Monday, January 20, 2020

Flowers and winter light for Martin Luther King Day 2020

"... On February 22, Mrs. King and I journeyed down to a city in India called Trivandrum. Then we went from Trivandrum down to a point known as Cape Comorin. This is where the mass of India ends and the vast rolling waters of the ocean have their beginning. It is one of the most beautiful parts of all the world. Three great bodies of water meet together in all of their majestic splendor: the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean.
I remember how we went out there and looked at the big old rocks, a sight that was truly incredible, out into the waters, out into the ocean. Seated on a huge rock that slightly protruded into the ocean, we were enthralled by the vastness of the ocean and its terrifying immensities. We looked at the waves of those great bodies of water as they unfolded in almost rhythmic suspension. As the waves crashed against the base of the rock on which we were seated, an oceanic music brought sweetness to the ear. To the west we saw the magnificent sun, a red cosmic ball of fire, appear to sink into the very ocean itself. Just as it was almost lost from sight, Coretta touched me and said, "Look, Martin, isn't that beautiful!" I looked around and saw the moon, another ball of scintillating beauty. As the sun appeared to be sinking into the ocean, the moon appeared to be rising from the ocean. When the sun finally passed completely beyond sight, darkness engulfed the earth, but in the east the radiant light of the rising moon shone supreme ..."
For those who expressed interest in David Riley's blog last February, a friend of his left a comment today letting us know that The Endless Further, which was not accessible after David's death, is now available,

A peaceful moment on a snowy day last week, with Oboe sleeping in her fleece bed:

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

"... threatening my baby, unborn and unnamed ..."

Paper Wings- WIlhelmina Frankzerda (guitar) and Emily Mann (fiddle) perform "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
About the dark times.
-- Bertolt Brecht

Monday, January 6, 2020

Forever / Leonard said so

"... there are children in the morning / They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever ..." 

(Leonard Cohen)

This morning when I got up at 4 a.m., thinking of the children of the world near and far, I saw that the Abutilon bud I had been watching this past week had opened during the night. 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Voices from Oakland, California / The Audacity of Hope in MMXX

The interview at the Oakland Public Library is well worth spending time with.  It took me the good part of this last week to hear all of it.  I recommend the whole interview, if you have time, along with Tommy Orange's book which ends with two pages of acknowledgments ending with:

"The Native community in Oakland.  My living Cheyenne relatives, and my ancestors who made it through unimaginable hardship, who prayed hard for us next ones here now, doing our best to pray and work hard for those to come."

While working on this post, I stopped to listen to this bookstore reading and discussion of There There in Washington, D.C., in 2018:

From There There:

Part I


In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
About the dark times.
-- Bertolt Brecht

Part III


People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.
-- James Baldwin

"Tony remembers something his grandma said to him when she was teaching him how to dance.  You have to dance like birds sing in the morning," she said, and showed him how light she could be on her feet.  She bounced and her toes pointed in just the right way.  Dancer's feet.  Dancer's gravity." (p. 290)


"Welcome to a brilliant and generous artist who has already enlarged the landscape of American fiction.  There There is a comic vision haunted by profound sadness.  Tommy Orange is a new writer with an old heart." (Louise Erdrich)

"... and the sequel has everything to do with how to come back from something that we can't even all agree on having happened ..." (Tommy Orange, from the last minutes of the Oakland Public Library interview)

Friday, December 27, 2019

Gracias a la vida in the last few days of 2019

Violeta Parra

Mercedes Sosa

As far as I can foresee, my traveling days are over.  Most of my travels were solo journeys by car between the northwest corner of Western Washington and Northern California.  I've driven as far north as 100 Mile House in British Columbia (a 6-hour drive from Bellingham) and ridden in a car as far south as Nogales, Mexico.  I've been as far east as the coast of Maine in a car and as far west as Oahu, Hawaii, by plane.  It is unlikely that I will ever travel to a country where Spanish is the official language, but with the growing population of Spanish-speaking people living in Whatcom County, I have already had opportunities to practice my limited Spanish.  Part of my motivation to learn Spanish comes from knowing how many Spanish-speaking people are currently learning to speak English under difficult conditions, in order to survive and hopefully thrive in the United States. 

Gracias a la Vida!
Thanks to life, which has given me so muchGracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto

He gave me two stars that when I open themMe dio dos luceros que cuando los abro

Perfect I distinguish black from whitePerfecto distingo lo negro del blanco

And in the high sky its starry backgroundY en el alto cielo su fondo estrellado

And in the crowds the man that I loveY en las multitudes el hombre que yo amo
Thanks to life, which has given me so muchGracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto

I have heard that in all its widthMe ha dado el oído que en todo su ancho

Every night and dayCada noche y días

Crickets and canaries, hammers, turbinesGrillos y canarios, martillos, turbinas

Barks, showersLadridos, chubascos

And the voice so tender of my well lovedY la voz tan tierna de mi bien amado
Thanks to life, which has given me so muchGracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto

He has given me the sound and the alphabetMe ha dado el sonido y el abecedario

With him the words that I think and declareCon el las palabras que pienso y declaro

Mother, friend, brother and light shiningMadre, amigo, hermano y luz alumbrando

The soul path that I am lovingLa ruta del alma del que estoy amando
Thanks to life, which has given me so muchGracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto

It has given me the march of my tired feetMe ha dado la marcha de mis pies cansados

With them I walked cities and puddlesCon ellos anduve ciudades y charcos

Beaches and deserts, mountains and plainsPlayas y desiertos, montañas y llanos

And your house, your street and your yardY la casa tuya, tu calle y tu patio
Thanks to life, which has given me so muchGracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto

He gave me the heart that waves his frameMe dio el corazón que agita su marco

When I look at the fruit of the human brainCuando miro el fruto del cerebro humano

When I look at the good so far from the badCuando miro el bueno tan lejos del malo

When I look at the bottom of your clear eyesCuando miro el fondo de tus ojos claros
Thanks to life, which has given me so muchGracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto

It has given me laughter and it has given me tearsMe ha dado la risa y me ha dado el llanto

Thus I distinguish joy from brokennessAsí yo distingo dicha de quebranto

The two materials that make up my songLos dos materiales que forman mi canto

And the song of you that is the same songY el canto de ustedes que es el mismo canto

And everyone's song that is my own songY el canto de todos que es mi propio canto
Thanks to life
Gracias a la vida

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Violeta Parra Sandoval
Gracias a la Vida lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

Friday, December 20, 2019

As December 21, 2019 approaches / "Remembering the Deer Mother"

Remembering The Deer Mother of Winter Solstice from Danielle Prohom Olson on Vimeo.

Thanks to Zhoen.

By the way, my blog was 13 years old on December 8.  I'm still immersed in my Spanish studies and not posting much lately but experiencing much gratitude for old and new blog friends and doing my best to keep up with your blogs.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

The day the Buddha sat down

Maybe some of you have seen this already.  It just came to my attention yesterday.

Today while beginning my December tradition of reading a chapter a day of A Winter Walk, I saw that some December since 2006 (when the book was published), I had made a note about Bodhi Day, which comes on December 8.

I had written:

The day the Buddha sat down.  He was 29.

On first watching the video and not paying close attention, I didn't realize immediately that the walking person was a young woman.  I was struck by what I thought was the vulnerability of a very delicate young white man whose physical presence seemed to have little to do with the voice of an edgy elderly Jewish/Buddhist man as his death approached.  Now that I know that the walking person is a young woman, everything shifts.

This November was the month when I finally cried long and hard and felt relief.

Here is what November looked like in Bellingham, Washington, this year:

Another yearly tradition is purchasing a Nikki McClure calendar.  I bought my 2020 calendar as soon as it was available.  The November page for 2019 celebrates a quiet family moment, and it gave me a sense of peace each time I looked at it.  Maybe I will give it a permanent place on the wall next to my drawing table when January 2020 arrives.

It was only on a second viewing of "Happens To The Heart" that I saw that the sitting figure rose into the air.  Too much like Mary's Assumption.  Oh well.  I experienced that rising with a sinking feeling. I wonder what Leonard Cohen would have thought of that image accompanying the end of his haunting song.

Then I remembered William Blake's words:

You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.

And this:

If you don't realize the source, 
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from, 
you naturally become tolerant, 
disinterested, amused, 
kindhearted as a grandmother, 
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, 
you can deal with whatever life brings you, 
and when death comes, you are ready.” 

 Tao Te-Ching

Saturday, November 16, 2019


Revisited in the Davidson County Sheriff's Office jail in Nashville, TN.

And sung by women:

Early version: