Tuesday, July 22, 2008

42 years: a book of changes

Above is an idea for the cover of simple book I am working on using some iPhoto accessories. Unfortunately I can't complete the book-making process because I don't have Mac OS 10.4.9. Oh well. I'm making progress anyway because I can store the book in PDF format.

Here's the chapter I read today from MEDITATIONS OF JOHN MUIR, compiled and edited by Chris Highland (a wonderful book!):

"Chapter 26: On and On into Infinite Mystery

Probably these gallflies make mistakes at times, like anybody else; but when they do, there is simply a failure of that particular brood, while enough to perpetuate the species do find the proper plants and nourishment. Many mistakes of this kind might be made without being discovered by us. Once a pair of wrens made the mistake of building a nest in the sleeve of a workman's coat, which was called for at sundown, much to the consternation and discomfiture of the birds. Still the marvel remains that any of the children of such small people as gnats and mosquitoes should escape their own and their parents' mistakes, as well as the vicissitudes of the weather and hosts of enemies, and come forth in full vigor and perfection to enjoy the sunny world. When we think of the small creatures that are visible, we are led to think of many that are smaller still and lead us on and on into infinite mystery.

'The inner -- what is it? if not intensified sky; hurled through with birds and deep with winds of homecoming.'
~ Rainer Maria Rilke"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Santana - Soul Sacrifice (Woodstock 1969)

In the summer of 1969, after RTN did his basic Army training at Ft. Lewis in Washington, he was sent to Ft. Eustace in Virginia for training as a helicopter mechanic. He wrote in a letter that he wanted to be at Woodstock.

I remember driving to San Francisco in 1970 to see the film "Woodstock" when it was first released. I remember that I was moved to tears when I saw and heard Jimi Hendrix sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and when I saw Janis Joplin simply walking and smiling. I'm guessing that Jimi Hendrix had already died. Janis Joplin died soon after I saw the film. I was devastated.

Carlos Santana survived and thrived. I still experience intense feelings listening to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, but Santana's music makes me glad to be alive, no matter what happens.
Santana's music lifted my spirits in during those troubling years from 1969 to 1971. It still does.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


After several weeks without DSL, I've got a connection again. Since RTN died on April 20, my posting has been erratic, and then losing my DSL connection compounded my distress but at the same time gave me a break from email and the internet, which has been good for me. I've not been able to respond to comments or leave many comments at other blogs as I did in the past. Thanks to all who have continued to visit. Your presence has helped me as I make my way through this time of change.

Above is the last of the series of images I received from RTN from Vietnam in 1970. As with the others, he made his drawing on the front of the envelope and put my address on the back of the envelope. Californians may recognize that the image is of the old Russian Church at Fort Ross in Sonoma County. I believe that RTN copied the image from a popular postcard.

Sometime in the winter and spring months of 1971 after RTN returned from Vietnam, we spent a couple of days driving up the coast from our cottage in San Mateo County to the town of Mendocino. During that trip, RTN told me that he remembered that his family had traveled north in the same way and had been met with a dense and seemingly endless fog. His story was that his father had turned off the road on the ocean side after dark and parked the car for the night, unsure of where they were. In the morning when the family woke up, the sun was shining, and they found that they had parked alongside that church at Fort Ross.

We, too, spent the night in the car, but we parked in a turnout on a bluff just south of the Russian River. We were barely able to sleep because it was uncomfortably cold, and the sound of the wind and the ocean kept us awake. Besides, any two adults would find it difficult to sleep comfortably in a VW bug. I remember how angry RTN was and how sad I was, thinking I was the reason for his anger. That morning we drove as far north as the town of Mendocino and walked on the beach. Before RTN had gone to Vietnam, we had always loved walking at the ocean together. That day, though, as I stepped away from him to look at something along the tideline, he startled me by saying sharply, "Why aren't you walking with me? Are you ashamed to be seen with me or something?" He had been using amphetamines before and after going to Vietnam and had begun to more frequently exhibit the same paranoia that I had witnessed while growing up with my mother who took prescription amphetamines for narcolepsy. It's hard to remember the sequence of events during those first months after RTN returned from Vietnam, but it seems now that that trip was a turning point which led to our eventual separation. Although we never lived together again, I kept in touch with him, always hoping for the day that he would "return from Vietnam."

The doctors, nurses and staff at the VA Hospital told his sister that in the last seven months of his life after his brain stem stroke, they had observed him to be in the midst of an intense internal struggle. They said that after I spent time with him for four days in the ICU, he appeared to find a level of peace. He died a week after I returned to Northwest Washington.

I remember visiting him, around 1976, after being out of touch with him since 1973. Both of us had married. I told him that I had not been sure if I should contact him. He said, "You should always contact me."

I took this photo this morning at 8 a.m. Still working on linking the past with the present, with an emphasis on living in the present:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


This is the sixth of the seven drawings by RTN, which were sent from Vietnam in 1970 on the front of mailed letters.

Still on dial-up and very limited in terms of internet access. Thought I would try to upload some photos. It took longer than usual, but now I know I can upload photos if I'm willing to wait the extra time.

From my Zen Calendar, the entry of a few days ago:

"And I would answer you. . . that to prepare the future is only to found the present. . . for the sole true invention is to decipher the present under its incoherent aspects and its contradictory language. . . You do not have to foresee the future, but to allow it. . .


The present:

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I've been without an Internet connection since June 26. I made a deliberate decision to take a vacation from email, blogging, and internet searches when my modem stopped working. My internet provider gave me several options, including free dial-up. I chose to wait 10 days for a free replacement modem to arrive and to decline the dial-up option. That modem arrived yesterday.

A technician spent an hour with me on the phone, trying to reestablish an internet connection. He was unable to do that and determined, as I had suggested early in the phone call, that the replacement modem was defective. This morning I decided to use the free dial-up connection while I wait for another free replacement modem. I had not bothered to set up the dial-up before now because my recollection was that dial-up is impossibly slow. I'm not going to try to download any pictures until I have a DSL connection again.

The vacation from the Internet has been good for me. The weather has been beautiful, and I've been in good spirits for the most part.

This morning, after checking through and beginning to respond to my backlog of email, I received an email from a friend who sent this timely poem:

Don't worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn't matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world's harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can't see.

Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.

(Jalaluddin Rumi)

A few hours after reading that poem, I opened my copy of MEDITATIONS OF JOHN MUIR: NATURE'S TEMPLE, compiled and edited by Chris Highland. Chapter 18 is called "All the Air Is Music." It consists of a paragraph about a brave little water ouzel, taken from the writings of John Muir. At the bottom of the page it says:

"We have fallen into the place where everything is music.' -- Rumi