Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Instead of drawing this morning and yesterday morning, I spent the set-aside time in re-orienting myself to my inkle loom and "dressing" the loom in preparation for weaving a 2" wide belt that will be black and red. I'm not sure how long the belt will be but am guessing that it will be about 50" long, including fringe.

Below Oboe is looking up at the inkle belts I wove last summer.

"The subject means little. The arrangement, the design,
colour, shape, depth, light, space, mood, movement, balance,
not one or all of these fills the bill. There is something
additional, a breath that draws your breath into its breathing,
a heartbeat that pounds on yours, a recognition of the oneness
of all things." Emily Carr (1871-1945)

UPDATE: My old friend from California no longer needs a tracheostomy to breathe after having had a stroke in September. Thanks to all who have kept him in your prayers and kind hearts. He says he still has a way to go before he can return to his home but has his heart set in a homeward direction once he can swallow and walk by himself.

Monday, January 28, 2008


It's that time of year. Temperature in the low 30s during the day.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

Corita Kent (1918-1986)

Sunday, January 27, 2008


'"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

-- Martha Graham

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Melissa is healing. Cora is a healer. B.D. as well. Ongoing healing for all.

Click to be linked to: Henri Nouwen, Annie Dillard, Jacob Needleman and Pema Chodron are interesting to read at the same time.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Barack Obama Speaks at Dr. King's Church

On the day before the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Senator Barack Obama delivered a speech to the congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

This takes 34 minutes to watch. Watch the faces of the listeners, too.

The minister who made the remarks before Barack Obama spoke to the congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church said, "Regardless of whether you are Democrat, Republican or an Independent, when you think about the long history of America, Barack Obama makes us proud. All Americans. All Americans."

These words stand out for me:

"And on the eve of the bus boycotts in Montgomery, at a time when many were still doubtful about the possibilities of change, a time when those in the black community mistrusted themselves, and at times mistrusted each other, King inspired with words not of anger, but of an urgency that still speaks to us today: "Unity is the great need of the hour" is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome.

Bill Clinton was the first person I voted for who was elected President. I didn't vote in the election when Jimmy Carter was elected. My hope is that Barack Obama is the second person I vote for who is elected President. I've been watching him for quite a while now and have read his books. Today I am no longer undecided.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


"May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door.”
(Irish Blessing)

Image drawn from view from my window at 4 a.m. using iBookG4 trackpad in Appleworks6 Painting function. Click on image for best view.

Update: See poem by Larry Levis at Chatoyance.

More updates: See dale's poem and walk along with
solitary walker on his pilgrimage.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.

Love is the most durable power in the world.

("Calendar Series: 34th Month / Evolution of Forgiveness," painted in gouache and watercolor on paper by Old Girl Of The North Country in 1988)

Friday, January 18, 2008


Today while looking for a quote to go with this drawing, I found this from last January. I had been asked to write five things that I know are true:

"You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough."
(William Blake)

If you take a long walk, you will feel better.

It's okay to be angry as long as you don't hurt anyone, including yourself.

There is no end to love.

While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction and there's nothing you can do about it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Beginning sometime in December or late November, I have been reading a recent biography of Albert Einstein, written by Walter Isaacson. I had previously seen the book in a bookstore and picked it up and glanced through it, drawn by the photo of Einstein on the cover. Later, a copy of the book showed up at a free lending library in my community. I took the book home, thinking that I would read it before I started school in January. Having only a primitive understanding of physics and mathematics, the extensive sections involving those disciplines are excruciatingly slow reading indeed. I am reading them anyway in hopes of learning something. I'm not recommending spending money on this biography but the book does have its moments.

Last night I skipped ahead, looking for a photograph of Elsa Einstein and found this at the beginning of the chapter titled "Einstein's God."

"At this point the host tried to silence him by invoking the fact that even Einstein harbored religious beliefs.

"It isn't possible!" the skeptical guest said, turning to Einstein to ask if he was, in fact, religious.

"Yes, you can call it that," Einstein replied calmly. "Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious."

(the photo is of a little "collage" which has rested at the side of my refrigerator, next to my stove, for the past 4-1/2 years.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


" . . . even a little of true nonviolence acts in a silent, subtle, unseen way and leavens the whole society." (Mahatma Gandhi)

It was on DECEMBER 1, 1955, that Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the NAACP, refused to give up her seat at the front of a bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. On JANUARY 27, 1956, Martin Luther King, Jr, a 27-year-old Baptist minister, one of the leaders of the ensuing Montgomery Bus Boycott, had this experience:

"I was ready to give up. With my cup of coffee sitting untouched before me, I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward. In this state of exhaustion, when my courage had all but gone, I decided to take my problem to God. With my head in my hands, I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud.

The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory. "I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I've come to the point where I can't face it alone."

At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced God before. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: "Stand up for justice, stand up for truth; and God will be at your side forever." Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything."

(from Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story)

Martin Luther King, Jr, would have been 79 years old today. Imagine.

A Civil Rights Timeline

Monday, January 14, 2008


A few mornings ago, after sunrise, I went out on my porch and noticed that the daffodil leaves in the planter on my porch are beginning to show! Every January I am surprised once again when that happens.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


See wood s lot:

The light that was shadowed then
Was seen to be our lives,
Everything about us that love might wish to examine,
Then put away for a certain length of time, until
The whole is to be reviewed, and we turned toward each other.
The way we had come was all we could see
And it crept up on us, embarrassed
That there is so much to tell now, really now.
—"As We Know"

Yesterday I watched the DVD "Amandla! a Revolution in Four-Part Harmony." Gave me much to think about life during wartime and afterward.

Yesterday a letter came from my friend who is recovering from a stroke at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California. It was handwritten by his nurse and said that he is getting better everyday, that he is almost able to swallow again, that he is feeling good, that he is eager to go home, that the doctors say he can go home when he is able to walk by himself and eat.

He signed the letter. There is something about handwriting that is as recognizable as a voice or a face.

Thanks to all who have been sending prayers and encouraging thoughts in his direction!

Saturday, January 12, 2008


See African Healing Dance video

My ability to draw and read was praised early in my life. For that I am extremely grateful.

When I was a very young child, I took a tap-dancing lesson. I remember how hard I practiced the routine at home. When I went back to the class, the teacher scolded me saying, "Well, it's obvious that this girl didn't practice our lesson."

When I was a child in grade school, I was given a test along with my schoolmates in order to assess my musical ability. I scored so low that, while other children were given instruments to play, I was given wooden rhythm sticks along with a few other low-scoring children, after which it was pointed out to me that was I unable to "keep a rhythm."

Around the same time, I tried out for the "Glee Club." Along with two other students, I was not allowed to sing in the "Glee Club." A few years later, I tried out again for a school singing group and was rejected.

In high school, during a folk dance class, the teacher said to me in exasperation, "I have never seen such an uncoordinated clod!"

When I was 18 years old and in college, I took a class called "Introduction To Music." I LOVED the class and spent hours in the music lab listening and learning. From knowing nothing at all about music, I went to knowing something about music but it was only enough to earn me a "D" grade in the class. After receiving the "D," I went to talk with the professor, explaining that I had entered the class knowing absolutely nothing about music, had loved the class and had learned a tremendous amount about music. I asked if he would reconsider the "D" grade. He said, "No. As far as I am concerned, you learned a "D" amount about music."

For most of my life, I have shied away from dancing, singing or playing musical instruments in front of other people, although I have enjoyed all three in solitude. I continue to enjoy dancing with the video, "African Healing Dance." Sometime around 2000, I bought a Suzuki keyboard and some piano instruction books for children and taught myself to play in a way that brings me much happiness.

I wonder how many people were discouraged from drawing, in the way I was discouraged from dancing, singing and playing a musical instrument.

I was not a child who had the self-esteem to rebel against being told that I would never be "good enough" in one way or another. It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I began to rebel against my internalized messages that, with a few exceptions, I wasn't "good enough."

The old internalized "not good enough" messages are coming up as I experience my first days back in college at age 58. This time I am rebelling against those messages.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The term “Range of Light” was coined in the following passage by John Muir. “After ten years spent in the heart of it, rejoicing and wondering, bathing in its glorious floods of light, seeing the sunbursts of morning among its icy peaks, the noonday radiance on the trees and rocks and snow, the flush of alpenglow, and a thousand dashing waterfalls with their marvelous abundance of irised spray, it still seems to above all others the Range of Light.”

Am in a quiet mood this morning, thinking about my friend who is recovering from a stroke, remembering that my friend is the one who introduced me to the writing of John Muir in 1970, remembering our trip to the gates of Yosemite on the first day of October in 2001, remembering that day and feeling grateful to all who have sent kind thoughts and prayers to my friend who is presently in the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California. As I mentioned before, he is unable to speak but is able to write. I have not heard from him yet. I hope to talk with a chaplain at the VA Hospital this morning.

When I look at this photo, John Muir's face reminds me of my friend's face when we were still in our 30s. I remember that time we were facing each other while sitting in rocking chairs on the deck of a house overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a house where he was doing carpentry work. We talked about art and our separate but connected lives.

On Tuesday morning, I made a decision to drop the Anatomy and Physiology course I had started and to add an Art History class, to let go of the idea of becoming a Massage Therapist and commit to finding a way to make a living using my natural inclination toward art. The Art History class is decidedly more demanding than the Anatomy and Physiology class, but I know I made a good decision to study 15th to 18th Century Art in the context of a Visual Communications program that will lead me to being able to earn a living in the field of graphic design in the years before I am able to retire.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


"There is
another world,
but it is in this one."
-- W. B. Yeats

"There is another world, but it is in this one."
—W. B. Yeats


"There is
another world,
but it is in this one."
-- Paul Eluard

“There is another world and it is in this one,” Paul Éluard wrote.

I like this quote. Does anyone know for sure whose words these are?

Then there is:

Oh, the gentlemen are talking and the midnight moon is on the riverside,
They're drinking up and walking and it is time for me to slide.
I live in ANOTHER WORLD where life and death are memorized,
Where the earth is strung with lovers' pearls and all I see are dark eyes.

A cock is crowing far away and another soldier's deep in prayer,
Some mother's child has gone astray, she can't find him anywhere.
But I can hear another drum beating for the dead that rise,
Whom nature's beast fears as they come and all I see are dark eyes.

They tell me to be discreet for all intended purposes,
They tell me revenge is sweet and from where they stand, I'm sure it is.
But I feel nothing for their game where beauty goes unrecognized,
All I feel is heat and flame and all I see are dark eyes.

Oh, the French girl, she's in paradise and a drunken man is at the wheel,
Hunger pays a heavy price to the falling gods of speed and steel.
Oh, time is short and the days are sweet and passion rules the arrow that flies,
A million faces at my feet but all I see are dark eyes.

Copyright © 1985 Special Rider Music

(1-hour drawing by Old Girl Of The North Country using Appleworks6 "Painting" and iBookG4 trackpad. Click on drawing for image with better resolution. I still haven't figured out why the image degrades when I save it)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


If dogs run free, then why not we
Across the swooping plain?
My ears hear a symphony
Of two mules, trains and rain.
The best is always yet to come,
That's what they explain to me.
Just do your thing, you'll be king,
If dogs run free.

If dogs run free, why not me
Across the swamp of time?
My mind weaves a symphony
And tapestry of rhyme.
Oh, winds which rush my tale to thee
So it may flow and be,
To each his own, it's all unknown,
If dogs run free.

If dogs run free, then what must be,
Must be, and that is all.
True love can make a blade of grass
Stand up straight and tall.
In harmony with the cosmic sea,
True love needs no company,
It can cure the soul, it can make it whole,
If dogs run free.

Copyright © 1970 Big Sky Music

My sister emailed me some photos of Koko, her female Catahoula Hound / Black Lab. Yesterday I tried drawing Koko using the Appleworks "Painting" program. Today I drew on paper with a 6B pencil. Koko has beautiful and complex black, white and grey markings. She is more kind than my drawings are able to show. I don't remember what I listened to while drawing yesterday, but today I listened to a 20-minute CD of contemplative music, loaned to me yesterday, which I played twice while drawing. As I listened and drew, my mind became more quiet than usual.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Happy Birthday!

Today is my only nephew's birthday. I haven't seen him since the day after my father died in 2003. My nephew was born on the day that in Christian tradition is called Epiphany. My nephew shares his birthday with Alan Watts, Carl Sandburg and Khalil Gibran. He is a musician, a singer, a baseball player and a self-described "computer geek" whose favorite color is green.

The quote from my Zen Calendar today is:

"God made the senses turn outwards, man therefore looks outwards, not into himself. But occasionally a daring soul, desiring immortality, has looked back and found himself."
-- The Upanishads

My nephew was born around noon on this day in January. When I received the news of his birth, I drove to Seattle where I stayed until late in the evening after everyone else had gone home. At that time, I was working as a medical transcriptionist on the evening shift and didn't go to sleep until the early morning hours. As my sister slept, I held my beloved sleeping newborn nephew as I sat in a chair and looked out the window at the full moon and stars shining on a snow-covered Seattle. I remember driving back to Bellingham after midnight in full moonlight and starlight that was almost like daylight because of the snow-covered landscape, feeling awe and love in the wake of my nephew's birth.

My wish for him today comes from the words of Bob Dylan. May my nephew grow up to always see the lights surrounding him:

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

(Today's drawing, "Child with Gift," was done in 2005 on my iBookG4 using the Appleworks6 "Painting" program)

I can't find the quote by Sherman Alexie which I'm looking for and which I wanted to place alongside the photo below, but I recall reading somewhere that he said something to the effect that he was just as moved by the story of Mary and Jesus as he was moved by the stories told by his ancestors.

I did find an interview where Sherman Alexie says:

The concept of forgiveness—not just forgiving others, but forgiving oneself—seems really central to this movie. How did the concept of forgiveness shape the story?

It’s funny, I don’t get talked about much in these terms, but I’m very Catholic: grew up Catholic, Catholic father, still am vaguely Catholic (I’m not very good at it anymore). So I think Catholicism and forgiveness and that aspect of Christianity is a really strong influence on me. And then once you place Catholicism in the context of me being tribal and the ways in which the church horrendously oppressed Indians, there is a serious amount of guilt. So, I think it’s a combination of guilt and irony and contradiction and forgiveness that mix up together and become a dominant theme in everything I do… And I didn’t call it Catholic in the movie, but I think it very much is. Seymour’s conflict is very religious and very spiritual, and that’s the way I approached it. Evan [Adams] and I talked about that very much: that, in some ways, [Seymour]’s a pilgrim.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Thanks so much to everyone who has left comments in the last few days. My heart and mind are occupied with my friend, Richard, who is in the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California, as I maneuver my way through my first days back at school since 1984. I am finding it difficult to focus on studying but will be studying the Anatomy and Physiology text and workbook later today.

Yesterday, before my first class at 8 a.m., I drew "Oboe and Starry Night" on my iBookG4 using the Appleworks6 Painting program and the keyboard trackpad. This morning I spent my yoga drawing time trying to create a customized palette for "painting" in Appleworks6. I learned some useful things about making custom palettes but after saving the palette I had designed, I was unable to open the file. Not to worry. I'll give it another try. I enjoyed the process.

This morning I don't have classes but am planning to call the Palo Alto VA hospital pastoral care office to talk with a chaplain (to help center me in my heart) and then leave another message at the nursing station for my friend who is unable to speak after having a stroke. Then I will give his sister a call. Yesterday I sent him a care package with a card. Not sure what I can do from here except continue to love him and wait for a message from him. My family and friends, near and far, have been helpful during this time.

When my friend was at the VA hospital in the past, I learned that there are a variety of chaplains, including a Zen Buddhist chaplain on call. I didn't think to ask if there was a Taoist chaplain, but this time I think that might be the one I would like to talk with. During the time my friend had been given a terminal diagnosis of lung cancer in 2001, he appreciated that a friend gave him a medallion which was the Yin/Yang symbol with a Christian cross superimposed on it. If there were a medallion like the "COEXIST" bumper sticker that I see occasionally, that's the one I would want because it incorporates symbols from many spiritual traditions, and if there were a symbol for atheists and agnostics, I'd like that on the medallion, too.

In the past, I talked with a Protestant chaplain from the VA who happened to be a woman and who just happened to be there when I called and who was kind, compassionate, open-minded and couldn't have been more helpful to me at that time.

This morning, while trying to create a customized paint palette and while writing this post, I have been listening to "All Things Must Pass". That was Richard's Christmas present to me in 1970, seventeen days after he had returned from Da Nang, Vietnam, arriving at San Francisco Airport at 2 o'clock in the morning. He had heard the album in Vietnam and had liked the song "My Sweet Lord," thinking that George Harrison was singing "my sweet Laura." As I remember, I gave him some things I had made while he was in Vietnam. Richard liked the picture on the cover of the boxed double album which showed George Harrison sitting on a wooden stool, looking intently into the camera, surrounded by smiling dwarf or elf or leprechaun lawn ornaments, in the midst of a vast lawn with trees at the edge.

That morning we drove from Redwood City over to Half Moon Bay where his family lived on a hill with a view of the ocean. At that time, six of his nine siblings were still living at home. I remember the houseful of people and the Christmas tree . . .

See what I mean about having trouble focusing on the present? I have to keep reeling myself back to the present. As Janis Joplin said, it's all the same day. Seamless. Vast. George Harrison's songs on "All Things Must Pass" speak to me today in a very different way from the way they spoke to me in 1970. I wonder how many young men came home from the war this December. I don't think that coming home from war has changed throughout history.

I am finding that writing, drawing, doing yoga are helpful when I am feeling unsure of what to do next.

Okay. My question for myself is, "What do I need to do NOW?"

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Today at 8 a.m. I will be in a college classroom again, studying Anatomy and Physiology, after having not been in an academic setting since 1984 when I enrolled at the same community college so I could take classes to become a medical transcriptionist after having earned a B.A. in English Literature with a Minor in Art and finding myself unemployable in the small town where I still live. I don't have a clear idea of what my goal is this time. Despite my desire to be focused, I'm not. I need to go forward in some tangible way, even though each time I go forward I encounter massive ambivalence.

Registering as a community college student has resulted in a surprising renewed energy for drawing and for my yoga practice, rather than enthusiasm for being a student again. This quarter there were no art classes that fit my schedule. I'm not sure that I even want to take art classes. I have signed up for a yoga class at the yoga school where I first learned yoga in the late 1970s.

"A Question For The Teacher" was "drawn" using the trackpad on my iBookG4 in 2005, during the time I worked as a medical transcriptionist in my home, a time when I didn't have much time for artwork. I like the way that it looks like a woodcut or a linocut.

I still have lots of questions. If I think of being a student in a college classroom as a form of yoga practice, I'll probably be okay. I need to find a way of making a living.

"How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?"
-- Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Fleeting moments of pink light before dawn on a grey New Year's Day in the far northwest corner of Washington State:

"Most of us primarily find the sacred within the circle of those we love and find holy ground in our own backyard. Remember the Buddhist monks who go on a three-month retreat during the rainy season? It must be dramatic for them when the retreat ends. For a long time, they have been confined to a temple, with strict instructions to destroy no new life. They carefully watch where they put their feet lest they trample a sprout of grass pushing through the cold earth. Then comes the day the retreat ends and they leave. They are given new robes. At the gate they take their final step out of the temple and their first step into a sunny meadow. It is the same step.

In our own back yards, the leaves may be gone and the tree limbs bare. But tiny new buds are beginning to swell. A time will come soon to step between two seasons. Just as with the monks, it is one step. From holy ground to holy ground.

(Copyright 2006, Tolbert McCarroll, A WINTER WALK, page 150)

Oboe resting on New Year's Day:

Self-portrait on New Year's Day (semi-contour drawing):

Late yesterday I received news that someone dear to me for the last 42 years is recovering from a stroke in the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California. His sister said that he is unable to speak because of a tracheostomy but can write. I left a message for him with his nurse at the VA Hospital. Anyone who knows me well or has been reading my blog knows him. We were born during the same 24 hours in 1949 and have been in and out of each other's lives since we were 17 years old. Please send lovingkindness his way. Thanks so much.

"In recent years Kwanzaa, a week-long cultural festival for African-Americans, has been gaining in popularity. This holiday came out of the frustrations, and the violence, of the black power movements in the 1960s, which was one, often controversial, facet of America's continuing struggle for racial equality and justice. At first, Kwanzaa was a black alternative to Christmas. But it has evolved to become a cultural, rather a religious or anti-religious event. This has allowed Christians, who are an important part of the African-American community, to adopt it. It is now estimated that about thirty million people worldwide celebrate this festival. One of Kwanzaa's main attractions for African-American parents is to move beyond the commercial, gift-oriented atmosphere of Christmas and talk about values. The festival goes on for seven nights, and the main event is the evening meal where African clothing is often worn and dances, songs, and symbols are used in an elaborate ritual. Each night one of seven principles is the theme. These are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith."

(Copyright 2006, Tolbert McCarroll, A WINTER WALK, pages 151-152)

January 1 is the 7th night of Kwanzaa. The principle for tonight is Imani, which means "faith."

Love and Light to all in the New Year!