Sunday, February 25, 2024

Remembering Wilma Pearl Mankiller, listening to sounds before late February sunrise, welcoming Harpo the Nomad who found a home with me on Valentine's Day 2024

Well worth your time if you haven't already seen this 57-minute film which was brought to my attention recently.  Our public library had a copy that I just finished watching this morning before sunrise.


I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves. 


I learned a long time ago that I can't control the challenges the creator sends my way, but I can control the way I think about them and deal with them. 
(Wilma Mankiller)


During the long healing process, I fell back on my Cherokee ways and adopted what our elders call "a Cherokee approach" to life. They say it is "being of good mind." That means one has to think positively, to take what is handed out and turn it into a better path.
(Wilma Mankiller)



Saturday, February 17, 2024

Zora Neale Hurston Revisited

"The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky."

(from Their Eyes Were Watching God)

"She jumped at the sun."

(from the narration of the excellent PBS documentary)

"Woman Looking Up," from 1984, was inspired by having read one of Zora Neale Hurston's books. I'm grateful to have read Their Eyes Were Watching God in the 1980s at a time when I needed a perspective on life that could sustain me for years to come and then to be reacquainted with Zora Neale Hurston through this documentary.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

All the hearts

Thank you to Beth for bring this to my attention on Tumblr.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

New Morning by the Cosmic Sea

"New Morning" was released a few months before R returned from Vietnam in early December 1970.  As with all Bob Dylan albums, I listened to it again and again.  In those days, I was listening to albums on my turntable and could put albums on continuous repeat for hours on end.  After R died in 2008, something astonishing happened.  I wrote about it on my blog a month and a day after R died:

Last week, I finally was able to go to the photo lab in downtown Bellingham so I could order some prints of my old friend and his art work to send to his sister. As I was standing at the counter trying to explain my project, I heard Bob Dylan singing. I stopped talking to listen to him sing. When I tried to talk again, I couldn't because I started crying. The young woman clerk was playing Bob Dylan's album, "New Morning," which is what I listened while my old friend was in Vietnam and what we listened to during the short time we lived together in 1971. The clerk was playing the ALBUM (!) on a turntable and handed the album cover to me. More than a coincidence. How else could that happen? "New Morning" is a great album. Ends with a beautiful song to God called "Father of Night." The song that made me start to cry is "If Not For You."

Now it's "New Morning In The North Country."

The first time I heard the words "cosmic sea" was in the song "If Dogs Run Free" on that album.  This early morning, the words "cosmic sea" came to me again,  and then I remembered the poem Patti Smith wrote in response to "If Dogs Run Free" and was overjoyed to find this:

have you seen
dylan's dog
it got wings
it can fly
when it lands like a clown
he's the only 
thing allowed
to look dylan in the eye
(from Patti Smith's poem)

"Down the street the dogs are barking and the day is a-getting dark ..."
(lyrics from Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings")


It's 3 a.m. here.  After 6 hours of sleep, I woke up just before midnight and have been awake since then.  It's been a fruitful time.  The first day of the Year of the Dragon.  My mother was born in 1916, a Year of the Dragon.  She made a large stained-glass window of a dragon that looked very much like the dragon on the Google doodle for today.  After my mother died, her stained-glass dragon was given to a Chinese woman friend of hers. 

Friday, February 9, 2024

"Sow Good Seeds"


This is where I found that quote and here is more of what I read today.

Planting trees early in spring, 
we make a place for birds to sing 
in time to come. How do we know? 
They are singing here now. 
There is no other guarantee 
that singing will ever be.

(Wendell Berry, from "For The Future")


This song that came to mind:

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Dance of joy before and after dreams


Years ago I began having a recurring dream that I was away from home but not in any danger.  Usually I was alone but not always.   As it began to get dark, I started to return home.  Always I would eventually realize that it was impossible to get home before dark.  Sometimes home was a thousand miles aways.  Sometimes it was only a few blocks away, but there were insurmountable obstacles between me and home.  Unsettling as this was, I began to be philosophical and accept the truth.

A few nights ago that dream came to me again:

This time I was not all that far from home, just a few miles east of my home at the west end of Lake Whatcom, the 14-mile-long lake that is just a few minutes walk away. 

(A few afternoons ago, looking east from my porch towards Lake Whatcom and the mountains beyond)

 I was walking west in a counter-clockwise direction toward home.  After some time passed, I was surprised to see that the landscape no longer looked familiar.  It appeared that I was in Eastern Washington rather than Western Washington.  I love the landscape in Eastern Washington and although I was surprised, I wasn't disturbed.  Still, it was getting late in the day and I realized how far from home I was. 

Unlike what I had been seeing in Western Washington, I saw no trees anywhere.  I saw beautiful bare hills and blue sky.  Looking out on what I still considered to be Lake Whatcom, I wondered if there were a bridge ahead where I could cross and get back to Western Washington, which now was east of where I had walked.

 Ahead of me, a small resort appeared in the distance, set on a hillside.  There weren't many people there, but I felt sure that someone would be able to help me find my way home again.  Each person I spoke with was kind but unable to guide me back to Western Washington before dark.  

Once again I felt philosophical, accepting that I would not able to get home before night.  I seemed to be in a safe place with safe people.  As I walked down the hillside toward the lake, I saw a woman I didn't know who was walking up the hill.  As she approached, she smiled and said, "Hi Amanda."  

I was startled because I couldn't imagine how she could know my name and then I realized I was dreaming.

I knew I would wake up and be home.


Last night before I went to bed I found the video of the two people dancing.  It brought me joy.  My night was filled with dreams.  I slept much longer than usual.  The only dream I remember is the last one.  In that dream, it was night and I was in safe place with safe people when I was told that someone had come in the night looking for me and that she was out on the porch waiting to talk with me.  This is a person who shouldn't be driving at all, much less driving at night.  This is a person with compromised judgment due to early dementia.  This is a person I care about and feel concerned for but feel sadly inadequate in terms of being able to help her.  I knew I would have to gently and respectfully confront her about her driving and let her know once again that my ability to help her is limited.  

Coincidentally, she was once a dancer.  This is my vision for her:


Wednesday, January 31, 2024

500 little redwood trees

(Sister Julie of Starcross Community)


Van Morrison lyrics:

Oh redwood tree
Please let us under
When we were young we used to go
Under the redwood tree
And it smells like rain
Maybe even thunder
Won't you keep us from all harm
Wonderful redwood tree

From Wiki:

In April 1971 Morrison and his family moved to Marin County, California, before he recorded his previous album, Tupelo Honey.  Their new home was on the side of a hill in rural countryside close to San Francisco, with redwood trees nearby.

"Redwood Tree" is a song of reconciliation, which seems to graft Van's Belfast childhood onto California, where redwoods actually grow, "Keep us from all harm", an invocation to the spirit of the ancient wood.
(Brian Hinton)


Could that song have inspired the creation of the largest redwood forest outside of the United States"


Having grown up in the company of redwood trees, not all that far south of where Van Morrison and his family lived in 1971, I'm delighted to learn that Van Morrison, too, experienced redwood trees as protectors.  My request to my family and friends is that my ashes be placed at the base of a local coast redwood tree, one of very few in this part of the world and dear to me.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Refuge / Shelter

Have been feeling edgy.  The weather outside has not been good for walking.  My inner weather has not been good for much that usually is a positive part of my daily experience.  The weather of the world is troubling.  

When I woke up this morning, I felt lost.  I felt that I needed help to meet the day.  I asked for help.  Something got me out of bed and into my living room where I looked at my drawing table and knew what to do.  I finished Tiny Mandala #38, started working on Tiny Mandala #39 and then looked around my place of refuge, my shelter from the storm.  Not alone.  Never alone.  In good company.  From time out of mind.


it is in the shelter of each other that the people live

ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Mandalas meet Ultra Deep Field

That's Tiny Mandala #38 of 53 in progress

Someone left a wonderful book on the free bookshelf in the mailroom of the condominium complex where I live.  That's where I learned about the Ultra Deep Field.  

I'm also reading Killers of the Flower Moon (by David Grann, from the public library), The Varieties of Religious Experience (by William James), God Talks with Arjuna:  The Bhagavada Gita (by Paramahansa Yogananda, indirectly recommended by George Harrison), The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World (by Lewis Hyde),  Opening to You:  Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms (by Norman Fischer)

Just learned about Werner Herzog's memoir, Every Man for Himself and God Against Alland have that on hold at the public library.  I'm #12 in line.  That will give me time to finish the other books.

Doing my best to keep my balance in these troubled times that seem to have no beginning and no end, not forgetting the joy which has no beginning and no end.

(Make sure to turn on sound.  I almost didn't)

Sunday, January 21, 2024

"... now you will uncode all landscapes ..."

Thank you to Beth for posting this poem on her Tumblr
page some time ago. I've meant to post it ever since.