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THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.misswhistle.blogspot.com
Whistling
Monday, June 4, 2007
Advice from the Peace Corps
When Ernest Hemminway started as a young reporter for the Kansas City Star, he was given a style sheet with four basic rules:

  Use short sentences.

  Use short first paragraphs.

  Use vigorous English.

  Be positive, never negative
Asked about these rules years later, he said, “Those were the best rules I ever learned in the business of writing. I’ve never forgotten them. No one with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the things he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides by them.”

Posted by misswhistle at 09:26 PDT
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Peonies (again)

News from Jumbo in Annapolis - rain, heavenly rain, a boat and a dock and some time on the Chesapeake.  Crabs for dinner, and lobster risotto, which of course he made for his surprised hosts.  His rainy sojourn through Maryland includes visiting his two best friends, and so he is happy.  He calls and tells me of the houses with the pastures, the horses, the boats, the relaxed life.  There is sun in his voice and California seems such a strange place for him.  He blooms in the rain, swells like a plum, becomes a kid again. 

Yesterday was spent in between two streppy, sniffy, coughy kids in our big white bed.  We watched The Parent Trap (oh the tragedy of that freckle-faced little angel) and Annie Hall, and had Greek Salad and hot bread and salami for lunch, cups of tea and big mugs of steaming ribena at tea time with lemon biscuits.   Supper was gemelli with garlic, brocolli, white beans and tomato with a little red pepper accompanied by the MTV Awards.  We like Sarah Silverman, didn't like the Paris Hilton joke, thought Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen were funny, generally agreed on all of these things.  Dogs piled in and out, as they do, some reading happened, some fights, much laying on of hands on fevered brow, hugging, giggling, croaking.  N managed to hold of his strep long enough to take two SAT 2s on Saturday, and apparently was not unhappy with how they went.  

Trader Joe's has peonies again for $6.99, but now they include the white ones flecked in dark red.  I bought three bunches and replaced the pale yellow petals, once puce, that are falling all over the dining room table and onto the floor.  I wonder who but me even notices these flowers as I cut their stems and remove the lower leaves and whistle with my breath like my mother does when she's concentrating.  These are my very favorite flowers in the world and if we do end up moving to Maryland or Massachusetts or Maine, I'm going to plant huge hedgefuls of them.

Little is up.  Still sick.  But well enough to want french toast.


Posted by misswhistle at 08:07 PDT
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From the New York Times

Many reviewers of Mr. McEwan’s book have noted that to put sex back in its old perch among literature’s most momentous plot elements (alongside truth, money, family, honor and God) the author set his story in 1962. Of course this is the year just before the one that the poet Philip Larkin established sarcastically (but with some reason) in his often-quoted “Annus Mirabilis” as the all-important dividing line:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather late for me)
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.

In Edward and Florence’s world, Mr. McEwan writes: “The Pill was a rumor in the newspapers, a ridiculous promise, another of those tall tales about America.” They move awkwardly and painfully toward consummation in an “era — it would end later in that famous decade — when to be young was a social encumbrance,” one “for which marriage was the beginning of a cure.”

-- From Sex With Consequences, by Randy Kennedy, NY Times, June 3, 2007


Posted by misswhistle at 07:40 PDT
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Saturday, June 2, 2007
Kathy Griffin Must Die

This is how it goes early on a Saturday morning with a sick child in the house: she's propped up in my bed on about four white pillows, big mug of tea in her hands, a plate of white toast with strawberry jam, yogurt, apricots (untouched).  She's wearing a t-shirt with the Union Jack on it and the dog has her chin propped up on the edge of the bed gazing mournfully at both of us.  GMA on Saturday morning is the kind of show you hope the space aliens aren't watching in order to get an insight into human behaviour.  A seering piece of hard journalism -- $50,000 birthday parties for five year olds (given by caring, doting, facelifted parents in bad, expensive clothes); a Michigan farmer who got a dui on his tractor/mower; and the  international incident sparked by Miss USA's fall on stage at the  Miss Universe pageant in Mexico.  Heady stuff.  We were all in bed by 9:15pm last night.  Noons is off to take his SAT 2s today. I hear him rise at 6:30pm.  He showers, drinks a cup of honeyed tea I take him, is in an incredibly pleasant mood while sharpening his five pencils...and I wonder whether an earlier bedtime may do all of us some good.  Daughter has been suffering with strep for nearly two weeks and now her lymph nodes are swollen so that she can hardly move her legs and she has a cold to boot.  What is it about long drawn-out childhood illnesses that can make you temporarily panic?  Especially the leg thing.  My mind rushes through all the possibilities: muscle strain from riding, growing pains, flu=aching joints, yellow fever, paralysis.... (mounting panic ensues...)

J is away.  If it's Saturday it has to be Baltimore.  I get brief text messages prior to boarding planes.  It's funny how your whole life flashes before your eyes just before you take off on planes.  

This house is full of books.  Every room apart from the dining room & kitchen, has a book shelf.  I look wistfully at the shelves dreaming of the time when I might get to revisit some of my favorites.  Yesterday Gabriel Garcia Marquez went back to Macondo (Aracataca) and so that book is staring at me, ready for another dip-in I think.  And yet, and yet....my daughter would rather watch Kathy Griffin's D-List? "I will turn off the television if you watch this," I say, as sternly as I can muster, "this is mind-numbing, low-end b-s.  This has no redeeming features."  She rolls her eyes at me and very deliberately and very slowly changes the channel. 

 


Posted by misswhistle at 08:19 PDT
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Thursday, May 31, 2007
Love & Nourishment

It's the last day of May.   I can feel the panic rising in my chest.  It's the LAST DAY of May. Summer is here already, despite the clement weather on the west coast and the drizzly rain in England, summer is here with its suitcase.  There's an appreciation of Michael Ondaatje in the New Yorker that is enormously uplifting and somewhat assuages the panic. Here's something I liked:

"I don't really begin a novel, or any kind of book, with any sense of what's happening or even what's going to happen." -- Ondaatje.

This of course flies in the face of all the conventional wisdom on novel writing.

And then this quote from Paul McCartney: "You knocked off at five-thirty, so now you had time for an evening.  Very civilized.  I was living in London, so I'd go to the National to see Colin Blakely in 'Juno and the Paycock,' go to the movie, 'Far from the Madding Crowd,' go to an exhibition, a reception.  All these great things.  So the next morning, when you're having your cup of tea before recording, you'd be talking about that, and you'd be informed by it."

This is something like what the Artist's Way prescribes when she suggests that you go on an "artist's date" with yourself once a week.  We do really beg to be inspired, provoked, thrilled and also just prodded out of our stupor.

USA Today has asked for my opinion on the Lindsay Lohan/Paris Hilton/Nicole Ritchie situation. "It's a cover looking at young Hollywood gone wild -- how Paris, Lindsay, Nicole Richie etc are basically total train wrecks. What's going on with them and how did this happen? Or has this always been the case with young actors who have too much too soon and no one telling them to stop?"  I suggested that we start a charity called Much Love Starlet rescue to give them a little love and nourishment.

I vow to work extra hard for the next six weeks so that I can really enjoy my holiday and not just feel like a dilletante (how could I possibly be that when I can hardly spell the word?) 


Posted by misswhistle at 15:49 PDT
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Posted by misswhistle at 12:41 PDT
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poem
Flood
by Eliza Griswold
I woke to a voice within the room. perhaps.
The room itself: "You're wasting this life
expecting disappointment."
I packed my bag in the night
and peered in its leather belly
to count the essentials.
Nothing is essential.
To the east, the flood has begun.
Men call to each other on the water
for the comfort of voices.
Love surprises us.
It ends.


Posted by misswhistle at 12:32 PDT
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Posted by misswhistle at 17:42 PDT
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FW: Crrrrrap

J leaves today for eight days. I'm trying to be perky about it.


remote Posted by misswhistle at 11:21 PDT
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Monday, May 28, 2007
Coaster AKA Timmy

Posted by misswhistle at 17:32 PDT
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Gratitude

I can't believe I'm quoting Kathy Freston via Oprah.com:

Being grateful for what you have zeros in on what is working, which in turn magnetizes more of the same. Where you put your focus is where you direct your creative intention; so if you want abundance, be grateful for the vitality you have now. If you want a soulful relationship, be grateful for the soulful moments. Gratitude is like a seed you plant; it grows more as it is watered and nourished. Show your partner what you appreciate in them and let them know that they have a positive effect in your life. The acknowledgement of good will call forth more of the same.
 


Posted by misswhistle at 16:48 PDT
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Memorial Day
From the New York Times: Mary McHugh visited the grave of her fiancé, Sgt. James J. Regan, who was killed in Iraq in February. He is buried in the new Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery for those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Posted by misswhistle at 07:02 PDT
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Saturday, May 26, 2007
i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-- ee cummings 


Posted by misswhistle at 12:20 PDT
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Friday, May 25, 2007
Pink medicine

Minks has strep, not "viral syndrome."  The lab reports came back this afternoon.  No wonder the poor thing has been feeling sick since last Saturday.

I have Marie Antoinette, Kill Bill and Stranger than Fiction laid out in front of me in the hopes that the brilliance will ooze off the pages and into my head.  Marie Antoinette is the most fun; it's bound in pink and contains five pages of "look book". 


Posted by misswhistle at 16:25 PDT
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Argentine curiosities

Posted by misswhistle at 09:51 PDT
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Spew

I'm in a house full of sleeping young humans and old dogs.  It's eight thirty and I overslept because I had my mid-early morning newspapers of the world review from about two till five.  I know that Hillary and Obama did not vote for the war funding bill, that after her clash with Elizabeth Rosie is considering not going back The View after the weekend, and that Donald Trump has taken Rosie's side, that there is no new news in the case of Madeleine McCann and that President Bush was shat on by a bird in the rose garden yesterday.  I have an assignment to study Yeats and to use him as my poetry muse.  My peripheral knowledge of him made me initially enthusiastic and now I think he's only good for borrowed lines to name books by Joan Didion.  Or it could be that my grasp of the classics is so thin that I'm finding him hard to decipher. Miss Calendar Girl will be here shortly and we will work on our piece together and I need to gather up my energies.  I've started to do something with the deer on Laurel Canyon story that I think I might like.  I'm reading Barbara Ras furiously (literally gulping it down while wondering why on earth I can't write like that!)  It's all about streamlining and focus today I think.  Here I have a nice pile of regurgitated thoughts and ideas and randomness and now, hopefully, I can move on.

I'm almost loathe to say this, but I took Timmy out for about three hours in the mountains yesterday afternoon while Minky slept (poor thing is still sick), just him, Dotsie and me, on a very hot day.  It was beautiful.  The shrub is graying.  It's that time of year.  But we listened to birds and looked at the purple mountains northeast of us and Timmy kept his little brown ears pricked happily forward.  Actually I took pictures of him with my phone because he was so sweet.  Jumby has a great little horse there.


Posted by misswhistle at 08:56 PDT
Updated: Friday, May 25, 2007 09:36 PDT
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Posted by misswhistle at 08:42 PDT
Updated: Friday, May 25, 2007 09:34 PDT
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Thursday, May 24, 2007
Girl Power

Tonsilitis is what seems to be afflicting Minks.  On and off from school and now in bed, sleeping a lot, completely out of character.  I'd forgotten about tonsilitis the disease I suffered from once every two months as a child, without fail, until I had my tonsils removed at 17.  Most birthdays were celebrated with tonsilitis, in Norway, usually when it was raining, lying in my grandmother's bed and staring at the raindrops on the apple tree outside.  And cups of hot chocolate with whipped cream as a treat.  I'm plying her with tea with honey and hot ribena and a pain au chocolate from the Canyon Store, where morning life goes on as usual, with all the usual characters, chatting up the attractive woman who makes the killer macchiatos.  They order their coffees and their pastries, wait for a while with the newspaper, greet their friends.  I have come home with a bag of rich tea, flakes, maltesers and rose's chocolates, not exactly a cure for tonsilitis, but put a smile on her face.  She has discovered Maddie Lear's blog (www.girlheadquarters.org) and is thinking of publishing her own. The first idea for a url (www.peacelovegirl.com) I shot down maybe too enthusiastically.  "Think of something more powerful" I said, and then wondered if I was channelling Arianna Huffington.  Ms. Lear, 12, who is in the 6th grade at Crossroads tackles feminism, the President, her horseback trauma and The Namesake in a snappy not unthoughtful style.  Minks is dreaming of becoming the Oprah of the internet for the tween/teen set.  I think it's marvellous. This is what days home in bed are all about -- dividing and conquering.

Is it me or was Bette Midler more than a tad "pitchy" on American Idol last night?  And to say that she has become a caricature of herself is an understatement.  


Posted by misswhistle at 09:21 PDT
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The gift that keeps on giving

Steve Gaghan is lovely.  Bright and brilliant and literate, and now he has found true happiness in the shape of his new wife, Minnie Mortimer.  While I could not be more thrilled for him, this snarky snippet from Radar Online amused me no end:

For filmmaker Stephen Gaghan, oil money is the gift that keeps on giving.

Gaghan, the writer-director behind 2005's Syriana, got married last weekend, to Minnie Mortimer, a member of one of New York's most prominent society clans. Mortimer is the great-granddaughter of Standard Oil president Henry Morgan Tilford (and sister-in-law of sometime Radar mascot Tinsley Mortimer).

Syriana, of course, was a "scathing" (as it was invariably described in reviews) look at the politics of the international oil business. Promoting the film in a Huffington Post blog, Gaghan wrote, "This massive pile of wealth, of found money from a puddle under the earth, has the same effect as the gravity of a black hole that bends and swallows the morality of all who pass into its orbit. You think you're immune? Well, I suspect you just haven't been induced yet, you haven't met your devil."

Gaghan and his devil met at Barry Diller's annual pre-Oscars picnic, according to parkavenuepeerage.com, and were wed on Saturday at Manhattan's St. Thomas Church. "It wasn't over-the-top expensive, but it was pretty much what you'd expect from a rich, Upper East Side society family," says one guest. "But it wasn't gross, which it easily could've been."

Adds the guest, "Nobody at the wedding mentioned the irony, but I'm sure it wasn't lost on Steve."

Photo: Getty Images

 


Posted by misswhistle at 07:30 PDT
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2007 07:31 PDT
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Rhapsody today

I've finally gotten my hands on the Barbara Ras second collection of poetry "One Hidden Stuff."  The title comes from the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"Everything in Nature contains all the powers of Nature.  Everything is made of one hidden stuff." 

I think that even people who don't like poetry, or think that poetry is pompous or  pretentious, will love Barbara Ras.  I think that this is the type of poem that opens up poetry to the whole world, and I think in this poem she is actually trying to find the hidden stuff.  I love this poem:

RHAPSODY TODAY 

Maybe today will be the day you wake and for the first time
watch the full moon set surprisingly red over the fine edge of the earth.
Maybe today you'll see the fawn on its gawky legs, the spots on its side
floating tentatively like some leftover dazed grace,
so that you think about animals, their paths to righteousness,
and maybe you'll remember the day a dragonfly rode your shirt front
all the way around the lake, its jeweled body breathless but pulsing,
a little like first love.  Maybe today
you'll find gardenias floating in a blue wood-fired bowl and their scent
will bloom into the room like ghostly elephants, bugling softly,
and finally, you'll buy the tickets to Zanzibar,
somewhere with slow fans and ceremonious walking,
where the post office behind the soccer field will smell of cinnamon,
and on the way to the coast you'll visit a village
and the king there will remind you "without evil there is no good."
And though of course evil will entire into every day,
maybe today it will be impersonal, butting into your life quietly
like the deer head on the walls of the barbecue shack, or insidious
but distant like the human ear in a lab somewhere growing on the back of a mouse.
Maybe you can put even these out of your mind along with the cruelty
of strangers and imagine that today's the day a little bit of time
might stop, suspended in the foot a great blue heron holds above the water,
or maybe you'll watch the mourning doves and discover they warble
as they fly, so eternally amazed by flight that they call, I'm doing it, I'm doing it.
Why not make today the day you look
at the back of your eyelids in a fresh way, the glitter there
reminding you of the beach, the starstruck sand you sifted as a child,
sometimes finding a shell the size of a large speck and wondering
about the sound of the sea held in its infinitely small swirl
and what kind of ear it would take to hear it.
By now maybe it is noon, the sun squandering itself
like a coin burning a hole in the blue pocket of the sky,
and you think of the hours in the dead of the day in a dusty square,
a colonial city somewhere in Boyaca, and you remember
a burro in a plaza the size of a classroom, you waiting for the bus,
the burro waiting for nothing, while a dust devil picked up spinning, wind and dirt
dancing quietly, and you told yourself Remember this, the burro, the dust, and you
wrapped in a drenching solitude, and after all these years, you do.
Maybe today you'll make another memory like that, maybe it'll be the pelicans
and their orderly untalkative lineup in the sky with wings practicing
the language of knives.  Maybe it'll be the man shrimping,
a silhouette on the horizon at sunset, flinging his circular net up into the air to flash
a dainty daytime fireworks before it sinks into the sea.
Maybe it won't be today, maybe tomorrow, an even better day,
the brassy moon setting as you rise, maybe bouncing a bit before it slips
blissfully into the ocean, the Indian Ocean, of course, and overhead
the fabulous wingspan of the new birds, hungry
for the blue horizon.

-- Barbara Ras

 


Posted by misswhistle at 19:33 PDT
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