greetings to everybody I met. 

Thank you.


Joseph with the Gannies and Isadore, Madison

On one of his last mornings at our house, Joseph asked Roseanna how she was doing.  Even after 3 weeks with Joseph as our guest, she was so overcome with shyness that she had trouble answering.  
Joseph asked, "Will you play your song today?" and he carefully hummed "This Land is Your Land" a melody Roseanna has been obsessively playing on the piano since even before Joseph arrived, mostly in the early mornings.  We all giggled and Roseanna blushed and Joseph said, "You think no one is listening?  I am listening.  Usually you play here, but yesterday, you played here," and he hummed the tune up high.  

After Joseph returned home, 
he wrote to me,
"Now my dream is realized."

We are so honored
and grateful
for the gift of your visit.

We all wish you the best
on realizing your next dream
of building a school.

And we all hope to see you again


Working Our Way Towards Marigold Wings

tad neuhaus, guitar
joanna dane, vocals

the light shining in my window
i see you floating above me flying high and wide
in your marigold wings
oh those long wings
flying marigold wings
flying so high
right to the far stretches of my distant lonely heart
i’ll find you
i swear i’ll find you
no matter where no matter what no matter
i what must i do
a what must i do
a what must i do

smile wide
and fly awhile
straight towards
my heart
22 blocks wide
some like me trying to get close to you
just beat my drum
call my line
take my hand
fly my kite
deep inside i believe
in the long history
of these old stories that keep
coming round
all you have to do is call me
i'll step right up i'll come running

yes i will yes i will to see you
oh it's getting so late,
it's getting late yeah, 
oh it's getting kind of late

it's time to go


Imagine City Park Thanks You!

Thank you everyone who participated in so many wonderful ways 
to make such a magical Imagine City Park!

Special thanks to:

Loren Dempster for the deep listening sunrise, 
Sarah Gilbert for leading poetry writing, 
Peter Bartman and Jeanine Knapp for compassionate discussions, 
Erin and Brian DeMuynck for chalk drawing, flyer design, and hanging out in the shade, 

Margaret Paek for the beautiful and exhilarating movement circles, 
Tad Neuhaus for coffee and for leading the noontime marching band, 

Anna Krueger for hooping, 
Kyle Lichtenberg for playing music and teaching us to juggle, 

Ami Hyde for crafting, 
John Baruth for siesta lullabies, 
Andrew Dane for donuts, sandwiches and podcasting, 

Gypsy Vered Meltzer and Marianne Levin for tree decorating, 

I Dewa Ketut Alit Adnyana, Sonja Downing, 
and the gamelan ensemble 
for bringing the orchestra to the park, 

Robin Cardell and the Oshkosh Rhythm Institute for filling the sunset with the rhythm of our hearts, 
Len Borruso for filming the whole day, 
and all the friends, neighborhoods, and Lawrence students who shared love with all.

photo by Andrew Dane

Cheers to The 602 Club, 
The Wisdom of Wombats, 
 Lawrence City Park Neighborhood Association,
and City of Appleton Parks and Rec.

Deepest appreciations and joy!