Archive for February, 2007

lake calhoun, not far from the MN Zen Center, photo by Quoinmonkey, all rights reserved                                                                                                                                             

The wind...it's hard to describe the wind. 
Lost and empty. The way desert is lost and empty.
And at the same time, so full.

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

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Interesting article in this week’s issue of The New Yorker: The Moneyed Muse–What can two hundred million dollars do for poetry? by Dana Goodyear. It talks about an almost unheard of donation ($200M) to a small, eclectic literary publication called Poetry Magazine. Gives the history of the publication, talks about the woman who gave the donation and why, and looks at how the donation has changed the publication and created an auxillary foundation.

Not to ruin the plot for you, but there is apparently a sort of “corporatization” (that’s my characterization, not the article’s) of poetry as a result. The executive director and several staff members are former corporate executives; the money came from Eli Lily Pharmaceutical heiress, Ruth Lilly; several staff members are from the private sector (e.g., Microsoft). The article highlights the magazine and foundation’s push for a change in poetry–a new movement to make poetry more accessible and, one could argue, more marketable.

My ears perked up when a critic of Poetry Magazine and the foundation also threw Ted Kooser in there with them–“them” being this market-driven approach to poetry–presumably because of his corporate past life.

Read it and tell me what you think. It’s a long read.

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I’m drinking a cup of French Roast in a black ceramic mug that I reheated in the microwave. I wasn’t thinking when I took the first sip. My tongue and the roof of my mouth are burned. I write anyway. No, red gums are not keeping me back. Nor pink, fleshy ripples on the roof of my mouth, nor the size of my gut, nor the overwhelm I feel on a Monday morning, a week after the last Intensive in New Mexico.

I remember in the zendo, we were to write something on a piece of paper and put it on the altar for the week. Something we wanted to let go of. When I walked over to grab a piece off the pile of cut and stacked used paper, on it was a poem by Jimmy Santiago Baca:

“I remember what’s in front of you.” – Baca poem

In the silence, I thought it was so profound. Like Natalie telling us to follow the person behind us. Now I can only think of following the person behind me as the writers that came before me. I stand strong on their backs. And they watch mine.

What is holding me back? Me. I like Baca’s words. Because they remind me that other people can see me and where I am going much more clearly than I can see myself. We are all in this together. Whether we are writers or astronauts. We all live on this planet. Though we sometimes travel to others.

I feel like I am on the edge of something, a steep precipice, some cliffhanger on Mount Hood. I’ve been hearing a lot about Mount Hood lately. Climbers falling and rescued. They take great risks, great leaps of faith, because they love climbing. That’s what I have to do as a writer. My life is not in danger but my character is hung out there to dry, for all to see.

I’ve still got some of those old wooden clothes hangers my mother used to use to hang wet clean laundry on three strings of clothes line. I use them to clip Rice Krispies and Doritos packages closed so they don’t get stale. I used to love the smell of sundried clothes when I would take them down, fold them, and stack them in the plastic turquoise laundry basket with hundreds of cut vents in the sides.

There is nothing like the smell of clean laundry. Unless it’s the smell of the first mowed grass in early spring. Or the scent of fireflies in a summer pickle jar of emerald cuttings.

But what is holding me back? Fear. I’m afraid I will fail. And I will only succeed if I am fearless of failure. That’s what my teacher says. And I believe her. But I have to find out for myself, don’t I? Yes. I have to make my own mistakes.

To be honest, I have no idea what is holding me back. I feel like I am moving forward. I don’t exactly know the plan. But I have a loose outline of the year ahead, structured around writing. I want to start work on my memoir and I have an outline that came to me in a dream five years ago. Can you believe that? A dream. Not much has changed on the outline. I’ve decided to let the book unfold – I want to let the story tell me. When I go back to the places I will write about, I want to listen. And write down what I hear. Like we did at Ghost Ranch, writing haiku in the steaming sun.

I have a plan for my writing and consulting business. I have a plan to teach. I have a plan to start my first memoir. Maybe there will be many. I was reading last night that Haven Kimmel is on her second memoir, a sequel. I like the idea of that. Mabel Dodge Luhan did that, too, wrote a series of memoirs. Were there four? It doesn’t matter how good they are. What matters is that I get them out. I can do the editing later. I have to make time and money to travel, research, get the words down on paper, the first draft.

It’s going to take years. In the meantime, I practice. There is nothing holding me back but me. Everything is in place. Because, slowly, over the last 6 years, I took risks at looking dumb and exposed and allowed myself to show me to other writers in my life. I have a big writing community. I do writing practice nearly every day. I have strong writing bones. I didn’t always have those things. Not that long ago, I only had me. I know how to teach other writers to practice and create community. Those are not the things that are stopping me.

It is fear. The same fear arises every time I finish a piece. I gear up to write, I am lost in the process of writing, I am feeling great joy, that writing euphoria every writer knows. I am done, I edit, it’s ready – then the let down. After every high of writing comes the big let down that it’s done. And the next piece awaits me.

I have to stay strong and steady in the middle of the pendulous wave. I can picture it on a graph, x/y coordinates, like a big tsunami, aftershock, and then falling down to bone level, kind of like the even wave I saw at the Science Museum of Minnesota the week before I left for Taos.

There was a 30 foot long rectangular tank with a continuous wave, perfectly even at the top, undulating from one end of the tank to the next. There was also a vertical tornado chamber in which a spray of fog whipped itself into a frenzy when you spun a wheel. I do all those things when I write. And then it’s over.

What keeps me back is knowing that when I finish one piece, or a practice, the next calls out to me. Eventually, I have to get up the gumption to keep going. No matter what. Even when I am afraid. Even when every bone in my body is telling me I can’t write. I keep going.

Because somewhere, some other strong, tired, worn out writer is saying, “I remember what’s in front of you.”

It’s scary to think I might have forgotten. Yesterday I cried. On Friday, I felt a great joy at the largeness of my life. Saturday I was tired and feeling under the weather. Sunday I slept most of the day. Monday is solemn. So I take the next right step. What’s in front of me. Just like this writing practice. And the ritual of French Roast. And now my morning shower.

Monday, February 19th, 2007

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It’s the Chinese New Year. I spent a Chinese New Year in San Francisco. It was the year 2000. I stayed at the Clift Hotel downtown, took photographs of the hotel interior and downtown San Francisco while the person I was with went off to meet with the Minnesota chorus she was in. It was their annual meeting.

I had been to San Francisco two other times that year on business. I don’t normally travel for business. But that year was a boom. The company I worked for was merging with a San Francisco company, something none of us were happy about. Eventually, all jobs here were lost. I have found out since that the business operations of that company moved back to Minnesota last year.

Silent revenge. But I’m not a vengeful person. And that’s not what I want to write about.

I want to write about the Chinese New Year. I didn’t know it was happening until after we got there and walked right into the middle of it one evening after dinner. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was the Year of the Dragon. Long ornate dragon tails, red banners and flags spinning in the fog, blazing, crackling fireworks in the drizzling rain.

Yes, it rained. And we visited the giant Old Navy that had just opened downtown, I think it might have been four floors, to buy rain jackets. I bought a mustard windbreaker with navy blue trim and sleeves that zip off. I think it’s for boating and sailing. I wear it in the cool Minnesota spring nights to ward off damp wind and dew when I zip along the Mississippi on my Honda Rebel.

We took refuge under a ledge and watched intently as hundreds of paraders walked by in costume. Kids were stacked on their parents’ shoulders. The longest dragon I had ever seen meandered down Grant Avenue and Kearny Street and I snap, snap, snapped my Canon Rebel SLR. That was back when film was still the norm. None of those pesky digital delays on the shutter. I got some good shots.

I read later that the fireworks and all the red are to ward off Nian, the mythological meat-eating beast from the mountains. He’s afraid of loud noises and bright colors. That’s how I felt last week coming off the silent retreat.

The Chinese calendar is lunasolar indicating moon phase and the time of the solar year. The first day of the new year containing a new moon is the Chinese New Year. I love that. I’m a Cancer. The Moon is my planet. In astrology, the Moon is still a planet. And so is Pluto.

Take a look at the night sky. There are all these parallel Universes operating right over and under each other. There is no one way to do anything. There is no one New Year, no one religion, no one way to write, no one way to live. We take snippets of what’s been passed down to us. And we run with it. Or slow walk, whichever we prefer.

I like to think of the world operating in stratified layers much like the rock formations I see in the Badlands. It makes me feel like there is a place for everyone.

Happy New Year.  

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

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“Hey, I was thinking, you ought to just publish your book.”

“I don’t have a book to publish.”

“Oh, well then, just write a book and find someone to publish it. You’re a great writer, I know someone will want to publish your book.”

“Well, that’s what I’m working on…writing a book.”

“Oh, good, what’s it about?”

“Well, no, I mean, I wrote an essay and once I finish that I’d like to get it published, and then maybe I’ll work on the book. I might use the essay as a launching point for the book.”

“What’s stopping you from just writing the book?”

“Well, it’s finding the time and figuring out the format of the book.”

“You’ll find the time, you always find the time.”

“Yeah, it’s true, so I guess maybe it’s more about the format.”

“I think you need to just do it.”

“I have been…what do you think I’ve been doing all this past year with the intensive and all my writing practice?”

“I don’t know… In the words of Nike, you need to just do it.”

“Yeah, OK, you’re right.”

“Good, cuz I really want to read your book.”

“OK, Patty, you’re going to read the book. Hey, do you want to read the essay in the mean time?”


“OK. Good-night.”


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It’s the Year of the Pig, I hear. Starting tomorrow. I think of pig, piggy, how I used to worry when I first started doing writing practice with this group, way back before we were bloggin’, that I was being too piggy. Taking up too much of the airwave.

Then I realized, Aw, they can always delete if they don’t want to read. Of course, I never delete. I used to delete when I wrote with a huge group; you have to. But with a small writing community, and all being writers whose writing draws me in, I never delete. Ever. And it never feels burdensome. It’s strange how on this eve of a new year, I know that writing has become an integral part of my life.

I’ve written for many years. Many, many years. I started my first journal when I was 12, I think. It was the year I got a tumor removed from my right knee. My sister, who was ten years older than me and doing student teaching in a small town, came home that summer with a book order for me that she’d gotten from Scholastic. I always remember the smell of a new book order, that paper binding odor, how there’s something fresh about it. And the shiny unbent, unbroken paperback book bindings. And the cool titles. My kids get book orders now in elementary school and it’s the same thing. Back then I got a Summer Diary, not a hard-backed one but a paperback, a mustard yellow cover with a drawing of a lock on it. Inside in the first few pages were stickers: A Joke, What I Read Today, My Secret, My Favorite Color, What I Learned Today, News, and so on. I would peel off a sticker and put it in the day’s entry. I had to always manufacture whatever thought or bit of information I wanted to go with the sticker. That part was my least favorite; my most favorite was just being able to write.

The Year of the Pig, and I feel abundant like a pig. Or does a pig feel abundant? I feel full and big and round of belly and heart. Pigs in the Chinese zodiac are said to be generous. I feel generous and grateful for others’ generosity. For writing that has taken hold in me. And me in it. I still have the little diary my sister gave me. After filling out about half of it, I got tired and stopped filling in the rest of the days of that summer. I guess after spending two weeks or so in bed post the surgery, during which I had little else to do but write, I lost interest. I don’t recall if I ever had another diary, at least not until I was 23. I did get one at the age of 23. I still have it. And since then, for more than two decades, I’ve written and written and written. Filled many diaries and journals and notebooks. And now computer screens.

I wonder what I would find if I went to a Chinese restaurant tonight. Would they all be full? I’m craving a potsticker.

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Gassho. I am so appreciative of deep listening. Thanks for your comments on Valentine.

By the way, I love the Poets.org website. I didn’t know they broke writers and workshops down by state. Good to know.

I did stumble on an interview on the same website with Donald Hall, Flying Revision’s Flag . Insightful – about the art of revision. Can be applied to all forms of writing.

Hall seems to be a serious revisionist. He said when he was twenty-five a poem took six months or a year to revise. Now, it takes two years to five. I find revising a lot about letting go. What to keep. What to drop. I’m starting to be able to feel in my body when something isn’t right. What I do from there, well, that’s the challenge.

Here’s another interview, Donald Hall, in conversation with Judith Moore, I found with Hall from 1998, four years after his wife, Jane Kenyon, died of leukemia. As writers we have to hold everything – eventually, we write it down.

Life at Eagle Pond: the Poetry of Jane Kenyon and Donald Hall

Friday, February 16th, 2007

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This morning I walk into the bedroom, stop to pick up a piece of straw and its friend, lint. It is not easy to keep the house clean always. Oh, I see a note from Netflix, they received the DVD I sent yesterday. Netflix makes movies easy. I was wondering who came up with the idea, how long the idea will last before that, too, becomes obsolete. It’s good while it lasts.

In the bedroom the bed is unmade. On top of that a pile of clean clothes. Dee and Em watch Arthur, an episode about Arthur and DW learning how to cooperate as they clean their rooms together. Arthur’s parents are patient and make parenting look easy. The dad mouse stops vacuuming while the mom mouse sits at her computer. “I’ll go take care of this one,” he says after they both hear DW scream “MOM!!!” No one to help me fold clothes. Jim is in the kitchen heating up chicken fingers from dinner last night for the girls’ breakfast. That’s an easy breakfast.

What is easy? Writing, just letting it flow, is easy. Although Natalie said there’s always that initial resistance. I don’t know that I feel that each time. Sometimes I do. If the writing is for something other than just practice, and even sometimes then I pause. Writing is not exactly easy right now. The phone rings. It’s Renee. “Are they going to ride bikes to school today?,” she asks. “Jim,” I yell into the other room. Yes, they are, I relay the message. But then again, maybe I shouldn’t try to write in the middle of morning routines.

Routines, and do they make life easier? My routines are fairly routine. Get up, take a shower if I need to wash my hair, a bath if I don’t. On weekends often neither. I dilly dally instead of eating breakfast. Clean the house, fold clothes, write. Resistance to my day. Life would be easiest if I were wealthy, an inheritance from a rich uncle. But maybe not. Don’t they say people who win the lotteries have miserable lives afterwards? Drug addictions. Family problems. Money doesn’t buy happiness. That’s what they always say.

I guess I don’t want easy money. Nothing comes easy. It’s a funny word. After a while it sounds like greasy.

-from Topic post, Easy

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When I was in high school, I counted the number of I know’s in Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine. You know, the part where he goes, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know…..there are 26.

Ever since I read ybonesy’s Easy post, damn if I can’t get that song out of my head! And guess what – there are 16 easy’s.

A few days ago Richie sang his 80’s hit Hello on the Grammys. Did you catch the number of hello’s in that one? Or how about the number of disco balls in All Night Long? Did you know disco balls were first used in nightclubs in the 1920’s?

Mabel Dodge Luhan could have danced the night away in Taos and we would have never known.

How did Lionel and Mabel end up in the same blog piece ? Wild mind.

Not easy.




Know it sounds funny
But I just can’t stand the pain
Girl I’m leaving you tomorrow
Seems to me girl
You know I’ve done all I can
You see I begged, stole
And I borrowed

Ooh, that’s why I’m easy
I’m easy like sunday morning
That’s why I’m easy
I’m easy like sunday morning

Why in the world
Would anybody put chains on me?
I’ve paid my dues to make it
Everybody wants me to be
What they want me to be
I’m not happy when I try to fake it!

Ooh, that’s why I’m easy
I’m easy like sunday morning
That’s why I’m easy
I’m easy like sunday morning

I wanna be high, so high
I wanna be free to know
The things I do are right
I wanna be free
Just me, babe!

That’s why I’m easy
I’m easy like sunday morning
That’s why I’m easy
I’m easy like sunday morning
Because I’m easy
Easy like sunday morning
Because I’m easy
Easy like sunday morning

[ www.azlyrics.com ]

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

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When I was doing research on Ted Kooser for a piece I was writing, I stumbled on his America Life in Poetry Project. As I read more about the nature of the project, I realized that Ted is a bodhisattva – he gives back to the world – not only through teaching, writing, and his support of other writers, but by offering viable avenues to ensure the next generation of printed word maintains integrity.

You don’t have to be a poet to appreciate his great effort.

I am a big fan of writers and artists who are generous of spirit – those who give or have given back to the world without concern for themselves. Dan Wakefield , author of New York in the ’50s, teaches writing in the prisons. For me, he falls into this category. As do Alice Walker, Natalie Goldberg, and James Baldwin.

Quiet, compassionate determination to aid all beings. If you have men and women like this in your life, show them gratitude. It’s the greatest gift you can bestow.

You can sign up on the American Life in Poetry website to receive a poem a week in your inbox with a short intro by Ted. If you register, you can publish the poems in print or on your blog, as long as you include the copyright permissions and credit info.

Below is a little about the project, taken from the American Life in Poetry website. You can also click on the link for the full text.

The Poetry Foundation has formed a partnership with the Library of Congress to support the American Life in Poetry project, an initiative of Ted Kooser, the 2004-2006 Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

American Life in Poetry is a free weekly column for newspapers and online publications featuring a poem by a contemporary American poet and a brief introduction to the poem by Ted Kooser. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry, and we believe we can add value for newspaper and online readers by doing so. There are no costs or obligations for reprinting the columns, though we do require that the text of the column be reproduced without alteration, along with the complete copyright, permissions and credit information, exactly as supplied with each column.

“Newspapers are close to my heart and my family,” said Kooser, whose wife and son both work in journalism. “As Poet Laureate I want to show the people who read newspapers that poetry can be for them, can give them a chuckle or an insight.”

Poetry was long a popular staple in the daily press. According to Kooser, “Readers enjoyed it. They would clip verses, stick them in their diaries, enclose them in letters. They even took time to memorize some of the poems they discovered.”

In recent years poetry has all but disappeared from newsprint. Yet the attraction to it is still strong. Kooser observed that “Poetry has remained a perennial expression of our emotional, spiritual and intellectual lives, as witnessed by the tens of thousands of poems written about the tragedy of September 11 that circulated on the Internet.

Now I’m hoping to convince editors that there could be a small place in their papers for poetry, that it could add a spot of value in the eyes of readers. Best of all, it won’t cost a penny.”

-from American Life in Poetry

-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, February 15th, 2007

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Around 3000 people live in the city of Valentine. If you fired up your GPSr, programmed in 42 degrees, 52′, 25″N, and 100 degrees, 33′, 1″W, slid the homing gadget into the plastic grip Velcroed to the dashboard, and drove in the direction of the crosshair blips on your map of light, you’d arrive at the most northern border of Nebraska, smack dab in the center of the state line.

That’s Valentine.

Each year in the month of February, thousands of hopeless romantics send letters to Cupid’s mailbox in “Heart City”to be embossed with one of three different Valentine cachets. Valentine’s Cache, Valentine, Nebraska, from Heart City websiteThe red ink postal stamp from America’s heartland adds a little fuel to the fire of a juicy Valentine’s Day.

If you think Nebraska’s a dull state, reset the synaptic button. Fire again. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet.

Kool-Aid and CliffsNotes and the Vise-Grip were all invented in Nebraska. The largest Powerball payout, $365 million, was split 8 ways on February 6th, 2006 by ConAgra workers from Lincoln. Both Malcolm X and Brandon Teena were born in Nebraska. As were Henry Fonda, Hilary Swank, and Marg Helgenberger, blood spatter expert and forensic supervisor Catherine Willows from the original CSI.

Need I say more?

Okay, let me go on to the 450,000 other reasons I fell in love with Nebraska – the sandhill cranes . Each year in early spring, 90% of the population traverse the Central Flyway stopping to fatten up and rest along the Nebraska stretch of the 310 mile, 10,000 year old Platte River. And they’ve been doing this for 9 million years.

At sunrise, 10 feet from the river bed, in the dark underbelly of a blind near Kearney, I’ve watched as the cranes roost on one foot, sleeping in 6 inches of water. I’ve seen them probe the grasslands, meadows, and farmers’ fields near Grand Island foraging for leftover corn, insects, earthworms, and rodents. I’ve listened from 7 miles away to the ancient and throaty rolling trumpet sweeping toward Rowe Sanctuary, and peered through Nikon binoculars at kettles of cranes staging over Gibbon, their gangly voluminous shadows eclipsing the moon in a single sweep of midnight dusk.


I saved the creme de la creme for last – I love Nebraska for her writers: Ted Kooser , the United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 – 2006, Willa Cather , Terry Goodkind, DeBarra Mayo, John Neihardt, Weldon Kees, Ana Marie Cox , founder of the political blog, Wonkette, and Jonis Agee, Director of the Nebraska Summer Writers’ Conference. Maybe they weren’t all born Cornhuskers. But many lived most of their lives in the great Nebraskan plains.

How long do you have to live somewhere to call it home?

I’m a Minnesota transplant. I moved here in 1984. When people ask me where I’m from, I say, “I’m from Minnesota.” And sometimes, so as not to be pigeonholed, I add the caveat, “But I grew up Down South, lived in central Pennsylvania in my teens, and moved West to Montana in my 20’s. I’ve been around.” Creative license – I have to protect my image as a bohemian.

Willa Cather by Carl van Vechten, photo taken January 22, 1936, released to public domain, Library of Congress

Willa Cather by Carl van Vechten, photo taken January 22, 1936, released to public domain, Library of Congress

On my last road trip through Nebraska, my air conditioning died and I stopped to cool off at a rest stop just north of Red Cloud (the town is named for the great Oglala Lakota chief who was born near there) where Willa Cather grew up. Did I mention she won the Pulitzer in 1923 for One of Ours?

I struck up a conversation with Ella, a gray haired, bespectacled, 70-ish woman in a denim shirt and blue jeans (this is common in the Midwest) standing behind the map counter. I told her I was returning from a writing retreat in Taos and that on my first trip to the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in 2001, I stayed in the Cather room where Willa once slept on one of her pilgrimages to New Mexico.

I told her I read that Cather had met D. H. Lawrence in 1924. And wasn’t that the same year he and Frieda visited Mabel and Tony, bunked in the Pink House in Taos, and lived with Dorothy Brett at Kiowa Ranch near San Cristobal? Ella’s eyes sparkled. When she found out I was a writer, she talked to me for nearly 45 minutes, a reprieve from the dog day glare of August, about Nebraska writers and history. Her great, great grandparents homesteaded there. It is in her blood.

Willa Cather once said, “The history of every country begins in the heart of a man or a woman.” Maybe the history of every country can also be traced through the lineage of everyman who lives at the heart of its land.

Kearney, Nebraska marks the exact central point between Boston and San Francisco. Valentine, at the seat of Cherry County, sits dead center in the heart of America. Everything east and west is just an appendage.

Cupid knows. He shoots his letters off straight from Valentine.

-posted on red Ravine Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

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Year of the Fire PigGet ready for the abundance of the Chinese New Year beginning Sunday, February 18th, 2007. Writers beware the book buying! And if  you miss Valentine’s Day, you get a second shot at love – Chinese Valentine’s Day is coming up!

Notes below are from this link at Wikipedia:


Boar º¥ Hai February 18, 2007

-The Chinese New Year dates are determined by the lunisolar Chinese calendar, which is also used in countries that have adopted or have been influenced by Han culuture, notably the Koreans, the Japanese, the Tibetans, the Vietnamese and the pagan Bulgars.

-Chinese New Year starts on the first day of the new year containing a new moon (some sources include New Year’s Eve) and ends on the Lantern Festival fourteen days later.

The 1st day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. It is also a time where families will pay a visit to their oldest and most senior member of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.

The 15th day of the new year is the last day of the traditional New Year’s celebrations. It is celebrated as Yu¨¢nxi¨¡o ji¨¦ (ÔªÏü½Ú), the Chinese Valentine’s otherwise known as Chap Goh Mei in Fujian dialect. Depending on locality, the same day may also be celebrated as the Lantern Festival, or as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.


Superstitions during the New Year period

The following is a list of beliefs that vary according to dialect groups / individuals.

  • Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck. The word “shoes” is a homophone for the word for “rough” in Cantonese.
  • Buying a pair of pants is considered bad luck. The word “pants” is a homophone for the word for “bitter” in Cantonese. (Although some perceive it to be positive as the word ‘pants’ in Cantonese could be a homophone for the word for “wealth”.)
  • A hair-cut is considered bad luck. The word “hair” is a homophone for the word for “prosperity”. Thus “cutting hair” could be perceived as “cutting away your prosperity” in Cantonese.
  • Candy is eaten to ensure the consumer a “sweet” year.
  • Sweeping the floor is considered bad luck, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the new year; in the same way that having a bath will wash away the good fortune.
  • Talking about death is inappropriate for the first few days of Chinese New Year, as it is considered inauspicious as well.
  • Buying books is bad luck, because it is a homonym to the word “lose”.
  • Opening windows and/or doors is considered to ‘bring in’ the good luck of the new year.
  • Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to ‘scare away’ ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year.

 Tuesday, February, 13th, 2007

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An Easy Life

“An easy life does not teach anything.”    Fortune cookie from Chin’s Asia Fresh, day before leaving for 4th Taos Writing Intensive, February 3rd, 2007  

an abundant life teaches everything - image public domain


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easy Look up easy at Dictionary.com
c.1200, “at ease,” from O.Fr. aisie, pp. of aisier “to put at ease,” from aise (see ease). Sense of “not difficult to deal with” is c.1340; of conditions, “comfortable,” c.1380. The concept of “not difficult” was expressed in O.E. and early M.E. by eaþe (adv.), ieþe (adj.), apparently common W.Gmc., but of disputed origin. Easy-chair is from 1707; easy-going is from 1649, originally of horses. Easy Street first printed 1901 in “Peck’s Red-Headed Boy.” Easy rider (1912) was U.S. black slang for “sexually satisfying lover.” The easy listening radio format is from 1965, defined by William Safire (in 1986) as, “the music of the 60’s played in the 80’s with the style of the 40’s.” 
 The Online Etymology Dictionary

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – EASY

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Easy is a strange, hard word. Walking from living room to dining room to kitchen to bedroom. Slippered frostbite danger from Transport Canada websitefeet, 16 degrees, 8 degree wind chill. A salmon flavored cat food pebble sticks in a leather groove on the bottom of my foot. Shriveled leaves fall from a chrysanthemum by a cold southern exposure. Catnip is strewn about the bed cover; Mr. Stripeypants circles the spot, then dives in for the scent.

The cat is high. The sheets are clean, the bed is made. Easy living.

I pop the top on a Cherry Zero and the tab doesn’t flick. Instead the pressure builds, not an easy landing. I place the aluminum can in the coffee stained sink and grab another. Liz tells me a classmate, Kindra, was eager to get home from her Psychology and Religion class the other night because she was having an Easy-Lift La-Z-Boy rocker recliner delivered.

La-Z-Boy Carlyle Recliner - La-Z-Boy first introduced the recliner in 1928I remember the days. In the early eighties I had a second-hand, floral covered La-Z-Boy rocker in Montana. My butt was glued to the chair. I’d write chicken scratch in my journal or stare out the window or sit by the electric heater, rock, rock, rocking my life away.

These days La-Z-Boys are built right into the structure of corduroy, Scotchgarded, wrap around couches in front of 60 inch Sony flat screens. Simple life.

Simple does not mean easy. 

Monday, February 12th, 2007

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I don’t like the song Easy Like Sunday Morning by Lionel Richie, although the soft rock station I sometimes listen to in my car plays it quite a bit. I have it on my mind right now, in fact, after running to the bank and then to my daughters’ school and now back at work. I wouldn’t choose to buy the song nor the artist, but still, I do crave Easy. I’m a blog assignment behind, just got back from a week away, trying to sell our house, trying to keep it clean in case someone needs to see it on the spot, trying to live a life present in this moment. Would you like Easy, too?

The next time you travel somewhere, whether from the kitchen to the bedroom on foot, or to the post office in your car, or sitting on the train station going home from work, be present. Take your mind off all concerns. Notice the man standing in front of you with dandruff on his shoulder. Notice that your floors are dirty but don’t worry to clean them. Notice the sounds your car makes and how they are muffled inside. At your first opportunity, write. It can be a single haiku, a ten-minute practice, a short poem, a snippet of a memory. Whatever it is, make it Easy. Don’t stress about it. Knock it out as fast as you can or want.

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Doodling a sunflower

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