Sunday, July 31, 2011

42 years: a book of changes / Here Comes The Sun

Just came across this that I put together in 2008.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Things that one carries ..."

Worth listening to, if you have the time.

"Garry Trudeau was outside my office." (47:27)

"Oh, I awoke in anger. So alone and terrified." (Bob Dylan, from "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine")

Still thinking about Mahalia's image of God's hands holding everything (everything) and Buddha's hands holding emptiness, and now having seen that cartoon from Garry Trudeau, and recalling that at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California, where my friend Richard died, and where the Darrah Westrup works with women veterans, there was a Zen Buddhist chaplain available in spring of 2008. I wonder what he or she would say to a woman veteran.

From the Dalai Lama:

Q: You have said that according to Buddhist philosophy there is no Creator, no God of creation, and this may initially put off many people who believe in a divine principle. Can you explain the difference between the Vajrayana Primordial Buddha and a Creator God?

A: I understand the Primordial Buddha, also known as Buddha Samantabhadra, to be the ultimate reality, the realm of the Dharmakaya-- the space of emptiness [am's italics] --where all phenomena, pure and impure, are dissolved ...

And then I came across this, in contrast to Mahalia's imagery and the imagery of the Buddha's empty hands:

No one can keep us from carrying God
Wherever we go. (from the Persian Sufi, Hafiz)

"Things that one carries ..."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sending love to Norway / Great Aunt Julia / Mystery ship / Dancing boy from Norway

This last weekend my cousin invited me over to see her father's scrapbooks and photo albums that she had recently brought back from Montana, where her mother lived after her father died. Wonderful to see old photos from the 1920s and 1930s and 1940s of our fathers and uncles and aunts and cousins and great aunts and uncles, and grandparents and our great grandmother, Mary. I was surprised and delighted when my cousin gave me an oil painting she had brought from Montana of a sailing ship at sea, painted by our Great Aunt Julia:

Without thinking too much, we assumed the flags were Norwegian, which is our heritage on our fathers' side. When I looked around on Google, I discovered that the flags look more like flags of Iceland but don't have the white edge on the red-orange cross on the blue background that would made them clearly Icelandic.

Although I looked around on Google images for a similar sailing ship that Great Aunt Julia might have used as a model, I was unable to find one. Anyone know anything about sailing ships?

The painting is hanging over my art work table now. Our Norwegian great grandparents came to the United States (Minnesota) on a much larger sailing ship in the 1800s by way of Quebec. They came on a new ship that was not built for passengers, according what our grandfather wrote in the 1940s. Our grandfather was the first in his family to be born in the United States.

"... My parents left Norway [am's note: They were from Nordfjord] for America in May 1871. They had four children who were born in Norway, two girls died in infancy and two boys, Christian and Mons, who went with them to America ... The ship on which they crossed the Atlantic was called Argo. It was a new ship. It had made only one previous trip and that was to South America. They had to wait for it for over a week in Bergen, because they had to make new accommodations on the ship for emigrants, because the ship had not been previously built for that purpose ... My brother, Christian, at that time was only a little over five years old, and as mother could not look after him [am's note: He writes earlier that she was seasick for most of the trip] and he being somewhat wild at the time, had a wonderful time running around on the deck and even tried at times to climb the ropes connected with the sails because it was a sail-ship. It has been said that he would dance around like little boys of that age would do and the passengers enjoyed it very much and they encouraged him by throwing little pieces of money to him in order to have him continue ..."

(written by our grandfather in the 1940s)

I just found this on Google, from the passenger list of the Argo in May 1871:

Lasse Christian Rake 44 m farmer
Dorothea !! Rake* 37 f
Christian !! Rake* 5 m
Mons !! Rake* 2 m

Amazing what can be so easily found on the internet today.

Our grandmother Amanda and her sister Julia's grandparents (family name Kongslien) came from the area of Vang, Valdres in Norway in 1852. With a little searching, I could probably find that a passenger list for them, too, but I have to work today ...

Sending love to the people of Norway.

Read this from Sabine.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

But she breaks just like a little girl / Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse (1983-2011)

Took my breath away when I heard the news of her death on Saturday morning.

Just as it did when I had no idea who she was but first heard her singing, "No, No, No," in the background music in a doctor's office. Could that have been in 2007?

Yes, I'm sure it was. My friend, Richard, was still alive, and that could have been him singing.

Rest in peace.


No, No, No (1:03)

Listen (2:06)

“I’m not a natural born performer. I’m a natural singer, but I’m quite shy, really. You know what it’s like? I don’t mean to be sentimental or soppy but it’s a little bit like being in love, when you can’t eat, you’re restless, it’s like that. But then the minute you go on stage, everything’s OK. The minute you start singing.”
(Amy Winehouse)

"... when I come back, you'll know, know, know..."
(Amy Winehouse, from "Rehab")

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The work of lightning

"A vibrant painting: the size of the canvas allows for activities in seven plain dreamings following a lightning storm. The rich symbolism of the painting is supplemented with pleasurable use of colours." (from here, painting by Moses Fry)

Watch for the flash of lightning around 1:19.

Thunder on the Mountain

"I'm just average, common too
I'm just like him, the same as you
I'm everybody's brother and son
I ain't different than anyone
It ain't no use a-talking to me
It's just the same as talking to you."
(Bob Dylan)

“This life of separateness may be compared to a dream, a phantasm, a bubble, a shadow, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning."

"And the world will live as one."
(John Lennon)

"Just then a bolt of lightning
Struck the courthouse out of shape
And while ev’rybody knelt to pray
The drifter did escape."
(Bob Dylan)

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does all the work."
(Mark Twain)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

10,000 steps / Uphill all the way home

You've seen this before but not in video. The image is pretty clunky, but you get the idea of the beginning of the path that leads past Scudder Pond and into Whatcom Falls Park. You will hear more birds as I get closer to Scudder Pond, which is to the right of the path. The first 5,000 steps are almost imperceptibly downhill until the very end of the path. It's clearly uphill all the way home.

Still thinking about Buddha's empty hands. The absence that is a presence. And Ayin (nothingness). And Mahalia Jackson singing, "He's got the whole world in his hands."

And walking, not running, on empty.

(In 1965, I was 15. In 1969, I was 19. In 2011, I am 61, which is the best so far. Funny how empty feels full now.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wind, birds, cattails and coincidences

Yesterday, given a few unexpected hours of time off from my job, and inspired by a cedar-wrapped 1956 Metro on display at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, which brought back good memories of my friend Richard and the Metro that he had in 1968 or 1969, the front hood of which he decorated by hand with paint, I sat down with my watercolor and gouache paint tubes and brushes and did what I usually do after not painting for a long time, which is to just make some brush strokes on watercolor paper and see where they lead me. Playing with paint with nothing in particular in mind. I started with Payne's Grey, which looks black but is really a dark grey-blue. I tried to paint a horse, but it turned out looking like a cat. Then I filled in some areas with Cobalt Blue and then Chinese Red and then Permanent White. I accidentally dropped the paintbrush filled with Cobalt Blue and it fell in front of the cat who is walking up a red and white path. This kind of painting is like dreaming.

This morning when I was out walking up the hill with a goal of 10,000 steps or 100 minutes or 5 miles, I looked down and saw a single piece of a Rubik's Cube on the ground. I picked it up and was delighted to see that three sides were Payne's Grey and the remaining three sides were blue, red and white.

At the top is my first successful download of a video from my digital camera. Until today, all my attempts to post my own videos to my blog were unsuccessful.

Perseverance furthers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oboe dream


When was it? 2004? I dreamed that my old friend, Richard, a carpenter, had made an extraordinary musical instrument out of a variety of woods. He brought it to show to me. He looked more at peace than I had ever seen him since he returned from Vietnam in December of 1970. He demonstrated how the instrument worked by touching one type of wood at a time. When he touched the first one and we listened to the sound, he looked at me joyfully and said, "Oboe." That was all he said during the dream.

It must have been 2004 or later, because when I woke up I went to my iBook G4 and Googled "oboe." Sooner or later I came across Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," which had been a favorite of Richard's as a small boy, and I learned that the oboe was used for the duck's theme:

In the story's ending, the listener is told that "if you listen very carefully, you'd hear the duck quacking inside the wolf's belly, because the wolf in his hurry had swallowed her alive."

Reading those words, it occurred to me that, as a child, I always thought the duck somehow found its way out of the wolf's belly. For me, it may have been the end of the story but not the end of the duck.

Anyway, in late September of 2006, I decided to go to an animal shelter and find and adopt a cat that resembled the wood that Richard had touched in my dream and name him or her "Oboe."

That is Oboe sitting in the July morning sun just after 7 a.m. She will be approximately 6 years old in next month.

More about Oboe.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

She speaks of the great kind spirit and of doubt

If you have a free half hour during this long weekend for the U.S. and Canada, listen to Louise Erdrich.

"...I go through a continual questioning. And I think that is my assurance that if I was to let go of my doubt, that I would somehow have surrendered my faith. My job is to address the mystery..."

— Louise Erdrich (from interview with Bill Moyers, April 9, 2010)

Any day now, the golden day lilies will be blooming!

July 4th update: