Friday, November 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
In the Robert Moss book, The Three 'Only' Things: Tapping the Powers of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination, he cites "The Nine Powers of Dreaming:" 1. We solve problems in our dreams. 2. Dreams coach us for future challenges and opportunities. 3. Dreams hold up a magic mirror to our actions and behavior. 4. Dreams show us what we need to do to stay well. 5. Dreams are a secret laboratory. 6. Dreams are a creative studio. 7. Dreams help us mend our divided selves. 8. Dreaming is a key to better relationships. 9. Dreams recall us to our larger purpose.
And when we journal dreams on a consistent basis, perhaps for a two or three-week trial period, we may see a pattern develop that can help give us greater insight into that "other" side of ourselves.◦
Sunday, October 12, 2008
...night is falling
I never knew I liked
night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain...
I never knew I loved the sun
even when setting cherry-red as now
in Istanbul too it sometimes sets in postcard colors...
I didn't know I loved clouds
whether I'm under or up above them
whether they look like giants or shaggy white beasts...
I never knew I liked the night pitch-black
sparks fly from the engine
I didn't know I loved sparks...
As a journal writer, you don't need to write a poem, but simply write your own "things I didn't see today" or "Things I Didn't Know I Loved." ◦
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
It will be led by yours truly. As you experience different methods one-by-one in this hands-on journal writing workshop, you'll pinpoint your burning issues and learn how journaling can help achieve your goals. Contact the series at 312-355-0423 for more info and fee.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Saturday, August 09, 2008
But sometimes, ya just gotta eat. We visited a few places in Montreal that might fly under the food critics radar, but offered us delicious, healthy and satisfying meals. At Jardin Nelson, an indoor/outdoor and inner courtyard charmer in Place Jacques-Cartier in Old Montreal, I started off with a midday glass of Prosecco, followed by a cup of really homemade chicken and vegetable soup, a creamy tomato bruchetta and a shrimp and avocado salad, all lightly and evenly seasoned and extremely well made. Carlos enjoyed salmon on a bed of angel hair noodles, with chives, and red and green pepper. The seating was picturesque, the breeze light, and the whole experience, so Vieux Montreal.
Downtown, turn to Le Commensal, a vegetarian buffet on the second floor of McGill and St. Catherine. It was warmly recommended to us by a former Montreal artist, Genevieve, whom we met during our visit to the Vermont Studio Center. A variety of tasty hot and cold vegetarian dishes and desserts are available by the pound. Fill up your plate and weigh-in at the cashier. Microbrews also available. Nice views fom the high perch and great food, especially for those like us, who long for hard-to-find vegetarian specialities when traveling. View a Commensal You Tube.
At the Novotel Montreal Aeroport, stop into Trio, an ultra chic minimal moderne place to relax to music piped in directly from France, and with a tray of luscious, nouvelle cuisine appetizers. I enjoyed brie with strawberries and mangoes, mushroom tarte, and escargot with tomato sauce on small toasts. Another night I had a trio of chicken skewers, along with small shrimp and scallops dishes. The soups are also fabulous. Carlos seemed to live on air at times, or at least arugula salads. The Novotel is a great hotel to stay, by the way.
For dessert, stop in again in Old Montreal and have one of its homemade sorbets at Les Glaceurs along the side street of Notre Dame Cathedral at rue 453 St. Sulpice. The pamplemousee, trichamp and framboise sorbets are all fresh fruit tasting, not too sweet and really delicious. Even my dessert-shunning husband couldn't resist.
Do you have a favorite Montreal dine-out place, and why is it so good? ◦
Thursday, August 07, 2008
On a recent road trip through New York State and Vermont, we had the chance to sample several of the local microbrews along the way. The first wasn't the best -- Otter Creek Ale from Middlebury, Vermont, which was somewhat skunky, not extremely fresh and gaining a 6 on our 10-point scale. While visiting the New England Culinary Institute in Essex, Vermont, I ordered a fine hefeweizen beer on tap, Harpoon's UFO or Unfiltered Offering from the Harpoon Brewery, located in Windsor, Vermont. My server smiled approvingly when I ordered it, and it was a wonderful summery, smooth beer. It is best on tap, though after later trying it in the bottled version, found it was still good. Carlos gives it an 8, but I award it a 9. Though not a huge white beer fan, he preferred Wolaver's certified organic wit bier, also made by Otter Creek Brewing, which is far superior to its Otter Creek Ale. Do the microbrews get their water from Moss Glen Falls?
Southern Tier, an India Pale Ale brewed close to the southern New York State highway that bears the same name rated a 9 from Carlos. But I just plain turned up my nose at it after one bottle. He felt this ale was fresh and non-skunky unlike the Otter Creek.
One of the trip's disappointments was missing the tour of the Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York. We'd logged too many miles to drive back the next morning after breezing past it on Route 86. They make the Beligian style Witte beer, among others. We pulled into our hotel in Schoharie late that night and saw an inviting display in the lobby for Ommegang's fine line-up of beers. But they didn't sell it! It was only a 3D showcase for the brewery.
There was one last, but not least, beer that we waited to open after our return home to Chicago. Circus Boy, The Hefeweizen! is brewed by the Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont. According to the label it is "unfiltered and unfettered" and according to Carlos and me, we finally found a beer we could completely agree upon. I loved the full-bodied, unfiltered taste, and he liked the slight bitter edge that the Harpoon's UFO did not have. We both give this one a 10. But then, the beer at trail's end is always a welcome comfort and marks a time of special celebration. Cheers!
P.S. Mickey Dolenz, the original Circus Boy, you'd been upstaged after all these decades. You were a hard act to follow, but you did one up yourself by becoming a Monkee.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Weeks before, I contacted one of the administrators, Kate Westcott, to find out if we were welcome stop by and take a look around. She offered to give us a quicky visit, as July residents were leaving and August ones would be soon to arrive. But once we walked into the main office to meet her, she graciously gave us the grand tour of more than an hour of the lovely grounds and various buildings scattered around the local river and converted grain mill.
I had imagined that the colony was set out in the countryside, but The Vermont Studio Center is actually a series of existing buildings spread in close proximity throughout the town of Johnson that the organization bought up, restored or converted, and turned into artist and writer studios, sleeping quarters, dining areas and lounges. Its lecture hall was a building on the main street scheduled for teardown until the colony saved it.
The photo in the upper left-hand corner is of the Maverick Writing Studios, where resident writers spend their days writing in separate, private spaces. This building, in contrast to other vintage and restores structures was built from the ground up in recent years. Artists have long been part of the colony, but writers have only been accepted within the last decade or so.
The atmosphere at the place was also more social and close-knit than I had surmised. Most of the emphasis on the Vermont Studio Center is on younger visual artists, attracting residents from all over the world. It also seems to be a place where like-minded artistic guys and gals meet, fall in love and come back to marry on the grounds. Kate Westcott also serves as a licensed justice of the peace, and have wed many couples who were lovestruck there. While we were visiting, we noted a very attractive couple who had previously met at the studios getting ready for their wedding. Twenty and thirty-something visual artists, take note.
As for my husband and me, writers long married and yearning for the right environment to get our next books finished, I think we'd most likely prefer a quieter place where we might find more focus and fewer distractions. It is surely a wonderful place for visual artists to network, have a chance to exhibit their work during various onsite shows, and get valuable inspiration from one another. View a Vermont Studio Center You Tube. ◦
Saturday, August 02, 2008
An added suprise, and so far from my home in Chicago -- was to meet Chef Courtney Contos, who led the workshop and made it a memorable experience for all. She serves as the Director of Culinary Activities for people like me, who only take one or two classes at the institute. This Greek and Irish lass turns out to be part of a restauranteur family that goes way back in Chicago -- who ran the famous Chez Paul, as well as subsequent establishments by the names of the Flying Frenchman, Maison del Lago and the Royal George Theatre Cafe. Chef Courtney was balanced, knowledgable, friendly and helpful, letting us participants get our hands into everything and guiding us with the most proficient and deeply solid aire. You know she knows, but she let us find out for ourselves. What a gal!
What are corn tortillas? Nothing but corn masa, which is a ground corn flour and lime mixture, and water. The trick to making the perfect tortillas lies in just how much water, and of course, in the actual making. Golf ball size pieces of masa go into a cast iron tortillas press, but not before a ziplock baggie is cut on three sides to serve as a helpful sleeve to prevent sticking. What a revelation! Press the ball softly between the sleeve and the press, open, but don't flip, just turn the sleeve 45 degrees and repeat a couple of times. Peel off the raw tortilla carefully, and toss all at once into a heated cast iron pan. No oil necessary. Let bubble a little, check the corners, turn over and flatten with an egg spatula. No time at all on the other side, then slip into a folded towel to keep warm as your delicious stack rises. We ate every last one of them -- then and there! So good. And the salsas were to die for. I can't tell you the recipes. You have to go there and create them yourself. I highly recommend this workshop that takes place at the Inn at Essex in Essex Junction, Vermont, near Burlington. They also have week-long boot camps on various topics, such as natural foods. ◦
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
The poem was first inspired by a lecture at the Chicago Green Fest and book "Mycelium Running" by Paul Stamets, the utter guru of the modern uses for mushrooms, including mushrooms' powers to eat up and eliminate toxic waste.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Published writing is usually rewritten, edited and polished writing, set in symmetrical fonts and printed in uniform order and quality. Journaling, most often, is composed of our raw thoughts or emotions, scribbled down in an unsteady hand on a commuter train or a dimly-lit kitchen. Perhaps the pages are occasionally smudged with ink or stained by drops of coffee. Entries may be heartfelt and passionate, but can simultaneously be random, incomplete, unconventional and bold, without need to please an audience.
In the long run, the journaling process may add up to a complete picture or an epiphany of revelation, but tracing any single journal's pages, one-by -one, can render a modest journey, the humbleness of following a foggy path with no promise of reaching a clearing.Most distilled, the Wabi-Sabi of journaling embraces a sense of faith -- in yourself, in life, and in the promise of a future.[wabi-sabi]
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
O.K., so only seven people have checked out the spot so far, and most of them are friends and relatives. It is a four-part video interview that gives the viewer a peek at what my journal writing workshops are about.
But don't stop at the video. Go get the real thing and get away from the urban crush by weekending up at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts in Mineral Point, Wis. June 28-29 for poetry and journal writing workshops, or The Clearing Folk School in Ellison Bay, Wis. on July 19 for the journal writing workshop. ◦
Sunday, May 04, 2008
By a dialogue, I mean choosing a dialogue partner and writing back and forth between yourself and your "partner." In a Dialogue with Persons, your dialogue could be with a person of the past, present or future, a person living, passed on or not yet born. And you don't need to know the person to have a dialogue. This is not channeling or any other hocus-pocus, but a way for you to cut through preconceived notions to what you may discover is the deeper truth about a person, persons and especially about yourself. Think of it as a letter that can't be delivered, but somehow it is, and somehow you get a letter in return.
For example, you might choose to dialogue with a person you really admire, who may possibly serve as a role model for you, and perhaps you have never had the opportunity to meet. You may initially feel that you can never measure up to the talent or accomplishment of this person. But through your dialogue, you may discover that your partner tells you how hard he or she had to work, how long of a wait and how high of a climb it took to leave an impression. Perhaps it really did. Perhaps it really didn't. But this dialogue may at best give you insight into what you feel you must do yourself to progress to the next level of your life and your personhood! ◦
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
• observations and thoughts of scholars he admired
• personal financial records
• reflections on domestic problems
• philosophical musings and predictions
• plans for inventions
• treatises on anatomy, botany, geology, flight, water, and painting
Our busy lives and job responsibilities drive us into
On the other hand, the exploratory, free-flowing, unfinished, non-judgmental practice of keeping a da Vincian notebook fosters freedom of thought and expansion of perspective. ◦
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Some of the questions I pose consist of "What does the main character want?" and "What is the musical about?" When I ask what it's about, I don't mean the plot. The plot is what happens, scene by scene. Instead, I mean what deeper meaning is the piece trying to bring out? If it's about belonging, does the character discover that he or she can belong or that it may be impossible to really belong. If it's about connection, what might a character do to continually reinforce disconnection before finding a path to connecting with other people.
If working on a play or musical, you might have a journaled dialogue with your character asking directly what he or she wants, believes, avoids or regrets. You may not only find out your answer, but also find ways to smooth any bumpy parts of the script your characters trip on or redirect their steps when they wander away from where they and your piece are ultimately headed. [Intensive Journal Workshop][Ira Progoff] ◦