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Cai Xi

November at  GALLERY TWO

Vermont Artisan Designs

Fine Art & Contemporary American Craft

106 Main St.   Brattleboro, VT 05301     (802) 257-7044

Here are 3 works one artist among the 30 or so currently featured

See more works from this Feature


To This Degree — An image a day every day of the year

Sagittarius 1

The Image: Retired army veterans gather to reawaken old memories

Keynote: The will ot reaffirm the value of the struggle upon which civilisation and group-achievements are founded.


Sagittarius 2

The Image: White capped waves display the power of the wind over the sea

Keynote: The mobilization of unconscious energies under the pressure of superpersonal energies


Sagittarius 3

The Image: Two men playing chess [illus.]

Keynote: The transcendent ritualization of conflict

Sagittarius 4

The Image: A little child learning to walk with the encouragement of his parents

Keynote: The natural assistance of superior powers during crises of growth


Sagittarius 5

The Image: An old owl sits alone on the branch of a large tree

Keynote: A poised and wise approach to existence based on a clear perception of unconscious factors and their operation


Images comprise groups in a 5-fold sequence; Sagittarius 1-5 1st level: Actional

(1° to 15° Sagittarius is Scene 17 ‘Abstraction’ in Act 3 of 4, GROUP INTEGRATION)


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Faces of Brattleboro

As we used to say at Findhorn

‘One Incredible Family’

Photos of the day is sponsored by

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Fine Art & Contemporary American Craft

106 Main St.   Brattleboro, VT 05301    (802) 257-7044

An A-musing Life  A column by Nanci Bern

Draped in Time

The trees begin to rustle. I change the ringtone on my phone to the Bewitched theme. Their leaves become brilliant with color. I get out the orange, purple and green bat mug. They crackle as they are tossed about by the autumn wind. The outside decorations sway their come hither dance in the October bluster.

The sun leaves earlier than many would like. The warmth has become illusive, although still shows itself in snippets. The last of the summer crops are foraged by hands still lustful for the past season.

But for others, this is the widening of the earth’s soul. It is a time of rising depth and deep inhalations of an expanse of spirit. The winds sing in the key of mysterium mundi. 

This is the short and shifting time of year that walks toward winter quickly. Transitions are powerful. They rearrange and set the stage for what is to come. They demand you go with their will, or you are be left on your own. This transition’s beauty is soul searing. The verdant scent of the leaves and plants as they begin to make their way inward toward the earth fills the air and dances with the smoke of newly awakened woodstoves. I love this rich and moist aroma. It coats my fingers and I feel it seep deep within my spirit. It takes me inside myself, just as it takes itself deep within the ground. It is lush with the changing of the season.

This is also the only time I am drawn to read the French Symbolist poets. How can one resist:

“Towards a sky softened by pure and pale October
That reflects its infinite languor in great formal pools
And deigns, on the stagnant water where the tawny agony…” Sigh by Stéphane Mallarmé  

You get the gist, oui? Read more of this Column


Art & Soul

Notes on Creating by Audrey Flack from her title Art & Soul



From Picasso, a pivotal figure to the present, the art world has been burdened with the seeming irreversibility of profane linear time. New “in” galleries, dealers and artists appear every year, only to be replaced by another fashionable group the next year. The very essence of great art is its ability to cut through time.

In The Myth of the Eternal Return, Mircea Eliade states that primitive man believed that an object or act became real only insofar as it imitated or repeated another’s ritual act. Inherent in the imitation of archetypes and in the repetition of paradigmatic gestures is that, in the way, time was abolished.

A current sacrifice, for example, not only reproduces the initial sacrifice at the beginning of time, but it also takes place at the same primordial, mythic moment; every sacrifice repeats the initial sacrifice, and coincides with it. All sacrifices are performed at the same mythical instant of the beginning. Through the paradox of rite, profane time and duration are suspended.

What we discover in probing archaic rites and rituals is the willingness to devalue time.

Carried to their extreme, all the rites and all the behavioral patterns would be contained in the statement “If we pay no attention to it, time does not exist.”

Contemporary man has worshipped time and become a slave to it by establishing a cult of originality, a cult of the new, denying past influences and tearing down historic architecture. If time consists of the past, present and future, and the art we create is only the new, with no inclusion of the past, then it too shall not have a past or a future.


Post Oil Solutions  a column by Tim Stevenson

Climate Change Café Hosts Carbon Pollution Tax Presentation


The Climate Change Café will host a presentation by Walt Gustafson, VPIRG Field Organizer, about placing a price on carbon emissions in Vermont through a carbon pollution an effort to deal with climate change

This event will take place on Tuesday, December 15, 6:00 PM, at Brooks Memorial Library, Main Street, Brattleboro. (Please Note: The December Café is NOT being held on the 4th Tuesday of the month to avoid conflict with the holidays.)

As always, the Café is free, and light refreshments will be available/

Along with environmental groups and some for-profit renewable energy companies in the state, VPIRG is part of a new group, called Energy Independent Vermont  that has been advocating for.a Carbon Pollution Tax. Such a measure, H. 395, has been introduced in the Vermont Legislature. Its sponsors include Brattleboro’s Mollie Burke. who we’ve invited to attend the Café presentation.

As might be expected, the tax is controversial. In addition to its positive impact on a warming planet, advocates of  the proposed legislation maintain that it would offset cost increases through the establishment of an Energy Independence Fund to help Vermonters finance energy-efficiency measures. The current proposal includes a one percentage point reduction in the state sales tax, and  is essentially revenue neutral...

Read more of this Column


Feature  Monkey’s Cloak


D. H. Lawrence

A snake came to my water-trough

On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,

To drink there.

In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree

I came down the steps with my pitcher

And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before


He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom

And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of

the stone trough

And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,

i o And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,

He sipped with his straight mouth,

Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,


Someone was before me at my water-trough,

And I, like a second comer, waiting.

He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,

And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do,

And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment,

And stooped and drank a little more,

Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth

On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.

The voice of my education said to me

He must be killed,

For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.

And voices in me said, If you were a man

You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.


Read more of this and other reader’s poems


Column  Vermont Diary

On Aggression

Someone wrote that Konrad Lorenz’s title was the most important book of the C20th — the century of world wars and genocides. Essentially Lorenz said that in nature’s kingdom aggression was by no means unhealthy, in fact the opposite and entirely necessary. When animals engaged in ritual displays over territory, it prevented over feeding of any one locale, with reef fish and with deer for instance.

Switching to ex World Chess Champion Gary Kasparov, he asked in a leader in the Financial Times, ‘what legitimate outlet does American youth have for its aggression?’ Apart from Halloween and the football team, there were few answers.

Both Lorenz and Kasparov were warning that if the ‘ritual’ aspect of aggression was removed, actual conflict takes place. Our culture seems ever shocked by fact, but rarely shocked enough to do anything about it.

Rather than talk about events in France directly, if we keep it at home, last night a statistic for the year went over 1,000 — that is, of people killed by the police in the US. A contrast with the UK with 1 death occasioned by police, and with France at about ten times more killed than the recent shootings in Paris.

A great majority of these people killed by police are black, putting the question to the ‘Do Black Lives Matter’ slogan, answering it by ‘not as to worth mentioning,’ by American media. My report comes from The Guardian UK.

To employ the normal euphemism, more than 10% of these police deaths are ‘questionable’ which is about the same number killed by terrorists in France.

Read more of this Column



Madonna vs. Julia Roberts and other matches

A guest article by

Frank “Boy” Pestaño

<extract> Before he became famous, Bogart survived by hustling strangers at 50 cents per game in chess parlors at the New York Times Square. On the other hand, Kubrick’s lifelong obsession was chess and he supplemented his income by also hustling strangers in Washington Square Park and in various Manhattan Chess clubs. My assessment is that Bogart will be the victor by the tiniest of margins although George C. Scott will not agree as he has a minus score against Kubrick.

    Among the ladies in Hollywood, nobody even comes close to the chess prowess of Julia Roberts and Madonna. A contest between the two would generate a lot of interest as both are good players.

    In the Internet Chess Club, Madonna has played an incredible 19,000 plus games and the highest rating she achieved was 2003 in Feb. 16, 1999. She is being tutored by Scottish champion IM Alan Norris.

    On the other hand, Roberts is a chess fanatic who has played over 10,000 games in the Internet. She attained a 2057 rating in July 22, 2002, her highest so far.  Read more of this Feature


Notes on Photo of the Day — Nov 24th

Robert Frost’s Vermont

IN 1920, 44-year-old Robert Frost moved from New Hampshire to Vermont "to seek a better place to farm and especially grow apples." For the next four decades, Frost lived principally in Vermont, becoming the official poet laureate of the Green Mountain State. Frost wrote much of his verse in a log cabin in Ripton in central Vermont. His ashes lie beneath the ground in Old Bennington. He ended his Pulitzer Prize-winning poem, "New Hampshire," with the ironic words, "At present I am living in Vermont."

Because Frost was a farmer first, poet second (he owned five farms, all in Vermont), his poems are more than rooted in the state's landscape, they are the landscape: its stony and frugal soil, its sculptured, shimmering green glens bespeaking a timeless and mystical perfection, and its early winter melancholies. Frost's words, like sharpened farm implements, sifted meaning from this both severe and tender physical reality.

With a small population that retains its agricultural base, in addition to strict environmental statutes that include the outlawing of roadside billboards, much of the Vermont countryside really does evoke lines from Frost.

Despite obvious wealth, Frost spent several months a year in this small, spare cabin of unfinished log and wooden planks, living alone, surrounded by bending white birches whooshing in the wind, with a silhouette of bluish-green mountains in the distance. Frost wrote on a red leather, adjustable chair, his writing paper placed on a sheet of jagged plywood that lay across the arm rests. Looking through the front door window from the porch, I saw that his living room was adorned with only a few plywood bookshelves and a naive painting of a New England scene. The haunting starkness and frugality was like a deep echo from his poems. There was evidently little affected about Frost. As he once implied to a friend, he was a Vermonter, tied to the land, with few original ideas, but gifted with an extraordinary writing technique and power of observation.


Feature  Overheard

Have no truck with


To reject or to have nothing to do with.


We are all familiar with trucks as carts and road vehicles, but that's not what's being referred to in 'have no truck with'. This 'truck' is the early French word 'troque', which meant 'an exchange; a barter' and came into Middle English as 'truke'. The first known record of truke is the Vintner's Company Charter in the Anglo-Norman text of the Patent Roll of Edward III, 1364. This relates to a transaction for some wine which was to be done 'by truke, or by exchange'.

So, to 'have truck with' was to barter or do business' with. In the 17th century and onward, the meaning of 'truck' was extended to include 'association'/'communication' and 'to have truck with' then came to mean 'commune with'.

'Truck' is now usually only heard in the negative and this usage began in the 19th century. To 'have no truck with' came to be a general term for 'have nothing to do with'. An example of that is cited in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1834:—

Theoretically an officer should have no truck with thieves.

'Trucking' was also country slang for 'courting'/'dallying with' (and no, in case you are wondering, it has nothing to do with any similar word beginning with 'f'). To 'have no more truck' meant that a courtship had ceased. An example of that usage in print is found in Notes and Queries, 1866:—

[In Suffolk] A man who has left off courting a girl, says that he has 'no more truck along o'har'.

Read more of this feature


New Features, Articles & Columns


Madonna vs. Julia Roberts

and other matches

Lawrence Klepp

Post Oil Solutions

Climate Change Café Hosts Carbon Pollution Tax Presentation

Tim Stevenson


See article on this page


Old Lady Blog

From DH

Toni Ortner

Vermont Diary

On Aggression

Write On!

Singing with Bobby Fischer

Patti Smith

Monkey’s Cloak


Terry Hauptman

World & US Energy News

Just one days news

in mid-November

George Harvey

Urban Naturalist


Lloyd Graf

Wondering Tales


MM Kizi

Selected Letters

Qi Gong on Black Mountain

Ken Masters

Monkey’s Cloak

Restless Uncertainty

Charles Monette

Old Lady Blog

Strike out

Toni Ortner

If You Lived Here

Gallery at The Garden

Two new exhibits in November

Love in Action

“All is Very, Very Well.” ~Eileen Caddy

Elizabeth Hill


Featuring Cai Xi

November Paintings at Vermont Artisan Designs


100 Million Super-Rats

Monkey’s Cloak

Five Haiku

Andrea Wallens Powell

An A-musing Life

Draped in Time

Nanci Bern

Open Mind

The New Israel

Offie Wortham

If You Lived Here

Brattleboro Winter Farmers’ Market


See article on this page

When Vision Appears

O Citoyen!

Restorative Justice

Robert Oeser

Monthly Feature

Picasso sculpture at MoMA

Marnie Innes

Love In Action

Boy With Many Hats

Elizabeth Hill


In the eye of beholder

Terri Kneipp


Have no truck with

An A-musing Life

A Penne for your thoughts

Nanci Bern

Vermont Diary

Something wonderful just happened

Archetypal Hippie Speaks

The Incense of magic

Jeri Rose

100 Years Ago

Edith Louisa Cavell

Pioneering nurse executed October 1915

Weekly Feature

In conversation with Kathy Leo


Review of The Immortal Game: A history of chess

Lawrence Klepp


What part art?

Kate Anderson

in between

Developing trust

Julia Ferarri


Tomatoes galore

Phil Innes


In the eye of beholder

Terri Kneipp

Love In Action

The Language of Form

Elizabeth Hill


Strolling with Bernie

Photographic Essay by Phil Innes

Consolation of History

A hundred things to hide

Martha M Moravec

The Great Adventure

What will your daughters see?

Terri Kneipp


The Plains Indians, America’s Early Artists, at the Met

Marnie Innes

Vermont Views Magazine

A unique community supported cultural magazine exploring Quality of Life and Spirit of Place in our bio-region, with extraordinary photographs, 22 regular columnists plus feature articles, galleries & essays, new articles and photos every day. 100s more articles in the Archive.

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in passing

publisher’s notes on current contributions to and themes of the magazine

I have been repeating data for the past three years which is untrue, and wish to admit the same. I have been saying that women earn 78% of what men make. This is untrue. What I should have said is that this relates only to white women.

This week I was challenged about a statement I made about the systemic correlation of black people and poverty in the USA. On NPR today a woman was talking about women catching up with male salaries in maybe 30 years.

I had to research all ths, and found brute economic data to substantiate it. There are a couple of points of note in the following chart; the first is that things seems to have regressed for black men since 1999, and secondly you don’t want to be an Hispanic woman.

Source: U.S. Current Population Survey and the National Committee on Pay Equity; also Bureau of Labor Statistics: Weekly and Hourly Earnings Data from the Current Population Survey.


O Citoyen! a column by Robert Oeser

Brattleboro Citizens' Breakfast Report    

Restorative Justice 

“Community ... is made from conflict as much as from cooperation; the capacity to resolve conflict is what gives social relations their sinew."  

David Cayley, The Expanding Prison 1998 (quoting Nils Christie, "Conflicts as Property," 1977)

Darah Kehnemuyi, a lawyer with 35 years as a trial attorney, mostly as a public defender, has had  broad experience with humanity. Moving to Brattleboro from Maryland 10 years ago, he began volunteering at the Brattleboro Community Justice Center (BCJC). He was interested in mediation work as he had started a community mediation program in Maryland and thought something similar might be possible in Brattleboro. Over the years changes occurred. Programs became directly tied to funding from the VT Department of Corrections (DoC) and state grants from the Federal Second Chance Act (2007).

Read more of this Column


  World and US Energy News  a column by George Harvey

One Day’s News in Mid-November


¶ The north of England is set to be home to Europe’s largest floating solar power system. Water company United Utilities is developing a 12,000 panel system covering an area of more than 45,000 square meters. It will cover about 33% of their electricity needs. The system will be on Godley reservoir in Hyde, Greater Manchester. [CNBC]

¶ The carbon content of electricity generation in Ireland fell to a record low last year, according to new figures by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. The country avoided 2.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2014. SEAI said without renewables, power generation emissions would have been around 23% higher. [Energy Voice]

¶ The UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and campaign group Oil Change worldwide (OCI) have now published a detailed analysis of G20 subsidies to oil, gas and coal production. The G20 countries spent around four times as much to prop up fossil fuel production as they did to subsidize renewable energy. [Financial Company Voices]

¶ The cabinet of Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition has endorsed changes to the German electricity market, ensuring their passage into law. The law relies on market mechanisms to foster competition between electricity generation and flexibility options, rejecting generator proposals for an American-style capacity market. [POWER magazine]


¶ More than 7,100 solar panels will provide power to areas of Daytona International Speedway and 400 Florida homes per year, according to officials of the speedway and Florida Power & Light. The FPL Solar Pavilion and FPL Solar Patio project at the speedway will be in the Midway, the Sprint FANZONE and Lot 10 parking area. [Bay News 9]

¶ Procter & Gamble signed a partnership with EDF Renewable Energy to build a wind farm in Texas. It will generate 370,000 MWh of electricity per year, enough to meet the electricity needs for all Procter & Gamble North American Fabric & Home Care plants, where Tide, Cascade, and other such products are produced. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Two weeks after a developer came to town to disclose details of what would be Vermont’s largest wind-turbine site, the project’s opponents presented an impassioned case against building any wind farms in Stiles Brook Forest. Opponents to the proposal painted a picture of troubles, at a meeting they organized. []

¶ Hillary Clinton outlined a $30 billion plan to help communities and individuals that rely on coal to recover from the industry’s decline. Clinton has said repeatedly she will not forget the coal workers who “kept the lights on” and drove economic growth. Her campaign said the plan fits squarely with her climate priorities. [Rapid News Network]

Extracts, read more of this Feature


Selected Letters

Qi Gong on Black Mountain

Dear Phil.,


Such a pleasure to receive the photos below; thank you. As I meditated on that rocky outcrop, I did wonder whether Native Americans had been there before me; felt something that encouraged me into the Dao Hua Qi Gong ‘Bird’ Form. Perhaps there were some traces of their intangible shamanic presence; information in quantum time. I loved this natural neighbourhood, with our walk up Black Mountain through near hollow-ways to its flattish summit, crowned with a broad circlet of pines, and what followed.


So our visit there remains precious to me, and hopefully implicitly relevant to our present NI discussions and of potential interest; so I offer this human-scale account to you, Alan and our NI friends, which I also hope you will enjoy... Some 20 years or so ago, when visiting Brattleboro’ VT to (Circle-) dance, our friend Parker walked me up the relatively nearby Mt Monadnock. [caption: Mt Monadnock as photographed from Black Mountain] We took the easier, more gently ambient way, spending some 2 hours on the mountain. What most impressed, attracted and inspired me then, were the considerable number of eagles gliding and swooping around the summit. I had been doing shamanic work at that time, and Eagles had emerged as my ‘power-animals’. I had had dreams... How to gain some sense of connectivity in situ with these wonderful birds, with awesome intangible presences, (though I would not have put it like that then)? I had no idea, and they were disinterested. (I had been enthused and intrigued earlier by an encounter with a golden eagle when on holiday in the Scottish Highlands with my wife and young family.)

continue reading this letter


Monthly Feature

Picasso Sculptures New York City Exhibit at MoMA

September 14, 2015 — February 7, 2016

A photo essay by Marnie Innes

Maquette for Richard J. Daley Center Sculpture, 1964

Simulated and oxidized welded steel

The Art Institute of Chicago

[with young woman]

You can see from the slides accompanying that article, and from the photographs I couldn't resist taking, how involved viewers were with the energetic, enigmatic presences of these works -- each person I saw who came into the orbit of the joyful, confident creation of "Female Bather Playing," for instance, was smiling her smile.

Many of the sculptures are of human and animal beings that seem to emerge from the inside out, and they were brought to life by Picasso over a long lifetime, 1902-1964.

Here is a small sample—this show is something to see for yourself! New York City Exhibit

at MoMA, September 14, 2015 — February 7, 2016

See more images from this feature


Love In Action  A column by Elizabeth Hill

“All is Very, Very Well.” ~Eileen Caddy

Eileen Caddy was one of three founders of The Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. ( I lived at Findhorn from 1996-2000, during which time I had the great privilege of getting acquainted with, and also working with Eileen.

She was humbly grand, and a most approachable lady. Her life as a world-known spiritual leader has inspired countless numbers of people from around the globe. She authored many books including “Opening Doors Within”, “ God Spoke To Me”, “Flight Into Freedom”, and quite a few more.

In 1998, Eileen and I were two of twelve elected community members that helped form the New Findhorn Association, or NFA. We were then both elected to serve on the NFA’s first council in 1999. It was during those many meetings and council functions that Eileen and I became friends.

August 26th, 1999 was Eileen’s 82nd Birthday, and there was to be a party of 250 people in the Community Center. I was on the kitchen staff, and was requested to focalize a group of four in making a birthday cake for our beloved Eileen. Naturally, I asked her what kind of cake she’d like.

“I fancy a Lemon Meringue Pie, please!” was her reply. Instantly, my throat went dry, and my hands started to sweat as I squeaked out, “OK, lemon meringue it is!”

Now, anyone whose ever made a lemon meringue pie can tell you it is, in the world of pie-making, one of the more labor intensive endeavors. This is especially true when the only pans available are two feet wide by three feet long and two inches high!

In the community kitchen, there were three ovens. All three were industrial-sized and had two racks for baking, but none were quite up to convection grade standards.

Read more of this Column

 Old Lady Blog a column by Toni Ortner
From DH

There it is, the Douglas DC-6 SE-BDY / the instrument of my destruction. The mechanics are doing the last checks of the engines, but men have no knowledge of Divine Intention much less His last minute interventions. This is an ordinary day of September l8 in the Year of Our Lord _1961 and I sit at the airport surrounded by security guards and secret service agents whose eyes swivel like gun turrets in every direction. I will be flying in order to, hopefully, negotiate a peace fire between non combatant United Nations forces and the Katangese troops of Moise Tshombe. I hope for a resolution of the parties involved in this conflict; however, hope is not enough to win the day and seldom does when so many conflicting and powerful forces hold sway. I serve because I am called to serve and (as I have said before) I would rather live my life as if there is a God.  A man like me who is an agent of social service may be physically protected but such protection is not absolute; in any case, he can never be protected from himself. When you read this letter, (which I intend to post) remember there are no accidents. There are only intentions.

I have no fear. Perhaps it will be like opening the door to another room, a room I cannot see where the walls open into light. Words, however eloquent, fail to describe a reality of which the human mind cannot conceive. I have no grief. I have done the best I can depending on my knowledge at the time. Everything changes each moment, and one looks back and wishes one could use one’s current wisdom to alter the past, but that is science fiction. That I have failed to do enough is my regret.

I am staring at the glistening black bark of each tree and how the tangled branches form a latticework against the bright blue sky. The yellow and russet maple leaves shimmy with delight. When one says goodbye,  the physical world moves closer so the things one never paid much attention to parade before one’s startled eyes.

 Read more from this column ➤Old_Lady_Blog_1.htmlOld_Lady_Blog_1.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1

  Wondering Tales introducing a new column by MM Kizi

An image a day is the plan, but you can read ahead by clicking the link frames 1 to 30 now appear in this graphic novel of 100 frames.


Urban Naturalist  introducing a new column by Lloyd Graf

Lloyd H Graf, Jr, PhD , Assoc Prof (ret) of Cell and Molecular Biology, Dept of Physio and Biophysice,  U IL Chicago, and congenitally curious old wind bag

I've been an occasional contributor of light verse/doggerel to Vermont Views during the past couple of years, including whimsical appreciations of bipolar Arctic Terns, mercurial full-of-themselves Chickadees, bees and spiders under the influence of caffeine and other colorful creatures.

Phil has been kind enough to give me an opportunity to share more detailed accounts of selected natural encounters, conveyed from my perspective as a long-time “Urban Naturalist”.


For the past five years I've been living in Brattleboro in a state of retirement strenuously coupled with super-annuated parenthood , but prior to this I spent almost four decades as a biomedical researcher and teaching faculty member at a series of Medical Centers in San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and the Evil Apple itself, NY,NY. During those hectic years I kept a lifelong love of nature alive largely through a casually opportunistic alertness to possibilities for ad hoc natural encounters. “My” urban environs provided surprisingly rich and varied experiences; city parks, plazas, beaches waterfronts, dive-able coves, and even the downtown campuses of the research buildings housing my air filtered/fluorescent lit/microwave-smogged research labs provided homes or temporary stopping off places for a plethora of fascinating critters.


I'll share here one of several fondly remembered natural encounters that occurred some 30 years ago toward the end of my eventful 8 year stint in Manhattan. I was an assistant professor with a research lab based at a Cornell University Medical College (CUMC) outbuilding on 71st, St, just off York Avenue, an unusually up-scale neighborhood for a Medical Complex that included not only NY Hospital/CUMC, but also Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the NY Blood Center, and the daddy of all deep pile research institutions, that gathering place for Nobel laureates and Nobelists-to-be, Rockefeller University.


My daily walking commute to the lab from my apartment near the Queensborough Bridge followed York Avenue along a stretch of the East 60's including the western border of Rockefeller's lovingly designed, beautifully planted and immaculately maintained campus, a jewel-like island of opulence sitting majestically above the FDR and the East River.

In mid-to-late fall of 1985, as the end of my stint at Cornell and the move to my next position in Chicago loomed, large numbers of dark birds, including starlings, together with mixed grackles and blackbirds would come blasting into the Rockefeller U. area at around dusk from some vaguely western location presumed to be a seasonal feeding ground. They arrived in several discrete flocks that I estimated at a thousand birds or more to the flock , flying at high speed in sky-darkeningly tight formations reminiscent of the space-filling flocks of birds in Escher's drawings (except that all of these birds were moving in the same direction).

continue reading this column


Write On!  Singing with Bobby Fischer

by Patti Smith

…Yet I did stay on in Iceland, as a thoroughly robust Icelandic Grandmaster surprised me by asking me to preside in his stead over a highly anticipated local chess match….In exchange I was promised three nights in the Hotel Borg and permission to  photograph the table used in the 1972 chess match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, currently languishing in the basement of a local government facility.

….When I returned I received a call from a man identifying himself as Bobby Fischer’s bodyguard. He had been charged with arranging a midnight meeting between Mr. Fischer and myself in the closed dining room of the Hotel Borg. I was to bring my bodyguard, and would not be permitted to bring up the subject of chess. I consented to the meeting and then crossed the square to the Club NASA where I recruited their head technician, a trustworthy fellow called Skills, to stand as my so-called bodyguard.

     Bobby Fischer arrived at midnight in a dark hooded parka. Skills also wore a hooded parka. Bobby’s bodyguard towered over us all. He waited with Skills outside the dining room. Bobby chose a corner table and we sat face-to-face. He began testing me immediately by issuing a string of obscene and racially repellent references that morphed into paranoid conspiracy rants.

——Look, you’re wasting your time, I said. I can be just as repellent as you, only about different subjects.

       He sat staring at me in silence, when finally he dropped his hood.

——Do you know any Buddy Holly songs? he asked.

       For the next few hours we sat there singing songs. Sometimes separately, often together, remembering about half the lyrics. At one point he attempted a chorus of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” in a falsetto and his bodyguard burst in excitedly.

——Is everything all right, sir?

——Yes, Bobby said.

——I thought I heard something strange.

——I was singing.


——Yes, singing.

From the new title: M Train by Patti Smith

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Passages Daily  Cate Blanchett

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I applaud Women in Film - not only for celebrating the successes of women, but for providing a safety network to mentor women and to discuss the particular issues that arise in a very male-dominated industry.

Actresses can get outrageously precious about the way they look. That's not what life's about. If you starve yourself to the point where your brain cells shrivel, you will never do good work. And if you're overly conscious of your arms flapping in the wind, how can you look the other actor in the eye to respond to them?

I'm one of those strange beasts who really likes a corset.

When I see daughters with their fathers I wonder what that would be like, although not in a way that immobilises me.

I have the embarrassing thing where often if you're watching a film, you kind of go through the emotions and the thought stages that your character went through, but you sort of do it with Tourette's. So I end up often crying when I'm crying, and looking angry when I'm looking angry, so it's pretty ugly.

I'm not particularly needy, and I'm not particularly anxious. I don't look for a director to tell me I'm doing a good job or that I'm great. I don't need to be stroked. It's more my own yardstick.

I think we should stop drinking bottled water. There's no need to be drinking it if you're living in western communities.

I want to see a connected and progressive future for Australia, where we harness our greatest natural resources: sun, wind, and brain power.

Those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences - they are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people.

I haven't got many anecdotes. Maybe I should do something scandalous.