Sunday, November 21, 2010

William Blake said / A multitude of holidays

"You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough."

Dear blog friends,

From tomorrow until New Year's Day, I will be on a blog break and will not be posting or commenting on my blog or on anyone else's blog.

Which brings me to the thought that if there ever was a film about fierce grace, it is "Big Bad Love." I'm not recommending it but just want to say that it spoke to me in a way nothing else could have. When I was looking for a photo for this post, I came across the above photo which shows who and what the film is about.

Richard's sister, Dorothy, sent me two CD's of acoustic guitar music by Nori Tachibana, currently of Northern California. She said that Richard wanted me to have them. That's what I'll be listening to as fall and winter deepen into the multitude of holidays that may be celebrated in late November and throughout December if one wishes. I'll be listening to holiday music from a variety of religious and spiritual traditions, too, including Bob Dylan's "Christmas in the Heart."

Must Be Santa
Debe ser Papá Noel
Moet de Kerstman zijn
Doit être le père noël
Sein muss Weihnachtsmann
πρέπει να είστε Άγιος Βασίλης
Deve essere il Babbo Natale
Deve ser Papai Noel
должен быть Санта Клаус
산타클로스는 이어야 한다

Little Drummer Boy

May love bless and keep you during the holiday season!

Kind wishes from your blog friend,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

B-R-A-U-T-I-G-A-M / Your Catfish Friend

I just finished re-reading You Can't Catch Death: A Daughter's Memoir by Ianthe Brautigan. After I read these words, followed by a quote from her father's last book,

"I'm glad I had the courage to wander alone with sharp objects tempting the release of a pain that has resided in me for so long. I have found that from my walking in painful places long enough, the knife edges, formerly so sharp, become dull. All they are good for, in the end, is to spread butter on toast for breakfast I will eat with my child. My flesh is safe. My father is safe. My words are safe in this pale new dawn that I share with my father.

"Where did that kid go, Mother?"
"I don't know, Father."...
"I don't see him anywhere."
"I guess he's gone."
"Maybe he went home."


I went to a bookstore to find that book. When I asked the young clerk if they had any books by Richard Brautigan, she asked me how the name was spelled. I spelled it for her. She said, "Hmmm. There is one book about places to visit in Orange County." I asked her what spelling she was using.

She said, "B-R-A-U-T-I-G-A-M?

So we tried again and found two books, each a collection of three of his novels and one including his last novel.

I mentioned this experience in the company of a group of friends this morning and one proceeded to quote this poem:

Your Catfish Friend
by Richard Brautigan

If I were to live my life
in catfish forms
in scaffolds of skin and whiskers
at the bottom of a pond
and you were to come by
one evening
when the moon was shining
down into my dark home
and stand there at the edge
of my affection
and think, "It's beautiful
here by this pond. I wish
somebody loved me,"
I'd love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, "I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Birth and a Return and Picasso in November

Every Saturday morning at 7 a.m., I meet with friends for breakfast at a nearby restaurant. Today there was especially good news from three of the youngest. One announced the birth of his first child, a son. The other talked about a celebration the night before of the return of one of his friends from Afghanistan. Another spoke of his teenaged son's long-anticipated visit to the Picasso exhibit in Seattle. There was much talk of love and hope and gratitude from these young men in the midst of the many sorrows of our times.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

The true end of a war is the rebirth of life;
the right to die peacefully in your own bed.
The true end of war is the end of fear;
the true end of war is the return of laughter.
(Alfredo Molano)

I am so tired.
I am so very tired of this war.

(From Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam (published 2002), by Walter Dean Myers, a Vietnam veteran)

My thoughts today are on veterans of all wars and their loved ones and are especially focused on veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and their loved ones. May they find the true end of a war. May we all find the true end of a war.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Seeing the Divine in the Human"

Listen to Luxman (Lakshman) Das (to the left of Bob Dylan)

Listen to Purna Das (to the right of Bob Dylan)

Listen to Bob. I think I hear their influence in the sound of his voice here.

(Quote from YouTube's "King of the Bauls." Close-up from the cover of my vinyl album of "John Wesley Harding" from 1968.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

To Life!


Psalm of the Daughters and Sons of Earth and Sky

Are we not your daughters and sons?
We who wish to be of service
Who walk with you
Who listen for your words
Who meet fear daily
And go forward inch by inch
With broken hearts
With deep weariness
And yet with love and hope in you
In whom wholeness and brokenness dwell
Together through life without end

(October 2010)

My unpublished book 42 years: a book of changes is in the process of the addition of the above poem, an afterword and a list of books that helped me through those years. Oboe is sitting next to those books whose titles and authors need to be entered, along with the poem and an afterword, into my manuscript on my MacBook Pro. It's been a little over 2-1/2 years since Richard died, and I find I have more to say. For those of you have bought a copy of my book, I plan to give you a copy of the newer version, if you would like one. My energy for doing the footwork needed to get my book published is limited, but that is my goal.

"Go on, go. In our tongue it is a single word, i.

It is the last word Aeneas said. So in my mind it is spoken to me, said to me. I am the one to go, to go on. Go where?

I do not know. I hear him say it, and I go. On, away. On the way. The way to go. When I stop I hear him say it, his voice, Go on."

(From Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin, 2008)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sharing Our Gifts

"The small enclosed rock is from the base of the outcrop, probably a piece of chert -- a type of flint -- uplifted from the floor of an ancient ocean.
(from a birthday note from an old friend from college (1967-1968) who took a strenuous walk to a place called Eagle Rock -- about halfway between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay on Hwy 1-- and sent me a piece of chert as a gift.)

Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Love Minus Zero / No Limit

"We have to learn what we can, but remain mindful that our knowledge not close the circle, closing out the void, so that we forget that WHAT WE DO NOT KNOW remains boundless, without limit or bottom, and that what WE KNOW may have to share the quality of being known with what denies it. What is seen with one eye has no depth ..."

(Quote from Always Coming Home, by Ursula Le Guin, but the capitalization is my mother's. She typed that out for me on a little piece of notepaper with a drawing of Rattlesnake Grass from California's North Coast and enclosed it in a letter she wrote to me during the 1980s. I may have posted this quote before, but I feel like posting again it because I love it.The photo was taken a few days ago from the trail just before the small bridge over Whatcom Creek at Derby Pond)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010


"You do what you must do, and you do it well."
(Bob Dylan -- 1974)

Interesting how many times the word "must" appears in Bob Dylan's songs.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Let your teacher be Love itself.

Hearts understand in ways minds cannot.
(Lois Wilson)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ocean in view! O! The joy!

It's been a long journey. Earlier this morning I found myself on a rough stretch of ground. I wasn't alone. None of us were. A few minutes ago, I went out to check for my mail before lying down to rest before work. There was a letter from a nonprofit organization, requesting donations. Glued to the letter was a 2005 U.S. nickel, face up. I detached it and idly looked at the tails side and saw what appeared to be an ocean scene. Suddenly wide awake, I looked more closely. What did it say? Ocean in view of the joy? Huh?

Back in my living room, I got out my magnifying glass.

Ocean in view! O! The joy!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Talking Karmic Debt Blues / Like The Moon And The Stars And The Sun


This morning I was listening to Jakob Dylan's CD "Seeing Things" in my car just before 9 a.m. He was singing "Everybody Pays As They Go":

Look up and see the men returning
In their winter coats
Some of them in one piece
Some of them got rolled
Some less than others
Some right through the nose
But everybody pays as they go
Young old rich and poor
Your mother she too owes
Cuz everybody pays as they go.

I thought of John Lennon's song "Instant Karma":

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna look you right in the face,
Better get yourself together darlin',
Join the human race,
How in the world you gonna see,
Laughin' at fools like me,
Who on earth d'you think you are,
A super star,
Well, right you are.

When I woke up this morning and turned the calender next to my bed to August 1, I found a wonderful woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Above is a detail from "The Hanging-Cloud Bridge at Mount Gyodo, near Ashikaga," which can be seen at Museo Chiossone in Genoa, Italy.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Yeah we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.

(Recorded by John Lennon on 27 January 1970 and released on 6 February 1970, it ranks as one of the fastest-released songs in pop music history, recorded (at London's Abbey Road Studios) the same day it was written, and coming out only ten days later. Lennon remarked to the press, he "wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we're putting it out for dinner.")

Thanks to the Turtleback Dome webcam for the sunlight of the spirit image from Yosemite Valley.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Family Tradition

Just as I'm not sure where in Minnesota the above three-generations-of-family photo was taken, I'm also not sure where my grandmother was born, but I do know that she was born on this day in 1879 in Minnesota.

This morning I looked into the extensive genealogy that she and my grandfather began and which was continued by one of my grandmother's many cousins. The genealogy goes back to 1653 in Vang, Valdres, Norway. The genealogy doesn't say where my grandfather was born either. It does say that my grandparents were married in Red Wing, Minnesota, on the anniversary of my grandmother's father and mother's wedding in 1878 in Decorah, Iowa.

Listen to my nephew singing Happy Birthday to his mother in 2009. He is carrying on a family tradition that goes back at least three generations of sons. My father dearly loved his mother, Amanda, as did my grandfather love his mother, Dorothy. Their mothers loved them and encouraged them to follow their dreams.

What I do know about the family photo is that my grandmother Amanda is the young woman on the far left of the photo. Moving to the right across the photo you can see her grandfather Nels, her sister Anna, her grandmother Martha, her sister Mabel, her mother Mary, her sister Julia, her brother Nels, her father Carl and her sister Clara.

I don't know when the portrait of my grandmother was taken but she appears to be a teenager--possibly the same age that my nephew is now.

May love bless and keep our family always!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Late July evening / Almost full moon


You'll get tired and you'll get weak
But you won't abandon your masterpiece.
(Jakob Dylan, lyrics from "On Up The Mountain")

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Poem Message from Ocean Springs, Mississippi

The Fountain

Don't say, don't say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen
the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes
found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.
The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched-but not because
she grudged the water,
only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were
Don't say, don't say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,
it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.

~ Denise Levertov ~

Denise Levertov's poem was printed in River Rock Yoga's newsletter

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Morning view from my yoga mat

A few days ago I dreamed that I was living near the California coast again after 37 years of being away. As I walked down a steep gravel path with the ocean to my right, I felt sunshine as well as deep joy and gratitude. I was not with anyone but I was not alone either. The water was an unusual dark jade green. Grey whales began to appear just below the surface of the ocean, followed by golden fish with almost human faces. Sea lions came out of the ocean to be touched. Finally, a group of ancient sea turtles arrived to look into the faces of all those who stood on the gravel path. I woke up in amazement but drifted back to sleep. As I was between sleeping and waking, I heard this:

"Half of it is gratitude. The other half is being the mayonnaise."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Linda Rees, Tapestry Weaver (Updated)

Above are "River Rhumba" and "Our Folly, His Future."

When I was first living in Bellingham in the mid-1970s and after I received my first paycheck from my job as an industrial sewing machine operator in a Columbia Sportswear factory, I purchased a striking tapestry weaving that I had seen at a yarn shop in downtown Bellingham. I think of the figure as that of a lizard but it could be a salamander, both of which I sorely missed. I was new in Northwest Washington. I was deeply homesick for California. As I handed my check to the store owner, she noticed my address and told me that the tapestry weaver lived a few doors away from me. Linda has been my art friend for a long time now. The lizard/salamander is on the wall at one of my work tables. I was delighted when Linda told me that she had been putting a website together. It is like being able to visit her in her studio any time I want!

She will be showing some of her tapestries in La Connor, Washington, at the Gaches Mansion, from October through December 2010.

Also, as I've mentioned before in other posts, she is the author of Nezhnie: Weaver and Innovative Artist. I recommend it.  You can find it here.

Update on November 5, 2017:  Linda's website is no longer accessible but if you would like to see some of her work, just go to Google Images and enter "Linda Rees tapestry".

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My father became a child on Father's Day / Loved and Forgiven / Salish Sea


Here is a prayer written by my father a few days before Father's Day in 2002, exactly nine months before his death on St. Patrick's Day:

You are above all of 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, waterfalls, 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.


My father signed his prayer with his childhood name, Carl William, and gave a copy to his brother and sisters, all of his nieces and nephews and to me and my sisters. He was named after his mother's father, Carl Lien.

A story he told me (or was this a story my mother told me?) is that when he joined the Navy, he discovered that his birth certificate gave his name as "Boy," and it turned out that his parents had not come to an agreement on a name for him at his birth. His mother wanted to call him Carl William, and his father wanted to call him William Carl. Until he was in high school, he was called "Carl." When he was in high school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during the Depression, he decided that he didn't want to be just one of many Norwegian boys named Carl and began calling himself "Bill."

My father titled his prayer "My Daily Prayer to My Almighty God."

On the day after my father died, I walked alone on a beach in West Seattle and looked out at the relatively calm expanse of salt water, which suddenly appeared to me to be much like my father. I could only see its surface from my place on the shore. I knew nothing of its depths and neither did anyone else.

"... the most powerful force of all, Love." (Carl William, June 17, 2002)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Swallows' Nest Mandala

The five Tree Swallow nestlings fledged on June 14. A House Sparrow was harassing the remaining Tree Swallow father and mother in an increasingly disturbing manner. I took the nesting box down, thinking that the House Sparrow wanted the nesting box and was going to continue to intimidate the Tree Swallows. House Sparrows are known to kill nestlings, and so I was concerned about the fledglings. The House Sparrow hung around for awhile and then was gone. This morning I removed the nest from the nesting box so that I could clean the box and noticed the beautiful spiral pattern on the bottom of nest.

The Tree Swallow father and mother have been returning to sit on the hummingbird feeder ever since I took the nesting box down.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A pause in the evening


To the hilltops, my daughter, my son
The rescue's too little to cover the slums
Cross this river deeper than it ever was
There's a pause in the evening
When prayers are supposed to be done
(Jakob Dylan)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What I Do For A Living

I'm a Production Worker. I assemble and wrap and eat words at home on a computer instead of a typewriter or a conveyer belt. The funniest thing of all is that I like the job and that when I was in high school I got a D in Typing. It's also funny when the voice recognition software concludes that the patient goes to a physican named Dr. Flying Machine.

Jacob Lawrence's Typists, 1966. Gouache on paper, 22 x 30 in.

"They say sing while you slave and I just get bored."
(Bob Dylan)

I don't sing while I slave but I do laugh more than I used to.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Gracias a La Vida (Thank you to Life)

poem by Violeta Parra
English translation by William Morín

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto.

Thank you to life, which has given me so much.

Me ha dado la risa, me ha dado el llanto.

It gave me laughter and it gave me longing.

Así yo distingo dicha de quebranto,

With them I distinguish happiness and pain,

Los dos materiales que forman mi canto,

The two materials from which my songs are formed,

Y el canto de ustedes que es el mismo canto.

And your song, as well, which is the same song.

Y el canto de todos que es mi propio canto

And everyone’s song, which is my very song.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Walking Home Meditation / Mi Viejo Maestro (My Old Teacher) Boblo Picasso

Near the shop where my 21-year-old Honda Civic is being repaired are these stairs which lead up into Whatcom Falls Park. After the stairs, I've got at least a half-hour walk home in the rain.

I don't know how many steps there are. Let's just say "a multitude of steps." I don't photograph all the steps. There are at least this many that you can't see.

As I approach the bridge built by the WPA during the 1930s, with its view of Whatcom Falls, I stop to take a picture, not realizing that my camera is set on automatic flash. The rain and the mist rising from the falls is illuminated.

It was last year at this time that I started taking black and white photographs during my walks in Whatcom Falls Park. At this time last year, I was suffering from severe fatigue and depression caused by minocycline, a medication I had been taking for ocular rosacea. For some reason, taking black and white photographs lifted my spirits during that time of medication-induced depression.

A year later, walking along just beyond Whatcom Falls Bridge, I realize that I feel better than I have felt in my entire life. I'm not taking any medication except for St. John's Wort for some residual depression from the minocycline. I stop to photograph the sign for the trout hatchery, also built during the 1930s, remembering the time in the early 1980s when we saw a peculiar-looking truck drive up to the circular cement ponds. I thought, "What kind of truck is that???" When the men began to load up the hatchery trout, I suddenly heard Bob Dylan singing in my mind:

"The fiddler, he now steps to the road
He writes ev’rything’s been returned which was owed
On the back of the FISH TRUCK that loads
While my conscience explodes
The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain
And these visions of Johanna are now all that remain."

(lyrics from "Visions of Johanna")

Of course. The fiddler, the fish truck, my conscience, harmonicas, skeleton keys, rain, visions of Johanna. I was alone with my gratitude that day. Not everyone has Bob Dylan for a teacher.

Beyond the trout hatchery, the rainy scene at the fishing pond for children prompts me to switch to color.

After I cross the nearby bridge, which is also the dam that creates the fishing pond, I switch the setting on my camera to black and white again. As I look back across the fishing pond, I hear Bob Dylan singing in my mind again:

"Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now."

(lyrics from "My Back Pages")

I think, "Hey, wait a minute. My black and white photographs aren't lies!"

Now my mind shifts to one of Bob Dylan's spiritual teachers, Pablo Picasso, who said:

"Art is a lie that tells the truth."


"It takes a long time to become young."

and back to Bob:

Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now."

Pretty soon, I'm walking in the rainy woods again and can see home up ahead.

"Gotta get up near the teacher if you can
If you wanna learn anything"

(Bob Dylan, lyrics from "Floater (Too Much To Ask)," Love and Theft, 2001

Listen to "My Back Pages."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010