Thursday, September 26, 2013

Green Over Blue / Simple Gifts

Green Over Blue, Mark Rothko, 1956

I don't express myself in paintings.  I express my not-self.
(Mark Rothko)

The same might be said for music.

Yesterday I made a decision and bought an Oscar Schmidt 15-chord autoharp made in 1976 and began tuning the 36 strings.  Halfway through the challenging tuning, I stopped and went out for a walk with my Canon PowerShot SD550 Digital Elph in hand because it was a pristine sunny day with blue sky, big white clouds, and yellow leaves everywhere.  To my great surprise, every photo I took was overexposed and had vertical lines covering it:

I've had that camera since shortly after I started my blog in December of 2006.  It's been a great little camera.  Interesting that it would suddenly have problems the day I bought an autoharp. The video function on the camera is still working.  Below is a view of Derby Pond from the trail at a spot close to the little dam and wooden footbridge.  You can hear the water running over the dam, and the waterfall beyond that:


Here is my new used autoharp with Bryan Bowers playing "Simple Gifts":

Thanks to bev for the inspiring me with her string instruments!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Welder of Rainbows Up in the Sky

I'd love to see the seven welded gates of Bob Dylan.  The gate in the photo above reminds me of the rainbow I saw this afternoon.  There was a rainbow yesterday late in the day, too.  

Beyond the horizon, behind the sun
At the end of the rainbow life has only begun.
(lyrics from "Beyond the Horizon," by Bob Dylan)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

βιος post #1190 / An Inadvertent Series of Lessons

Today's lessons include How to type in Greek on a computer:

We just never know where internet searches may lead us.  Early this morning when I checked my email, I saw this subject line:  Check out Journal of Surrealism and the Americas.  Although I was about to delete it, wondering why I was receiving this particular unsolicited email, something prompted me to open it.  We all know how this goes. Within seconds I realized that I had read something from the JSA before and must have given them my email address, and I was engaged with reading 'My World is Surreal,' or 'The Northwest Coast' is Surreal, by Charlotte Townsend-Gault (educated in England, taught in Scotland, Nova Scotia, and currently teaching in British Columbia) and was soon compelled to find out about Giorgio Agamben.  Part way down the Wiki page on Agamben, I came across this:

"bare life" — zoe (Gk. ζωή), as opposed to bios (Gk. βίος): qualified life

βίος looks like  Blog, doesn't it?

When I tried to copy and save "βίος" in a Word document, it copied as:  ____

Of course I couldn't let that stop me, and in the process I learned how to type in Greek letters on a computer and discovered that the Greek letter sigma's capitalized form is Σ and that it has two lower case forms -- σ and ς. The former is used within a word, and the latter is used at the end of word.  Ιt took me a little longer to figure out that in order to type the final Σ, I would have to use the  "w" key.

In the midst of these rich lessons, my attention was drawn outside to where I listened to the wind beginning to thrash the cattails before the drenching rain began.

And now another lesson in listening :

I had to play this a second time before I began to hear the high notes of "Amazing Grace" woven into the droning.

If you'd like to know more about Koomei, click here.

That's all for today.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Born in 1949 / We travel like an ox

I buyed me a little dog
Color it was brown
I learned him how to whistle
Sing and dance and run
His legs they were 14 yards long
His ears they were quite broad
Around the world in a half a day
And on him I could ride
Sing Tattle O’Day

I buyed me a little bull
About four inches high
Everybody feared him
That ever heard him cry
When he began to bellow
It made such a melodious sound
Until all the walls in London town
Came tumbling to the ground
Sing Tattle O’Day

I buyed me a flock of sheep
I thought they were all wethers
Sometimes they yielded wool
Sometimes they yielded feathers
I think mine are the very best sheep
For yielding me increase
For every full and change of the moon
They bring both lambs and geese
Sing Tattle O’Day

I buyed me a little box
About four acres square
I filled it full of guineas
And silver so fair
Oh now I’m bound for Turkey
I travel like an ox

And in my big chest pocket
I carry my little box
Sing Tattle O’Day

I buyed me a little hen
All speckled gay and fair
I sat her on an oyster shell
She hatched me out a hare
The hare it sprang a handsome horse
Full fifteen hands high
And him that tells a bigger tale
Would have to tell a lie
Sing Tattle O’Day

Yesterday something happened.  I've been feeling an underlying sense of progressive depression and fatigue for some time now, and yesterday morning I just didn't want to get out of bed and chose instead to enter into a form of meditation and soon drifted back into sleep.   

I dreamed a dream that didn't make me sad.  Because I was dreaming that I was in bed, I didn't completely realize that I was dreaming until I woke up. In the dream, I was awakened from sleep by a frightening commotion and loud voices and a tempest strong enough to force my body to move down my bed in the direction of my open bedroom window. 

For a few seconds, I fought being moved from my bed and then remembered a dream I had in October of 1998 while traveling on the coast of Northern California.  In that dream, I didn't realize that I was dreaming either because the dream also involved me being awakened from sleep while in bed. In that dream, I dreamed that I awoke to the sound of Hell's Angels on motorcycles outside the rented cottage where I was staying on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean in southern Mendocino County. I awoke in terror, feeling myself being pulled by my feet from my bed by an invisible force at the foot of the bed.  The feeling in that dream was similarly and oddly familiar, and felt like a memory from my childhood.  The dream room in that previous nightmare was filled with a subdued golden light which should have been reassuring but was not.

Still thinking that I was awake, as I fought the tempest and recalled that previous nightmare which had seemed to be based on a childhood memory, I noticed that everything in my vision was illuminated by a white light, and my distress shifted to the curiosity of lucid dreaming.  

Understanding clearly that it was within my power to make a decision to relax and see what would happen, I did just that.  Instead of finding myself flying out the open window, it was as if the tempest went through me, and then I woke up.  

I've felt disoriented and aimless since 2008 when Richard died. Or was it when the First Gulf War started in August of 1990 or was it in December of 1970 when Richard returned from Vietnam or was it somewhere way back in my childhood?

When I woke up this morning, I found that I suddenly had the ability to focus my energy enough to sit down at my work table for the first time in a long long time and listen to Another Self Portrait while I prepared a plan for warping my inkle loom and then warped the loom and began weaving.  

Listening to Another Self Portrait this morning inspired me to look through my CDs for the rest of the Bootleg Series, and I found I was missing Vols. 6 and 7 and promptly bought them both on iTunes and began assembling a Bootleg Series random playlist for listening while I am doing creative work. So far the playlist is over 10 hours long! 

After August 1990, as I began to exhibit symptoms of PTSD similar to those which many Vietnam veterans began to experience at that time, I found that preparing to do creative work only upset me. What was once the source of my solace had been transformed into a dark place that I could no longer tolerate.  

Although I had frequently been inspired by listening to Bob Dylan's voice in the past, I haven't been able to bring myself to do that for years when I have sat down in an attempt to do art work. In the past few weeks, I've come to realize that I can listen to the alternative versions and live versions of songs sung by Bob Dylan and can feel something new instead of reliving the past.  

P.S. I'm still playing my ukulele daily, inspired by George Harrison:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

If not for turquoise rings and new ways to sing old songs on a foggy Sunday morning in September 2013

A few days after Richard died in April 2008, I was walking in the woods, and on the trail I found a silver ring with a round piece of turquoise set in it.  Although I tried to find its owner, I was unsuccessful and put the ring away.

A few weeks ago I had a dream where I said to Richard, "Let's do things differently this time."  He looked intently at me for a few moments and then said, "Yes."  It is the second time this year I have had a dream of having that conversation with Richard.

Not long after the dream, I remembered the turquoise ring I had found in the woods, remembered where I kept it, and tried it on.  It fit tightly on my ring finger.  

Kept with that ring was another turquoise ring that is adjustable:

I don't remember where or when I bought the second ring, although it might have been during the 1990s.  It occurred to me that the adjustable ring would look good next to the tight ring if I had the tight ring sized, and if I wore the adjustable ring below that ring.  

When Richard came back from Vietnam in December of 1970, his mother asked that I wear a ring on my wedding ring finger when we visited.  She had told his younger brothers and sisters that we had married upon his return.  We had made no plans to marry, but I had a silver ring encircled with squares of embedded turquoise and wore that. My mother had given me the ring (made in Arizona by a Native man named Elias, which is my father's father's name), after she had visited a friend in Arizona some years earlier.

I don't remember when I stopped wearing that turquoise ring on my wedding ring finger, but I do know that I continued to wear the ring for a few years afterwards, after Richard and I had separated.  It was sometime in 1972 that I took the turquoise ring off to wash my hands at the sink in the restroom of the insurance company where I worked as a kitchen helper and cashier in the cafeteria.  One of my co-workers went into the restroom right after I did.  When I went right back to look for my ring, it was gone.  My co-worker, a woman in her 50s who had one artificial leg and a tragic life story, denied having seen it.  I didn't believe her, but I let it go.  

Anyway, two weeks ago I took the ring I had found in the woods to a jeweler to be sized.  I am not a person who wears rings or necklaces or other jewelry.  My ears are not pierced.  

When I went to pick up the ring at the jeweler's store a few days ago, I was wearing the adjustable ring.  I slipped the newly sized ring on above it. The two rings looked beautiful together.  As I was looking at the rings, I thought I heard Bob Dylan singing.  When I listened closely to the background music in the jewelry store, I heard this:

"We always did feel the same
 We just saw it from a different point of view
 Tangled up in blue."

Those who were reading my blog in 2008 may remember this from a post a few weeks after Richard died:

"Last week, I finally was able to go to the photo lab in downtown Bellingham so I could order some prints of my old friend and his art work to send to his sister. As I was standing at the counter trying to explain my project, I heard Bob Dylan singing. I stopped talking to listen to him sing. When I tried to talk again, I couldn't because I started crying. The young woman clerk was playing Bob Dylan's album, New Morning, which is what I listened to while my old friend was in Vietnam and what we listened to during the 5 months we lived together in  early 1971. The clerk was playing the ALBUM (!) on a turntable and handed the album cover to me. More than a coincidence. How else could that happen? New Morning is a great album. Ends with a beautiful song called Father of Night. The song that made me start to cry was If Not For You."

My fingers just aren't made for rings anymore, unless they are adjustable.  Later in the day, the newly sized ring, which had been fine in the morning, was in danger of slipping off.  I don't want to lose that ring and will keep it in a safe place where I can look at it and think about doing things differently this time.  

I'm still listening to Another Self Portrait, deeply grateful to be hearing new versions of those songs I remember from 1969-1971 and appreciating how Bob Dylan has taught me to see how everything, not only music, can be open to interpretation and transformation.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In the unemployment line in Madrid

Watch for the woman with the purple headband, 2:54 to 3:00.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Listening to Seamus Heaney while thinking about the United States and Syria on September 1, 2013

(Marie and Seamus Heaney in 2009)

The form of the poem, in other words, is crucial to poetry's power to do the thing which always is and always will be to poetry's credit: the power to persuade that vulnerable part of our consciousness of its rightness in spite of the evidence of wrongness all around it, the power to remind us that we are hunters and gatherers of values, that our very solitudes and distresses are creditable, in so far as they, too, are an earnest of our veritable human being.

(Seamus Heaney, from his 1995 Nobel lecture)