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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Talking Happy 69th Birthday

“I’m just as good a singer as Caruso …You have to listen closely. But I hit all those notes. And I can hold my breath three times as long if I want to.”
(Bob Dylan, age 25, from the documentary film "Don't Look Back")


(Image from the 2003 film "Masked and Anonymous")

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Concerning the Spiritual in Art

In the interests of everyone the artist has the responsibility of using his medium well. In the Tibetan culture, most of the paintings are of deities or Buddhas, and they try to send a message of the value of the spiritual.

-- Dalai Lama

Concerning the Spiritual in Art, is a book by Wassily Kandinsky I read during the 1980s.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

View from Upper Whatcom Creek Bridge


A few weeks after Richard died in 2008, I was surprised and overjoyed to hear New Morning. Take what you have gathered from coincidence. Yes indeed!

I don't know East Bay Dave, but I do like the way he sings "New Morning."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nothing But The Whole Wide World

"Mama she raised me to sing and just let them talk."
(Listen to Jakob Dylan, Neko Case and Kelly Hogan)

My mother died in 1994 when she was 78 years old. She would have liked Jakob Dylan. She liked Bob Dylan and thanked me for introducing his music to her. My father took the Polaroid photo of her when she was 71. That was on Mother's Day in 1987, with flowers I sent to her.

Read about The Mothers' Peace Library in Quang Tri Province in Vietnam.

"It is the peace between the Mothers that is the most important peace of all."
(Ambassador Le Van Bang -- Vietnam)

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The birds still playing in the clouds

After I finish work, I have a little bit free time in the evening before I fall asleep. The daylight hours keep increasing. It's after 8 o'clock and still the sun is high in the sky even though summer is still a ways away, which reminds me of this poem that was read to me in my early childhood:

Bed in Summer, by Robert Louis Stevenson

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Source: A Child's Garden of Verses

(click on the photo to see the swallows playing in the clouds to the east)

Monday, May 3, 2010

The smile returning to their faces.


This post is dedicated to my friend, the Art Farmer, who moved away from Scudder Pond a few days ago. I hope the smile is returning to all the dear faces at the Art Farm.