Thursday, November 29, 2012

Color key (getting ready to paint something) / Listening to old rock & roll / Looking to the east

Took inventory of my paint tubes and made a color key:

While working on the color key, I listened to a collection of old rock & roll songs.  It must have been when I was 7 years old that I first heard this:

When I went out on the porch, I saw this:
You can hear a Steller's Jay at the end of the clip.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This November Light


Still in quiet mode.  Thank you for continuing to stop by.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Falling and Illumination

A few days ago, a friend and I took a long walk up steep Hillsdale Road to the gradual climb of Toad Lake Road and down to Toad Lake and then part way up Squalicum Mountain Road and back (check Google Maps if you would like to see just where this is in Bellingham, Washington).  As we were walking north along Toad Lake Road, my friend looked up and noticed a golden rain that appeared to be falling out of the deep blue sky.  I looked up and then down and saw a few tiny flat seed pods sticking to my fleece jacket.  We looked up and to the west side of the narrow road and to where there was a small stand of trees with a few leaves left on them.  The seeds were illuminated by the sun as they fell from the trees. The afternoon light and the timing were just right.  In all the years I have lived in Bellingham, I've never consciously seen this before.

When I got home I went to Google, certain that I could find out what kind of tree had released the shower of gold.  I entered words like "golden rain" and "trees" and "seed fall" but came up with nothing that seemed to refer to anything like what we had seen.  Then I went to Google Images and entered "tree seeds" and quickly discovered that the golden rain was most likely from alder trees.

I didn't have my camera with me, but I doubt a camera could have captured that experience.

As the days get shorter and darker, my spirits lift inexplicably, and playing the dulcimer is giving me unexpected added joy.  I'd like to be able to play like Robert Force but am happy just to be learning what I can:


Whenever I take a picture of myself taking a picture of myself, I think of Imogen Cunningham.

More about Imogen Cunningham.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lost and found / Veterans Day 2012

While looking for dulcimer tunes I found this poem, written by a veteran of World War II and recently set to music by his son.

May all veterans and their loved ones be safe and know they are loved.

Sunset on the Prairie

There's a sunset on the prairie and the sky in rainbow hue
Makes a symphony of color of crimson, gold and blue
There's a sunset on the prairie and its last flamboyant ray
Is like an elfin princess that takes your breath away

There's a sunset on the prairie and as the colors fade
They present a grander picture than the finest canvas made
As the sun sets on my foxhole I can see across the sea
To the prairies of Dakota from the shores of Sicily.

Across the sands of Northern Africa, we chased the Desert Fox
From Kasserine to El Guettar, who can say who's won or lost?
As we tally up the human cost, children beg for chocolate
In the dusty streets of old Sale, while soldiers bow their heads and pray
On both sides of the line

After Tunis fell, we crossed the sea and came ashore on Sicily
Patton and Montgomery in a race to get to Italy
In Troina beneath Etna's shade, all our tiny roles we played
Pawns were moved and plans were laid
The generals bet, the soldiers paid on both sides of the line

From Palermo all roads led to Rome, but it's such a longer journey home
'Cross the Arno, up the Apennines, to Southern France, the river Rhine
Rain or mud, shine or blow, the infantry all hunkered low
How we did it, I don't know
Pushing back the line one foot at a time.

Now the swallows still are flying above the flashing guns
While friend and foe lie dying beneath the setting sun
One more brilliant sunset, another place without a name
Blood red are the colors, it's going down in flames

© Robert McPeek 2010, SoundSpark Music, ASCAP

Friday, November 9, 2012

Light in November 2012

A message from Brother Toby of Starcross Community in Northern California:

The light shines in the darkness and there humanity becomes aware of it.

Meister Eckhart (c.1260-c.1327)

As I walk to the chapel for Vespers, the trees around me are mostly bare. Their colorful leaves lay on the ground. Without the leaves I can see the tree as it really is, with all its weaknesses and the simplicity of its beauty.
In human relations it is often hard to see beyond the leaves that conceal the person. We have just finished a national election unlike any I have experienced. These words were written before the election and you are reading them after it. Some will be relieved and others disappointed. For most, it is simply a difference of how worried we are about the future. And, the future of “what”? The overall well-being of the human family or our individual personal welfare? Or both?
It's my good fortune to be around many bright people born after May 4, 1970. They wonder why some of us old folks get so worked up. What is it we expected from life? Well, the big secret of counter-culture life in the 1960s was that most of us would have to admit that, down deep, we really did believe this was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. We used different words, and dressed differently from each other but we all thought we could change the world. There was a sort of extended tribal feeling.
There was nothing remarkable about students at Kent State University protesting against the Vietnam war. That was happening all over the country. On May 4th the Ohio National Guard killed four of them and wounded nine. We all felt it. In that 13 second burst of 67 rounds it became clear there would be no Age of Aquarius. For many of us restless ancients, the problem is we have trouble getting used to the fact that we cannot change the world with broad movements. And we rail against that!
Many younger friends of mine have accepted what Peter Benson said when he founded Amnesty International, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”  That is a healthy attitude and, in fact, it is ancient wisdom. Long ago a rabbi said to an impatient student, “God did not ask you to be Moses. God asked you to be YOU.”
As I walk along the path I realize that sometimes the pretty leaves keep me from seeing the tree — or being me. Here at Starcross you will not find the seeds of a spiritual revolution. Here there is only one small candle. The tiny flame must be protected. It can be blown out by ideology, whether that comes from obstructionists on the right or politically correct true-believers on the left — or from the rigidity of our twisted religious history.
As I stand looking out on the porch of our little chapel in the autumn twilight,  I can sense people beyond number carrying their little candles and protecting the flames from the storms around us. In those fragile lights, sisters and brothers, is the beauty of our age and the hope of our future.

Brother Toby