Monday, June 29, 2009


In a dream on the night before last, Jack Nicholson kindly told me that it really didn't matter if I had a much harder time than he did when I try to learn lines by heart. Outside, on the right side of my porch, he had made himself a little green room with green sheets. I could hear him singing to himself out there.

The Bob Dylan songs I love the best are like paintings by Chagall.

Sunday, June 28, 2009



Come back babybird/ With your dirty wings in tatters/ Come home where you belong/ Nobody knows you better/ Now bring back your velvet heart/ And we'll make you brand new feathers/ Sleep through the morning light/ With your arms around your brother

Now outside faces cry/ With the tears of lonesome orphans/ And behind every mask/ is the face of another/ Wherever you have been/ wherever you took cover/ No arms that pulled you in/ could hold you like your mother

When all my colors fade/ And my wings, they've turned to leather/ I'll know the reasons why/ God let me get older/ When all my days are through/ And I fly these hills no longer/ I'll lay beneath the stars/ And I'll watch you flying over

(lyrics by Jakob Dylan, from a hidden track on the Wallflowers CD "Breach")

Yesterday I looked out and saw a fluffy little bird sitting alone on the porch railing. It sat there for a long enough time for me to take a dozen photos. When I downloaded the images to my laptop, I saw that this little one appeared to be a Barn Swallow, rather than one of the Tree Swallows who have been nesting in the birdhouse on my porch.

Soon after that, I saw one of the adult Tree Swallows fly into the birdhouse, which is placed up to the left of the railing. That was followed by the appearance of a smaller swallow face at the opening. Its coloring was unlike that of the fledgling who had been resting on the railing. The young Tree Swallow looked out and around and blinked and then flew in a downward direction. The adult swallow flew out after it. Then the adult swallow flew back into the birdhouse. Another little swallow face appeared at the opening, with the same blinking and looking around and flying downward out of the birdhouse.

If it weren't for the solitary fledgling Barn Swallow, I might not have seen the Tree Swallows fledge.

While I was out walking this morning, I remembered Jakob Dylan's song.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Gentleness and curiosity:

Was thinking about Michael Jackson and Rick Danko and others while I was out walking this morning. When I sat down at my laptop at home I found a post titled "Death by Show Business" at Solitary Walker's site. That rings true to me.

Here's what Rich Danko sang:

Friday, June 26, 2009


Here's a fine rendition of a Bob Dylan tune from 1970 titled "All The Tired Horses."

Thursday, June 25, 2009


In Tibetan, the word for blessing means "transformation through majesty or power." In short, the meaning of blessing is to bring about, as a result of the experience, a transformation in one's mind for the better.

-- The Dalai Lama


I made a promise to not let go
Our tug of war has only made me want you more
Steeped in hard luck and doomed to roam
My love is braver than you know
My forefathers they worked this land
And I was schooled in the tyranny of nature's plans
Dressed in thunder a cloud came round
In the shape of a lion a hand came down

Damn this valley
Damn this cold
Take so long to let me know
It's plant and reap and plow and sow
But tell me will it grow

Dig my ditches in the golden sun
I'd be robbing these trains if I could catch me one
Sunday Monday now Tuesday's gone
Got me stone cold sober n a drought so long
Boarded mansions and ghost filled yards
There's a boy in a water tower counting cars
Steel traps open and empty stalls
There's a well-worn saddle but the horse is gone

Damn this valley
Damn this cold
Take so long to let me know
It's plant and reap and plow and sow
But tell me will it grow

Jet black starlit midnight rolls
I am down in the garden where I let go
Here on the surface the earth looks round
But it's a godless city of cold flat ground

Damn this valley
Damn this cold
Take so long to let me know
It's plant and reap and plow and sow
But tell me will it grow

(Jacob Dylan)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Here's Bob Dylan singing Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain," on an album released in June of 1970 and titled "Self-Portrait"

In the first week of July of 1970, R flew from Vietnam to Honolulu, Hawaii, so that we could spend a week together in the middle of his year in Vietnam. It was bittersweet. There was the startling sound of firecrackers all week. He was edgy. I remember eating breakfast with him in a pancake restaurant and hearing some of the songs from "Self-Portrait" over the restaurant's sound system. At one point during the week he said, "I never should have come here."

It took me a long time before I could even begin to understand what he was trying to tell me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Yesterday when I went out on the porch, I could hear the young swallows chirping in the nesting box. Today I can't hear them and am wondering if they fledged. As I was out on the porch, a hummingbird flew from flower to flower and then up to the hummingbird feeder.

Chinese proverb:

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Originally released in 1965, this song has walked with me for a long time.


I'm a rambler and a rover
and a wanderer it seems
I've traveled all over
chasing after my dreams
But a dream should come true
and a heart should be filled
and a life should be lived
in the piney wood hills

I'll return to the woodlands
I'll return to the snow
I'll return to the hills
and the valley below
I'll return like a poor man
or a king if God wills
but I'm on my way home
to the piney wood hills

I was raised on a song there
I done right I done wrong there
and it's true I belong there
and it's true it's my home

From ocean to ocean
I've rambled and roamed
and soon I'll return
to my piney wood home
Maybe someday I'll find
someone who will
love as I love my piney wood hills

I was raised on a song there
I done right I done wrong there
and it's true I belong there
and it's true it's my home

I'll return to the woodlands
I'll return to the snow
I'll return to the hills
and the valley below
I'll return like a poor man
or a king if God wills
but I'm on my way home
to the piney wood hills

Sunday, June 21, 2009


My dad was born right before World War I in 1914. He died in the morning on St. Patrick's Day in 2003, a few days before the war in Iraq began. He had a paper route as a boy during the Depression. He was the president of his high school class in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He moved to Los Angeles, California, in the late 1930's. At the end of World War II, he served in the Navy in payroll on Treasure Island on San Francisco Bay. His first career was in insurance. His second career was as a systems analyst for Standard Oil of California. He retired at 60 from the same oil company, which had changed its name to Chevron. After he retired, he and my mother lived in a little house on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Gualala, California, until my mother's unexpected death in 1994. He loved baseball, growing flowers and artichokes and raspberries and New Zealand spinach, carving, solitaire, God, ice cream, my mother's cooking. He wrote an autobiography in the last years of his life and dedicated it to his only grandchild, my nephew. He loved life. The last time we saw each other felt peaceful. It was his 89th birthday, about a month before he died. He is buried next to his parents and next to my mother in a cemetery in Minneapolis.

Thank you, Dad, for your encouragement and support. When I was a child, I thought of you as Babar, the wise and kind elephant father.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Many thanks to the anonymous commenter who left a link to a Norval Morrisseau site yesterday on my December 7, 2007 post. It takes a moment to download and then you'll either hear Neil Young singing "Heart of Gold" or a song from "Sesame Street" accompanying the slideshow.

And thanks to Alive On All Channels for the link to a lengthy article by Jeff Sharlet about Cornel West from which this quote from Ralph Ellison came:

"The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one's aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by consolutaiton of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism."

Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues. You can tell by the way she smiles.
(Bob Dylan, lyrics from "Visions of Johanna," Blonde on Blonde, 1966)

Thanks to mum for her sense of humor.

(This all began with late afternoon light, looking south)

Friday, June 19, 2009


This song, a collaboration by Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne in 1988, came along just exactly when I needed to hear it. I know I wasn't alone in that experience.

Watch for the rocking chair at the end of the video (3:08), rocking with nothing in it except a guitar.

Correction: I changed the date above from 1990 to 1988. Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 was released on October 18, 1988. I had forgotten that there were two Traveling Wilburys cassettes. It was Vol. 3, dedicated to Lefty Wilbury aka Roy Orbison, that was released in 1990.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


As I was walking in Big Rock Garden yesterday, two Steller's Jays skipped up close to me on the fence at the side of one of the trails. White Eye stood still long enough for me to get a grainy photo.

If you have 6 minutes, listen to the song after the Sony commercial.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


If you have the time, listen to Emmylou Harris sing a Bob Dylan song that R loved:

Every Grain Of Sand

In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There's a dyin' voice within me reaching out somewhere,
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair.

Don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake,
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break.
In the fury of the moment I can see the Master's hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.

I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name.
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer's dream, in the chill of a wintry light,
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space,
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face.

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me.
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

Copyright ©1981 Special Rider Music

It's a song I love, too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Yesterday while out walking with a friend, I was surprised and delighted to see the new mural painted by Thomas Wood, a Bellingham artist, as the backdrop to small outdoor music stage at Boulevard Park on Bellingham's waterfront. In addition, Tom painted a smaller mural on the other side of the backdrop wall. The new music stage was privately funded in memory of Mark Witter, a local musician.

Below are three small images from the stage backdrop-sized mural, a wondrous art and music history pastiche which includes images taken from Tom's lifetime work as a printmaker and painter. If I didn't live in Bellingham, I would travel to see this mural. It speaks of the power of art and music and people and animals and love.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Click on image to see the swallows, too.

There have been thousands of new mornings since 1970. If you have the time, listen all the way through the video at the end of this post, to the place where the camera moves in closer, and we can see Bob Dylan moved anew by the song he wrote as a younger man.

Something in me was broken by the juxtaposition of one of his newest songs, "Beyond Here Lies Nothing," with a video of a scene of horrendous domestic violence. I received the link to the video via Bob Dylan's official website, and have since unsubscribed to that website. I haven't been able to listen to the new Bob Dylan songs again. The scene was a reenactment of some moments in my life in 1971. The difference is that, as I found myself on floor being hit repeatedly, I shouted as loud as I could, "NOOOOOOOOOO! You can't hit me!!!!!!!! The hitting stopped abruptly. The next morning we agreed to separate.

Beyond that lay 37 years. R wrote and asked to see me before he died in April of 2008 in a VA hospital in Northern California. He was a broken man, blind in one eye and unable to speak except by saying "yes" or "no" via the thumbs-up or thumbs-down sign. The last thing he said to me was "yes" when I asked if he would like me to read the note on the card I had written to him -- a card which had just arrived in his intensive care unit room. When I left, not knowing that he would die within the week, the nurse said, "He will miss you." I said to her, "It's not easy for me to leave him."

When I began watching the Bob Dylan video for "Beyond Here Lies Nothing," I almost turned it off in anguish, but something told me that I needed to face what had happened in 1971. I watched it once more the next day, hoping to see it differently, but doubt I will ever watch it again. I can say this, though. That video showed me what I had not been able to see clearly before and reminded me that, unlike the woman in the video, I didn't fight back except with words. The words made all the difference. In 2001, R said with respect, "You stood up to me."

The following video is of Bob Dylan singing "New Morning" in 2005:

Friday, June 12, 2009


After receiving the following email from Starcross Community this morning, I took this photograph of the blue flowers on my porch:

“Nature Brings Solace in All Troubles …”

The title is a quote from Anne Frank. Her birthday is this week, June 12, she would have been 80. Perhaps it is because I am only 2 years younger that I have always felt it important to remember her.

I was happily beginning another school year in 1941 when Anne, and all Jewish young people were expelled from Dutch schools and colleges. The USA was still a few months from war. In 1944 I had few concerns except what was happening on the playground the day when Anne was transported to Auschwitz. In April 1945 my school year was nearing a normal end when Anne and her sister Margo died in Bergen-Belsen.

Life here at Starcross is happy and hopeful, but I am increasingly aware that many whose lives touch us are in difficulty. The financial troubles, fueled by irresponsibility and greed, move in waves. Some withstood the first shock but are now overpowered. This summer we are trying to offer a respite for those who can come to breathe in the air of this space I call home. The first gathering will be June 27-28. But only a few people can find solace here. Parents are dying. Children are dying. Dreams are dying. At times like this I like to remember what Anne wrote from her “Secret Annex”, cut off from the life she loved:

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles. ... Riches can be lost, but that happiness in your own heart can only be veiled, and it will still bring you happiness again, as long as you live. As long as you can look fearlessly up into the heavens, as long as you know that you are pure within, and that you will still find happiness.

It sounds like pretty corny advice, but it is awfully important to find that solace nature can bring in this beautiful and promising time of year. Sure, not many of our friends can wander the olive groves, but we all can find the transcendent nature Anne wrote about – in our own backyards. Another of my Dutch heroines is Etty Hillesum, who was older than Anne but walked the same path and who died in Auschwitz in 1943. Etty was a pretty secular person who once told God in a prayer:

You cannot help us, but we must help you and defend your dwelling place inside us to the last.

In the horrors Etty faced she did find help at a particularly hard time. Just outside the wire fence of the camp Etty spotted a small clump of blue flowers. She and her friends would daily stand on the barren earth of the camp and look at the flowers. They would come away with a view of life which transcended the troubles of their lives.

There are little blue flowers on the edge of our woods. I think everyone will find something like them in their own backyard or down the street. Let us all become aware of them. They are very important at the moment.

Your brother,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.

The sun rose this morning at 5:07, but the sky was clear and light much earlier than that. There is still cottonwood fluff in the air. The air is cool and breezy.

The minocycline-induced depression and lethargy I've been experiencing is starting to lift. Beginning in November of 2007, I was prescribed minocycline (an antibiotic) for ocular rosacea. I stopped taking it this time last year because of the side effect of severe fatigue. My eyes were fine until late fall of 2007 after I went through an uncharacteristic period of eating large amounts of sugar while I was traveling in California. A friend made a beautiful apple pie, and I didn't want to appear rude by declining to eat a slice. I hadn't eaten sugar since 2005 because I know that when I start eating sugar I have a difficult time stopping. When minocycline was prescribed again for the resulting ocular rosacea, I thought that a lower dose of minocycline wouldn't be a problem. It is a problem.

If possible, I don't ever want to take minocycline again. I'm seeing a naturopathic physician next week, in hopes of learning alternative ways to treat ocular rosacea.

Through trial and error, I know that being careful about the foods I eat helps tremendously. It is clear that heavy doses of sugar trigger rosacea in me. As part of my chosen eating disorder recovery, I didn't eat any refined sugar or chocolate from 1987 to 2005. In 2005, a stressful time, I decided to experiment with using sugar as a sedative again. Once I started eating refined sugar and chocolate, I found it nearly impossible to stop. Every day I would think about eating something excessively sweet. During that time of eating refined sugar and chocolate, I first developed ocular rosacea. At that time I was prescribed steroid eyedrops that have to be used with caution. You'd think I'd learn from that the first time, but I didn't.

Now, when I want to eat something sweet, I eat a small amount of fruit. I absolutely avoid all rosacea triggers for me -- caffeine, spicy food, mushrooms, tomatoes and all of the nightshade family, sugar, chocolate. The list of foods I can't eat goes on and on because other foods trigger migraine headaches. There aren't many foods I can eat anymore, but I thoroughly enjoy the foods I can eat -- rice, beans, most vegetables, olive oil, sesame oil, turkey, berries, and a variety of herbs. When I eat simply, I feel good. I am free of migraine headaches and experience minimal rosacea.

The ophthalmologist told me that I would probably need to take minocycline for the rest of my life. I don't plan to. The side effects of depression and lethargy were severe enough that I was beginning to consider taking an antidepressant, too. I'm convinced that much of my recent disabling depression was caused by the minocycline.

Although I'm still feeling grief in connection with R's death a year ago, that is not the same as the dark depression and extreme fatigue that appeared as a side effect of minocycline. It makes me wonder how many people are prescribed minocycline for rosacea or acne and then encouraged to take antidepressants for the ensuing side effect of depression.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Click on image to see a Guinea pig and an elephant on the electric keyboard.

Saturday, June 6, 2009



If you are best in the morning,
Cultivate Tao in the morning.
If you are best in the evening,
Cultivate Tao in the evening.

(from 365 Tao, by Deng Ming-Dao, 1992)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


While looking through my books, deciding which to keep and which to let go, I found my mother's copy of TURTLE ISLAND, first published by Gary Snyder in 1969. Yikes!!!! 40 years ago. She had bookmarked this poem, highlighting the last three lines. I'm going to keep my mother's book and let go of my copy. My mother spoke through books.


The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures
we can meet there in peace
if we make it

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children

stay together
learn the flowers
go light