A very busy week doing everything it seemed but working on SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH.

As I said two weeks ago, now I divide my time between my desk and my gardens. I finished replacing the 2 x 8 hemlock planks that hold in my raised, asparagus bed this week. I used 4-inch lag bolts to put it together so I think it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

I’ve also spent a lot of this week working with my new webmaster on my new, and soon to be launched–later this week, I hope–website. It’s amazing how after you think you’ve got everything exactly where it goes and laid out the way you want it, you continuously find places that need to be redone. I was ready to launch this new website last week, but my webmaster, sagely, advised me to wait a week or so to find the kinks, and we’ve found plenty.

Thursday Lois and I went down to Hanover, New Hampshire, to Dartmouth, to see our friend Ying Li’s show of new paintings at the gallery at the Hood Museum, and then to have lunch with her and her husband.

We went early to see what was at the Hood. There we saw two shows one a Jackson Pollock and José Clemente Orozco show about how Orozco influenced the young Pollock, and the other a group of wonderful photographs of Vermont quarries by Edward Burtynsky. More about both shows is at:


Burtynsky is the man about whom the movie MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES was made. If you haven’t seen MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES–


I recommend it highly. It drives home–the way nothing else I’ve ever seen can–what a destructive, consumptive life-style we rich, white, industrialized citizens of The-Countries-of-the-North live, and it does this by showing us the extent of waste and destruction our way of life has created. This waste and destruction we then pass off to the poor, non-whites of the world, the people of The-Countries-of-the-South. For more about all this see my satirical play, THINGY WORLD! at:


I also read through the Advance Uncorrected Proofs of my new book PARK SONGS: A POEM/PLAY and signed off on them. PARK SONGS: A POEM/PLAY is all monologues, dialogues and so on of people who hang out in a ratty little urban park in some city somewhere in America. There is no narrator, only the voices of the daytime inhabitants of the park.

PARK SONGS: A POEM/PLAY excites me. It’s totally different in design, presentation and content from any book I’ve ever written, although in some ways it’s a kind of urban JUDEVINE. It’s also connected to my most recent play, A SONG FOR MY FATHER,http://www.davidbudbill.com/sfmfpl.html, in that, in my mind at least, they both take place in Cleveland, Ohio, where I come from.

I will post a link to PARK SONGS: A POEM/PLAY on my website later this summer and announce its availability on my Facebook page when the book is ready, which will be late August or early September.

More next week.

Sincerely, David Budbill
7 May 2012


I didn’t get anything done this week because my dog died.

Lu Shan (Chinese for Green Mountain) was my long time, most favorite companion. I’ve never been so attached to an animal before. The emails we’ve been getting this week all say what an exuberant, friendly, good-hearted dog he was, and it’s all true. Both my wife and I are beside ourselves. We spent all Monday afternoon and evening crying and got up Tuesday–I slept 2 hours that night–and started crying again. There wasn’t a mean bone in Lu Shan’s body. He was far and away the friendliest dog anybody ever knew, kind, sweet, exuberant–wildly exuberant–and the greatest swimmer ever–and very competitive about it; he hated to have anyone swim faster than he could. There was only one friend, a young guy from Montreal, who could swim faster than Louie, and Louie and Jan were special friends. I’ve felt horrible this week, empty and out of sorts. I know this will pass, but I don’t want it to. Louie was a genuine and great Zen master, a real “mountain Buddha reincarnated in dog form” as one friend put it. He loved everyone and thing and greeted everyone, animal or human, with great enthusiasm and élan. Here’s what I sent out to Louie’s friends the night he died.


Last Thursday, April 18, when Lois took Lu Shan, our 9 year old, golden retriever, for his daily walk in the woods, she had to coax him along with treats. He was not himself. Friday, he was so sluggish he did not even get up to greet some visitors, totally unlike Lu Shan, the friendliest dog in the world. I took him to the vet. No conclusion. Saturday he seemed to be a little better, although not himself. Sunday he was worse again. All he wanted to do was lie around and his breathing was labored. Monday he was worse. He could barely get up. Monday afternoon we took him into an emergency vet hospital in South Burlington. He was panting and having serious trouble breathing. The doctor said he had a large and very aggressive tumor on his heart and the only thing to do was euthanasia. Louie was in so much pain; we did it then and there. We are grief-stricken. Louie was our all time favorite dog.

We will be getting Louie’s ashes soon. This summer, when Louie’s friends are around, we will take his ashes out to the float on Wolcott Pond where Louie loved to go–and climb a vertical ladder all by himself, by the way–and leap joyously into the air and into the pond. We will then throw Lu Shan’s ashes off the raft and into the pond.

There are too many lives in this life, too many deaths,
and no amount of thought can save us
from our grief for dying things–
not even knowing resurrection
sure and green as spring.

More next week.


Spring is here, and that means I now give up all day at my desk and turn my life, at least half the time, on days when it isn’t raining, toward gardening. I raise a huge amount of vegetables every summer and that effort starts now, early this year, way early. All of which means I spent the first three days of this week outdoors. I am NOT complaining! But I’m 72 this year and things take so much longer than they did 20 or 30 years ago. What took me three and a half days this week would have taken me a day a couple of decades ago.

Those first three and a half days this week were spent turning over my largest raised bed, my earliest ground, where I always plant the peas, two kinds, and my first long double row of spinach. I also spent some of those days indoors working on trying to organize the notes for SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH. Thursday, April 19th, I planted Green Arrow shell peas and Oregon Giant Snow peas and a twenty-foot, double row of long standing Bloomsdale spinach. On Friday I visited with some neighbors, wrote letters to Wendell Berry and Donald Hall and then Lois and I made a pizza. Saturday I spent the entire day outside turning over my compost pile. This is the biggest and heaviest job I do every spring. It took all day, but it’s done, and after I put a layer of last year’s finished compost on top of it, it’ll be ready to be the place I plant my cucumber starts this summer.

I’ve gone into such detail about what I did this past week, because I wanted to demonstrate how, especially now that spring is here, I do not give up the rest of my life to be a writer.

If you really don’t want to give up the rest of your life in order to write–and who would?–even though in their pomposity, that’s what so many writers say you must do–what are you to do? Well, grin and bear it, I’d say. Do as much as you can while you live your life. John Haines said to me once, “Live your life and don’t be literary about it.” Good advice! The trouble with the pompous, arrogant and unrealistic admonitions from so many writers about how you must give up everything in order to write, is: if you do that, you’ll have nothing to write about, and you’ll end up like so many American writers writing about language instead of, as joel oppenheimer said, “something.” Joel said, “Poetry is not about language, it’s about something.”

Today, Sunday–I always write my blog on Sunday–it is raining. We need rain desperately. It’s been dangerously dry here for months. I’m particularly glad I got the compost turned before the rains came. A little soaking and settling for that compost pile is just what it needs.

Sincerely, David Budbill


Another strange week. I am, every week, made aware of how difficult it is to put together any sustained writing time to work on anything. It’s nearly impossible. Life keeps intervening, like for example this week.

Monday, was the funeral for our neighbor and friend Eva Colegrove who died at the age of 96. She and her husband, Frank, were, if not the models for “Raymond and Ann” in JUDEVINE, then at least the inspiration. They were the ultimate hill farm couple. And after the funeral, we went to the party at Jim Ryan’s place. Jim, and his partner Katie, have taken over Frank and Eva’s farm and turned it into a new-age, organic farm, with two green houses, organic fruits and vegetables, beef and so on. We are delighted that they are just a little over half-mile down the road.

After a morning of chores in Morrisville on Tuesday, I got a good afternoon’s work in on SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOLLAH.

And Wednesday began the same way. I thought I was on a roll, until my friend, the painter, Altoon Sultan emailed to ask me if I’d introduce her at The Vermont Statehouse in June when she gets this year’s Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award from the Vermont Arts Council. I readily agreed to do the job; I like Altoon and her work very much. I spent the rest of the morning taking notes for my introduction. I did get back however to SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH in the afternoon.

After recovering from a dentist appointment on Thursday morning, I began Thursday afternoon my preparations for my reading at the Holderness School in Holderness, New Hampshire, Friday evening.

I spent Friday morning continuing to rehearse and prepare for Friday night and then in the afternoon traveling to Holderness where I read to a very large and enthusiastic audience that evening.

Saturday I was on the road early and home by noon. Saturday night was our daughter’s 35th birthday party. My wife and I cooked an Indian meal for Nadine, Mia–her partner–and 8 of their friends.

And suddenly it’s Sunday and the week is over. Today is for clean-up from the party, recovery and hopefully getting outside to spade up my biggest raised bed where I will plant my first crop of spinach and two kinds of peas.

Looking back on the week I see that I had exactly one and one-half days out of seven to work on SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH. As I said at the beginning, it is incredibly difficult to put together any sustained writing time to work on anything. The moral of the story is: if you are going to work in a sustained way, you have to abjure the rest of your life, and, I would add, who wants to do that?

Well, there’s always hope for next week.

Sincerely, David Budbill


I woke up at 1:30 Wednesday morning, slept fitfully until 4:00 and got up at 5:00, all because I was so close to finishing BROKEN WING. After I made a pot of tea, I went back to work on the novel and was done with this draft by 6:30. Even after more than 50 years of writing almost every day, I still have a great sense of accomplishment at “finishing” a project. I feel good, like something has been done, completed, accomplished.

After more than six weeks of rewrites, it’s not, of course, finished, not by a long shot, but Wednesday morning was a milestone along the path. I printed it out and now will pass it over to my wife, poor her, for another read through, after which I will make some more changes and be ready to send out this version. I’ll start with my agent and see what she can do–I suspect nothing–and then move on from there.

I like the story, but I also understand how strange it is to make a novel, which is not a novel, out of a story about a wounded bird and other birds. As I said last week, I have little hope for this book and suspect it is one of those books that my daughter will inherit in manuscript, but we’ll see.

I hope to take a little break before I begin SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH, but my ability to take breaks, do nothing, is very small. I hope I’m able to do some yoga and spin on my stationary bike down in the garage more than I usually do on a daily basis, go for some longer walks, read a manuscript or two from the stack of other people’s writing that is always on my desk wanting my attention and comment, write a few letters and otherwise “relax” before I begin on SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH. That’s what I hope to do. We’ll see how successful I am at doing what I hope instead of what I’m compelled to do.

Now it’s Sunday, and my wife, Lois, has been over the entire 133 pages of the manuscript, made suggestions for corrections, cuts and so forth, I’ve responded to her suggestions, which has taken me all week, worked them into a yet another version of the manuscript and I’m done–for now. What happens next? That is the question.

How have I been doing regards taking a little break? Well, maybe it’ll start this week.

Until next week.

Sincerely yours, David Budbill