Thursday, October 18, 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

"... Everything is in the language that we use ..." / Layli Long Soldier (Oglala Lakota)

"... "Real" poems do not "really" require words ..." (Layli Long Soldier)

There is so much to learn about the Oglala Lakota.  I am learning.  Learning takes time.  Although I am relatively poor in terms of money, I am rich in time.

I hope you have time to listen.

As soon as you're born they make you feel small 
By giving you no time instead of it all 
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
(John Lennon, lyrics from "Working Class Hero)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Mandala #34: Planting a Winter Garden / Flowering Quince Fruit Appears

At the end of 2017, I set a goal of creating at least 12 mandalas in 2018 with the intention of making a second mandala calendar.  Here is a tiny blurry screen shot of the iPhoto template I used, showing the cover of my 2018 calendar with the first two months.

I had three calendars made using that iPhoto template.  Then I found a less expensive way to make calendars locally.  This year, as of yesterday, I have completed 7 of the 12.  If I can create a mandala a week now, I will soon have my 12 mandalas for a 2019 calendar.  Today I am feeling confident that I will succeed.  When I began this mandala series, I created the first 7 mandalas between September 2014 and December 2014. 

In the past few days, I noticed a tiny quince fruit forming on the flowering quince on my porch.  This is the first time I have noticed a fruit on my flowering quince since it came to live on my porch in 2013, inspired by The Solitary Walker's book of poetry "Raining Quinces".  A little Googling shows that flowering quinces have their first fruit at 2-5 years.  My flowering quince appears to be right on schedule.  I wonder if it fruited before without me being aware.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

In the land of Lheidli T’enneh First Nation

Just received an email from the local natural gas and electricity company, saying that a gas pipeline in British Columbia ruptured this morning and asking that we refrain as much as possible from using household appliances this morning.

Lheidli T'enneh First Nation:

"The word "Lheidli" means "where the two rivers flow together" and "T'enneh" means "the People."

We are a proud group rich with culture that continues to thrive in north-central British Columbia, Canada.

Our elders, teachers, drummers, and other artists pass on our traditions and teaching to the next generation, keeping our culture strong.

Our connection with the land is maintained with our successful Fisheries and Forestry programs."

Porch garden / Indoor garden / Gardener with Ideas / Bettye LaVette singing "Ain't Talkin"

(pastel drawing by am from the 1980s:  Gardener with Ideas)

"As I walked out tonight in the mystic garden ..."

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

"Taking The Arrow Out Of The Heart"

Taking The Arrow Out Of The Heart, by Alice Walker

Quote from Standing Our Ground: The Triumph Of Faith Over Gun Violence,

"As James Baldwin put it more than half a century ago in Notes of a Native Son,  "The fight begins ... in the heart, and it now had been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair." (p. 101)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Listen to what John Trudell knew to be true / Centuries of Resistance

On the Election Day 2016, I took a walk with a friend who had been talking with his friend who grew up on the Lummi Reservation.  My friend soberly said his Lummi friend had said that Trump was going to win the election.  I scoffed.  Now, having listened to what John Trudell said, my guess is that the Lummi man had heard John Trudell speak and understood, as I could not, that it was inevitable that Trump would become president. 

John Trudell saw clearly what happened in the past, what was happening as he spoke, and he clearly saw the world we are living in today.  He spoke strongly and eloquently of the power we have and will always have.


"... money doesn't talk, it swears ..."

For more detail about the Opportunity Atlas, read here.

For more detail about the blue-red map, read here.

When I listen to John Prine sing "Caravan of Fools," I can't help but think of the red states and those senators who voted for the new supreme court justice.

When I enter "Redwood City, California" into the Opportunity Atlas, I am given a much more detailed view of the currently mostly exceedingly high-income part of California where my family lived from 1957-1974 in a middle class neighborhood built during the post-WWI baby boom.  A detailed view of nearby cities shows East Palo Alto standing out today as a low income area.  East Palo Alto has a population of African Americans, Latinos and Pacific Islanders and was a low-income area when I was growing up.

In 1973, I left California and settled in a small town in Washington State, 25 miles from the Canadian border.  My youngest sister came to live in Washington State soon after.  My middle sister lived in California until the 1990s, at which time her job moved her to a series of refineries on the East Coast and in the South and Southwest.  She currently lives in Mississippi not far from the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula, in one of the poorest states in the U.S.  Checking the Opportunity Atlas, I see that she lives in a pocket where the income averages $36,000, substantially higher than the surrounding area.

My parents arrived in Southern California from Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota in the 1930s.  My sisters and I were born on the San Francisco Peninsula during the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the population there was mostly middle-class and white.  The middle class neighborhood where I grew up is not far from Silicon Valley.  The cost of living there now is in the category of highest in the U.S. and the population is much more diverse than it was in the 1950s.  Young people of all races who are now growing up where I grew up are seen by the Opportunity Atlas as having nearly unlimited opportunity.

Although I am living on my $948 Social Security check, my tiny low-end condominium is in a neighborhood near the top of the income scale presented in the Opportunity Atlas map.  Although the Opportunity Atlas map above shows Washington State to be at the top of the income scale, when one looks more deeply into the map via the function that allows a closer look, there are pockets at the bottom of income scale all along Interstate 5 at the points where there are Indian Reservations.  Among the lowest income areas outside of the South are Indian Reservations.  In the Midwest, they are in the midst of the wealthiest section of the U.S.

Adjacent to Bellingham is the Lummi Nation, where the average income is at the bottom of the scale.

Given what is at stake in the coming elections, I am choosing to believe in the sanity of enough of the American people.  All we need is enough.  A landslide would be heartening, but enough is going to be good enough for now.   Except for Minnesota, the states that voted Democratic are not the states that present a picture of having a high average income, although each has areas with incomes at the top of the scale and at the bottom of the scale.

May voices of the poor, the voices of the declining numbers in the middle class, and the voices of those of us who are comparatively rich, and the voices of those who are financially rich and rich in compassion throughout the U.S. rise up and say, "No," to the Republican administration in November.

And a note from Velveteen Rabbi

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Whereas / Centuries of Injustice / Centuries of Resistance / Survival Against All Odds

We are not defeated.  The so-called victory of those who claim victory is hollow.  It always has been.
MS. LONG SOLDIER: Just briefly, in “38,” it’s written to and for the Dakota 38, who were 38 Dakota men who were hung under the orders of President Abraham Lincoln as a result of the Sioux uprising, which came at a time when Dakota people, their territory, their land, was getting smaller and smaller, and finally down to something like a 10-mile tract. And the Dakota people, did not have hunting rights beyond that. They had no store credit with the traders, and so they were basically starving. So there was an uprising, and as a result, these 38 men were hung, and then Dakota people were moved west to the South Dakota area in different — basically, they lost their land in the Minnesota region.
MS. TIPPETT: This was the largest legal mass execution in U.S. history, and it happened the same week that President Lincoln signed The Emancipation Proclamation. This history we don’t know.
MS. LONG SOLDIER: That’s right.
MS. TIPPETT: Or we don’t teach. So this emerged, your patience, writing all of this.
MS. LONG SOLDIER: Yeah, absolutely. I think that I’ve learned through writing the reward and the joy that comes out of just being really patient with a piece and patient with yourself. I think, at least, for me, the imagination is something that I really have to really respect like its own little person in me. So I can’t demand too much of it. Sometimes I have to let it take a rest and then come back and be in conversation with it again. But it’s a beautiful process that I’ve learned through writing.

We are not defeated.  We are stronger than ever.  There are more of us than ever.  We are a diverse community.  Remember that.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Women Trying To Remember What They Are Trying To Forget

When I read about the cover of the latest issue of Time Magazine just now, I made a point of looking for an image of it.  I find John Mavroudis' portrait of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to be deeply moving.  An untitled painting of mine from 1993 came to mind as I was looking at the Time Magazine cover and reading the words from her testimony.  I traded that painting for several sessions of ongoing trauma counseling that I availed myself of from 1997 or 1998 to 2003 for help working through trauma dating from 1970 and back to my childhood.  I am still getting counseling.  I have come a long way and refuse to go backward in any way, no matter what happens.  I know that I am not alone.  I didn't always know that.

In the quiet morning 2018

This is the way I remember her best -- a photo from 1970 at 27 years old:

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A coincidence of cosmic shepherds and poets

"... Jesus was a good guy, he didn't need this shit ..." (from "Jesus The Missing Years," by John Prine, at 2:46.  I hope you have time to listen to the entire song.)

For my birthday, not long after I watched the birthday greeting card video featuring a shepherd, a friend gave me a copy of the CD, "The Tree of Forgiveness," by John Prine.  She had just discovered his music and thought that I might like it, too. 

The first time I heard John Prine's voice was in the 1970s when I was in my mid-20s.  I was washing the dinner dishes while my former husband sat in the living room watching television.  My mind was far away and unsettled.  Suddenly I thought I heard Bob Dylan's voice coming from the living room.  I had been listening to Bob Dylan since I was 14 years old, and he had become my cosmic shepherd and poet.  I turned abruptly from the dishes and ran to the living room, fearing that he would be gone by the time I got there.  Instead of Bob Dylan, I saw a younger man singing.  That man turned out to be John Prine.  I don't remember what he was singing.  It didn't matter.  He had my attention.  I knew that, once again, I was hearing the voice of a man that I could trust and learn from, a voice of someone who had experienced both joy and sorrow and had a sense of humor.  I had found another member of what in the years that followed became for me a vast community of cosmic shepherds and poets, many of whom had died before I was born.  Cosmic shepherds and poets continue to be born.  Sounds like a story from a John Prine song.

Yesterday this came up on on my blog reading list:

“We could say the search for meaning – which is a holy search – becomes imperiled whenever the poet-self and the shepherd-self are out of balance. If one is only a shepherd, she will risk being pedantic and overly serious; her ego will get in the way of her true service, and she will forget that each being shares the burden of caretaking – it is not up to her alone. The image of one shepherd over many no longer holds. Similar to how it has been said that the next Buddha is the sangha, the Jewish view of redemption imagines a shepherd-collective, a community of shepherds taking turns taking care. 
If one is only a poet, without a good measure of shepherd mixed in, there is a risk the poems will not reach outward and be in dialogue; that they will not intend towards the transformative – which is where all poems must intend, even if they fail. The poet brings to the shepherd an appreciation for the multiplicity of truths, for the impossibility of fixing anything. Without the poet-self, we become ideologues. The shepherd brings to the poet a reminder that too often our search becomes self-serving, discovery of self for its own sake; that others become stepping stones for us on the road to some imagined “actualization.” Often the search for meaning unwittingly becomes a defense against whatever or whoever is quietly sitting across from us in the café, across the table, by the side of the road, the other in our life as it is.”
—Josh Boettiger
Then "What the Figtree Said," a poem by shepherd-poet, Denise Levertov, came to mind:
"... I served Christ the Poet, who spoke in images ..."
and I found what she wrote in her poem "On a Theme from Julian's Chapter XX":
"... Every sorrow and desolation he saw and sorrowed in kinship ..."  
In the past few weeks, I came across this quote:
“We are equal beings and the universe is our relations with each other.”  (Thaddeus Golas, from Love and Pain)
There is now a growing world-wide community of shepherds and poets who see and sorrow in kinship.  Some of us belong to the religious and spiritual traditions of the world.  Some of us, including me, don't.  We respect each other.  We work together.  We aren't going away any time soon.  We are a beloved community that doesn't condone the shit that went down before and is going down in 2018.  They can't crucify all of us, but they will try.  A diverse community, we will survive against all odds.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Meditation on the first day of a 70th year

"How can I be useful, of what service can I be?  There is something inside me, what can it be?
(Vincent van Gogh)

I have two younger sisters.  My youngest sister emailed this to me for my birthday:

At many points in my life, I looked at lists of possible career choices for someone of my personality type.  When I saw that one of my options was "shepherd," I laughed out loud, and said, "Yes, that's it!  I would love to be a shepherd.  I would be good at that."  Who knows?  I wouldn't be surprised if one of my female ancestors in the Middle East took care of a flock of sheep.  I know that my sister doesn't know that I thought I would make a good shepherd.  I continue to take what I have gathered from coincidence.

Much of my life prior to retirement a year ago was spent in looking for a way to use my innate skills and be useful in the world of work.  I was useful in the medical industry as a medical transcriptionist for 22 years, but I never felt that I was making full use of my abilities, and in my last 5 years as a medical transcriptionist, the financial compensation for my work dropped to close to minimum wage due to the advent of speech recognition technology and exploitation of medical transcriptionists who work from home.

Prior to beginning to work as a medical transcriptionist at age 34, I was a production worker after having dropped out of college in 1968 and vowing that I would not take a job that supported the war in Vietnam in any way.  I lacked the social skills to be a waitress.  I lacked the simple mathematical skills to make change as a salesperson.  I refused to learn to type.  I had no "marketable skills." I remember the first time I saw this photo

and thought that I would like to have a job like that.  I proceeded to apply for jobs as a production worker.  I have come a long way since that time.  I did finish college at age 32 with a degree in English Literature and Art.  It baffles me that I would have seen a future for myself in this photo of an exploited girl, and yet I ended up working as a medical transcription subcontractor with as few rights as that girl working in the textile mills of Massachusetts where my great great grandfather who came from the Black Forest in Germany worked as a weaver in the 1800s and died of suicide by hanging at age 90.

As a child and young adult, I never pictured myself as a mother.  Never.  I wanted to be a cowgirl.  I wanted to be a doctor.  I wanted to save the world from the Nazis.  I wanted to write books.  I wanted to be an artist.  I wanted to be a librarian, but that required learning a second language, and I didn't have the confidence in myself to believe I could learn a second language.

On a personal level, the child and young adult that I was wanted an "ideal" man to love me.  I wanted that beginning when I was 6 years old and watched "Lady and the Tramp." Having watched that movie since then, I find it equally baffling that "Tramp," who is nearly as distasteful to me now as someone with a similar name who is our current president, would become my childhood vision of the "ideal" man I wanted to love me.

The brief history above does much to explain why I always test as an INFP.  

Today is the first day of my 70th year.  I am grateful to have lived a full life so far, experiencing great joy and great sorrow, and am curious as to what the coming years will bring to the world we live in.  The difficulties we face have deep roots that are more and more apparent with each passing day.  I don't know how I know, but I know that we will survive against all odds.  I am grateful for the darkness and the gentle rain in the early morning on my birthday.  

My two younger sisters wished me a happy birthday via email.  It's 2018. 

A few old and new friends, near and far, sent funny, playful, loving thoughtful cards.

I keep a low profile on my birthday.  I avoid commotion.  Peace and quiet is my wish.  A walk with a friend. Talking on the phone with an old friend from college who lives on the other side of the United States.  I enjoy being surprised by the good things that happen unplanned.  I am an INFP.

I am grateful for the community of bloggers who have been a steady part of my life since December 2006.

I am grateful for all the men that have been brothers to me in the best of ways:

My mother appeared to be healthy until the day she died of a massive heart attack in 1993 at age 78.  My father was not at all healthy when my mother died, but he lived until 89 years old when he died of congestive heart failure.  Maybe I will live 8 more years.  Maybe I will live 20 more years.  I don't have a great desire to live longer than that.

I do have a desire to be useful and of service for the rest of my life, no matter how many years I have ahead of me.  That is what I want most to say on the first day of my 70th year.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Hard Rain Is Falling / Surviving Against All Odds

We’ve got to understand what is happening. Now they often call this the white backlash … It’s just a new name for an old phenomenon. The fact is that there has never been any single, solid, determined commitment on the part of the vast majority of white Americans to genuine equality for Negroes. There has always been ambivalence … In 1863 the Negro was granted freedom from physical slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation. But he was not given land to make that freedom meaningful. At the same time, our government was giving away millions of acres of land in the Midwest and the West, which meant that the nation was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor, while refusing to do it for its black peasants from Africa who were held in slavery two hundred and forty four years. And this is why Frederick Douglass would say that emancipation for the Negro was freedom to hunger, freedom to the winds and rains of heaven, freedom without roofs to cover their heads. It was freedom without bread to eat, without land to cultivate. It was freedom and famine at the same time. And it is a miracle that the Negro has survived.