I am drawing a dotted line across our globe, starting from home, here, out along what I imagine is your path. I only put one or two dashes a day, small ones on our big globe, but it’s nice to do, still, still, there is progress and I can watch it. Also, it can be like a Hansel und Gretel trail, leading you back here, should you forget the way. Even though I know you can see it, or me, right now.
You must be in Manitoba by now.
I have planted the spring seeds. The spinach and carrots and radishes.
I am sending this to William, Harriet’s son, who lives in Brandon. The accountant, you remember. In case you stop there, to sleep maybe, as you pass by, if you pass by, though I know you probably won’t, and, probably, William will be confused by the name on the envelope, “Etta Vogel, c/o William Porter” and will post it back to me, but that’s okay. I’ll give it to you when you get back; put it in a pile next to the pile I’m making of the letters you’re sending here. They’re on the kitchen table, because I hardly need all of it to eat at.
I have been out to see Russel, in his field, since last week, when he suggested that maybe I shouldn’t come back for a little while because I’ve got a cough, and it could scare away the deer. So I stay away. But sometimes he comes by after he’s done looking, and we have coffee, or sometimes he leaves notes on our door as he passes by. He is well. I haven’t told him where you’ve gone. I tell him you’re out, that’s all.


P.S. I know you have gone to see the water, and you should see it, Etta, you should, but, in case there are other reasons you’ve left, in case there are things you have discovered or undiscovered that you didn’t want to tell me in person, in that case, you can always tell me here. Tell me here and we can never mention it outside of paper and ink (or pencil).

– excerpted from Etta and Otto and Russell and James, by Emma Hooper

Go read.
etta otto

Earth Day, 2015:

The dinosaurs were killed during the Fifth Extinction — which scientists suspect was caused by an asteroid. Now, we are living through an epoch that many scientists describe as the Sixth Extinction, and this time, human activity is the culprit. As one scientist put it: We’re the asteroid.

Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of the new book The Sixth Extinction. It begins with a history of the “big five” extinctions of the past, and goes on to explain how human behavior is creating a sixth one — including our use of fossil fuels and the effects of climate change.

“Amphibians have the dubious distinction of being the world’s most endangered class of animals,” she writes. “But also heading toward extinction are one-third of all reef-building corals, a third of all fresh-water mollusks, a third of sharks and rays, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles and sixth of all birds.”

“We are effectively undoing the beauty and the variety and the richness of the world which has taken tens of millions of years to reach,” Kolbert tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. ” … We’re sort of unraveling that. … We’re doing, it’s often said, a massive experiment on the planet, and we really don’t know what the end point is going to be.”

– Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction, in an interview with Terry Gross of NPR

I have a vague memory of the first Earth Day celebration, a teach-in held on April 21, 1970. I was just coming alive back then – my hair and curiosity getting longer by the day. From a small world only a block square in Brooklyn, I had begun commuting to Hunter College on the upper east side of Manhattan, focused on books and classes. Yet other things were catching my attention.

I remember a group outside of the college with signs and tables, a small protest about a much larger event. Like the few I saw outside my high school window a few years back, walking in circles (who were they?) with signs about Vietnam (where was that?), while the “hitters” from down by the beach drove by, taunting them, trailing a massive American flag, throwing bottles and cans.

I stared out that window. I didn’t understand. I didn’t get it. But as time went on, I understood that we did some things right and some things wrong. Intention, expectation, and outcome weren’t all properly aligned. But most of that was realized in retrospect. Even this many years later.

As in most things…

st. helena olive_2
The flowering St. Helena Olive – extinct since 2003

[via weather underground…]

…Bruce Feiler follows the trend in this past Sunday’s NY Times:

A few years ago, I was having drinks one night with Clifford Nass, a restlessly creative communication professor at Stanford University who had a reputation for out-of-the box thinking. Dr. Nass told me about research he was doing that suggested young people were spending so much time looking into screens that they were losing the ability to read nonverbal communications and learn other skills necessary for one-on-one interactions.

The data about technology use…is staggering. The Kaiser Family Foundation puts media use among 8- to 18-year-olds at more than 7.5 hours a day. A study released this month by the Pew Research Center showed that a quarter of teenagers are online “almost constantly.” Among 12- to 17-year-olds, texting has become the primary means of communication, outstripping direct human contact. Common Sense Media found that 72 percent of children age 8 and under had used a mobile device. These figures include a third of children under age 2.

Patricia M. Greenfield, distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the director of the Children’s Digital Media Center, Los Angeles…told me that … in the more than four decades she has been examining young people and technology, she has seen a rapid escalation in disturbing habits. “It used to be we went into communities every 20 years looking for change,” she said. “Now, I can see changes even between my 14-year-old grandson and my 8-year-old grandson.”

– excerpted from Hey, Kids, Look At Me When We’re Talking, by Bruce Feiler


You can Google it…or maybe not…

[h/t to this isn’t happiness for the lead in and illustrator Trevor Spaulding for the New Yorker cartoon…]

…and it is what it is…

pearls before swine 4_5_2015Pearls Before Swine
by Stephan Pastis

It has to be said…gettin’ back into the groove…

authors beget authors_3
– excerpted from The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon by Washington Irving

Been an exhausting few days. The Brunette and I, along with the four-leggeds, left our house of 27 years (she argues 26 but I prefer the weight of the “7”) and moved to a small community of apartments a few miles away. We’re by a bay although can’t see it from our window – but a short walk with a leashed dog will get you to waterside. We were attracted here because of the pet friendly environment – rumor has it that the owner, a well known philanthropist, once wouldn’t allow you here unless you had a dog. The rules may have relaxed a bit but judging by the assortment wandering with their owners, this is a well established haven.

It’s Easter Sunday. With the sun just barely coming up, the newspaper delivery man is moving from building to building dropping blue wrapped bundles of the Sunday edition at apartment doors. Another is picking metallic color Easter eggs out of a plastic bag and placing them under bushes and along the edges of the lawn. The heat is tapping at the pipes while the air is coming in clean and cold from the water.

There’s still more work to be done, books to be read, and thoughts to tumble about. And cartons to unpack…

It’s going to be a good day.

the bookstoreA Bookstore
(Книжный магазин)
by David Burliuk (1882-1967)

[h/t to Biblioklept – expanded excerpt here…]

the bus 2The Bus
by Paul Kirchner

Last Sunday, The Brunette, Belle, and I did a walk thru of our newly upcoming neighborhood.  The buildings where we’ll be living are built in between the main street running thru town and the bay. We weren’t looking for a water view and don’t really have it since we’re on the street side. But the primary attraction was that it was four-legged friendly. The owner – from a wealthy philanthropist family – is quite militant about this. We heard from one of our new neighbors that years ago you had to have a dog in order to rent an apartment there.

We parked down by a marina which also doubles as a public space with a small bandshell for summer concerts. It was still cold and overcast with snow covering anything green. Benches were lined up along the water’s edge which no doubt will be filled when the weather warms up. Belle chugged along the path getting her nose into every crevice and occasionally looking under the benches for future hideouts. We passed one couple with a small dog and both she and Belle sniffed cautiously until it was decided the timing wasn’t right. The humans were embarrassed at the lack of dogness.

It was early on a Sunday so the cluster of shops at the end of the marina were still closed. Next to an old fashioned ice cream and soda shop was a bait and tackle store offering rods n’ reels for rent. And for those who didn’t have the patience to wait until the shop was open:

frozen bailt
Choices ran from squid strips to frozen bunker to ‘Clam Kutz”. I guess branding is everywhere these days.

Small businesses ran along the street-side including carpet shops, restaurants, household supplies and an “integrative healing center”. A “For Rent” sign was hung in a shop window that was doubling as a small gallery with wood and metal works on display in a jumbled environment.

But the best part of the walk was what we found along the way on the bayside walk – the Little Free Library:

little free library PW

The hand lettered words on the blue-framed door read:

The more you read
the more you know
the more you learn
the more places you’ll go

I think we’re going to be quite comfortable here.

Belle is reserving judgement.

the bus[The Bus by Paul Kirchner]

Let’s get this show on the road…

It’s dangerous enough to dig too deeply into the past. It’s been said that we usually bury the bad ones although those 3 AM trips can be rough. The one who, the time that. You’ve earned them all – both good and worse.

We’ve sold our house. Not an easy decision and one that wasn’t necessarily voluntary but necessary. So the past two months have been a period of consolidating, compressing, and uncovering. We’ve found things that had been hidden away in the attic, backs of drawers and impossibly deep in shallow closets. Things we put away over 27 years ago and had forgotten about. Maybe even older than that since we lugged them around in cartons from apartment to apartment each being buried further under the hoard.

We’re disassembling. The shelves are emptying out and the boxes are being piled up against the walls. It’s beginning to look like a place we’re leaving. That I think is the hardest part – the leaving behind. Yes, each closed door leads to an open one. But there’s still that closed door.

There’s a revision coming up – a reprint with changes and additions. We’ve got some pages to fill since we have a contract that still has a few years left to it. And that’s where it gets interesting. Those things we did put away so many years ago can be picked up again.

We’ll live in a smaller space with less opportunity to collect and hoard. That’s probably going to be the most difficult part. But somehow I think we’ll find a way…we do, after all, lean to the creative side…

moving day_tadgellMoving Day Surprise
written by Tina Stolberg
illustrations by Nicole Tadgell

© Bill Israel

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