A Grape Idea

It's a joke.  A blog about grapes.  Grape art.  Grape poems.  Grape music.  And he's kind of embarrassed that the teacher encourages him, because he was just being sarcastic when he said it was a grape idea.

But it is sort of thrilling to imagine until he decides it's stupid.  He thinks about it, but he never does anything about it.  He's afraid he'll run out of things to say about grapes.  He's afraid that people will think it's dumb.  Eventually, he stops thinking about it.  His life unfolds in a common way.

It is sort of thrilling to imagine.  After eating all the grapes off the vine, he likes the way the vine looks like a little tree so he takes a picture of it and that night starts a blog, "It's a Grape Idea".  He vows to post something about grapes everyday for a year.  His life unfolds in a most unique way.


Everything I Know About Hearts (almost)

Hearts are soft, though I’ve never felt a real one so that might not be true.  I’ve seen a heart beating in a chest cracked open at the sternum but only in a video.  Still, it was disturbing. 

A heart can be removed from one body and put into another, a very puzzling thing.  What do you think they transport a heart in when it’s not in a body?  I was surprised to learn on the same video, one my cousin made, that it’s an ordinary cooler, one that usually holds lunch meat and beer.

But mostly, though they beat every moment of our lives, we don’t much notice our hearts unless we are running fast and come to a sudden halt, or unless our hearts are troubled, or unless a child runs to us and hugs us and we are a little frightened at how fast her heart is beating, and we take the child’s hand and press it to her chest, and we both gasp, surprised and delighted. 

From hearts flow emotion.

When our hearts stop beating, our lives are over, though I have heard of some yogis who train themselves to stop breathing for long periods of time and maybe their hearts stop beating too, and then start again, though I don’t know for sure, and sometimes a person’s heart is shocked back into beating by electrical charges given by a defibrillator which we learned about in CPR class as well as the new rules for CPA, 2 breaths to 30 compressions which doesn’t bring a person back from the dead, but does keep oxygen circulating through the body until the ambulance arrives. 

The smaller the creature, the quicker the heart beats, the bigger the creature the slower.  I know that mammals have four chambered hearts and that they make a lub-dub sound and that if you pay very close attention you can hear your own heart beating but mostly people only hear their hearts if they listen through a stethoscope which doesn’t happen very often. 

I have a grandpa and an aunt who died of heart attacks, each from different sides of the family, and probably more relatives who died of the same going long back.  My dad would also be dead of a heart attack except my mom called the ambulance right away and the doctors inserted a stint through his groin all the way up into an artery in his heart that was clogged and 12 years later his heart wasn’t working properly again, so they repeated the procedure and now he is doing fine.

I know that when we memorize we call it learning by heart, though mostly we learn to memorize with our minds.

I once read something interesting about how the symbol for heart came about even though it doesn’t look much like a real heart.  But now I have forgotten what that story is. 

I know that when we love, we feel a fluttering in our hearts, and when we drink a lot of coffee, we feel a drumming in our hearts, and when we're really frightened, we feel a burning in our hearts, and that there is a good reason for the expression broken hearted, because we ache in our hearts when we lose a great love, and this ache drives us to write sad songs and long poems that have no end. 

Hearts on cards are red.  The king of hearts has a sword through his head.  Candy hearts come in pastel colors and only taste good when you are sad.


Johnnie B. vowed not to talk about The 602 Club today.

Johnnie B. was waiting in line at Jacob's where S. was talking to D. about a dream she'd had about The 602, so when D. turned to Johnnie B., he had to say something about The 602 too even though he vowed he wouldn't.


There Goes Frank

Frank is my neighbor, across and down the block.  He plays organ at the same church where Ellen sings in the choir.  Every few months Frank accompanies a silent movie presented by the Packerland Theater Organ Society at the Houdini History Museum.  It's always such a treat and a complete mystery why more people aren't there.  Every few days when I'm sitting on the porch playing banjo, I see Frank making his slow way to or from Jacob's.

Next show:
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Monday, October 27th, 6:30pm


Everything I Know About Picture Frames (a tangent)

I am looking for a picture frame in the woods.  It seems like a picture frame wouldn't be difficult to spot, nailed to a tree, because it would be such a contrast to the bark and leaves.  Yet I haven't found the framed poem a student said she nailed to a tree along this path.  This is not the same class that wrote everything they know about picture frames.  In that class one girl said she knows that picture frames hold memories.

I prefer to tack things to the wall because though it is nice to have a thing framed, I am most likely not to get around to framing the objects I'd like to have framed. I have stacks of things that I mean to frame, funny old postcards and parts of maps and children's drawings and many photographs.  But if I really want to look at it, I better just tack it to the wall.  I ordered a print from a website I appreciate, some sort of map of creativity.  It was more than I've ever spent on a poster so I want to frame it.  I want to wait until I get a frame before I open it, but I don't know what size frame to get unless I open it.  So it sits in the corner unopened.

Last year for my husband's birthday, I framed some old family photographs and hung them in the stairwell.  Everyone was unhappy with my efforts for different reasons, so I ran out of steam for the project even though great chunks of the family are not yet represented which is not the thing that bothers my husband, but is the thing that bothers me.

Those not yet represented, please forgive me and frame a few family photographs and bring them to Thanksgiving to add to the family photo wall.  Thank you.  


Strange Porch Blues - Odd

Odd wore shirts that were too small and pants that were too big.  When he talked, people didn't know how to respond, unable to understand what it was he was saying.  Odd snorted when he cried and chortled when he was mad and answered the phone asking, "Who's there?"

Odd rode a giant tricycle that he rigged to steer with his knees so he could keep his hands free for playing banjo, the thing he loved most passionately.  He devoted his life to loving one woman who never loved him back.


The Road to Ubuweb

I heard on the radio, an interview with a writer about his book, Uncreative Writing.
Kenneth Goldsmith on To The Best of Our Knowledge

It was very interesting.  So I ordered the book.
Uncreative Writing

And referred to it on this blog.
Isn't It Time I Posted Something to My Blog?

And proposed to teach a class by the same name.
Renaissance High School

In uncreative writing class, to begin a discussion of juxtaposition, I showed this video of Kenneth Goldsmith reading at the White House.  I thought the students would be really into it but all they noticed was his paisley suit and how he was always moving his legs around when he read.
Brooklyn Bridge Triptych

As a way to further our discussion of movement and sound composition in a different class, I showed this video of Mark Applebaum performing Aphasia. One girl said that if that was her dad, she would be really embarrassed.  Another student wanted to know what year this was made since the guy's clothes are so out of style.
Mark Applebaum's Aphasia

When I came home from class I tried to find the video of a different performance art piece that the students might like better, one Mark Applebaum refers to in the TED talk where I first learned about him.
The Mad Scientist of Music

I never did find a link to the performance art piece, but rather got distracted by a sidebar link in which Mr. Goldsmith cuts off a rambling introduction to try to convince the audience to let him talk about ubuweb instead of uncreative writing because ubuweb is so much bigger and more interesting. He is unsuccessful.
Kenneth Goldsmith in Zagreb

So, I search ubuweb and find this video.
Kenneth Goldsmith's "A Brief History of Ubuweb"

Which leads to my first random listen on ubuweb:
Anna Akhmatova


Wisdom of Wombats Gathering at the 602 Club

Saturday, October 4, 7pm

Bring a friend and dessert or a drink and a song. 
Catch up with fellow artists and discuss ideas for future A Wisdom of Wombats projects. 

The Wisdom of Wombats is 
a collective of Fox Valley artists of various ilk 
mutually supporting and enabling cross-genre exploration.

The 602 Club
602 North Lawe Street

Painting by future wombat: Danny Ceballos
on display @ The 602 Club



I. Introduction

Section 2

Section 3
Delta T
Delta T
Delta T

Section 3.3

Section 4

Section 5
et al
et al
et al
et al
et al


80 Goodbyes

80 Goodbyes

the long goodbye
the short goodbye
the goodbye that never should have happened
the happy goodbye
the sad goodbye
the bitter sweet goodbye
the absent goodbye
the passionate goodbye
the awkward goodbye
the final goodbye

the until we meet again goodbye
the I never want to fucking see you again goodbye
the sobbing goodbye
the humiliating goodbye
the obligatory goodbye
the reproachful goodbye
the regretful goodbye
the virtual goodbye
the abbreviated goodbye
the goodbye that never was

the tenuous goodbye
the goodbye dressed in tails and a hat
the uneasy goodbye
the flippant goodbye
the unforgettable goodbye
the well meaning goodbye
the goodbye that went terribly wrong
the goodbye soaked in wine
the good luck good riddance goodbye
the winking goodbye

the blind goodbye
the naked goodbye
the slighted goodbye
the goodbye that was only a dream
the insincere goodbye
the chilly goodbye
the bad luck goodbye
the inevitable goodbye
the perfect goodbye
the complicated goodbye

the traditional goodbye
the irreverent goodbye
the dry eye goodbye
the spicy goodbye
the dramatic goodbye
the understated goodbye
the goodbye that faded away
the northern goodbye
the southern goodbye
the eastern goodbye
the western

the broken goodbye
the guy to guy goodbye
the silent goodbye
the boisterous goodbye
the violent goodbye
the restrained goodbye
the destined goodbye
the embracing goodbye
the goodbye that calls for a handshake.

the goodbye en francais
the faire la bise goodbye
the hi-fi goodbye
the unprofessional goodbye
the f.i.n.e. fine goodbye
the goodbye with bad intentions
the insane goodbye
the rainy goodbye
the attenuated goodbye
the fly goodbye

the literary goodbye
the goodbye that lingers on the porch
the surprising goodbye
the goodbye that got stabbed with a fork
the strange goodbye
the nauseating goodbye
the shy goodbye
the cheery pie goodbye
the disappointing goodbye
the goodbye that got lost in the snow


Strange Porch Blues - Strange

Strange laughed when no one else did.  She talked to trees and danced in the wind.  
She never said hello or goodbye, but just started right in the middle, as if you'd been talking all along.
Strange didn't care about money because people gave her all she needed.  Mostly, she sat by the fountain and played banjo.  She smiled at everyone, and no one did her any harm.  


From Ms. Dane's School of Rigid Cursive: Guidelines for Self-Satisfaction

                                      11) Keep a blog.


Notes on Austin Kleon's TEDxKC talk "Steal Like An Artist"

life long crack up
what's worth stealing
years later
T.S. Elliot
neighbor of Ben Franklin
my unoriginal idea
draw a line
draw a second line
ephemeral he found
1+1 = 3
that CIA haiku
you pick
anyone who hasn't clipped
I kept on
ripping off the government
that's all there is to do
John Lennon
brilliant Tom Phillips
completely unoriginal
40 years
out of college
you rip off
I thank you


Some Notes On Essay Writing That I Thought Would Turn Into An Essay But Didn't

The essay will be about a particular subject but after a while, it will wander away from that subject because that's how thought works and essays are attempts at capturing thoughts.

Essay writing is like doing patchwork.

Some repetition is pleasing.  Too much is boring.

I am thinking about vines.

In the ninth grade, we had an enthusiastic student art teacher who taught us to draw giant chalk portraits as fast as we could with a really loose arm.  We did, laughing, embarrassed at how dumb our portraits looked.  But it felt good to draw like that.  So I kept doing it.

Contemplate why the edited view of a landscape, framed and hung on the wall, can be more powerful than witnessing the actual landscape.  Is it the same with a face?

End with a conclusion.


602 Club

we don't know what this is

or what it will become

but we sure are grateful

for what it is right now


Piano Lessons

One of our friends' children, who is a voracious reader entering third grade, sits with a blank look, not answering when her piano teacher asks what note comes after “C.”  Her parents worry that after two years she doesn’t know the names of the notes on the grand staff and that she can’t play the rhythms properly.  I ask the girl how was piano lesson?  “Terrible,” she says, “like always.”  The teacher is very nice and has a lot of success with his students, including our friends’ older daughter.

I find the younger at the piano, head down, working in her master theory book so she doesn’t get another dollar taken off her allowance.  I sit beside her and play a few notes.  She smiles.  I ask if she wants to join.  She nods.  Play the black keys, I suggest.  Any ones you want, at any time.  We alternate notes.  She adds one, I add one.  She giggles.  She plays in perfect rhythm.


In the Quiet of Morning

In the quiet of the morning is the hum of the computer, the ruffling of the curtain lifting with the breeze, the chirp of crickets, the roar of a distant motor, hammering, a bird chirping, a car rolling by, a dog barking, the footsteps of a man coming back from market, cicadas, a door slamming, the whine of a power saw, the sound of my breath, an airplane coming closer and then fading, the clicking of the keyboard, the fabric of my shirt rubbing, the voices of people I don't know, a ladder being extended, a small creature gnawing on the house, my chair creaking, a lawn mower starting, sticks breaking, a delivery truck rumbling down the street, keys jangling, my husband singing, a chair sliding across the floor downstairs, my husband sighing and walking into the kitchen, a joint in my back cracking, an unidentifiable tapping.


Annoying Things

When it is so humid that the floor feels sticky on my bare feet.

When my husband crushes his soda can and puts it in my bag without me knowing so that when I go to retrieve something from my bag I find there are little drops of soda all over my things making them sticky.  How annoying!

When the children hold my hands and I can tell they haven't washed theirs in a long time.

When the children hang on my hands making my wrists ache.

When I find bits of food around the house after telling the children a thousand times to eat only in the kitchen.

When people ask me to do things I don't want to do.

Sand on the floor after we've come back from the beach.

Things sitting on the counter that I don't know what to do with.

Lids that don't match containers.  Containers that don't have lids.

Windows that don't open.

Mosquitoes that buzz in the ear.

A brand new book with a cover that curls up when it rains.

Unbagged trash thrown into the garbage can that sticks to the bottom and begins to stink.

Wet towels that get buried in the hamper and begin to smell moldy.

Moldy smells coming from vents.

People who drive right against my bumper when I am going the speed limit and then honk and make obscene gestures when they pass.

Shoes left out in the rain.

Not being able to get on the internet.

Computers that don't work that way I want them to.

Children asking me how to spell things when I am trying to read.

The wind blowing papers that I have just laid out neatly.


Excerpt From An Unpublished Essay: Lonely in Kino or The Long Stretch of Day. Chasing Sand Pipers

Walking back towards New Kino and the posada where a pair of my sandals lie on the floor and a jar of salsa sits open on the desk and two toothbrushes balance on sink's edge, a place that is surprisingly easy to think of as home, I am optimistic now that I have survived another odd day, alone and pregnant in the heat of a foreign land, now that I am returning to where I started.  Pelicans flap their wings, their prehistoric beaks tickled by the tips of the waves, and children drag red and yellow buckets, chasing sand pipers, splashing the water with their feet.  Teenagers sit together under umbrellas, talking on their phones and slapping each other teasingly on the arms.  And the seagulls hop from one foot to another, nervous at the shrinking of their beach as more and more people wake from their siestas and come down to swim. I am buoyant as evening approaches.  I roll along, one foot to the next, listening to the slap of ocean water and the static of human noises as if it were music, smelling sea weed and sun tan lotion and the relief that rises from my skin.


New Release

I am at a friend's house and see among the books her husband has checked out of the library, a book by a writer I admire.  I didn't know this writer had a new book out and though I don't know this writer personally, I feel slighted, as if this writer should have contacted me because I get such a strong charge from this writer's work, that just holding her book makes me want to run home and write my own weird little stories which, if she knew, might make her feel just as slighted as I do when I discovered she published a new book without telling me.


Sandbox Lesson #1

Make sure your sandbox is clean and clear of distractions.

Develop good habits right from the start.  Sit tall.  Do not slouch.
This is a shovel.

Shoveling an entire shovelful of sand is called a whole scoop.

When you see a  
shovel one whole scoop.

Now try this:

Shovel four scoops with a steady rhythm.

Try not to shovel off beat!  Use a metronome to help keep a steady beat.

Practice shoveling until you can shovel for three minutes without making a mistake.

For best success, practice daily.

Next lesson: Half scoops