Monday, March 31, 2008


Did anyone else hear the thunder between 4 o'clock and 5 o'clock this morning?

See I-Ching, Hexagram 25. Wu Wang / Innocence (The Unexpected).


To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

William Blake

("Calendar Series: 38th Month / Innocence (The Unexpected)," painted by Old Girl Of The North Country, using gouache and watercolor, 1988)

Thursday, March 27, 2008



All desire. No forgiveness.
Years later it was early spring with red-winged blackbird,
Goldfinch, faithful Canada goose on the trail
And return of the tree swallows.

“The tree swallow glides in circles,
Ending each glide
With 3 or 4 quick flaps
And a short climb.”*

Then I remembered.
He was sitting close to me.
Mr. Solitary Crow skipped by us like a child.
We laughed until we were children again.

This was how I experienced love.
I was innocent of forgiveness.

* from A Field Guide to Western Birds, second edition, 1961, by Roger Tory Peterson, p. 159.

("People Listening" (1984) and "Two Innocents with Experience" (2000), by Old Girl Of The North Country)

When I looked out at Scudder Pond yesterday afternoon, the tree swallows were flying back and forth in the sunlight above the golden cattails.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Woke up. Read for awhile. Couldn't go back to sleep. Toasted some raisin bread and dipped it in olive oil. Found the above image on Sausalito Cam.

"Dear friend, all theory is gray
And green the golden tree of life."
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Sunday, March 23, 2008



I got your letter
An' I miss you oh so much here

I can't wait
To see you all
And I'm counting the days dear

I still believe that there's gold
At the end of the World

An' I'll come home
To Illinois
On the day after tomorrow

It is so hard
And it's cold here
And I'm tired of taking orders

And I miss old Rockford town
Up by the Wisconsin border

What I miss you won't believe
Shovellin' snow,and rakin' leaves

And my plane will touch down
On the day after tomorrow

I close my eyes
Every night
And I dream
That I can hold you

They fill us full of lies
Everyone buys
'Bout what it means
To be a soldier

I still don't know how I'm s'posed to feel
'Bout all the blood that's been spilled

Will God on his throne
Get me back home
On the day after tomorrow?

You can't deny
The other side
Don't wanna die
Any more than we do

What I'm tryin' to say
Is, don't they pray
To the same God
That we do?

Tell me
How does God choose?
Whose prayers does he refuse?

Who turns the wheel
Who throws the dice
On the day after tomorrow?

I am not fighting
For justice
I am not fighting
For freedom

I am fighting
For my life
And another day in the World here

I just do what I've been told
We're just the gravel on the road

And only the lucky
Ones come home
On the day after tomorrow

And the summer
It too will fade
And with it brings
The winter's frost dear

And I know
We too are made
Of all the things
That we have lost here

I'll be twenty - one today
I been savin' all my pay

And my plane
Will touch down
On the day after tomorrow

And my plane
It will touch down
On the day after tomorrow

(For some unknown reason, to hear Tom Waits sing this, I had to click on "Clank Boom Steam"

Update from March 25, 2008: Thank you to jsk for letting me know that Linda Thompson can be heard singing this song on "Versatile Heart"

My friend in the VA Hospital in Palo Alto was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit over Easter Weekend. Please send love and kindness to him today as well as to all veterans of war and to soldiers throughout the world. We are all in this together.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I'll look for you in old Honolulu,
San Francisco, Ashtabula,

Yer gonna have to leave me now, I know.
But I'll see you in the sky above,

In the tall grass, in the ones I love,
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.

(from "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks, 1974) Click and scroll down to hear Bob sing

I remember a Steve Goodman concert where he sang, "When the red, red robin comes Bob, Bob Dylan along, along . . .")

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


"He who has wheat, share it." (African proverb)

The Four Noble Truths

The truth of suffering:

The truth of the cause of suffering:

The truth of the cessation of suffering:

The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering:

Is there a word stronger than "war," a word better able to express the reality of suffering?

If you want to survive this present period of institutionalized madness with your heart intact and our humanity authentic, by all means read this book -- Joan Chittister

"I had anger but never hate. Before the war, I was too busy studying to hate. After the war, I thought, What's the use? To hate would be to reduce myself." (Elie Wiesel, from an interview in O : The Oprah Magazine November 2000)

"Self-Portrait of an Old Friend as a Young Man," drawn in pastel on paper by Old Girl of the North Country in 1982 from a photograph sent to her from Vietnam in 1970.

One last thing I forgot to say. Sometimes, while doing yoga poses, spontaneous images or thoughts come to me. This morning while doing Savasana (the corpse pose), the last pose, I suddenly "saw" a soldier after a war. He was at peace. In peace. Being peace.

Monday, March 17, 2008


My dad died on St. Patrick's Day in 2003, about a month after he turned 89 years old and just a few days before the Iraq War began. For the past ten days, I've been thinking about a post in memory of him along with this photo of him holding me, his firstborn daughter, on the day of my baptism. My first thought was to post some of his woodcarving. Posted are:

A flower carved into a redwood block.

A roadrunner carved from a piece of driftwood he found on a nearby beach.

Two views of a piece he called "Gorilla," carved from redwood.

A piece he carved in redwood and painted and titled "Wake Up!"

Then I found this audio clip read by William Stafford that reminded me of my Dad, especially because William Stafford was also born in 1914, the year World War I began. A post by Solitary Walker led me to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens and reminded me of my dad's love of gardening and the landscape where he and my mother lived for many years after my dad retired.

This morning I found this prayer he wrote exactly nine months before he died:


You are above all creation.

In it You have created all universes and everything in them.

In it You have created millions of stars and planets, far apart.

In it You have created the greatest physical force in our Universe, the magnificent sun.

In it You have created the planet for us all to live on, the Earth.

In it we have You, the sun, oceans, mountains, caves, rivers, lakes, rain, snowflakes, waterfall, forests, land, air waves we cannot see, every living creature and the most powerful force of all, Love.

Thank You my Almighty God for everything on our planet, Earth.

I ask You, my Almighty God, to forgive me for any harm I have done.

I ask You, my Almighty God, to forgive anyone who harmed me, whether I knew it or not.

You are above all human beings that You have created.

No one on Earth can be compared to You, my Almighty God.


Dad, thank you for being my father.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Painted in gouache and watercolor on a watercolor paper block by Old Girl Of The North Country in 2006.

"So-called sentimental, transcendental dreaming seems the only sensible and substantial business that one can engage in."
(John Muir)

"Series of Dreams", written by Bob Dylan in 1991

Scroll down to MP3 samples, Disk 3, Song 16

And from my Zen Calendar today:

"Tell the Truth but tell it slant . . .
The Truth must dazzle gradually
or every man be blind."
(Emily Dickinson)

Thursday, March 6, 2008


The thin blue book in the lower center of the photo is a well-worn copy of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali that I bought after my mother died in 1994, at which time I made a deeper commitment to my yoga practice. This translation and commentary by T.K.V. Desikachar is titled "PATANJALI'S YOGASUTRAS: AN INTRODUCTION.

Here is what T.K.V. Desikachar wrote about Yoga Sutra 1.2, which in Sanskrit is written:


"What is Yoga? It is a word with many interpretations and connotations. Patanjali defines his understanding of the word."

-- Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively towards an object and sustain that direction without any distractions --

"The object can be a concrete object either external to ourselves or part of ourselves. It can be an area of interest, a concept, or something beyond the level of the senses, such as God."

Although I had bought of copy of B.K.S. Iyengar's translation of the Yoga Sutras sometime in the 1970s, it was not until the 1990s that I was able to read the Yoga Sutras without being annoyed by any mention of "God" or anything that might be what I considered a code word for "God." What helped me with that was the comment of a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, "There is no God and there is no not-God." Since 1994, I have bought and studied five other translations, all as different as are the numerous translations of the Tao Te Ching.

Now that I think of it, it was my mother who introduced me to yoga sometime in the 1960s when she bought this book by Richard Hittleman:

Interesting that the cover design uses the yin/yang symbol.

As my mind goes back to those years, I am recalling that the first time I heard about yogurt was from Jack La Lanne (the "intro" made me laugh with delight) who, along with Richard Hittleman, had a TV show during the time I was growing up.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Yesterday I completed the emptying of my storage unit. I feel as if I have moved away from a place where I lived longer than I needed to. It's a good feeling. Still have to sort through the last of the possessions that I brought home yesterday, most of which are books, some of which belonged to my mother and father. As I was carrying them into my home I thought, "If I didn't have all these books, it would be much easier to move." I'll be wearing a dust mask as I sort through them, letting go of those that I can't read again anyway because of my sensitivity to book mold. Most of the books were in my storage unit for that reason, but I wasn't ready to let them go completely. I remember how difficult it was to let go of my father's moldy papers from his college days because letting them go felt like a betrayal of him.

A few days ago, while sorting, I found these handknit socks which were a gift from the mother of a former classmate who came from Turkey to study at our local community college in the early 1980s. I love them. They keep my feet warm on this chilly foggy morning.

Update: A clear sunny day at 11:30 a.m. after the fog burned off. It's 55 degrees out on the porch now. I forgot to say that the fog this morning was filled with the sound of the Canada Geese who arrive here this time of year. The swallows usually arrive within the next week. This is the week my daffodil bulbs will begin to bloom.

I am finding that I am able to let go of approximately half of the books which were in the storage unit. That half will go to "The Friends of the Library" who will sell them, and the money will go to the public library. My delight in the other half of the books is still strong, and I've made room for them.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


The late-day light was dramatic yesterday when I took the above photo. Click on photo for best viewing. Today, even with the dense morning cloud cover, there is light here at 6:30 a.m. Won't be long until the Spring Equinox.

While moving framed paintings from my storage unit to my home, I accidentally put some deep scratches in the paint of the car of a neighbor who takes great pride in his car. Now I'm looking at having to pay for the damage with the money I would have saved in the coming year by not having a storage unit. Isn't it odd how things happen that way sometimes? Still, I am feeling happy that I can fit all my belongings into my home and won't need a storage unit in the future.

To read a fine poem about happiness by Raymond Carver, click here.

Thank you all for the comments on my last post. This morning I was finally able to respond to them.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


After a long difficult spell which began during the Gulf War, a time when I became unable and then unwilling to draw or paint, I bought a digital camera in 2005. Thousands of photos later, I continue to be amazed at what a simple digital camera can do. This morning I stood out on my porch in the dark and took the above photo through the window of what has been my home since 1984 when I left married life. It was difficult to leave a house with a garden and view that I loved. I began to live alone for the first time. I have been content living alone for a long time in a tiny place with a small second-story porch garden and an expansive view. It feels new to me over and over again. Like Georgia O'Keeffe after Alfred Stieiglitz died, I can live alone as an artist and not be lonely. In October of 2006, I adopted a talkative cat named Oboe. I can't truly say that I live alone anymore :-)

One of my favorite books about home and a "sense of place" is ALWAYS COMING HOME, by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Here is the first photo I took with my digital camera:

It's part of the cover of this book for children. At the time I bought my digital camera, I was a volunteer shelf-reader in the section for children at our local library. Each week during those three years, I brought home an armload of books written for young children and read at least one before I went to sleep each night. Unfortunately, I began to develop frequent severe headaches from a form of mold that lives in library books and have had to limit my time spent in libraries. Otherwise, I would love devote a part of my reading time to all those splendidly illustrated children's books which only take a short time to read. I wish I'd kept a list of those I read. It's possible that my online public library account would have saved all those titles.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Some more things I found while sorting through my storage unit:

Two photographs of the view from my parents' living room during their retirement years when they lived in Gualala, California. My middle sister gave these framed photos to me many years ago. After my parents had both died, I put the photos in my storage unit. Now I'm ready to look at these morning and evening views again.

and this from a magazine clipping:


Before you know what kindness really is
You must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions and kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread

only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye
(page 35, Ions Noetic Sciences Review, April-July 1999)

and this, marked by my mother in a book (MIND IN THE WATERS) she sent to me for Christmas in 1975:

"So many things fail to interest us, simply because they don’t find in us enough surfaces on which to live, and what we have to do then is to increase the number of planes in our mind, so that a much larger number of themes can find a place in it at the same time."

José Ortega y Gasset