Posted in Humor, Poems/Poetry

‘Twas All Hallows’ Eve

Thanks to my friend M. for the terrace decor.
Thanks to my friend M. for the terrace decor.

after Clement Clarke Moore‘sTwas the Night Before Christmas …

‘Twas All Hallows’ Eve, and all through the house
Every creature was stirring, even our pet mouse
Oh the pumpkins were carved with very great care
In the hope that trick-or-treaters soon would be there
The children were agitated, not one in her bed
As visions of sweet treats danced in their heads
Dad and I in our costumes and me with my cap
Had settled by the door listening for the first rap
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
We sprang to our feet to check on the matter
We threw open our door to offer sweet stash
While witches flew by, all glitter and flash
And the moon on the rise and the dark ground below
Gave lustre and bluster to ghosts on the go
And then what to our startled eyes should appear,
But a miniature ballerina among goblins, one bear
Now, Alice! Now Ernie! Now Jimmy! Now Chris!
Come little Tony, big Brandy and Trish
To the top of the stairs, don’t any one fall …
Now dash away dash away dash away all

On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate!

And that’s it for our contribution to Halloween this year! Wishing you many sweets and no cavities. 

©2010, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Posted in Art, Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photo Story, Photography/Photographer

The Art of Work

 

Imagine a world without art and artists.

They help us see the world through different eyes.

And artisans infuse our everyday lives with beauty.

 

 

Works of art come in many disciplines.

 

And on many scales…

…some more grand than others.

 

My artist sister Constance’s painting, “The Poet”, celebrates the literary art of poetry through her visual art.

But I have great appreciation for people who would never consider themselves artists, and yet they make an art of work.

Some apply exceptional creativity to their work, like this fellow who rigged a bicycle to power a sugar cane juicer, to crank out a little work of art one cup at a time.

Some turn an ordinary business into something with a very personal touch.

In Ireland, I was moved by the gravestone of a man lovingly remembered for his gift of turning his work into an art.

Be it traditional…

…entrepreneurial…

…fleeting…

…or a treasured heirloom…

 

…art is all around us, and everyone is an artist in his or her own way, whether practicing with a paintbrush, chisel, camera, wooden spoon, plow, or scissors.

Art is in the eye of the beholder.

Also on the tongue…

…in the ear…

…the nose…

…the heart…

and the mind.

Whatever you do, wherever you go, party arty!

All images and words c2014Naomi Baltuck.

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NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com.

Posted in General Interest

Creating Sacred Space by Honoring the Earth

Today is the People’s Climate March. All across the globe, people are gathering, praying, chanting, and yes! marching! in the hopes that the world’s leaders will hear the call to create safe and sane policies that will ensure the future of the earth. Protecting the earth/cosmos through concern about the changing climate is sacred. It is my contention that to enter sacred space is to enter healing space

Sacred: late 14c., past participle adjective from obsolete verb sacrento make holy” (c.1200)

Holy: Old English halig “holy, consecrated, sacred, godly,” from Proto-Germanic *hailaga- (cognates: Old Norse heilagr, Old Frisian helich “holy,” Old Saxon helag, Middle Dutch helich, Old High German heilag, German heilig, Gothic hailags “holy”). Adopted at conversion for Latin sanctus.  Primary (pre-Christian) meaning is not possible to determine, but probably it was “that must be preserved whole or intact, that cannot be transgressed or violated,” and connected with Old English hal (see health) and Old High German heilhealth, happiness, good luck

I would like to share a reading from John Cobb, a Process Theologian:

from Is It Too Late?  by John B. Cobb, Jr.
It is the belief in this Spirit, the giver of life and love, that is the basis of hope. In spite of all the destructive forces we let loose against life on this planet, the Spirit of Life is at work in ever new and unforeseeable ways, countering and circumventing the obstacles we put in its path. In spite of my strong tendencies to complacency and despair, I experience the Spirit in myself as calling forth the realistic hope apart from which there is no hope, and I am confident that what I find in myself is occurring in others also.

Since what makes for life and love and hope is not simply the decision of one individual or another, but a Spirit that moves us all, I do not have to suppose that my own efforts are of great consequence in order to believe them to be worthwhile. I can recognize that they may even be futile or misdirected and still persist in them as long as no clearer light is given, for I see what I do as part of something much greater, something in which all persons participate to whatever extent they sensitively respond to the insights and opportunities that come their way. Belief in the Spirit is belief that I am not alone, that in working for life and love in hope, I am working with something much greater than myself, that there are possibilities for the future that cannot be simply projected out of the past, that even my mistakes and failures may be woven into a healing pattern of which I am not now aware.

Belief in the Spirit is no ground for complacency. There is no guarantee that people will respond to the Spirit’s prompting in sufficient numbers and with sufficient sensitivity to begin the healing of the planet. But there is the possibility. The future can be different from the past. Therefore there is hope. Where there is life, there is hope.

Today, my hope for you is that you will have hope. Hope in a sacred, healing space that encompasses not just you. Not just your neighbor. But the entire planet and planets! All beings and non-beings. All life and even non-life — even rocks. And with that thought, I will share this photo of church signs (it is an urban myth thanks to the online church sign maker, but it makes me smile every time!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shalom,

terri

terrisignoffblog

Posted in Uncategorized

Chasing Rainbows


If a tree falls in the woods and I don’t photograph it, did I really see it?

Last week, amidst the throes of last-minute packing for spring break in Hawaii, I was mentally outlining the next chapter of my manuscript. That’s the only excuse I can give for walking out of the house and onto an airplane…

Without. My. Camera.

So Thom gave me charge of his new toy, a Pentax underwater camera, for use in or out of the water.  My hero!

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Its zoom wasn’t as powerful, but I was grateful.  As they say, “Any port in a storm!”


I snapped a handful of shots before it died. We changed the battery and…nothing.  Arrrrgh!  I thought about buying a new camera, but it seemed wasteful; I’m happy with the one at home.  Maybe just a one-use camera, a single roll of film in a recycled plastic case?  No, those photos always look washed out. Then I thought, I’ve been to Maui, and I’ll be back.  How many sunsets do I need in my archives?

I don’t need to chase rainbows

I decided to make a clean break of it, go cold turkey.  Perhaps my travel experience might even improve without a lens between me and my world.

Look, Ma!  No cams!


I confess, I felt the pangs of withdrawal.  My photographs help refresh memories I might otherwise forget.

 With my camera, I am never alone.

I anticipate with pleasure the sharing of pictures with friends, family, my blogging community.  Even sans camera, I was constantly framing shots in my mind’s eye. Sea turtles gliding in ocean currents.  Two hotel maids walking arm-in-arm down a deserted hotel corridor.  The underwater service station run by a pair of enterprising Cleaning Wrasse, with bigger fish lined up like cars at a car wash, patiently waiting their turn to be picked clean of parasites.

Oh, yes, and the kid in neon snorkel gear who shouted, “Mom!  Dad!  I can hear the whales singing!”  Eli and I smiled indulgently at his vivid imagination.

The next morning we were snorkeling off that same beach when Eli said, “Mom! Dad! I can hear whales singing!”  I thought he was teasing, but I ducked under the waves, held my breath, and listened.  And I could hear them too.  For an hour or more, we held perfectly still, just letting the whale song wash over us. I’d been coming to Maui for twenty years, but had never heard them. Had they been there all along? I was an astronaut, observing an alien planet from my little floating bubble, and was unexpectedly invited in for tea!  And inside my snorkel mask I cried.

When we staggered onto the beach and looked out at the water, we saw them spouting, teasing us with glimpses of their fins and shiny black backs.  We also saw the whale watching boat hounding them. Had they been communicating distress or just watching out for each other?  Finally the boat left.  And the moment it did, the whales began breaching and splashing, showing their big white bellies, time and time again!  I suspect they were jumping for joy and shouting,”Woo hoo!  We ditched ’em!”

It was like discovering your house is haunted with friendly ghosts going about their business, oblivious to that other world, except on those occasions when your worlds intersect.  I decided the rolling ocean is The Poker Face of the World, and just beneath the surface, a swirl of emotions, life and death struggles, joy, pain, drama, and countless stories play themselves out.

There was no way a camera could have recorded that breathtaking experience, and no way I would ever need the help of a camera to recall it.  Just when I resolved and resigned myself to a camera-free existence, Eli and I went for an afternoon walk.

And he taught me how to take photos with his Smart Phone.

Okay, forget everything I just told you about a camera-free life.  Because then Saint Eli indulged me completely, taking me back to revisit all the beautiful sights I’d admired.  We snapped all these pics and more with his Smart Phone.

Pretty pictures of stationary subjects…

 …that practically come when you whistle for them.

Other photos depended upon conditions like weather.

Or light.

Or where our feet happened to take us.

 My favorite shots are the unexpected ones, that dropped like ripe fruit falling from a tree into my lap.

Sweet.

Sweeter.

Sweetest!

As we sat on the beach watching the sun set, directly ahead of us a whale leapt out of the ocean so close I could see the lines on its belly.  It thrust one long fin into the air and waved goodbye. Exhilarating! A flash of wonder!  A glimpse of the sacred just for us! It is forever engraved in our memories and upon our hearts.

But I’m THRILLED that Eli caught it on his Smart Phone!

 

Okay, time to come clean.  I ADORE chasing rainbows…

…and I will ALWAYS go for the gold!

WOO HOO!

All images and words copyright Naomi Baltuck (and Eli Garrard!)

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Posted in Corina L. Ravenscraft, General Interest, Humor

The longest word in the dictionary…

It’s not “Floccinaucinihilipilification” (which is “the act or habit of estimating or describing something as worthless, or making something to be worthless by said means.” – Oxford English Dictionary).

Mary Poppins/Julie Andrews image borrowed from http://sergioleoneifr.blogspot.com
Mary Poppins/Julie Andrews image borrowed from http://sergioleoneifr.blogspot.com

It’s also not “Supercalifraegilisticexpialidocious“, believe it or not (sorry, Mary Poppins).

Nope, the longest word in the dictionary is SMILES (because there’s a mile between the S’s)… 😀 Hahaha…ha?

Image Jim Carrey laughing from Tumblr.com
Image Jim Carrey laughing from Tumblr.com

Last month, June 15th was listed as “Smile Power Day“. But I say, why can’t it be every day? A smile is one of those things that can change all kinds of things for the better! It can:

  • Add years to your life

  • Make you a happier person

  • Make someone else a happier person

  • It’s a mood change for the giver and the receiver

  • Improves relationships

  • In business, it sends a great customer service message

There is great power in a smile. It’s contagious, too. And it’s an evolutionary trait! Did you know that your smile can be a predictor of how long you will live? Or that every, single person is born smiling? I bet there are other things you didn’t know about smiling.

In this TED Talk video, Ron Gutman talks about “The Hidden Power of Smiling”. Laughter may be the best medicine, but it all starts with a smile. 😉

http://youtu.be/U9cGdRNMdQQ

So go out and smile today! Make a conscious effort to do it more today (and every day!). Spread the wealth and do something good for your health and those around you. I’ll venture to say you won’t regret it. 🙂

effecd1bf289d498b5944e37d8f4ee6fAbout dragonkatet Regarding the blog name, Dragon’s Dreams ~ The name comes from my love-affairs with both Dragons and Dreams (capital Ds). It’s another extension of who I am, a facet for expression; a place and way to reach other like-minded, creative individuals. I post a lot of poetry and images that fascinate or move me, because that’s my favorite way to view the world. I post about things important to me and the world in which we live, try to champion extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes I wax philosophical, because it’s also a place where I always seem to learn about myself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ and I don’t mean “net-working” with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.

Posted in General Interest, Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer

Tempest in a Teapot

When my daughter Bea and I were in England, I took her to the picturesque little town of Rye.

 

Rye was a Cinque Port, charged in 1155 by Royal Charter to provide ships for the royal navy, and rewarded with tax-exempt status and other privileges.

Rye was situated on the coast until The Great Storm of 1287 silted the harbor, and transformed the coastal port into a river port, two miles inland.

The town’s history is colorful, with smuggling, and raids by and against the French, just across the Channel. It’s also said to be the most haunted town in England. There’s the ghost of the girl who fell in love with a smuggler and was murdered by him for her indiscretion.  Turkey Cock Lane is haunted by the ghost of the monk bricked up alive behind a wall for trying to elope with a local lass. The mysterious boy wrapped in a shroud, and a pair of duelers reenacting their last fatal sword fight are just a few of the ghosts who frequent The Mermaid Inn.   So many stories!

Every house has a story.   In Rye, as with everywhere else in England, they like to give their houses a name.  White Vine House was very pretty.

On a narrow cobbled lane called Mermaid Street stands The Mermaid Inn, which dates back to 1156.

 It was remodeled in anticipation of a visit from Queen Elizabeth I.  On a previous trip, I stayed at The Mermaid in a room with a plaque on the door boasting that the Queen Mum had once spent the night in that very room.  I think I can truthfully say I have slept in the same bed, looked out the same window and, at least for a little while, sat on the same throne as Queen Elizabeth II’s mum!

The Mermaid Inn was so famous that the house across the street was known simply as “The House Opposite.”

 

We discovered an unusual house, with two front doors.  The owners called it, “The House With Two Front Doors.”  (Well, of course, they did!)  They even had the name painted on it in shiny gold paint.

The neighbors who lived next to The House With Two Front Doors also had a house with one distinguishing feature, a bench built into one side of the porch.  Maybe they thought the neighbors were getting too high and mighty, with their spiffy gold-painted signs and their highfalutin name.  In what seems a clear case of one downmanship, they too gave their house a name, and put up their own sign to let passersby know they were looking at “The House With the Seat.”

I want to know all the stories–big ones like The Great Storm that changed the whole coast of England overnight, compelling but heartbreaking ones like the Mary Stanford Lifeboat Disaster, in which the entire heroic rescue crew was drowned in a storm, trying to save survivors of a shipwreck who had already been saved.  Some of my favorite tales are the Tempests in the Teapots.  Those you won’t find in tour guides or history books, but you might be fortunate enough to stumble upon one.  A local told us stories about watching the filming of Cold Comfort Farm in Rye.  Afterwards we took afternoon tea in the teahouse where one scene was filmed.

Stories live all around us. Some fall into our lap like ripened fruit from a tree.  Others are hiding in nooks and crannies, waiting to be ferreted out.  Often we are left to speculate over the missing details–not unlike trying to read tea leaves in the bottom of the tea cup.  Who hid in the priest hole over the fireplace at The Mermaid Inn?  Who was left to mourn the seventeen lads lost in the Mary Stanford disaster?  Do the occupants of The House With Two Front Doors and those of The House With the Seat ever sit down together for a cup of tea?

All images and words c2013 by Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Posted in Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer

Who Turned On the Lights?

People find the light in their life in so many ways and places.  It can be as easy as turning on a switch.

 

Some find all the light they need in a sunset…

…or a moonrise.

Others find illumination in a church…

…a synagogue…


…a mosque…

…or a library.

Sacred is a place that lights up your heart.

It isn’t always easy to find…

Some look for it in food…


…at the bottom of a wine glass…

…or through yoga…

Some light up with the joy and anticipation of adventure.

And what constitutes an adventure is very personal.

Sometimes light comes in the form of a bright idea, a flash of inspiration…

The joy of creation in all of its many forms…

Everyone’s light shines through differently.  To each his own.

For me, love shines brightest of all.

It’s our life’s work and pleasure to follow the light…

…or to make our own.

It is there.

It is there.

It is there.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Posted in General Interest, Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer, story, Story Telling, Photo Story

Staph Infection

As a newly graduated English Majorette, I headed Out West to seek my fortune, and arrived in Seattle just before the holiday season.

While I decided what to do with the rest of my life, I landed a temp job selling shoes at the downtown Frederick and Nelson’s to pay the rent.

The shoe did not fit.  Most of the saleswomen spent their paychecks on new clothes, using the employee discount, of course.  I had two and a half presentable outfits, and rotated.  I didn’t wear make-up or high heels, but I did have a decent pair of leather boots that went with everything.  I was competent and polite, except to the imperious bitches who mistook the fitting chair for a throne and were used to being waited on hand and foot.  They were the ones who came in five minutes before closing, ordered me to fetch four different pairs of shoes in three sizes, then stuck out their feet for me to remove their own shoes for them.

That six week position seemed an eternity, but I had a secret superpower to get through it.  Long before the invention of Photoshop, I had mastered my own techniques for photo doctoring.

It was crude, but effective.  And my family was very forgiving.

All it took was a pin to scratch away here and a red marker to color in there, and voila!   I turned my Frederick and Nelson’s staff pin into a Frederick and Nelson’s staph pin.  No one even noticed, but somehow it was a sign, and it made all the difference to me.

Then one cold December day my boss called me into the back room.  I was sure she was going to fire me for badge tampering.  But she said, “I want you to work here on a permanent basis beginning in January.”

Before I could tell her, “Thank you, but I want to check out job opportunities in Hell first,” she leaned forward to stare at my bosom.  Or at the badge on my bosom, to be more precise.  “I think there’s a typo on your badge.”

“So it would seem,” I replied.

“That’s never happened before.  Go get a new one, and then let me know as soon as possible about the job.”

I never did trade in my Little Red Badge of Courage for a new one.  As for the job selling shoes… those boots were made for walking, and that’s just what they did.  They walked on down to Grand Teton National Park, where I waited tables, and to King’s Canyon National Park, where I taught canoe.

And they brought me back to the home of my heart…

…where I became a professional storyteller

…and author.

Along the journey, I have learned to pay attention to my instincts, and to read the writing on the wall.

But I still keep the badge as a reminder that sometimes one must relish the tiny victories along the way.


c2013 all words and photographs, Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Posted in General Interest, Jamie Dedes, Poets/Writers, Video

Roger McGough and his “Mafia Cats” … fun and funny

said-and-done-s
I am only just now familiarizing myself with English poet Roger McGough’s work, having recently been introduced to it by a friend who sent me his poem, Mafia Cats. The presentation she sent me is the one HERE (scroll down), which I couldn’t load into this post. I think it’s the better one, though the one below is fun and funny too.

“Yes, you can feel very alone as a poet and you sometimes think, is it worth it? Is it worth carrying on? But because there were other poets, you became part of a scene. Even though they were very different writers, it makes it easier because you’re together.” Roger McGough

McGough is a prodigious writer with an apparently broad range. He has about fifty published books. Of a certain age – he is one of the Liverpool Poets (c.1960s) – he takes some inspiration from the Beats. It seems he belongs to several poetry societies and has a bit of alphabet jumble after his name, indicative of some of his country’s special honors: CBE – Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and FRSL – Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. I’m always happy to see poets honored in this way.

Until I read more about him and much more of his poetry, I’ll just leave you with Roger McGough’s own reading of Mafia Cats, which will surely put a smile on your Wednesday face.

.

Don’t forget to join us this evening (7 p.m. PST) for Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt hosted by poet, writer and writing coach, Victoria C. Slotto. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link in your own work in response to the prompt. Victoria and I will visit and comment.

Mafioas, Gypsy Rose
Mafiosa, Gypsy Rose

photo-on-2012-09-19-at-20-00JAMIE DEDES ~ I am a mother and a medically retired (disabled) elder. The graces of poetry, art, music, writing and reading continue to evolve as a sources of wonder and solace, as a creative outlet, and as a part of my spiritual practice. In addition to my blog, The Poet by Day, I have two Facebook Pages: Jamie Dedes, Arts and Humanities and Simply Living, Living Simply. (© Grandkitty photo by Karen Fayeth.)

Posted in General Interest, Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer

Another Man’s Shoes

I’ve always told my kids it’s nice to share, but not everything.  Bea was asthmatic, and every cold she caught seemed to morph into pneumonia. Since pre-school, they’d had it drilled into their heads not to drink from someone else’s cup.  And, of course, when you’re traveling, don’t drink the water!

Years ago, while traveling in Italy

…we had a long train ride from Naples….

https://i2.wp.com/i1176.photobucket.com/albums/x334/nbaltuck/Pirate%202013/Italy/1cd5c4ef-9448-47ae-9966-eb5d6f2e909a_zps5bbc941c.jpg

…to La Spezia.


We were delighted to have a compartment to ourselves.  The kids sketched and I knitted, while Thom read aloud to us from the YA novel, Donata, Daughter of Venice.

When the train stopped in Rome…

…a middle-aged couple came in, lugging bags, suitcases, groceries, and a 2 liter water bottle.  I smiled politely, and we scooted over to make room, but I was privately disappointed to have to share our quiet space.  They stowed their stuff, Thom tucked away our read-aloud, and I determined to catch up on my travel journal.

The man introduced himself as Giorgio, and his wife as Leah.  Giorgio spoke very good English, but it was different.  It sounded to me like he was speaking English with an Italian-Australian accent, an unexpected blend of cultures.  As we left behind Rome Giorgio told us he was born in Italy, but lived in Australia. Their daughter studied in Pisa, had met someone, and now they were returning to the Old Country to attend her wedding to a nice Italian boy.  Then Giorgio kindly offered us a drink of water from his bottle…which I politely refused.  We couldn’t afford to get sick while on vacation.

“Please,” insisted Giorgio, perhaps assuming my reluctance was due to shyness.  He filled six little paper cups with water, one for each of us.  I took the cup, wishing there was a potted plant I could discreetly pour my little helping of hospitality into.  Cups in hand, both kids watched intently, to take their cue from the Queen Mum of The Land of Do Not Share.  I lifted the cup to my lips.  Yes, and then I sipped, ignoring everything I knew about contagion, as well as the shocked stares of my children, and the smarty pants expression on my husband’s face.

Giorgio shared much more than water.  As the train rattled along, he told us, step by step, how to cook his favorite Italian dishes.  He told us we really couldn’t leave Italy not knowing how to make our own tomato sauce, or white cream sauce, or garlic sauce.

“Brown, but don’t burn the garlic,” he said.  He dictated recipe after recipe, and I wrote it all down in my journal.  Canneloni, parmigiana eggplant, chicken breast filet.  “It is not difficult!” he assured me.  Leah nodded in solemn agreement.

We passed a field of sunflowers.  With tears in his eyes, he pointed and said, “Itsa beautifulla!”

I heard that heartfelt expression many times on our train ride.  When we passed farms, olive groves, or little villages, his eyes would mist up.  Overwhelmed, he shook his head and said again, “Itsa beautifulla!”

“You must miss Italy,” I said.  “Why did your parents leave?”  Giorgio said his family wanted to escape the pain and aftermath of post-war Italy…

…for a new life in Australia.  He said Italians made up the one of the largest minorities in Australia.  Like the Irish, who came to build the railroad in America, Italians provided cheap labor in a rapidly developing country.  Just as the Irish faced discrimination, and were confronted with “No Irish Need Apply,” the Italians were told, “If you don’t like it, go back to Italy.”

Giorgio was a teenager, wanting desperately to fit in.  Money was tight, but his father must’ve understood, because he bought him handsome new cream-colored shoes and matching trousers.  To show off his new shoes, Giorgio and his brother walked out on the town.   A gang of boys started following.  They laughed at the shoes, tossed ethnic slurs, kicked dirt on the brothers and the prized shoes.  Devastated, Giorgio went home.  In his backyard, he took a knife and shredded the shoes beyond repair.  His father couldn’t understand, but Leah did.

Giorgio was seventeen and Leah was fourteen.  Both were born in Italy, the children of Italian immigrants to Australia. Once they found each other, they never looked back.  Well, hardly ever.  In time, Australians came to respect Italians as hard workers, and recognized the contribution they made to the country, much as we now celebrate Irish-Americans, at least on St. Patrick’s Day.

When Giorgio and Leah got off the train in Pisa…

…we felt we were saying goodbye to friends.  We finally had the compartment to ourselves, but we didn’t whip out our read-aloud book.  We needed time to think about Giorgio and Leah, and the story we had been privileged to share.

Of course, Thom and the kids teased me about sharing a cup with total strangers.  But you’ll never know what you’re missing if you aren’t willing to share a compartment on a train, accept a drink of water from a stranger’s paper cup, or walk a mile in another man’s shoes.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Posted in Art, Humor, Music

A Cheeky Spin on Art History by “Hold Your Horses!,” a polyphonic rock band from Paris

A bit of Bardo on the light side. Warning: Artistic nudity.


Video posted to YouTube by 
logerproduction.  

This irreverent music video for 70 Million, the hit song by the Franco-American band, Hold Your Horses!, offers a wink at art history. The inventive seven-member group playfully recreated twenty-five iconic paintings – can you name them all? – from Da Vinci to Andy Warhol. Enjoy!

What follows is a video using the original paintings with the artist’s name on each. If you care to, you can check it out to see if you got all the paintings and artists right when you viewed the first video.

Video posted to YouTube by .
Posted in Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer, Story Telling, Photo Story

The Seed of Creativity

When my daughter Bea was a little girl, she found a seed in a seedless Satsuma, and was inspired to plant it in a paper cup.  Our little Satsuma tree has lived on our kitchen windowsill for years now, a reminder that unexpected marvels can come from a single seed.  Creativity is a seed that grows ideas.

It helps us to see beauty in the ordinary.

Or, upon reflection, to take the ordinary and transform it.

Sometimes inspiration comes to us in a flood.


Sometimes in a flash.

Or even in hindsight.

More often,  it comes in disguise.

Or as a creative response to something we feel passionate about.

Perhaps we are inspired by another artist…as in Bea’s sculpture, The Ice Scream.

I love working with a creative team…

Sometimes it’s a process.

…but the end result is worth it.

However it comes to you, wherever you find your inspiration, you are never too young…


Or too old….


To fly with it!

May all your ideas and inspirations be fruitful!

Copyright 2012 words and photographs, Naomi Baltuck.

All images and words copyright Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Posted in memoir, Naomi Baltuck, Photography/Photographer, story, Story Telling, Photo Story

THE EMPTY NEST PART I: You Can’t Change That

Like a brilliant sunset, it’s here and then gone.

As fleet as a bird on the wing…

Passing as unnoticed as the morning dew…

…even as it goes speeding down the track of no return.

From here.

To here.

Like a river, it flows, with its twists and turns, its highs and lows.

But mostly highs.

But it’s just as they say.

 Time…

…and tides wait for no one.

Childhood, theirs–not ours–slips away like water through our fingers.

 

Or a kite caught up in a strong wind.

As warm and wonderful as a hug, but just as fleeting.

Suddenly they’re all grown up; intelligent, creative, compassionate human beings, ready to make their contributions to the world.  Which is the whole point, isn’t it?

Their childhood is a gift…

…we gave to each other.

It has its season, and then it’s gone…

Off they go to seek their fortunes.

Dang!  And just when they learned how to cook!

But here’s something they won’t know until they have children of their own.  Long after our kids are parents, long after they’ve gone gray, long after they are elderly orphans…they will still be our babies.

 photo e44fa7f6-b8ce-4182-b007-8bfc3bce5a47_zpsee121352.jpg
Neither time nor tides can ever change that.

All words and images copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com

Posted in Essay, Michael Watson

To Err is Human

Window ViewThis morning I was driving home from one of our favorite bakeries via a well trodden, quietly residential route, one I have walked and driven for more than thirty years. I was lost in thought and focused on the many speed bumps that inhabit that street. I was thinking that the latte had been suburb, and the new pastry way too sweet and most likely going to suppress my immune system for hours. Suddenly I was aware I had run a stop light; seemingly the light had sprung up overnight in the middle of a block.

The light is long overdue and should aid elementary school students cross the sometimes busy street in route to their school. Yet, motorists are not warned of a new light, and the light itself is partially obscured by overhanging branches. (Often the city puts up warning signs for motorists approaching new stop signs and lights.) The light seems an excellent example of a well conceived project inadequately implemented.

I missed the light, in part, because, as I drove down the empty street  I was thinking about writing a post for this blog. Familiarity with the way, and a downward sighted focus on the speed bumps added to the problem. Yet, ultimately, I was a distracted driver and I drove through a red light. Clearly, my responsibility.

I imagine that most of us are doing our best to be kind and attentive to the needs and demands of life. We imagine we have things under control, forgetting our attention is divided, and the ease with which mistakes occur. How often our attention fails and we miss whatever might be important in the moment. How frequently do we become angry with others for doing the same?

Here is a paradox: maybe we take ourselves too seriously. Perhaps we would be happier were we to substitute humor for anger, playful reconsideration for aggression. Humor and playfulness support our presence in the moment and encourage us to forgive one another and ourselves for our misses.  Yes, driving is crucial business, requiring all our facilities and best judgement. Many other tasks are also decidedly important, demanding seriousness of purpose and focus. Yet, we are going to err. Most of the time a bit of laughter is more supportive of learning than is self criticism. A light heart seems to aid the brain in becoming more skillful.

The fretful side of me wonders what other hazards lurk in the midst of well trodden, usually safe paths. Those voices urge focus and attention, reminding me of the real consequences of grave mistakes. Other voices remind me few mistakes are truly harmful. They encourage breath and play, humor as well as focus. Both points of view are important in a world of hazards. I’m wondering where the balance between them lies. What do you think?

– Michael Watson

© 2013, essay and photographs (includes portrait below), Michael Watson, All rights reserved

michael drumMICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.

Posted in Essay, Guest Writer

THE READING CURSE

I wish I’d written this. Though, being the product of a convent education, I would not have expressed myself in the colorful way that Señor Steve has. In my case, my parents did not encourage me to read nor did they ignore my reading. They thought my love affair with books written by crazy Americans, dark Russian nobleman, and childless English women was unhinged … and it is. Now it’s  late in the game of life and I have no more hope of getting out from under “the reading curse” than Steve does. Enjoy his sideways rant. I did.  Jamie Dedes

THE READING CURSE

by

Steve Brassawe (The Solipsist)  

Reblogged with permission.

I  am a reader, not a writer. Nonetheless, I did write the following profane rumination on the deleterious effects of reading, 7360286644_f88be67d81_mspecifically reading the wrong things, in late January 2010. The particular novel at hand then was 2666 by Roberto Bolaño.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

At page 803 of this novel, something occurred to me. It was an idea with the same beautiful simplicity and clarity of the little bell that I used to hear inside my head at cocktail hour. When I have finished this novel, there will be no point in reading any other novel for the rest of my life. I will finally be done with all of that. I have had this vague feeling for some time that there was something else that I needed to correct, some further, last little personal adjustment. Clearly, this is it.

The ways in which novels have tricked up my head throughout my life to this point make the ways that liquor and women tricked up my head look like paltry, harmless eccentricities. First of all, I had no business ever undertaking great novels in the first place. I do not have the intellectual wherewithal to properly metabolize the best of them. And of course, I always tried to read the best. Why fuck around smoking kid’s stuff when you can mainline a freight train?

Given that simple fact, to think that I chose English literature as my major at university! That is illustrative on several levels. It never crossed my mind to do my undergraduate work in a field in which one could earn money. Never crossed my mind.

Later, I practiced law–in the sense of the pure work, relatively successfully by the way. But there was never any time, energy, or inclination left over to think about money or care about money. No, all of my quality time, energy, and inclination was devoted to reading goddamned novels, when I was not talking about novels in a bar, that is. Pissing away my time on dreams that I was not mentally equipped to dream.

Second, I had no capability for keeping a proper emotional distance from these bastards. These novelists. Bellow, Dostoyevsky,

George Eliot by Samuel Laurence via Wikipedia
George Eliot by Samuel Laurence via Wikipedia

Tolstoy, Flaubert, Hemingway, Camus, and that too clever Updike, to name a few. The females are just as bad or worse. George Eliot. Austen. Those damned Brontë strumpets. I could not read novels for a little harmless escape and relaxation like a normal person not afflicted with this nameless disease. No, I made those novelists’ problems my own problems, and let me assure you that their problems are all of the first order of complexity no matter how much some of them may make you laugh.

Perhaps I should have tried to start a conversation with one of those women to whom I was married, but I was too busy with Faulkner or Melville. I was more enamored with Eula Varner of Yoknapatawpha County (downright hot for her in fact) than I was with any of that crowd of real women. God, I feel sorry for them in retrospect.

This has been a bane of my existence. A plague upon my house, when I had a house. A plague upon my apartment, when I had an apartment. Clichés those, but I am too upset thinking about this to come up with anything original. I am not upset about myself. I have survived it after all and in a manner of speaking. Those novelists’ problems are not going to be my problems any more.

I am upset thinking about those few young people out there starting to read novels. Not only do their parents do nothing to stop it, many times they encourage those young people in this incredibly dangerous endeavor. As for the proper authorities, they seem perfectly oblivious.

My own parents, God bless them, could have done something to save me. But not being readers themselves, they paid no attention whatsoever to what my young self was reading. Furthermore, they were utterly lax about enforcing lights out in my bedroom. They were too preoccupied with whatever was going on in their bedroom. So there I was at the age of thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen sitting up until 3:00 a.m. reading The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer or some other such mind rot. (I do remember that the word “naked” in that title caught my attention at the time.) I did not even have to hide under a blanket with the book and a flashlight.

The way that I see it, we could lose some of the best and brightest of another generation in just that way. Young people who might otherwise accumulate capital and invest it for the general benefit of mankind. Where would we be, for example, if Bill Gates had been screwing around reading novels and staring off into space instead of devoting every bit of his time, energy, and inclinations to devising MS-DOS and contractually fucking IBM? Now he is applying a chunk of the capital that he accumulated in an effort to help feed the world. (Is that the nature of his philanthropy, or is it some other wonderful thing that he and his bride are doing? I cannot remember.)

So this is Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous personal gift to me, this novel entitled 2666. It is as if he handed this to me and said, “Señor Steve, when you finish this novel, you need not read another. It will all be over, you can put it all behind you, and you can truly breathe easily at last.”

If I get the urge to read a novel in the future, if I flirt with a relapse, I will simply reread this one. The book actually consists of five different novels, each of which will be entirely new to me every time I read it. That will do no further harm. In other words, I will never be done with this one and on to another novel with a whole new set of problems. That is the thing to be avoided here.

So that’s it. No more. It’s all over. I mean it. Don’t laugh. I am serious.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Malcolm LoweryPhoto credit: Wikipedia
Malcolm Lowery
via Wikipedia

So much for that resolution so quickly abandoned along with a myriad others. I am now well into my second reading of Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry hard upon my first reading of it.–13 June 2012.

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Posted in General Interest, Jamie Dedes

Le Ennui de Henri

“Je suis seul à sentir ce tourment.”

“I alone feel this torment.”

Henri, Le Chat Existentiel

Another little Bardo on The Light Side. Kudos to the brilliant Will Braden for imagining such a wonderful script for Henri. I posted this on my personal blog, The Writer by Day, where it seem to be very much enjoyed. It is charming and funny; but, it does also serve to remind us of how we humans can torture ourselves by misreading the intentions of our fellows or occasionally turning everything into drama. Without a doubt, Henri, like many of our younger brothers and sisters in nature, is a teacher. J.D.

Video, Script, and Voice ~ 

Posted in Ann Emerson, Buddhism, General Interest

A LITTLE GIFT FROM ANN …

SMILE!

It’s good for your spirit.

Ann found this photograph on CatalystYogi.