Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I've been diverted today from my usual routine: I'm not much on talking about myself, but the incomparable Patry has tagged me for a meme, asking me to describe ten things about myself. So here goes with a ten bits riff:


Favorite poets include (and are not limited to):
Mary Oliver, W.C. Williams, William Stafford, Rumi, Charles Simic, Theodore Roethke, Gary Snyder, the list does not stop...

As a child, W.C. Williams' poem about the red wheelbarrow stunned me. I read it over and over, trying to figure out why it was magic.


I believe life is for loving kindness, loving kindness is life, living kindness is love, love is a kind of living.


English, Hebrew, French, Italian, Old English, Spanish... For as long as I can remember, I've been like a magpie, stealing shiny words to line my nest, admiring their beauty... but I remain truly fluent in only this language.


I wrote my first poem when I was three. My mother transcribed it for me.


Also when I was three: he was red-feathered, severe and bright yellow-clawed, stalked noisily through the yard after crowing the sun from bed. His name was Chadwick. He was mine. He bit me.

(That's not the poem.)


Give me one week, obligation-free, and I'd quickly make a list and only get half of it done:

gather with friends and loved ones
sing and play music with friends and maybe drink a little whiskey
write a poem or song
sleep outside under the stars
walk in a green place and smell the forest duff
sit by a creek among the wildflowers and listen to the meadowlark
sleep late
make love
laugh with my daughter and hold her
work with clay
work in the dirt in my garden


There are four of us in this house, including one completely adorable and emotionally complicated border collie, and I love us dearly. I can't imagine life any other way though I know it easily could be. Yesterday, three of us decided we are all easily amused, easily entertained, and messy.


Some favorite foods:
chai tea
coffee ice cream
fresh raspberries
fresh corn on the cob
toast with peanut butter and slices of garden tomatoes
homemade basil pesto


I take pleasure in making yogurt in a sleeping bag. (Easy: heat the milk, add a couple spoonfuls of yogurt, put it in jars, put the jars to bed for the night in a sleeping bag.) Fresh yogurt, in glass rather than plastic, has a delicate, creamy flavor that can't be beat. Topped with a spoonful of rhubarb-berry jam… oh.


People with whom I'd like to have tea:

My oldest childhood friend
William Blake's wife
Emily Dickinson
My daughter after school


Ach, sometimes I have trouble finishing things...

...there, you see? I forgot the end, the tagging part. But I'll only say that anyone who comments here and who has the desire should jump in with their own list - just be sure to let us know!


Blogger Lhombre said...

azulejo: These are lovely interspersions of thought! Could you lead me to the "red wheelbarrow" poem? I would like to read it. Or if possibel, could you share it with us on line?

1/31/2006 10:26 AM  
Blogger Lhombre said...

Ooops. OK! "possible."

1/31/2006 10:28 AM  
Blogger DTclarinet said...

It's nice to see more of the person behind the poems.

I make basil pesto every summer, as does my favorite food friend. We eat tons of it with fruit bomb red wine. it's devine.

I also make yogurt regularly. I put it in a large crock, wrap it in a wool blanket and set it in the oven with the light on to warm it. One favorite way to eat is is with cumin and salt. (This is strong, Lebonese cultured yogurt)

1/31/2006 10:45 AM  
Blogger DTclarinet said...


1/31/2006 10:46 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Muchas gracias, Lhombre. Y tiene una buena idea: I've added in a link to the poem.

1/31/2006 12:51 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Garnet, what is "fruit bomb red wine"?? I'll have to try the yogurt with cumin and salt; sounds good!

1/31/2006 12:52 PM  
Blogger Lhombre said...

So...YOU are the red wheelbarow azulejo! WOW!

What an incredible poem! " So much depends upon the redwheelbarrow," in what could easily be construed as an incongruent juxtaposition ( 0f course it is not)This is one of the finest examples of a poem that can be two things at once; self-referential and referential (how one relates to the redwheelbarrow in their own self-referential way) and (THAT one relates IN SOME WAY to the redwhheelbarrow) Its the only way the poem can have a life of its own AND thererfore become a completed poem outside of itself. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's like an Escher drawing in that it's relationship to a simultaneous experience is it's closure. Yikes! Where are you taking me with this?!

More importantly, I really admire the way it has affected your growth as an artist. Your willingness to share this with us is...well...Now here's an example where, as you stated in an earlier comment on one of my poems, that to be "in a room along" with an artist and their thoughts about their work can be quite a wonderful experience.

It's not quite "along" but its close. And please excuse my being verbose. But this poem is an example of a work of art that comes very close to conveying some of the ideas about simultanaeity that I have been pursuing in my own work for years!

Obviously there are other ways into this incredible little poem but that'e where you and it has taken me.

Muchas gracias azulejo! Querria oir acerca de esto. Espero que usted compartiria mas y me toma por.

1/31/2006 1:28 PM  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

I think #5 should be a whole new meme. And maybe #9, too.

People with whom I'd like to have tea would have to include you--though in a sense, I feel like I just did--and it was delicious.

1/31/2006 1:54 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I didn't know the red wheelbarrow poem and I'm glad I do now. And thank you too for writing and sharing this, MB.

1/31/2006 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I based an entire lesson plan around WCW' redwheelbarrow...It epitomizes imagery.

1/31/2006 2:31 PM  
Blogger rdl said...

Was fun reading your meme. Is it really that easy to make yogure, i remember making it years ago. Pesto - my favorite thing to make with basil from my garden.

1/31/2006 3:02 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Lhombre, YOU are the red wheelbarow azulejo - pues... que puede significar esto? Como soy carretilla?... I enjoyed following you through your Escherian interpretation! It was both fascinating and it made me laugh. I'm very glad you felt it is an incredible poem. There are many who see this poem as a simple description, no big deal, they wonder what the fuss is about, which makes me sad because, to me now decades later, it's still exquisite. Espero tambien que compartiriamos mas. Pero, por favor, digame que quiere decir con soy la carretilla?? (Responde a su mensaje de Friedrich debajo del nino budisto.)

1/31/2006 6:24 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Patry, I think you are right that those would make very interesting meme. You should start them! Here - I've tagged you for them! I wasn't at all sure about this when you tagged me, but it proved to be an entertaining exercise (of course, I'm easily entertained, as you know). And yes, you too, would be on my list of ones to have tea with. Definitely. I enjoy your website and your comments very much.

1/31/2006 6:27 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Mary, thanks for stopping by. I'm always happy when you do. I'm glad you enjoyed the WCW poem.

Tamar, thanks for your comment. I did briefly consider what sort of menu that list of foods would actually make, but decided that, although the components are wonderful, they wouldn't necessarily shine all on one occasion! Maybe we can convince Patry to start the meme rolling?

TL, I'm glad to hear it! I think this poem makes a fine lesson.

1/31/2006 6:33 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Me too, rdl, that is the reason I plant basil every year.

Yes, making yogurt is (to mix metaphors) a piece of cake, easy as pie!

Heat a half gallon of milk to 120 degrees (I use a meat thermometer). Add a little of the hot milk to 4 Tbsp yogurt in a separate bowl, blend it well, and gradually add more to thin it out. Then pour it all back in to the pot to blend with all the rest of the milk. Ladle into containers (I use small canning jars), put the lids on. Stick 'em inside the sleeping bag for 10 hours. Then refrigerate. Obviously, if you don't want to make that much, you can cut back proportionately. Have fun!

1/31/2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger Brenda Clews said...

Disarmingly adorable. Everything. Including the yogurt in the sleeping bag. But I just loved the whiskey!

1/31/2006 7:31 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Yes, I confess, whiskey. But I want to know what are buttertarts?? (Come to think of it, sounds like maybe something I'm better off not knowing about.) And I've been meaning to say: I like the way you keep switching your photo.

1/31/2006 7:42 PM  
Blogger Lhombre said...

Yo le diré manana. Necesito dormir con lo.
buenas noches azulejo.

1/31/2006 8:11 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Buenas noches, amigo.

1/31/2006 8:14 PM  
Blogger Lhombre said...

ooops! That should have been "en lo!"
Buenas Noches azulejo

1/31/2006 8:20 PM  
Blogger Zhoen said...

Butter Tarts
approx 24

2 Cups Brown Sugar, packed creamed
1/2 Cup Butter, margarine, or butter flavor Crisco together

4 Eggs
2 Cups Chopped walnuts add to above
1 Teaspoon Vanilla flavoring

Crusts: pie dough drust mix, cut circles to line muffin tins.
Fill tart crusts about half way
Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 325 for 20-25 minutes until filling is solid and golden brown. Let cool thoroughly, remove from tins carefully. Hide them well.

Genuine Canadian recipe

2/01/2006 7:27 AM  
Blogger Lhombre said...

Azulejo: The “you” that I was referring to as it related to the “red wheelbarrow” was WCW’s use of an object of metaphor. My reading (I should explain that my take on the poem was influenced by a semiotic reading of the use of imagery, etc. Although my initial impulse on all works of art, and life in general, is always an emotional response, my interest in trying to understand the structure of ideas is just a little game I like to bring to my working process as an artist. Sometimes, though not always, it can reveal an insight into the work that allows for an even more penetrating emotional response.) So…I saw the “you” the “red wheelbarrow” as the person that WCW “depends upon” as the trigger, so to speak, of memories that allow the poem to fill up and resonate as a poem and an object of experience. The wheelbarrow is a wonderful “carrier” of……. (You can fill in the rest, since I believe that’s what brings the metaphor to life) and that means “you” or any other “you” that responds to the poem. And so in effect, what I am trying to convey here is an instance of myself taking on the role of the “you” that WCW’s poem elicits. It is this processing of emotion and intellect that seems to me to give the poem it’s “closure” and therefore its “simultaneity as well. And it is also what brings me to another verbose attempt to articulate what can be done with fewer words by someone more capable than my self. I tend, at times and only when something really interests me, to shoot down bees with a howitzer. As I’ve said on many occasions on my blog I love to play! And my guess is that no one laughs harder at my approach to these things than me! Hopefully, it brings a little smile to you too.

Bottom line: A lot has to do with who brings what to the game and to what degree one is willing to play. But only great poems, such as “The Red wheelbarrow,” can generate a willingness along with the depth of play. It’s not surprising that you have retained the memories of your earlier experience and in your own way how it has affected the wonderful poems that you write today. Continued success.

As a minimalist I'm usually not so verbose. But...

Still interested in Friedrich?

2/01/2006 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a fun read! i too have a dearly devilish border collie. they are not dogs for the fainthearted. my orange tabby, thaddeus, has had his fur herded off. thanks for sharing such a fascinating glimpse of the girl behind the beautiful words!

2/01/2006 9:33 AM  
Blogger Brenda Clews said...

Hey Zoen, a real legit butter tart recipe that I'll be trying myself! They're one of the few Canadian foods, and nearly pure sugar.

The red wheelbarrow discussion good, too.

2/01/2006 11:21 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Zhoen, wow! So the real mccoy is a possibility for my kitchen... These sound like a distant cousin to the pecan pie, perhaps. Now, you know I'm going to have to try these some time. And Brenda swears you don't gain weight eating them... right, Brenda?!

2/01/2006 1:50 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Lhombre, you do make me laugh. I enjoy following along you playing.

Yes, your statement makes sense to me now and threads with the rest of what you said previously. The poem is vehicle (and not just because it has a wheel!). It has surface and width and depth. The light of this description reveals an undercurrent of meaning which can be variously interpreted, and which can get circular, depending on how you analyze it. (And you are a minimalist? ... a unique hybrid of minimalism and romanticism, perhaps?)

I think that underlying story form (as in hollow form, potential) the poem offers was key to the magic I felt as a child — even though the story is never articulated, it is postulated, suggested, the shadow of it is there for the reader to fill in, a doorway for the reader to enter the poem and make it their own. And, para compartir mas, this last point is something that has driven my work consistently; that the reader has access and means to participate in their own fashion. The poem becomes then a point of connection, even if separated in time and distance, becomes a somewhat shared experience. Does this make sense to you?

Friedrich! Bring it on!... What did you make of my response?

2/01/2006 2:03 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Anne, thanks for stopping by. I have been enjoying your photographs very much. They are wonderful! Our border collie is not purebred, so he's perhaps a little different than some, but still very much border collie in the smarts, the nerves, the athleticism, the herding (we only have the one pet and our own fur remains intact so far ;-). But incredibly affectionate, loves people — thank goodness! — and has the kind of deep brown eyes that I consistently fall for... so I have no complaints.

2/01/2006 2:07 PM  
Blogger Frankie said...

What an amazing, amazing list!! I love all of these details about you. What a fantastic life you seem to be living. I especially adore the line "I read it over and over, trying to figure out why it was magic." That made me so incredibly happy! Thanks for this!

2/01/2006 3:36 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Thanks, Frankie. It made me incredibly happy at the time, too, and I wanted too know how! I think I'm still figuring it out, which is all good. You could do a list too, if you wanted... ;-)

2/01/2006 3:50 PM  
Blogger Lhombre said...

Ole! You nailed me! I am definitely a minimalist/romantic! If you go to the home page of my web site you will see that is exactly what I say. I've worn my heart on my sleeve all of my life. Only way to go...for me.

Frierich coming up. Manana! Be Kool azulejo!

Your writing is very uplifting. More!

2/01/2006 5:42 PM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

It is wonderful to read these words that are you and not part of a poem, but still you and still poetic. A beautiful glimpse of your life, your beating heart, your family, your basil and yogurt. All delicious.

2/01/2006 6:12 PM  
Blogger MB said...

Lhombre, things that appear to be two different things - opposites - at the same time have always intrigued me, challenging me to understand. I respond this way to the notion of minimalism/ romanticism. This was my sense of you, philosophically, heart on sleeve, painting minimalist. But those paintings have such an intensity, it feels like there is a real undercurrent when I look at them, or is it just me? What does it mean, I wonder, to be minimalist/romantic.

Friedrich, manana, claro, lo buscare. Gracias.

2/01/2006 8:49 PM  
Blogger MB said...

RD, what a warm comment. Thank you.

2/01/2006 8:50 PM  
Blogger Lhombre said...

I hesitated, becuse of its length, to place this on your post so I apologize beforehand. However, I really couldn't do justice to what you asked me to respond to regarding Friedrich in just a few sentences. ( That was a lot easier on your more recent post!) So...

mb: Dichotomies, conundrums, dualisms, simultaneity, all very interesting terms for an experience normally associated with…experience! Maybe Joseph Heller said it all with Catch 22?

Theories of opposites, as I have experienced, tend to build interesting metaphors for so much of what life seems to be at times. It’s an approach I have used often in many of the themes I have approached over the years in the visual arts; spirituality, reality, etc., etc; and of course I see it often in many works of modern art especially. It seems that modernism’s connection with an existentialist point of view was very well suited to the phenomenon of experiences at the time, something that seemed to imply a damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario; always seeking some middle ground for rest. As a kid growing up in the fifties I was too involved in play to take life that seriously. After a few bouts with growing up, things, well…they changed.

The Northern German Romantic Caspar David Friedrich along with the Romantic Movement of the 19th century in general, was for me one of those enlightening discoveries whereby I was able to find that resting place between a very strong emotional response to life and a very concrete view of reality as put forth by the minimalist movement in the arts. In other words a resting place within and between emotions and intellect; for me a dichotomy consistent with what I was experiencing both in life as well as the arts. Truck driving and living among the masses was quite a different experience, for me at least, than the solitude of art-making.

The section of my web site that displays some of this can be found in the Friedrich section. Although all of my art in some way is a reflection of those thoughts, most of which has manifested itself in abstract terms, these, along with the Bass series, depict it from a more visually literal presentation. The “Wanderer Looking Out Over a Sea of Fog,” one of Freidrich’s very famous paintings, is one of the major images that I have tried to use in a metaphorical as well as literal approach that examines the idea of simultanaity. The one on the web that is entitled “Diptych” is a classic example of what my issues were at the time. I would be curious to how you might interpret that piece. I have links posted in sections of the text that will take the reader to a site that gives more detailed information on Friedrich, Romanticism, and his paintings. There are also links to minimalism which you might find interesting.

2/02/2006 10:13 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Really, Lhombre, you should post this on your blog! Not because it's a long comment, I have no problem with that. But because it's interesting material!

Simultaneity, opposites held in one hand... I have a collection of river rocks that are half black/half white. Half granite, half basalt. They fascinate me. How are they possible? How did nature accommodate this spherical union of sharply delineated opposites?? And of course, for me they are metaphor for... so many things in life. Things may not be not as they seem. The divisions we perceive are constructs of our own making. I tend to think in greys and rainbows, not in black-and-white. For me , there is such beauty in diversity, in blending, in variety, individuality... simultaneity.

Your personal context makes your views so much clearer to me, so thank you for letting me in a little that way. (Truck driving and living among the masses was quite a different experience, for me at least, than the solitude of art-making. Thereby hangs a tale! More?) I confess to having had some difficulty with abstract art in the past which I think was because I didn't speak the language. I appreciate the fact that you going beyond leaving your art to speak for itself. And I most appreciate your taking the time to explain things to me.

Claro que si, I will explore your web site further. And look for Friedrich, for "Diptych." And learn and learn. Learn the language. Muchas gracias, maestro. Es muy generoso. Espero que compartiriamos mas...

2/02/2006 10:57 AM  
Blogger Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

What a delightful list and a wonderful way to get to know people, and an example of the glorious unpredictability of the blogosphere, where we find recipes for butter tarts and serious discussions of art and the artist's life rubbing elbows and enriching each other. Juxtaposition and interplay, a mirror for the joyous variety of life.

I love "stealing shiny words to line my nest."

I posted my list in Patry's comment section, reprinting it from a May, 2005 post of mine.

2/04/2006 6:21 AM  
Blogger MB said...

Richard, thanks so much for stopping by and for your warm comment. The joyous variety of life, indeed!! I have been thoroughly enjoying the range of recent discussions here and welcome you to join them.

I will be sure to check your list. Thank you for the invitation!

2/04/2006 9:03 AM  

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