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10 Jul
Posted in: Art, Practice, Travel
By    Comments Off on To Drink or Not to Drink

To Drink or Not to Drink

I seldom drink wine any more. It’s expensive, for one thing. Plus, I take the Buddhist precepts seriously….which, in their basic form, are trainings to avoid killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and “the use of intoxicants that cloud the mind.”

This is not a hardship for me…usually. But there I was in Italy. With ubiquitous and delicious — and inexpensive — wine…grown locally, developed over centuries to complement perfectly the local cuisine.

There was water, too, of course. Excellent Italian mineral water. (San Pelligrino, usually, but other brands as well.) Which I love. Especially the frizzante!

But water, alone, with all those great Italian meals!?!

I couldn’t do it.

Of course I could have. But I didn’t. At most meals, I drank the wine. (And the water.)

I told myself that I was still keeping the precept because I wasn’t drinking more than a glass or two, and always with food…surely that was not enough to cloud my mind…and besides, the precepts are not hard-and-fast rules, especially not the one about “avoiding intoxicants,”….and there are plenty of Dharma teachers (some of whom I’ve witnessed personally) who drink wine (and maybe indulge in other intoxicants, too, who knows!)…but the truth is, I could feel the difference, my mind was a little cloudy after a glass or two…it was nothing major, of course, not enough to cloud my judgment about not killing or stealing or lying or having unprotected sex with inappropriate partners!!!…but still.

I’m not saying that it was wrong for me to drink the wine. I’m not even saying that I won’t do it again. Because in certain situations, under certain circumstances, I will.

But I am aware of the risks of a mind that is clouded.

And I will take care.

(The above is one of the drawings I did while I was in Castiglion Fiornetino. I had intended to do one every day…but, as is clear, I do not always do the things that I intend.)

1 Jul
Posted in: Art, Books, Travel
By    Comments Off on Visible and Invisible

Visible and Invisible

One of the first things I did after arriving in the sweet little “city” of Castiglion Fiorentino was to buy an Italian copy of Invisible Cities (Le Citta’ Invisibili), by Italo Calvino, which, as I’ve said many times, is my go-to book when it comes to travel.

And one of the second things I did was to draw what I saw.

Here’s my drawing of the Municipal Building in the main piazza.

And here’s my transition of the Calvino quote at the bottom of the page: “Cities are a combination of many things: memory, desire, language; cities are the place of exchange, as is explained in all the books on the history of economy, but these exchanges are not only the exchange of commerce, these exchanges are also of words, desires and remember-ings.”


(click to enlarge)


10 Mar
Posted in: Art
By    Comments Off on Things Change

Things Change









Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie, 1975









Heather, Mimi, Bebe and Laurie, 2014


I went to the St. Louis Art Museum on Sunday to see the Nick Cave exhibit (which was AWESOME) and while I was there, I remembered there was a photo exhibit I’d read about in the New York Times that I wanted to see — Nicholas Nixon: 40 Years of the Brown Sisters, so I stopped in.

I was so moved, I was almost in tears.

Nicholas Nixon took a photo of his wife (Bebe) standing with her three sisters (Heather, Mimi and Laurie) in 1975. Then he kept taking a photo of them, one each year, for 40 years. The sisters age, of course. But what really touched me about seeing this so beautifully and unflinchingly documented….is that I am the same age as Bebe.

So I looked young like that in 1975.

And of course, now I look old like that.

There’s no getting around it. And it’s nobody’s fault. We were both young and lovely once. And now we’re not.

And of course, it doesn’t stop there. Next year, we’ll be older. And then older, and older, and older.

And in forty more years….we’ll be long gone.


The exhibit will be up through April 5. Don’t miss it.