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?"


Anonymous said...

I send om manis and prayers his way, and yours. tarakuanyin

Loren said...


My last purchase from iTunes included Harrison's All Things Must Pass, which I was attracted to by the picture of George sitting among the elfs, that and my fondness for "My Sweet Lord" and "If Not for You."

Of course, it quickly reminded me why John Lennon was by far my favorite Beatle.

I don't do those prayer things, but your both in my prayers.

The Dream said...

Sorry to read about your friend, Am. Tough stuff. Prayers and good vibes heading your way - and his.

I dig this piece of art. Nice effect!

Funny about "My Sweet, Laura."

robin andrea said...

I always loved the cover of All Things Must Pass. I'm not even sure why.

Best wishes to your friend Richard.

Anonymous said...

the serenity of cat and starry night suggest you are looking exactly where you need to look in these tough times. good thoughts to you in difficult times. kjm

Anonymous said...

I feel for you Am, in this hard time. I don't know how to give advice, I try not to, but it sounds like you're doing all you can, being a good friend to a good friend.
I would, however add, keep drawing; it always helps, for me anyway, and you're doing great. I can feel Oboe purring in this one.
Good :-)

Dale said...

Am -- my God, what a gorgeous, amazing site here. I shall come back and spend hours.

I am sorry about your friend. It's always so hard when someone can't speak.

It was odd to be back in school, surrounded by ridiculously young people. I was surprised and very touched by how open my fellow-students were to me. I hope, but doubt, I would have been so open at their age. I hope you have an experience as lovely as mine.

Dale said...

oh, & if you want to talk about difficulties, please do, mail me, or we can chat in the little boxes :-)

Dawn said...

I am really enjoying your black and white paintings. they really hit the spot. Thank you for sharing!