Thursday, April 30, 2009


What a relief to have Barack Obama as President of the United States. Still, I winced when he said that we need more soldiers.

When I heard about the difficulty of finding enough soldiers to go to Afghanistan, I remembered the quote, "Someday they'll give a war and nobody will come." My recollection was that Carl Sandburg wrote those words, but I was unable to verify that. Several of the sources I found said that it came from the following poem:

It doesn't, unless Carl Sandburg didn't read his entire poem. Does anyone know for certain what the source is?

Today's view from my porch:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


My dear Theo,


"It is sometimes so bitterly cold in the winter that one says, 'The cold is too awful for me to care whether summer is coming or not; the harm outdoes the good.' But with or without our approval, the severe weather does come to an end eventually and one fine morning the wind changes and there is a thaw. When I compare the state of the weather to our state of mind and our circumstances, subject to change and fluctuation like the weather, then I still have some hope that things may get better."


Yours truly,

(pages 63 and 64, from THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, translated by Arnold Pomerans. This is from a letter of August 1879, written to his brother, Theo.)

This morning there were sand dune-shaped clouds in front of the sun as it rose above the cottonwoods. It was only after I downloaded the photos I took of the clouds and sun that I noticed a swallow in the sky. A few minutes ago when I went out on my porch, a swallow flew from the swallow nesting box. I had put the nesting box out last year, but the swallows didn't use it. That made me think of:

Swallow Song.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


"Anyway, Henri Conscience may not be a perfect writer by any means, but no two ways about it, what a painter! And what loving-kindness in what he said and hoped for. There's a preface in one of his books on my mind all the time (the one to Le conscrit), where he writes that he has been very ill, and says that during his illness, despite all his efforts, he felt his affection for mankind draining away, but that his feelings of love returned on long walks in the countryside."

(pages 451, from THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, translated by Arnold Pomerans. This is from a letter of September 1889, written to his brother, Theo.)

Monday, April 27, 2009


"Still, perhaps my journey to the south will yet bear fruit, for the stronger light and the blue sky teaches you to see, especially, or even only, if you see it all for a long time.

The north will undoubtedly seem quite new to me, and I have looked at things so much here that I have become very attached to them, so I shall feel sad for a long time."


"Well, do you know what I hope for, once I allow myself to begin to hope? It is that the family will be for you what nature, the clods of earth, the grass, the yellow wheat, the peasant, are for me, in other words, that you find in your love for people something not only to work for, but to comfort and restore you when there is a need. So, I beg you not to let yourself get too exhausted by business, but to take good care of yourselves, both of you -- perhaps there will still be some good in the not too distant future."

(pages 455 and 456, from THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, translated by Arnold Pomerans. This is from a letter of September 1888, written to his brother, Theo. Theo had just married Johanna.)

The Central California Coast is not a place I can live except in my dreams. On the other hand, I've lived there for most of my life in my dreams, after having left my birthplace in the San Francisco Bay Area in summer of 1973. I was 23 years old and curious about the world outside of California. Never imagined how difficult it would become to return to California, except as a visitor.

The photo above was taken during my visit to California last October. I've used it before. It remains a favorite of mine.

Many thanks for the positive responses to the glimpses of my book! I'm experiencing a situational depression and am finding it increasingly difficult to get out of bed in the morning, to make phone calls, respond to email and to comments. Posting on my blog is about all I can do right now. Thank you for your understanding.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


"I also think it is possible to achieve success without having to start out with despair. Even though one loses out here and there, and even though one sometimes feels a falling off, one must rally and take courage again, even though things should turn out differently from what one originally intended."

(p. 205, from THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, translated by Arnold Pomerans. This is from a letter of October 1882, written to his brother, Theo.)

That's another photo from the San Gregorio webcam. I thrive in cool, not cold, overcast weather where there is relatively low humidity. My inner landscape is a good place, a creative place.

There's too much glare here for a good photo this morning. But listen to a bit of what what I can hear outside.

Many thanks to those who keep stopping by my blog even though I've been quiet lately. My creative energy for drawing and painting is at a low ebb. My book of art and poetry is almost ready for self-publishing. The prototype is a 98-page book, 6 x 8 inches, made on a Mac, perfect bound at Apple, Inc, in Elk Grove, California, and then FedEx'd to my home. Amazing! My plan at this time is to have a local printer make 1000 copies. The local independent bookstore will take my book on consignment, so it may be possible to order it eventually from their web site. I'm trying to make this as simple as possible for me and everyone involved.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The photo is from my current favorite webcam. More here. That's the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

"In case you think Gauguin and I get down to work effortlessly, let me tell you the work does not always come easily to us. And my wish for our Dutch friends, and for you as well, is that they should feel no more discouraged by their difficulties than we do."

(p. 424, from THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, translated by Arnold Pomerans. This is from a letter of December 1888, written to his brother, Theo.)

Looking east from my porch today:

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Tomorrow will be one year since R died. I'll be lighting a candle for him. Don't have much to say these days. Here's something to listen to:

Remembering and Letting Go with Love

Saturday, April 18, 2009


"I know you're long gone, I guess it must be up to me."
-- from "Up to Me," written by Bob Dylan in 1974

Friday, April 17, 2009


Wildflower seeds sprouting on my porch.

"Plant My Heart," painted by R while in the VA hospital from September 2007 until his death on April 20, 2008.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


A second-third century Adullam burial cave with a "rolling stone." I discovered the photo in a Bible dictionary that belonged to my father. Then I went outside and took a photo of the day lily foliage.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I.36 visoka va jyotismati

free from grief, sorrowless effulgent light


luminous, bright, shining, possessed of luminous bodies, a tranquil state of mind.

(p. 88, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, B.K.S. Iyengar)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

WHEN WE WERE 24 and 58 / WHEN I WAS 59

When we were 24, I saw this in a dream:

A year ago yesterday I said goodbye to R.
Yesterday this flower bloomed:

How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be? -- Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Been making my way through the complete collection of "Kung Fu" episodes on DVD. Pretty much stopped watching television around 1967. I remember a friend telling me I should at least watch "Kung Fu." That was probably in the spring of 1974. I didn't. I needed to wait until now.

From "The Chalice," first broadcast on 10/11/1973:

"That we are possessed by that which we would possess. Held in bondage to earth and vested things by the attachments we form for them. Even so holy a thing as a chalice, so slight a thing as a pebble."

In that episode, Caine promised a dying priest that he would find and return the chalice the priest had made with his own hands and then stolen, only to have it stolen from him by outlaws. Caine said to the priest that whatever an artist makes belongs to the artist always. Then Caine proceeded to search for the chalice so that it could be returned.

If it were not for my 16-year-old nephew, who mentioned Kung Fu on his MySpace page some time ago, and for R's sister gift of the DVDs, I might never have watched these "Kung Fu" episodes. Funny how things work out the way they do.

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant" -- Martin Luther King (1929-1968)

(Early morning ocean photo from the Point Reyes, California, webcam)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Just came across this interview with Bob Dylan where he talks about mysticism, Barack Obama, and the American South.

And have been meaning to post the talk below by the woman who wrote and illustrated THE PRINCIPLES OF UNCERTAINTY, one of my newest most treasured books:

Click below on the excerpt from the poem linked to by Velveteen Rabbi on April 7 to find out more about the Blessing of the Sun:

. . . In the very end, in the fourth,

unseen dimension that has been here

from the very beginning, unfolding

just outside the limits of our perception . . .

And a new song by the man who joked with Mavis Staples about having read something in "Snoozeweek."

(The sunrise-through-the-cottonwood-trees photo was taken from my porch this morning. Notice the right ear of the driver in the car in the photo directly above. Great photo. I wonder who the photographer is. There are at least six people in this photo. When I first saw the photo, I thought it was a man and a woman in the back seat of the car, but now I'm not so sure. I'm curious about the tattoo. Come to think of it, this photo is splendidly full of people -- of the past, the present and future.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Several years ago, a young man who was playing old Bob Dylan songs in a local park asked me the name of my favorite Dylan album. He expressed surprised when I said without hesitation, "Love and Theft."

In 2001, I looked forward to September 11 because that was day that the first copies of "Love and Theft" were going to be available. Sometime that afternoon, reeling from what had happened that morning, I went out to buy my copy of "Love and Theft." The store was quieter than usual, but the young clerk looked calm and had a smile on his face. I went home and put the CD in the CD player and was startled to hear Bob Dylan singing in a raspy voice:

Tweedle-dee Dum and Tweedle-dee Dee
They're throwing knives into the tree
Two big bags of dead man's bones
Got their noses to the grindstones

Living in the land of Nod
Trustin' their fate to the Hands of God
They pass by so silently
Tweedle-dee Dum and Tweedle-dee Dee

I listened all the way through the CD to the last song which ended with:

Sugar Baby, get on down the line
You ain't got no sense, no how
You went years without me
Might as well keep going now

I played it over and over again that day. I haven't listened to it all the way through for a long time. "Mississippi" is the song that made the deepest impression on me:

Every step of the way we walk the line
Your days are numbered, so are mine
Time is pilin' up, we struggle and we scrape
We're all boxed in, nowhere to escape


But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free

With the appearance of BOB DYLAN LYRICS: 1962-2001 in bookstores in 2004, it seemed that "Sugar Baby" might stand as Bob Dylan's last published song, but then came the CD titled MODERN TIMES in August of 2006. On April 28, another CD is going to be released. It's called TOGETHER THROUGH LIFE.

Again I'm reminded of my artist friend's words from sometime in the late 1980s. He died of ALS in June of 1991. From his heart, he wrote to me, "We're all in this together." The last time I heard his voice, it was almost impossible to understand what he was saying, but his laughter was as it always was. Pure joy. Pure love of life!

Friday, April 3, 2009


He does what he must do and he does it well. His songs are homeopathic medicine for me.

homeopathy, n. the method of treating disease by drugs, given in minute doses, which would produce in a healthy person symptoms similar to those of the disease.

similar, like.

suffering, feeling, ...often used with the meaning "morbid affection."


When I took a look at the lyrics for "Buckets of Rain" in my copy of BOB DYLAN: LYRICS 1962-2001, I noticed that this is yet another song for which the lyrics have been changed from the original recording. You is changed to I, and I is changed to you in the first verse. Hips is changed to lips in the third verse. Then it occurred to me that I was almost sure that Bob Dylan had written something previous to 1962. Sure enough, on the page facing "Talking New York" (1962) are handwritten lyrics to a song he wrote previous to 1962 and titled Big City Blues.

"Buckets of Rain" ends with another of Dr. Bob's koans:

Can't you tell?

And from South Korea?:

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I'd thought that bedrest would be the best way to recover from shingles. It seems that being up and around at home is what works. I feel better when I write something down and share something I hope is meaningful in some way to someone else as it is to me.

"Whatever gets you through the night, it's all right."
(John Lennon)

Reading some excellent posts about Thomas Hardy's novel THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE led me to Griffin House's video. I'd not heard of him before.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


With gratitude for all who visit and comment and those who visit without comment and to the neighbor who told me about this TED lecture.