Friday, September 26, 2008


Anu Garg's word for the day ( is "isthmus"

He presents this quotation:

"As a young man [Nathaniel] Hawthorne had been a recluse. His gift of vision made him different, as he walked an isthmus between time and eternity." (Patrick J. Walsh; Hawthorne's God; Weekly Standard (Washington, DC); Jan 2, 2006.)

As I prepare to leave two days from now for a trip to Oregon and then California, during which time I will be visiting old friends and RTN's grave, I have to smile at the synchronicity in the appearance of the word "isthmus" on A.Word.A.Day today.

A few days ago, Anu Garg's word was "shoal" and included the above photograph. When I looked at the photograph, I thought, "Isthmus."

In April, two days before I drove to California to be with RTN for what was to be the last time, I engaged in a 20-minute meditation, using music and silence, during a counseling session. My mind became very quiet. Then something in my mind spoke the word "isthmus." My next thought was "The Isthmus of Panama." The experience was much like the series of brief early morning "word dreams" I had in the first days after RTN died, when I heard the words "Shore," "Understand," "Send Love," and "Beep-Beep!"

While I was spending time with RTN in the intensive care unit, I had a conversation with one of the many VA hospital nurses who took such good care of RTN. The daughter of an American man working in Panama, she had been born there and had lived and worked all over the world. I told her about my experience in the counseling session. We talked at length. I told her that I had to drive back to Washington on the following day. She said, "He is going to miss you." I said, "It is very difficult for me to leave him." I didn't know that he was going to die a week after I left.

It feels auspicious to come across the word "isthmus" again.

". . . he walked an isthmus between time and eternity."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008


Having trouble uploading images today. Looking forward to walking in Yosemite on October 1.

"Ramble to the summit of Mount Hoffman, eleven thousand feet high, the highest point in life's journey my feet have yet touched. And what glorious landscapes are about me, new plants, new animals, new crystals, and multitudes of new mountains far higher than Hoffman, towering in majestic, snow-laden, sun-drenched, vast domes and ridges shining below them, forests, lakes, and sky brooding them all -- a glory day of admission into a new realm of wonders as if Nature had wooingly whispered, "Come higher." What questions I asked, and how little I know of all the vast show, and how eagerly, tremulously hopeful of some day knowing more, learning the meaning of these divine symbols crowded together on this wondrous page."

(John Muir, on page 123 of MEDITATIONS OF JOHN MUIR: NATURE'S TEMPLE, compiled and edited by Chris Highland, 2001)

Update: Uploading is working again.

When I went out walking a few days ago, I wore my winter gloves and brought my camera. More than half way through the 1-1/2 hour walk I realized that I didn't have my gloves. Somewhere early in the walk, I had taken them off so I could use my camera. Though I've lost these gloves before, I had a sinking feeling that this time I wouldn't find them again. Then I remembered something a friend told me when I was in my early 20s -- "Whenever you are worried because you can't find something, relax and tell yourself that it has fallen into the snag and will reappear eventually." I don't know how many times her words have saved me from obsessive worrying. Anyway, with the thought that my gloves were safe in the "snag," I kept walking and did find them arranged in this way on a speed bump. They are the warmest winter gloves I've ever owned. Good to know I'll have them for another winter.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


After RTN experienced a brainstem stroke in September of 2007, he was in a coma for two weeks. When he came out of the coma, he was unable to speak or walk and was transferred to the stroke rehabilitation unit of the VA hospital. During that time he painted this mysterious image on canvas and titled it "Plant My Heart." His painting was displayed at the VA hospital. I was not aware that he had had a stroke until the end of December. We had been out of touch since 2003. His sister had lost my phone number, home address and email address. After I sent her a winter holidays card, I got a card letting me know about RTN's stroke.

His sister and brother-in-law shipped me this painting after RTN died five months ago. They sent me RTN's wooden easel and art supplies as well.

On first viewing, I saw a Northern California coastal landscape and a heart. Then I began to see a woman. A friend pointed out a much smaller woman with reddish hair in the upper left hand side of the canvas. When I was young, my hair was red. She appears to be sitting down with her legs crossed. Does anyone see anything else? I look often at the painting and wonder. Final gifts. I am grateful that I was able to spend time with him in the intensive care unit for four days in the week before he died. I miss him. All that remained unresolved between us seemed to be resolved in his last days.

When I went walking in the rain today in Whatcom Falls Park, I saw lots of red leaves and remembered how much RTN loved the colors of the leaves in the fall,

and I saw this, which I believe is an Amanita formosa.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Bellingham's waterfront did not always consist of pockets of sandy beaches, reminiscent of the ocean beaches I grew up with in Northern California. These local beaches have been engineered in the past few years to resemble something other than the coast of the Salish Sea.

They are entirely lovely. At the same time, they are disconcerting. Washington is not California. I wonder about this blurring of differences, this disregard for the integrity of the Pacific Northwest landscape.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


The Navaho word hozho, translated into English as “beauty,” also means harmony, wholeness, goodness. One story that suggests the dynamic way that beauty comes alive between us concerns a contemporary Navajo weaver. A man ordered a rug of an especially complex pattern on two separate occasions from the same weaver. Both rugs came out perfectly and the weaver remarked to her brother that there must have been something special about the owner. It was understood that the outcome of the rugs was dependent not on the weaver’s skill and ability but upon the hozho in the owners life. The hozho of his life evoked the beauty in the rugs. In the Navaho world view, beauty exists not simply in the object, or in the artist who made the object; it is expressed in relationships.

- J. Ruth Gendler, Notes on the Need for Beauty

The quote, which was taken from A Pause for Beauty, affirms my experience of relationship with RTN. The hozho of his complex life has come through in my drawings and paintings over the past 42 years. This painting from 2002 clearly grew from the healing shape of our relationship that year.

Thank you to all who continue to visit my blog during this time when I have little to say or post. I am deeply grateful for your silent presence, your comments, your blogs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

42 years: a book of changes

"What we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."
(T. S. Eliot)

Using the iPhoto application on my MacBook, I created a 50-page book of a selection of art work created as a result of RTN's presence in my life for the last 42 years. The book includes a short introduction and a poem after the art work. The book was shipped to me via FedEx. This first attempt was an experiment, allowing me to learn that I can design a high-quality soft-cover book using my MacBook. However, the book cost me about $50.00, including shipping. One step at a time.

Monday, September 1, 2008


"We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot live without human affection."
(Dalai Lama)

Thinking about the human affection visible in photographs of Barack and Michelle Obama and their two daughters.

Thinking about the Dalai Lama, a man with no wife or children, a man who gives and receives human affection as if he did.

Thinking about the extreme changes in the weather that are part of life on the Gulf Coast of the United States.