Thursday, February 28, 2008

2008 / 1991 / 1971 / 1970

Today my Zen calendar says:

"Koans will change your idea of who you are, and this will require courage . . . Everyone thinks they want happiness, but they might not. They might rather keep their stories about who they are and about what is impossible."

(John Tarrant)

In the last two months, I have been coming to terms again with what happened, beginning in 1969, when my first boyfriend was drafted into the U.S. Army, the year we were 19. It wasn't until 1987, when I saw "Platoon," that I began to understand what had happened to us and what is still happening to us and what happened to countless men and women throughout history. I began the process of grieving and healing. During the Gulf War, we both began to manifest symptoms of PTSD. Today I have a clearer picture of what is possible and what is impossible. I continue to have inexplicable hope.

Here is Oboe at 4 a.m.:

When my mother died in 1994, I inherited all her books, paintings, art materials and some caned chairs that had belonged to her parents. I chose to rent a storage unit because I didn't have room for all that. After my father died on St. Patrick's Day in 2003, there were more paintings, slides and old photographs to store. This week I am attempting to empty the storage unit, sorting through what I am finally ready to let go of and holding onto what I can now find room for in my small living space. Last night, I came across this from May 6, 7 and 8 of 1991:

and this photo, taken in 1971 with a self-timer, of somewhere in the coast hills off of Skyline Boulevard in San Mateo County after my boyfriend returned from Vietnam:

and this photo, taken on Oahu, using a self-timer, during the week of the 4th of July, 1970, my boyfriend's R&R:

and this one he took on his parents' porch in Half Moon Bay, California, on the day he left for Vietnam in the winter of 1970:

I am keeping these photos and the Doonesbury strips, among other things. Letting go of some stories that aren't true. Being open to what is true.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Click on the following quote which begins an essay well worth reading, written by David Murphy and found in The Journal of Aesthetics & Protest:

Recovery is based on the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections.

-Judith Herman, Trauma and Recovery

("Woman Trying To Remember What She Is Trying To Forget," painted and drawn in gouache, watercolor and chalk pastel on Arches Watercolor Paper in 1986 by Old Girl Of The North Country)

Monday, February 25, 2008



The young man she loved always,
Who she believed loved her,
The young man for whom she waited,
Came back from the war
For the 37th time.
She heard a red-headed woman saying,
“He’s a good man.”

He didn’t want her to touch him.
He drank once from a clear bottle of beer,
Looked at her intently
And left the houseful of people
Where she lived alone.

She kept waiting for his return.
There was no 38th return
And between them appeared a rainbow.

The young woman he loved always,
Who he believed loved him,
The young woman for whom he waited.

("Evolution Of Forgiveness Dream," painted in gouache and watercolor on paper by Old Girl Of The North Country in January of 2000; "Talking 37th Dream With Rainbow," written by am on February 25, 2008 in pencil in a Ampad lined subject notebook with Wirelock binding)

Sunday, February 24, 2008


For Josie

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the gray window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colors,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the curach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

Posted by permission — Author’s estate. © John O'Donohue. All rights reserved.

For more about John O'Donohue, see

Listen to John O' Donohue reading this poem

I'm not sure, but I believe I first heard about John O' Donohue in a Sounds True catalogue. He spoke in Seattle in recent years, at which time he signed my copy of his book titled ANAM CARA. I asked him to write out in Irish:

Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí

which I understood to mean "praise the youth and she will grow," a phrase that I had heard on a set of his tapes from ANAM CARA. When I first pronounced it, he looked puzzled but smiled broadly when he figured out what I was trying to say.

The last few weeks have been challenging. I've not been able to respond to comments, emails and letters as I would wish to. Thanks so much for continuing to visit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


"God breaks the heart
again and again and again
until it stays

Hazrat Inayat Khan

(quote from February 17, 2008, a post on caregiving)

Something breaks the heart open, that's for sure. Each tradition and non-tradition has its own word or absence of word for that something. The word I choose to use is "Love."

A book worth reading.

("Gifts Of Love From Imaginary Brothers" painted in gouache and watercolor on paper by Old Girl Of The North Country in 1989)

Thursday, February 14, 2008


("Beloved Person In Bird Costume Painted From Memory," gouache and watercolor on paper, May 1993, by Old Girl Of The North Country)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


("Person with Questions," 1984, by Old Girl Of The North Country, using gouache, watercolor and pastel on paper)

Monday, February 4, 2008


"With Imaginary Brother As Witness," drawn using pencil on newsprint by Old Girl Of The North Country while attending high school in 1966.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Today I was finally able to weave a few inches of inkle belt. It's still not quite right because the left border is slightly wider than the right border. That's okay. Progress, not perfection, is my goal. I'm a recovering perfectionist.

"Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance."

--Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Funny how things work out sometimes. Above is my latest attempt, not completely successful (but good enough), to warp the inkle loom for a simple weaving pattern of five tiny deep-red rectangles repeated throughout the length of a black belt. Yesterday when I sat down to weave (see photo from yesterday), I realized that I put the cotton rug warp on the loom in such a way that it was impossible to begin weaving. It was as if I somehow built a house without remembering to make any doors or windows and found myself sitting outside, feeling pretty silly.

Last night before I went to bed, I unwound all the cotton rug warp and began the process of warping again, stopping after a few rows.

This morning, during my "drawing" time, I worked on putting together a portfolio of 15 pieces of art work in digital form for a CD that will accompany my application for the Visual Communications (Graphic Design) Program for Fall 2008 at the local community college. That was another challenge because I had to teach myself to use Microsoft Powerpoint. Fortunately, I was able to keep a relative sense of humor in that process.

As a break from the computer, I decided to finish up warping the inkle loom so I could take a photo for today's post, a photo which would show the correct way to warp an inkle loom. Just as I was almost finished, I noticed that I had made a mistake at the point where I had stopped warping last night, so I unwound the warp. About half way through the next try, I saw that there was yet another problem. What I thought I needed to do was make a splice, but I was wrong.

Finally, the best solution I could come up with was to accept that I had to give up on the idea of having five tiny deep-red rectangles repeated throughout this particular belt and settle for a black belt with three tiny deep-red rectangles repeated throughout.

It is possible that the left-over yards of spliced black and red warp can be made into the belt with the pattern I originally chose. The first time I tried doing this simple pattern last summer, I made several mistakes that weren't obvious until I was at a point where I was NOT willing to start over. My goal this time was to be careful and not make any mistakes. FUNNY!

It's important to me to give myself the opportunity to make ALL the mistakes that need to be made as I learn how to weave again. If I didn't love weaving, I would find this impossibly frustrating.

If I didn't love life, I would find it impossible.

I like the way Oboe is looking at my imperfect, but good enough, solution.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Any weavers out there who can see the humor in this photo?

An unexpected benefit of my yoga practice is an increasing ability to experience humor where I was once able to experience only tears and frustration.

"Practise what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know."
-- Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)