GNL number 123

a report of doings at meeting #123, Sunday, November 15, 2017
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends



The arts are a celebration of life.
~~~Michael Douglas


Nancy, who’d missed last meeting, opened today’s on Art/the Arts. She first recalled her sense for many years of art/the arts as too long culturally limited to ‘real’ or professional artists, and she objects; saying we are all potentially able to do/make ‘art’ when we find a way to express something that feels like beauty, joy, gratitude, even truth. And that recalled some appreciations in home-made music,eg.,in the wild 60s/70s. Her notes and quotes continued in AFTERWORDS.

Marge followed with a show-n-tell of the many art museums she and Don have visited in the past 20+years, passing beautiful, color-photo postcards of some of their favorite art works, old masters and modern. Her collection numbers so many they’re organized in alphabetized bunches. Marge also raved about another, more local art, the music of the High School Band and the Community Band, both of which had concerts scheduled that we should not miss!

Louise thought first of her own life and practice for many years of the art of teaching, and then, the art of lobbying. Later it occurred to her that we need more than ever the art of conversation now when there’s so much quick reflexive anger, making real conversing hard; that we need more than emotion, must be able to listen. She also spoke
of Gilbert Welch’s book, Overdiagnosed, on too much info when what’s needed is less meds and more health.

Sue first gave her regular word origin/meaning report, and then read from one of the chapbooks of her poems written daily for many years; she likened it to journal-writing, saying rereading them brings reminders and new appreciations, a healthy thing. She also spoke of another healthy favorite thing, gardening, how it can be an art. And she described the set of chapbooks she’d published and gives to friends, offering to print up some more if we’d like; yes, we’d like! See her notes and quotes in AW. She also read Cynthia’s 2 cents. (see AW)

Ann brought us her usual fine 6-wordies and quotes, and spoke of several different kinds of art—not only the fine arts and the liberal arts and the differences between art and the arts, but things like the art of the deal. And she explored the idea of arts and crafts, how we tend to put ‘crafts’ on a lower level and not give it proper appreciation, when there is and has always been so much beautiful, lovingly made work done by ‘craftspeople’. Her N and Q in AW.

Gail, like Marge, was very enthusiastic and touched by the local high school productions, especially how they enlivened the kids doing them, and she recommended the next one. She spoke glowingly too of the junior-year visit she and Virginia had just made to Vermont’s Green Mountain College, a sustainable school where kids build cabins and
more and learn the arts of living and giving back instead of just taking from the world. (And she updated us that sis Winnie and Mom and Dad were back safe in their home states.)

Vijaya was another who brought a show-n-tell: several of her handmade art works including a beautiful large banner colored with her own beet and berry dyes, and a jeweled doll, and a clay dish, and a star-shaped decoration, and some cotton bags made from reused, bleached cotton, and more. And she described the dyeing process and how the doll’s dress was made of salvaged small cloth pieces from her sister’s factory in India.
The report Cynthia sent us about the recent misfortune in the family of our friends Nancy Van Deusen and Sandy McKay prompted us to direct our offering today to the fund benefiting their daughter Sara’s small business that is now, with her husband’s health, her family’s only support.


If poetry and the arts can do anything, they can fortify your inner life…
~~~Seamus Heaney


Sunday, December 10, 2017 (1030), at Vijaya’s apartment above her store on Main Street, Cobleskill. The subject is Triggers/Turning Points/Epiphanies.



from Nancy

The ideas I voiced above also recalled an appreciation I’ve always had for the wild hippie 60s-70s, in one respect especially—how it loosened the cultural barriers to who can ‘properly’ do the arts, in particular, music. Suddenly, more and more young people were making their own music, in garages and anywhere, often more for the joy of it than money. And that was a cultural revolution in itself.
Which made me remember, down in Appalachia, lots of people for years, generations, in small communities and in their own families had beendoing a native kind of Scots-Irish folk music for the pleasure of it,not for $.
And for many years as well, there’s been a tradition in African-American church communities for the sacred music that became ‘gospel’, which not only was life-saving for so many, but contributed much to the evolution of the blues and jazz music—jazz, credited by many as the most truly original American art.
And then too, I remembered other countries, with their much longer histories than here and long traditions for home-made music, and how I have been so attracted and moved by traditional music from France, the British Isles, Spain, Russia and other Slavic countries, and African countries, for instance.
And later that other very important aspect came back to me, of art as something one might be able to do with long, whole-hearted attention to a task—like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle-Maintenance, or anything. Say the Buddhists: we all, anyone, can, Be Here Now. And for me that also means, Stop forcing your will on Life, Nancy; learn to join it.
(and some quotes)

The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heavens sake.—–Kurt Vonnegut

Poetry is one of the ancient arts, and it began as did all the fine arts, within the original wilderness of the earth.—–Mary Oliver

Music embodies feeling without forcing it to contend and combine with thought, as it is forced in most arts and especially in the art of words.—–Franz Liszt

Art is the expression of something one has seen which is bigger than oneself.—–Oliver LaFarge

Every child is an artist.—-Pablo Picasso


Outline re Art of Conversation

  • *Knowledge, Facts, Informed Opinions: Have a reservoir of knowledge. Not just bullet point info like names of sports teams or the day’s weather. Do some deep thinking and research.
  • *Objectivity: Subdue anger and ranting behavior
  • *Creative thinking: Explore ways to illustrate with words and think on your feet (improvise).
  • *Listen: Be patient.
  • Practice: Move away from computer/Facebook overload

H Gilbert Welch—Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health 



Art, the arts… What is the difference, if any, between ‘art’, ‘the arts’. In answer to this question, there was some discussion about whether these two sentences are equivalent:
Art nurtures the soul. The arts nurture the soul. Are they equivalent?
‘The arts’ is a common but woolly term and ‘art’ is notoriously difficult to pin down. gives the following definitions:
art [mass noun] the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power
(the arts) the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.

Six Wordies

“Artful Dodger” was still a thief.
The “art of the deal” stinks.
There is no end to art.
Art is creation with no limits.
An artist opens windows for us.

Art: early 13c., “skill as a result of learning or practice,” from O.Fr. art (10c.), from L. artem (nom. ars) “work of art; practical skill; a business, craft,” from PIE *ar-ti- (cf. Skt. “manner, mode;” Gk. arti “just,” artios “complete, suitable,” artizein “to prepare;” L. artus
“joint;” Armenian arnam “make;” Ger. art “manner, mode”), from base *ar- “fit together, join” (see arm (1)). In M.E. usually with sense of “skill in scholarship and learning” (c.1300), especially in the seven sciences, or liberal arts. This sense remains in Bachelor of Arts, etc. Meaning “human workmanship” (as opposed to nature) is from late 14c. Sense of “cunning and trickery” first attested c.1600. Meaning “skill in creative arts” is first recorded 1610s; especially of painting, sculpture, etc., from 1660s. Broader sense of the wordremains in artless.
Fine arts, “those which appeal to the mind and the imagination” first recorded 1767. Expression art for art’s sake (1836) translates Fr. l’art pour l’art. First record of art critic is from 1865. Arts and crafts “decorative design and handcraft” first attested in the Arts
and Crafts Exhibition Society, founded in London, 1888.
Shows how the meanings evolved from a wider meaning into a more narrow one. In context of Bachelor of Arts, it is obvious that it refers to “skill in scholarship and learning”.
Today when we talk about artist and art the immediate association are
paintings, sculptures and other “works to be appreciated primarily for
their beauty or emotional power”.

However some connotations from older meanings still remain:

in the expression “art of making something” we don’t refer to l’art pour l’art, but we refer to craftsmanship (an older meaning) in slightly metaphorical sense, “art of…” can be taken to mean skill, as in art of persuasion, art of motorcycle maintenance
(wikipedia), art of war, rather than art that is normally exhibited in a gallery
in “college of arts and sciences”, arts refer to “studies intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills”
in artless, the 1st meaning lists: “lacking art, knowledge, or skill”,
extending the semantic to include knowledge and skills in what should
be a direct antonym

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” — Leonardo da Vinci
“If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the
shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” ― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Man Without a Country
“Art ena”Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ― Edgar Degas
“It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.” ― AlbertEinstein
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ―Pablo Picasso
“Well, art is art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh… now you tell me what you know.” ― Groucho Marx
“An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.” ― J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
>From an NPR interview with Arden Reid (?) about his new book about “Slow Art” (?) – an artist (didn’t catch his name) was asked what he considered good art versus bad art; he said bad art, you see it and you say “WOW” and then think hmmmm, whereas good art is just the opposite. Also in this interview there was a quote from Diderot (18th
century French philosopher, playwright, novelist, art critic) who said“…good art calls to you, stops you in your tracks and keeps youthere.”
“Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television.” ~Woody Allen
“A great artist leaves us with the feeling that something is right inthe world.” ~Leonard Bernstein

Also, from wikipedia on the arts
In the Middle Ages, Artes Liberales (liberal arts) taught in medieval universities as part of the Trivium: (grammar, rhetoric, and logic) and the Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy), and the Artes Mechanicae (mechanical arts) such as metalworking, farming, cooking, business and the making of clothes or cloth. The modern distinctions between “artistic” and non-artistic skills did not
develop until the Renaissance.
As for capitalized the Art – you will find it referring to almostanything; for more colorful examples see magic, alchemy and so on.
Actually any kind of human activity can be called “art of..”, andespecially in the writings it is often the most appropriate word to describe studies of such interests. In those cases practitioners usually refer to their subject simply, and sometimes deliberately
cryptic, as the Art art (n.) early 13c., “skill as a result of learning or practice,” from
Old French art (10c.), from Latin artem (nominative … ars) “work of art; practical skill; a business, craft,” from PIE *ar(ə)-ti- (source also of Sanskrit rtih “manner, mode;” Greek … artless). Meaning “skillin creative arts”
In Middle English usually with a sense of “skill in scholarship andlearning” (c. 1300), especially in the seven sciences, or liberalarts. This sense remains in Bachelor of Arts, etc.


I had planned to send along some wonderful quotations about ART but-my little notebook has gone missing- hopefully I will find it one of these days! So my “two-cents worth” for discussion- I believe we are all artists…LIVING is an ART and every one of us has a gift to use- {even the ‘con-artists’ recognize & develop their skills! }
My love of drawing and painting has been a wonderful outlet for that energy which once went into my careers before I retired. I amcurrently working on two rather complicated projects- and this hastaught me not to HURRY!
I also believe if everyone could get in touch with their inner artist,the world would be a much more peaceful place. I think one of the quotes in my missing notebook said something like “make ART, not WAR”
I am also forwarding the email from Sandy and Nancy- (I think most Skippies know this family) Ron and I have sent a donation but I willbe glad to add to our collection if you all decide to do so…. I willbe home Sunday evening and I will take care of sending the check if that helps. Love to all and have a terrific meeting- I’ll miss you all! Look forward to reading the “SNEWS-letter”!! 💗Cynthia


Art—Indo-European root*ar- also arə-, Proto-Indo-European root “to fit together.”
It forms all or part of: adorn; alarm; aristarchy; aristo-; aristocracy; arm (n.1) “upper limb of the body;” arm (n.2) “weapon;” armada; armadillo; armament; armature; armilla; armistice; armoire; armor; armory; army; art (n.) “skill as a result of learning or practice;” arthralgia; arthritis; arthro-; arthropod; arthroscopy; article; articulate; artifact; artifice; artisan; artist; coordination; disarm; gendarme; harmony; inert; inertia; inordinate; ordain; order; ordinal; ordinance; ordinary; ordinate; ordnance;
ornament; ornate; primordial; subordinate; suborn. It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit irmah “arm,” rtih “manner, mode;” Armenian arnam “make,” armukn “elbow;” Greek arti “just,” artios “complete, suitable,” artizein “to prepare,” arthron “a joint;” Latin ars (stem art-) “art, skill, craft,” armus “shoulder,” artus “joint,” arma “weapons;” Old Prussian irmo “arm;” German art “manner, mode.”

To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. ~HenryDavid Thoreau
“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” Georgia O’Keefe
“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist andthat there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” ~John Steinbeck
“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.” ~Kurt Vonnegut
Insurrection is an art, and like all arts has its own laws.” ~Leon Trotsky
“When people ask me about what I learned from martial arts, I don’t talk about favorite punches or kicks, or about fights won or lost. I talk about learning self-discipline, about ethics and manners and benevolence and fairness.” ~Jonathan Maberry
“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.” ~ Auguste Rodin
“Cooking is an art, but all art requires knowing something about the techniques and materials” – Nathan Myhrvold.
“All gardening is landscape painting.” ~ Alexander Pope
“Nothing is more the child of art than a garden.” ~Sir Walter Scott
“Design is where science and art break even.” ~Robin Mathew

my poem from Knots & Mysteries
10. the mystery of art

the shape of this vessel
thick plastic child’s
the handle designed
by marketing experts
for opposable thumb just learning

weighted base, colors primary
red garish green
scratched and faded
clown decal
unassuming in its
usefulness. battered
beloved unbreakable.

if it lasts a thousand years
if it’s discovered in some midden heap
beneath a cooking pot
beside a child’s bones
will it be art?


GNL number 121

a report of doings at meeting #121, Sunday, August 20, 2017
including liturgical items, major themes, and other odds and ends


Everybody laughs the same in every language because laughter
is a universal connection. ~Jakob Smirnoff

Earth laughs in flowers.~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Winnie  spoke about the healing properties of humor, especially the emotional healing it provides in tough times. She told a story of a couple who are close friends who have suffered a lot of serious illness. For a while they were very gloomy and pressed down by their troubles. But then one day their demeanor totally changed. They said, “We decided we can cry or we can laugh, and we decided we need to laugh.”

Louise talked about visiting with a very ill friend who had Lousie in stitches telling Trump stories. She calls this “Survivor humor,” which she learned from her Jamaican husband, and the African American and Jamaican community she became a part of. The game of dominoes played by Jamaicans, Louise reports is a huge laughing spectacle. Louise also described images and experiences that cause her to smile internally with a kind of quiet pleasure that lasts for days. She calls that “inner smiling.” “Truth is pleasant to me even if it’s an unpleasant truth,” she reports and recited this quotation which caused days of “innersmiling,” “Agriculture in America is a failure on its way to a catastrophe.” ~Wendell Berry

Marge says that hearing, reading and telling jokes helps her get through the week. She attributes her long healthy life to walking just about everywhere with her husband Don and to enjoying humor. The first joke she told: Why don’t blind people like to sky dive? Because it scares the dog. More in Afterwords.

Cynthia reports that when Trump was elected she decided to create a comic book about his first 100 days in office, which meant she was reading and watching a lot of news. By the end of March it wasn’t funny any more—she created maybe 3 cartoons that may be funny in 20 years. Now she’s off the computer. She told a funny story sent to her by
Marge’s husband Don. See Afterwords.

Ann says that accepting the worst makes her smile. and she takes humor seriously. She noted that humor can have its negative side—in irony and sarcasm and gave us a 6-wordy: Humor sometimes intentionally covers secret biases. She believes it’s humor that allow us to take it all in stride. And more than one of us spoke in adimration of her very quick wit as she offered puns and other word-plays that made us all laugh. See Quotations in Afterwords.

Gail reported that African-American and Civil Rights comedian Dick Gregory died yesterday. He had a daughter that he named Miss, so white people would be forced to call her Miss Gregory. Gail said that her parents were divorced for many years when she and Winnie were children. Then they remarried. To come back together, they decided to put all the the tough things in the past and just see the funny side of it all. This worked, and continues to work today. Gail said “You have to laugh & sing every day.”

Sue as usual searched the dictionary—the word laughter originates from Old English hliehhan or hlihhan — “to laugh, laugh at, rejoice, deride,” so the negative aspect of humor was there early on. The IndoEuropean root kleg is connected to the cackling sound of laughter. It turns out apes laugh, as do rats, dogs, birds, dolphins. Apes and rats have what researchers call “tickle skin,” and there are reports of young dolphins huffing and panting when they are playfully leaping through the water. Those sounds never occur when they seem threatened, attacking or pained.

Sue has read about “survivor humor” among concentration camp inmates—there were camp jokes, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl has written “Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation.” & “The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while
mastering the art of living. Yet it is possible to practice the art of living even in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent.. . .” From Man’s Search for Meaning. Sue likes to imagine the sounds of children laughing as a way topick up her mood. More quotes in Afterwords.

Nancy and Vijaya who could not make it sent their love.

We agreed to give our offering to Northeast Organic Farming Assn of NY which supports organic farmers, works to effect Federal farm policy, and has a program of support for migrant farm workers. Louise will write a check for $120.


Laughter is carbonated holiness. ~Anne Lammott

Humor is a reminder that no matter how high the throne one sits on, one
sits on one’s bottom. ~Taki


Field Trip, Tuesday Sept. 12, Trip to Syracuse Cultural Workers Center in Syracuse, NY. Sue won’t be able to make the trip in Sept. Gail and Ann said they could drive. Carpooling and other details to be figured closer to the time, when the group sees who can make it
and who can’t

Backup Meeting: If for some reason the Syracuse trip does not work out, we set a date for a Sunday meeting Sept 17 (at Gail’s or Nancy’s house). Noting all the idol-smashing (Confederate statues) going on in our nation, and starting to think about the questions: What are each of our personal idols? Who and what has our culture or we as
individuals have we idolized? We decided on the Topic: Idols.



  • Why do Pilgrims’ pants always fall down? They wear their belt buckle on their hat.
  • A day without sunshine is like night.
  • Honk if you love peace and quiet.
  • Remember half the people you know are below average.
  • I intend to live forever—so far so good.
  • When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

Ole and Lena were sitting listening to the radio. “There will be 5 inches of snow today. You must park your car on the odd numbered side of the street. Ole gets up from his coffee and replies”Jeez, O.K.
Two days later the same thing only park on the even number side of thestreet. Ole replies, “Jeez, O.K.
Three days later, same report only the power went out and Ole didn’t hear the rest of instructions. He says to Lena”Jeez, what am I going to do?”
Lena replies,” Aw Ole, yust leave the car in the garage.”

Then there is the hypnotist story about a retirement meeting in the community hall. He hypnotized everyone by swinging his watch back and forth. Then he dropped his watch S**t! he exclaimed. They had to work hard to clean up the room.

Now here is a closing word from Confucius. Wherever you go, there you are.



The king wanted to go fishing, so he called on the royal weather forecaster and inquired as to the weather forecast for the next few hours. The weatherman assured him that there was no chance of rain in the coming days, So the king went fishing with his wife, the queen.

On the way he met a farmer on his donkey. Upon seeing the king the farmer said, “Your Majesty, you should return to the palace! In just a short time I expect a huge amount of rain to fall in this area”.

The king was polite and considerate, he replied: “I hold the palace meteorologist in high regard. He is an extensively educated and experienced professional. And besides, I pay him very high wages. He gave me a very different forecast. I trust him.”

So the king continued on his way. However, a short time later a torrential rain fell from the sky. The King and Queen were totally soaked and their entourage chuckled upon seeing them in such a shameful condition.

Furious, the king returned to the palace and gave the order to fire the professional. Then he summoned the farmer and offered him the prestigious and high paying role of royal forecaster.

The farmer said, “Your Majesty, I do not know anything about forecasting. I obtain my information from my donkey. If I see my donkey’s ears drooping, it means with certainty that it will rain.”

So the king hired the donkey.

And thus began the practice of hiring dumb asses to work in the government and occupy its highest and most influential positions. The practice is unbroken to this date.


  • “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.”
    Oscar Wilde
  • “There is nothing in the world more irresistibly contagious than laughter
    and good humor.” Charles Dickens
  • “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” Winnie
    the Pooh, A.A. Milne
  • “What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce.” Mark Twain


  • “At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.” Jean Houston
  • “I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.” ~Woody Allen
  • “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” ~Victor Borge
  • “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” ~Charlie Chaplin
  • “If you’re too busy to laugh, you are too busy.” ~Proverb
  • “The human race has only one really effective weapon and that islaughter.” ~Mark Twain
  • “As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.” — Lao Tsu
  • “If you have no tragedy, you have no comedy. Crying and laughing are the same emotion. If you laugh too hard, you cry. And vice versa.” ~Sid Caesar


« Older entries Newer entries »