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Friday, October 30, 2009


The creation of a world view is the work of a generation rather than of an individual, but we each of us, for better or for worse, add our brick to the edifice.

~ John Dos Passos

Someone who lived in our house before we did left a bunch of bricks to the edifice in a pile in the backyard.


I always wanted to be a cowboy, and Jedi Knights are basically cowboys in space, right?

~ Liam Neeson


If I could be either a cowboy or an astronaut, I'd choose cowboy. If you fall off your ride, it's not as hard a landing.


One thought follows another without interruption. But if you allow these thoughts to link up to a chain, you put yourself in bondage.

~ Zen saying


My brother, Erik, once tied up our youngest brother, Kirk. And then put him in the bathtub. And then ran the water.

Kirk was never in any real danger. But to hear him tell it, you'd think Erik was trying to kill him or something.


Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.

~ Dalai Lama


I remember being hurt as a kid (usually of my own doing). I would yell, "Mom! Mom!"

My mother - the nurse - would respond, "Come over here and I'll help you up."


Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood.
~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This is Elizabeth in my dad's workshop getting ready to start work on the rabbit hutch. The hutch is now complete other than being sealed and stained. And filled with a rabbit.
And the string Elizabeth is about to pull changes our basement into the BatCave.


A fisherman until he was thirty, Master Gensha entered Seppo’s monastery for two years and then decided to leave. As he was walking along the road, he stubbed his toe on a rock and injured it badly, and screamed out in pain. Then suddenly he thought, where does pain come from?
In a flash he had deep enlightenment. He returned to Seppo’s monastery, and Seppo challenged him: “What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be gone.”
Gensha famously replied: “Bodhidharma never came to China: the Seoncond Ancestor never left India. Bodhidharma and all the ancestors are right here with me!”Seppo was overjoyed at his student’s achievement.
I remember when I was little, when I'd stub my toe or fall down my parents would say, "Oh, that's going to scar. Now you can't be Miss America." So, pretty early on I eliminated that from my list of life goals.


When a dog runs at you, whistle for him.
~ Hendry David Thoreau
When I used to work at the newspaper, I remember one time having a face-off with a dog. I distracted him by throwing the newspaper and then I ran and got into the car.
The interaction with the dog was not nearly as terrifying as the time two giant geese chased me. I barely made it out alive. And maybe they weren't geese. They could easily have been ostriches or pterodactyls.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I'm lazy. But it's the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn't like walking or carrying things.

~ Lech Walesa


When I was a child I drove my grandpa's tractor. He left the keys in it and I got on it and started it and - so the story goes - I nearly ran over my granpa. I didn't, though.

It was probably shortly after that when my grandpa began drafting plans for his "spanking machine" that he was always talking about inventing.


Of two sisters one is always the watcher, one the dancer.
~Louise Gl├╝ck
Or, one is the strangler, the other the struggler.


Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.
~ George Carlin
I think it's good for children to outside and play. My mother thought so, too. But she never wanted us wandering too far from home. I remember her caring words as we would go outside to ride our bikes:
"Don't cross the street or a truck driver is going to pick you up, take you to California, cut you to pieces, and mail you back home in a shoe box."
This instilled in me not only a sense to stay close to home, but fears of truck drivers, California, and shoe boxes.

Monday, October 26, 2009


It's hard for the modern generation to understand Thoreau, who lived beside a pond but didn't own water skis or a snorkel.

~ Bill Vaughn


It must be nearly impossible to understand the English language.

Snow boarding = good + fun.

Waterboarding = very bad.


We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government.

~ William O. Douglas


The above quote is from 1966.

I think the word "surveil" is very pretty.

The photo is from a Burger King -- taken Spring, 2009.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The proper route to an understanding of the world is an examination of our errors about it.

~ Errol Morris


One time I was out and about with Elizabeth and we ran into a few student staff members whom I knew. One of them had dealt with a tremendous number of issues in her role in the residence halls. I told Elizabeth, "She's been through almost everything that I can think of."

Elizabeth's response was, "Has she had a wedgie?"


Dogs understand your moods and your thoughts, and if you are thinking unpleasant things about your dog, he will pick it up and be downhearted.

~ Barbara Woodhouse
I think that when you are choosing a dog, you should choose one with a very expressive face. That way, when you are being an ass, your dog will be able to let you know that. If you've ever gotten that hurt feeling look from a dog before, you know what I mean. It can reform you -- at least in the short term. And at least in terms of your interactions with your dog.
Or maybe only people who are asses need a dog with an expressive face.
Regardless, I suggest that everyone choose a dog with a face. A dog without a face would be really scary.


35 is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.

~ Oscar Wilde


You want to know what an UNattractive age is? It's 14. That's when kids get attitude and a learner's permit. This is a horrific combination.

For the record, I have to give a thumbs down to the Dark Ages, too.
But the paleolithic age rocked.


It really is only limited by your imagination. It can be customized to your own likes and dislikes. If your love is processed cheese and white bread, go for it.

I think the only mistake is not thinking outside the box.

~ Laura Werlin


When gift-giving time arrives, I often think that boxes get a bad wrap.


Wouldn't it be ironic if prisoners were encouraged to think outside of the box?


Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
~ Chinese proverb
I wonder what the cartoon symbol for a great idea was before electricity.

Barbed Wire

If in barbed wire things could bloom, why couldn't I?
I will not die, I will not die.
~ Friedl and the Children of Terezin quotes
Barbed wire is so small and yet so effective. But it takes support from the posts for the wire to do it's best work.
Like children. They are small, but can do so many things if they have the support of their parents. For example, a child supported by his parents could take small, pointy pieces of metal and keep other children out of his yard.

Friday, October 23, 2009

It doesn't work to leap a twenty foot chasm in two ten foot jumps.
~ American Proverb
Sometimes when you jump in you land on a nice pile of leaves. But sometimes, there is a little dog poo hidden in those leaves, so be careful.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Excuse me while I kiss the sky.
~ Jimi Hendrix


My mother used to do this little thing -- not really a poem, it wasn't a song, and I wouldn't call it a proverb. It was sort of an avant garde performance piece. She would pretend she was holding a tiny bird in the palm of one hand while stroking it's head with the other. Then she would say:

"Oh... little birdie. Did you fall out of your nest?"

"Oh... little birdie. Are you scared?"

"Oh... little birdie. Do you miss your mama?"

"Oh... little birdie. Do you want to go to heaven?"

And then she would smack her hands together like she was squishing the bird.


I have no idea where this came from or what lesson it was meant to teach. It always made me laugh, though. That scares me.


Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring - quite often the hard way.

~Pamela Dugdale

One thing I taught my brother, Erik was, "Never slam down a little cup of white stuff even if you're told it's sugar if you suspect that it might be salt." I also convinced him he was born on Friday the 13th even though his birthday is August 3rd.

I think it's good I didn't have sisters. I'm not sure we'd be on speaking terms.


Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts.
So long as we are dirty, we are pure.
~ Charles Dudley Warner


Mud is nature's art supply. You can paint with it, write with it, sculpt with it, sing to it, do a play with it, make a mobile with it*, construct pottery out of it, make jewelry out of it*, do modern dance with it, or even come up with brand new art forms with it.

* Note: some of these art forms are less successful than others, and if you pursue these, you probably should make sure you maintain some other form of employment.


Inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetci striving,
but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing,
prime it with a little solitude and idleness.

~ Brenda Ueland


So, when you see me sitting around being idle, don't say, "Wow, you're so lazy." Instead, say nothing and think, "Wow, you're making time for so much inspiration." Trust me, you're doing the world a favor.

Monday, October 19, 2009


A young doctor means a new graveyard.
~ German Proverb


If you had to go to the doctor and could only choose from teh following, whom would you select and why?:

a. Dr. Seuss
b. Dr. Jekyll
c. Dr. Doom
d. Dr. Demento

Correct answer: Dr. Seuss.
Why? Because these are some of the pieces of information / recommendations / observations you might receive from him:

* Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.
* Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.
* When at last we are sure,
You've been properly pilled,
Then a few paper forms,
Must be properly filled.
So that you and your heirs,
May be properly billed.
* You're in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.


The balloons only have one life and the only way of finding out whether they work is to attempt to fly around the world.
~ Richard Branson


So this balloon didn't make it around the world. It didn't pop either, though. How a balloon gets stuck in a pine needle tree without popping, I don't know.

Balloons are like the dreams of children. They happen, they lift and they enudure remarkable challenges and circumstances. And, over time, if they are not popped, they wither up and become deflated, hanging from branches or stranded atop trash heaps.


Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things
before breakfast.
~ Lewis Carroll


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, what if Mario Batali broke into your home around lunchtime and said, "Make me a sandwich and I'll give you a million dollars!"? If that happened, I think you'd have to agree that lunch would be the most important meal of the day.

Or The Last Supper. That was probably the most important meal that day, too. Not breakfast

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The true object of all human life is play.
Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.

~ Gilbert K. Chesterton


The night of Maddie's birthday party, she and her friends went over to the school playground to play a game her uncle made up called "Cougar." Given current connotations of what the word cougar refers to in our culture, I might have chosen a different name, but this is neither here nor there. Basically, it involves some sort of hide-and-go-seek and trying to scare the people with whom you are playing.

Anyway, as the girls approached the playground, they saw some boys there, smoking. The boys apparently asked if the girls wants to smoke some pot. The girls ran home (for some reason in two separate groups and without telling us when they got home what had occurred).

When Chris found out the next day why "Cougar" was cut so short, she said to me, "I'm glad they are good kids. That could have been really bad. Can you imagine them going home and saying, 'Mom and Dad, can we spend the night at Maddie's again soon? She went to bed at 10 o'clock, but before that we got to smoke weed with some kids from her neighborhood!"


For we must be one thing or the other, an asset or a liability,
the sinew in your wing to help you soar,
or the chain to bind you to earth.

~ Countee Cullen


I think having children make chains out of pasta to give to their parents for holidays is an excellent idea. It shows thoughtfulness and a sense of giving on the part of the child and - in case the necklace is super-ugly - the parents can always wear it to work and eat it for lunch.


Fortune is like glass - the brighter the glitter,
the more easily broken.

~ Pubilius Syrus

I like going to the recycling place because of all the cool bottles and containers they have there. I wouldn't want to work there. I get grossed out by other peoples' liquids. But I like looking at the bottles they have.

And I like the part where they give you money, too. That's actually probably my favorite part.


I have the heart of a child. I keep it in a jar on my shelf.

~Robert Bloch

People want to know why I do this, why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy... and I keep it in a jar on my desk.

~ Stephen King


(I don't like it when I find two quotes that are very similar. Who knows who said which first?)

I don't know why people want to keep human heads (or children's hearts) in jars. There is not a single human head I can think of that I would enjoy staring at when it was detatched from the body it came with.


Nope, not even one.


I only use my sick days for hang-overs and soap opera weddings.

~ Kate O'Brien


H1N1 visited our house and has chosen to hang around for a while. Elizabeth was very sick. She said to her mom, "I don't know what this is, but I don't like it."

Maddie let all of her friends who were supposed to stay for her birthday sleepover know that E had been sick. Most were still able to come.

Above is how you prepare snacks for 13-14 year olds during flu season.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Or would you like to swing on a star
Carry moonbeams home in a jar
And be better off than you are
Or would you rather be a fish?

~ Johnny Burke


Hmmm... I guess I'd rather be a fish.

What do I look like, an idiot?! I'd much rather be better off than I are.


Friday, October 16, 2009


I have no hostility to nature, but a child's love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


I don't like the idea of drowning. I think it would be much worse to suffocate after falling into a silo than to drown in water, though. However, if I had my choice, I wouldn't do either one.

Instead, I'd win a lot of money and be able to sit by the ocean eating corn on the cob.


When planting for a year, plant corn. When planting for a decade, plant trees. When planting for life, train and educate people.

~ Chinese Proverb


I remember when I first realized there was a difference between sweet corn and feed / seed corn. Elizabeth just learned that the other day. Fortunately, we both learned it through observation and conversation rather than through consumption.


A Haiku

Corn in the summer
Is sweet to eat, good to taste.
Autumn it is hard.


In my photographs it is apparent that there was no posing at the moment I released the shutter.
~ Jerzy Kosinski
This photo reminds me of one of the cards you get in a box of "100 Greeting Cards." On the inside it would say something like one of the following:
* "Happy birthday to grandma's little princess."
* "Thinking of you."
* "Congratulations on your new home!"
* "I hope the bullies at school don't beat you up today, champ!"
* "Thanks for being such a great teacher."
* "Get well soon!"
* "Happy middle school graduation!"
* "When we're apart I miss you. Are you going to come home again?"
* "It makes me sad when mommy and daddy fight."
* "It's not me it's you. We're over."

It also reminds me of one of the cards that never gets sent to anyone and then you lose the envelopes, but you keep the cards in a drawer for a few years before you finally decide to throw them away and then the next week you have the perfect occasion for the card, but it's at the dump by then.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet nor is the water broken.

~ Eihei Dogen


I want to be enlightened. I bet you don't know when it happens to you. I think it's something you can only see in others. I also think it's temporary. Like, sometimes I hear people say something and I think, "Wow, they're really enlightened." And then they keep talking and I think, "Wow, they're a moron."

Or maybe it's just a fine line between being enlightened and being a moron. Or, instead, it could just be about timing.


Human behavior is incredibly pliable, plastic.

~ Philip Zimbardo


In the movies when they have to quarantine someone or extract some sort of toxin or alien and they have all that plastic up... well, that must take a really long time to do. It took me a while just to get it on our appliances before I started sanding.

My favorite quarantine quote is one from a student regarding H1N1. She walked up to our front desk and said, "I have H1N1 and the doctors said I should be quarantined. What do I need to do about my classes?"

I don't know what the exact response she got was, but I would like to think that I would have said, "Before you do anything else, you need to go away from here and look up what the word quarantine means."


Grab the broom of anger and drive off the beast of fear.

~ Zora Neale Hurston


I thought this was appropriate for Halloween. But rather than looking like a witch's belongings waiting for her return, it looks like a broom and a cat on a stepstool in our kitchen.


Art is either plagiarism or revolution.

~ Paul Gauguin


The drawing on the left is mine. The drawing in the middle is Maddie's and the drawing on the right is - I think - Elizabeth's.

The only votes that count in the "which is prettier?" tally are the red votes. The others are fraudulent votes cast by non-residents who are ineligible voters.


As an apple reddens on the high bough; high atop the highest bough the apple pickers passed it by – no not passed it by,
but they could not reach it.
~ Sappho
Who eats an apple with a melon baller, you ask?
Elizabeth Fowler.
Why does she do that, you ask?
That I cannot answer.
Maybe the larger questions ought to be, why do we so narrowly define the "right" way to use kitchen utensils? Why do those involved in kitchenry and cookery have to have such tunnel vision? I bet there are a lot of really good alternate uses for lemon zesters and cheese graters and skewers.
Well, not cheese graters because they scare me.


The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.
~ Pliny the Elder

Our cat was of absolutely no assistance in the kitchen cabinet project process. However, I did (and still do) want to paint a white stripe down her back so she could go trick or treating as a skunk. I tried to do it with sawdust, but it didn't really work.

Notes to self -

Things Cats Like:
* to roll blue tape off the counter
* to knock cabinet hinges and screws off the counter
* to get very close to wet paint
* to try and "catch" paint brushes when you're painting with them

Things Cats Do Not Like:

* sawdust
* to hand you tools when you need them
* when the cabinet doors get put back on


Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also
leaks through the holes
in the roof
of this ruined house.
~ Shibiku
I have not blogged for several days because we have been refinishing the cabinets in our kitchen. Above you see a striking photo I took of the sandpaper we used. Fortunately, we also had a power sander or I don't know if the job would ever get done.
I wonder why the company chose the name "Gator Power" for its sanding products. I do not think of alligators when I think of sandpaper. I guess they are tough, but in my mind they lack the patience to engage in any sort of project that would involve sanding. I think a better name would be "Tortoise Persistence" or "Snail Sanding Supplies." That is how I felt when we were doing this project.


What is beyond, is that which is also here.
~ Ancient Indian Aphorism
Why is it that when we're told NOT to do something or that we CAN'T do something, we want to even more? In the photo above, because it said, "Private Property: No Trespassing," I really wanted to go there. But then it looked pretty weedy and I was afraid I might get poison ivy. And since I've gotten poison ivy on private property before I decided to obey the sign.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Growing older, I love only quietness; who need be concerned with the things of this world?
Looking back, what beter plan than this: returning to the grove.

~ Li Po


When I was in first grade I had to stand in the corner one day for yelling at all the other kids to be quiet because they were too loud and their noise hurt my ears. Later, my parents took me to the doctor and we found out I needed eyeglasses because my poor eyesight was causing headaches.

My eyes got better over time, though now I need reading glasses. And, by the way, I still like for people to shut up when I tell them to.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


While there’s life, there’s home.
~ Terence
Two years ago at about this time we were packing to move into our house. Above is a photo of the matching wallpaper and shower curtain from one of the bathrooms. This decor alone was enough to make Chris not want to buy this house.
We removed the shower curtain and took down the wallpaper and painted this bathroom before we even unpacked.
Now, two years later we are refinishing the cabinets in the kitchen. I like projects, but I get 1/3 to 1/2 way through them and I feel like the time I was setting a trail with Amy and we found ourselves half way through a huge stinging nettles patch. I want to quit, but it's too late to go back, so you just have to forge ahead.
For the record, I'd rather refinish cabinets than run through stinging nettles.


I stayed in a really old hotel last night.
They sent me a wake-up letter.
~ Steven Wright
I like the idea that interesting people have stayed in the hotel rooms where I have stayed. I do not, however, like the idea that they have slept in the hotel room beds where I am going to be sleeping.
Last spring break, Chris and I went to the Gulf Coast and stayed in a motel... I forget which one -- Quality Inn, maybe? We went to check in and the manager guy said it wasn't a Quality Inn. Chris pointed at the giant neon sign and he said, "Well, it's going to be a Quality Inn, but it isn't, yet."
Then we got to the room and there weren't sheets. He wouldn't give sheets to Chris, but brought some up. Except then he started to put the blanket on the bed first. When Chris said, we could take care of it, he left. Then we realized that we had about 18 pillow cases and no fitted sheet.
We finally got what we needed. When we left the next morning, we stopped by for the "complimentary breakfast" which consisted of an apple and toast and orange juice. Except the woman in the dining area told us she thought the orange juice was spoiled.
We stayed in a different place the next night.


To be satisfied with a little, is the greatest wisdom; and he that increaseth his riches, increaseth his cares; but a contented mind is a hidden treasure and trouble findeth it not.

~ Akhenaton
I think everyone should get a counselor or a psychiatrist at about the age of 3. Then you can dump all your problems on that person. And you don't have to worry about your counselor calling you at 2 a.m. to discuss his or her problems.
I also think it would be nice if everyone could get a pat on the head once a day. But a nice pat, not the hard kind like football and baseball players give one another when they make good plays. Those look like they would really jar your neck.


You can't have a light without a dark to stick it in.
~Arlo Guthrie
What we see and what we don't are equally important. Right now the girls are going through a process of defining their own worlds. For example, the other day, I overheard this --
Elizabeth: Is there free cotton candy in your world?
Maddie: Do you poop butterflies in your world?
I have no idea what these things mean. Signs of healthy imaginations, though.