Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

Around the table

Monday, June 25, 2018


So I’ve been thinking about Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s non-meal at The Red Hen, and I’m not completely sure what I think except that thinking about it feels important.

On the one hand, of course, I appreciate The Red Hen’s staff’s discomfort around serving—“serving !”—someone who enables the current administration’s actions and the owner’s decision to honor that. On the other hand, Red Hen and Robert DiNiro and Samantha Bee, et al., what happened to going high even when they go lower than we ever could have imagined?

I am always ready to agree with Maxine Waters and I hear her exhortation to confront the aiders and abetters of the administration’s policies. But what does it mean in the current reality to confront and be an upstander? Is it possible to resist and not tear our civic fabric any further than it’s already been?  Even the word “resist,” with its echoes of capital R Resistance in the face of mid-twentieth century fascism throws down the challenge to not stand silent or look away in the presence of injustice.

What seems ironic in this incident is that it happened around a meal.  Around food,  one of the basic human needs, our most primal sign of recognizing another person’s need and offering to fill it.  Of course, Sanders speaks on behalf of denying the needs of others. She may have missed a meal, but she and those she enables won’t go hungry. They won’t be without shelter or other basic needs or even less basic creature comforts. It feels like a duty to let them know this is not all right with us. And each of us has to find our own way to confront, to  resist, to “upstand.”  

But here is another thing—in the face of the dinner denied and the I don’t care jacket and the porn star and the lawyers and the indictments and the ankle bracelets and all the other distractions there is still governing going on that we and the media must not look away from.

So my take-away from the dinner story (my takeout?) is commitment to be an upstander at every opportunity. But also to focus not on each day’s ridiculous rabbit pulled from the hat  but on the real story of which road we’re being taken down.

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Finding comfort in the words of others

Thursday, June 7, 2018


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I have loved writing a blog….and I may again. But it’s been a long time with a lot of beginnings and no finished piece. I think you understand….about the world moving head-spinningly fast and, with it, our understanding of our new reality.

I find it increasingly painful to see our country move each day farther from what I have thought of as its best vision of itself. I’ve been trying to find a way to live now without feeling constant despair. I am grateful for the life I have and the people I love who are part of it., and I would like to stay in touch with those who have read my blog in the past and responded to it. So until I can bear to think my own thoughts here again, I offer the thoughts of others that give me comfort, beginning here with a poem by W. S. Merwin.


To Paula In Late Spring

Let me imagine that we will come again
when we want to and it will be spring
we will be no older than we ever were
the worn griefs will have eased like the early cloud
through which the morning slowly comes to itself
and the ancient defenses against the dead
will be done with and left  to the dead at last
the light will be as it is now in the garden
that we have made here these years together
of our long evenings and astonishment


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In the eye of the beholder

Monday, July 10, 2017


A few years ago, while walking through the Radcliffe Quad, Dr. D. and I saw several piles of what seemed to be building or gardening supplies—earth and various kinds, sizes, and colors of gravel. We assumed a modest project was about to begin. But then we noticed a sign with the title and creator of what, it turned out, was an art installation.

It became a joke. We started noticing “art installations” everywhere—a quarry, a nursery, a building site. Who knew there was so much public art to be seen?

But then the joke turned a little. Why not an art installation? With all the hurrying and busyness, the thousand daily annoyances, worries, to-do’s, and random distractions, why not pause and take a different look at things we usually don’t give a second glance? A pile of rocks, their shapes and random as a John Cage composition. A heap of dirt or a stack of bricks on their way to becoming a garden or a walkway. On their way to being transformed by effort and imagination.

I’ve seen art installations in parks that seem to tell us something like this—a field of feathers, a tiny doorway at the base of a tree, a group of sculpted ants picnicking beside the Muddy River—pointing to a new, unexpected way to see what surrounds us. Prodding g us not to let our assumptions or our busyness dull us to the possibility that there could be wonders to see around us.

And this, too--isn’t this what we do with all our heaped-up moments—try to shape them into something worth noticing?

Thank you, Radcliffe Quad and that art installation.




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