What’s In the New New

I keep an eye and ear toward new. Now I love old, vintage, tried and true and nod respectfully to that which cannot be improved, yet there is a plethora of new to be discovered (possibly on their way to becoming tried and true), just sitting around the corner to bring joyful delights into the everyday. Whether it be a new sound, artistic expression, authored beauty; fresh interpretations of the tried and true or the dawning of a whole new way to relish in the abundance of creativity. It is an adventure for me which brings pure satisfaction.

Here are a few new finds which have made their way to top of my list. Two musicians, two authors and two artists. Enjoy, pass them along and be adventurous.

Musicians ~ Desert Blues: Toumast & Tinariwen

Toumast ~ Musicians from the Niger Republic, of the Tuareg people. I love their sound. Very beautiful and soulful. They have been around for awhile, (Ishumar was recorded in 2007) and recently made their way to my ears and brought a little dance of joy ~


Tinariwen ~ is a band of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert of Northern Mali. Around since 1979 they came into a wider following around 2001. This song is from the album Imidiwan.

Authors: Teddy Wayne & Erin Morgenstern

Teddy Wayne is a fresh modern voice in contemporary literature. His excellent first novel, Kapitoil, is sharp and clean, earning Wayne a prestigious fellowship from The National Endowment of The Arts and the 2011 Whitings Writers Award. Accolades for Kapitoil are far and wide. This book was chosen by our local Novel Idea for 2011

Erin Morgenstern recently authored The Night Circus. A beautiful novel set in the arena of a magical circus. The story is intricate and multilayered in design and scope. I found the reading rich and poetic. Morgenstern imparts lyrical descriptions of black and white scenery which is sated with colorful imaginings and details. Treat yourself.

Artist: Hannah Larkin & Michelle Cross

Hannah Larkin (my niece) is a delightful woman with an adventurous spirit. She creates original artwork for note cards, invitations, wedding announcements, stationary, etc. Her designs are beautifully drawn with attention to detail. Elegant to simple her unique eye and skill are a treat to behold. Hannah does custom designs as well and is currently available through Etsy. See more of Hannah and her work at Michelle Cross Photography

Michelle Cross is photographer with an intuitive romantic eye. Michelle’s perspective is youthful, fun and elegant. Whether capturing portraits, weddings, scenery or still life her eye is consistent in creating a contemporary image perfectly in the moment with a timeless quality; lovely.

A Few Favorites From 2010

Here is a little list of some of my favorite films, books and music titles from 2010 (in no particular order) Hopefully you will find something here you enjoy as well. What are your favorites from 2010?



People of The Book by Geraldine Brooks

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

Just Kids by Patti Smith

The Help by Katherine Stockett

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese



Coco Before  Channel

The City of Your Final Destination

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Horse Boy

The Last Station

Winter’s Bone

Cairo Time


The Union – Elton John & Leon Russell

Distant Relatives – Damian Marley & Nas

Sweetest Nectar – Simrit Kaur

Raising Sand – Robert Plant & Alison Krauss (from 2007, but I bought it this year)

Cee-lo Green – The Lady Killer

Patti Smith & Robert Mapplethorpe

I love the work and music of Patti Smith, poet and artist, her sparse eloquent style is intelligent, modeling  Beat honesty, provoking social consciousness, influencing and influenced by artists she shares(d) space alongside. I remember as a child  the beatniks and hippies and being utterly fascinated by their intensity, largess and mystery. In reading Just Kids, Ms. Smiths memoir and ode to New York City, her enduring love story and relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, invokes purposeful etchings upon my life whose influence  still walks with me and continues to influence those whose space I share alongside; Revolutions revolving.

I was thinking today that there are artists and then there are ARTISTS. The artists  who stand above the others, who artists recognize as true artists, setting the bar of excellence with hope to emulate is some fashion a portion of such talent and expression. Patti Smith is an ARTIST. Recognized and honored and continuing to create; A model of voice and grace.

…and a younger Patti from back in the day…

I love Robert Mapplethorpe’s flower photography. As morally controversial as aspects of his work continue to be, his flowers are stunning in their minimalistic purity. Not all his work is to my liking, but here it is truly beautiful. Here are two flower photos by Mapplethorpe.

Eat, Pray, Love

“…if you sit down with the pure intention to meditate, whatever happens next is none of your business. So why are you judging your experience?”


“Just as there exists in writing a literal truth and a poetic truth, there also exists in a human being a literal anatomy and a poetic anatomy. One you can see; one you cannot.  One is made of bones, teeth and flesh; the other is made of energy and memory and faith. But they are both equally true.”


“…the rules of transcendence insist that you will not advance even one inch closer to divinity as long as you cling to even one last seductive thread of blame. As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff of it is bad for you…”


Excerpts from the book: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert 

The Impact of Awakening

Excerpts from theTeachings of Adyashanti:

under-the-bodhi-tree.jpg“The door to God is the insecurity of not knowing anything.

Bear the grace of that insecurity,

and all wisdom will be yours.”

“Love is a flame that burns everything other than itself.

It is the destruction of all that is false

and the fulfillment of all that is true.”

“Keep questioning right down to the marrow,

until the question dissolves ~~

leaving only a passing draft

where there was once a solid illusion called self.”

Shunryu Suzuki

suzuki.jpg“It is when your practice is rather greedy that you become discouraged with it. So you should be grateful that you have a sign or warning signal to show you the weak point in your practice.”

“People who know the state of emptiness will always be able to dissolve their problems by constancy.”

“The point we emphasize is strong confidence in our original nature.”

“We should find perfect existence through imperfect existence.”

“Before the rain stops we can hear a bird. Even under the heavy snow we see snowdrops and some new growth.”

Excerpts taken from: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki


alice-walker.jpgI recently read a book title We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For by Alice Walker. Ms. Walker continually stretches to tackle subjects which rest heavy on the collective conscious. Her attention to these subjects and activism in creating awareness and change, keep her a strong, powerful, feminist voice in the wrestling of our demons…whether these demons deliver themselves through prejudice, tradition, suppression, subjugation, ignorance or fear. Ms. Walkers presentations emerge, creating ripples as she brings to the surface the discord of our dysfunctional systems; displayed through race, religion, gender and class. I appreciate and am thankful for her voice.

Below is a poem from We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For….


If you
Want to show
Your love
For Americans
When you see

At the
Eagle feather
In a grandfather’s

If a sister
Bus rider’s hair
A miracle
In itself,


How can there be
In a land
So crammed
With houses
Young children
As sex snacks
Causing our thoughts
To flinch &

Love your country
By loving

Love Americans.
Salute the Soul
& the Body
Of who we
Pitifully are.

Love us. We are
The flag.

Alice Walker

The Nature of Words

The Nature of Words is a week long literary event held in Bend, Oregon every November; Focusing on the West, and the creative expression of writers and poets who embrace the lay of the land and the stories of its inhabitants. Everything holds a story; from the horse carcass lying in the desert to the City of Roses and Japanese Internment Camps.
I was able to attend one night of Readings, featuring 4 writers sharing their work. What a delight. It is a great pleasure to listen to a writer read their own words with the tone and inflection in which it was written. Sharp, bright, witty, morose, dull, twisted, vibrant….all within the phrasing of the author; Masters at their work:
Robert Michael Pyle

Robert Wrigley

Linda Hussa

David Guterson

…leaving me hungry for more… “Please sir, can I have some more?” Can I bask a bit longer in the sublime luxury of words? May I extol the brilliance of phrasing? May I move through the strata of layer upon layer of clean lines and precise placement? May I fall in love all over again with the written and spoken word?

Oh to be in the company of those who hone their craft. Who jot down lines in a worn notebook while rounding up cattle on horseback; see the beginning line of a haiku form as they swat the seventh mosquito off their arm in as many seconds; interpret the translation of pictures into words while sitting on the reservation drinking coffee as the Annual Salmon Ceremony Celebration sign is hung under the blinking glitter of a Casino marquee. Aaahh, the beauty of it all; raw and naked, polished and pristine and everything in between; the beauty, the beauty of words.

Immortality by Robert Wrigley

Consider the blind tribes of the rain,
those artless factota scribing hips
and flanks in mineral formations.
And think of the careless kissing lips

of wind come nightly, until this tree
at timberline turns a dancer’s twist
too slow for the human eye to see,
though in its stillness constantly kissed.

Stalagmites, stalactites grown like bones
to columns, a portico of cave,
proscenium arches waterfalls foam
over: no human hand will ever have

rendered their flutes and icy laces;
no one’s eye has imagined them there.
The maker wears her many faces,
she is ocean and snow and the air,

and no one believes her product art.
After all, wind blows and water perks.
A man feels dominion in his heart,
though in the end he’s just one of her works.

Thirty Six Years of Silence and Four Precept Enlightenment


An aspiring Monk wanted to find a Guru. He went to a monastery and his preceptor told him: “You can stay here but we have one important rule – all students observe the vow of silence. You will be allowed to speak in 12 years time.”

After practicing for 12 long years silent meditation etc., the day came when the student could say his one thing or ask his one question. He said: “The bed is too hard.”

He kept going for another 12 years of hard silent meditation and got the opportunity to speak again. He said: “The food is not good.”

Twelve more years of hard work and he got to speak again. Here are his words after 36 years of practice: “I quit.”

His Guru quickly answered: “Good, all you have been doing anyway is complaining.”


*There is a famous story about Ko Bong (Zen Master) giving the Five Precepts to layperson Chung Dong Go Sanim. The ceremony was going smoothly until the section where the preceptor recites the precepts and asks “Can these precepts be kept by you or not?”

Suddenly the layman stood up and said “If I cannot drink I die!” Now, there was a problem.

But Ko bong responded immediately, “Then you take only four precepts.” Chung Dong Go Sanim became the “Four Precept Layman,” and got “four precept enlightenment.”

*Excerpt from Don’t Know Mind – Richard Shrobe