Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Start from zero / Down to zero

You have to be very strong, ’cause you’ll start from zero
Over and over again…

(Thanks to Goat for Lou Reed lyrics from "The Summation")

Up there at the top of my post is a view from my porch looking to the southeast.  When the clouds lift in fall and winter, the sky here is exquisitely blue -- a deeper blue than the spring and summer sky.  The lower the humidity, the bluer the sky.

There's a bit of magic in everything
And then some loss to even things out
(Lyrics by Lou Reed from "The Summation")

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Find poem here.

That's Whatcom Falls viewed from the WPA bridge over Whatcom Creek in Whatcom Falls Park.

Monday, October 28, 2013

"... and your very flesh shall be a great poem ..."

In the preface to Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman writes to himself and the men of his time:

"This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body."

For some reason, that got me thinking about Emily Dickinson and wondering if Walt Whitman read any of her poetry before he died in 1892. She died in 1886. Only a few of her poems were published in her lifetime, but some of her poetry was published posthumously in 1890.  She would have been aware of Whitman, but he may or may not have read any of her poetry.  I searched around a little and found this at

"Though she was dissuaded from reading the verse of her contemporary Walt Whitman by rumor of its disgracefulness, the two poets are now connected by the distinguished place they hold as the founders of a uniquely American poetic voice." 

The little videos at the top of this post show the street next to where I live. Turning left, one goes down a steep hill which leads to downtown Bellingham. Turning right, one can keep driving east for about 50 miles until one arrives (as far as one can drive into this section of Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest) at Artist's Point parking lot which is already closed this year due to snow: 

(photo credit:  Jeff Katzer)

This morning when I woke up in the dark at 5 o'clock, I could hear the wind.  When I went out on the porch to look to the east, the sky was unusually clear.  I could see the crescent moon and Orion.  The temperature is in the 50s this afternoon, with sunshine, wind, and absolutely clear sky.  The humidity is unusually low at 27%.  Ideal weather conditions, as far as I am concerned.  A good time for walking and everything else.  This is the time of year when my flesh feels like a great poem!

One more thing:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The way it is, the way it was, and the way it will be

This view of Bellingham Bay and sky changes by the minute, but the water, shoreline of the Lummi Peninsula, and sky have been here for a long long time. Makes me think of a Mark Rothko painting:

This was a narrow motorbike trail on the way to Whatcom Falls when I first arrived in Bellingham in spring of 1974.  Now it is part of the extensive trail system that runs through Whatcom Falls Park.  Most of the trails are graveled.  Otherwise, they would be muddy messes throughout our long rainy Pacific Northwest winters: 

Through the trees you can see Derby Pond, created by damming Whatcom Creek:

The beauty of landscape architecture:

A moment of reflection:

Thank you for all the comments on my previous post.  You've all given me much to consider about the changing nature of landscape -- for reasons both relating to human intervention and otherwise.

Having grown up in Northern California and having spent my time between age 17 and age 23 as often as possible on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, I walked along vast sections of shoreline that showed no evidence of human intervention and major evidence of the power of the ocean to change the contours of land.  Since my last post, I have been highly conscious that so many of the places I walk in and around Bellingham are a mixture of the wild order of nature and of human orderliness.  On the other hand, take a look at this map of Whatcom County (White Rock, Clearbrook, and Abbotsford are in British Columbia, 25 miles north of Bellingham):

There are parts of eastern Whatcom County that are truly wild and pathless, and the 1895 photo below of Lummi Island, which is west of Bellingham across Bellingham Bay, shows a Lummi Indian camp and a glimpse of the way the shorelines looked then.  Not wild and pathless, but not meddled with to a great extent either.  

Interesting to see that the shore appears to be covered with stones similar to ones on the newly engineered beaches.  Now I am guessing that the landscape architects used photos like this for reference when they reconstructed the current beaches on Bellingham's shores.  Looks as if I was wrong in my original perception that the engineered beaches are not in character with the historical landscape.  I believe I owe an apology to the landscape architects for criticizing their work.

The self-portrait was taken in the mirror of the fairly new restroom near the children's playground which is near the red, orange and golden trees in the photo of the parking area in Whatcom Falls Park.  Kind of looks like I might be in meditation hall or a chapel.  I like the effect of the scratches on the mirror.  That's my new camera!

Last week I started free Microsoft Word classes at the Goodwill Job Training and Education Center and will take a class in Excel in January and possibly a class in cashiering;  

It's not easy to find a job in Bellingham at age 64 with my job background as a medical transcriptionist, but I am going to find a way to support myself for the rest of my life.  If I can focus my energy on weaving, that can be a source of income as well.

Just yesterday I applied for health insurance, and it was affirmed that, because of the Affordable Care Act, I am eligible for free health insurance through the State of Washington until next October when I will qualify for Medicare and will have to pay for Part B and can chose to pay for Part C and Part D, if I wish.  I've been without health insurance since the end of August of 2011 and am fortunate to be in good health.

Next week I begin volunteering to comfort babies in a childcare and learning center.

That's it for today.  Need to get going so that I will arrive at the classroom early and be ready to go when the lessons start.  

From wood s lot:

Sojourns in the Parallel World
Denise Levertov
b. October 24, 1923

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension--though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it "Nature"; only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be "Nature" too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal--then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we've been, when we're caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
--but we have changed, a little.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Art of the Engineered Beach and the True Meaning of Life

As I understand, the stones and pilings on this section of shoreline on Bellingham Bay were brought in from elsewhere and arranged esthetically by beach engineers in what seems to me to be the spirit of Japanese rock gardens rather than the natural appearance of the shores of Bellingham Bay.  I've written about this aspect of Bellingham's shoreline before.  In a few weeks, a new section of engineered beach will be completed and open to the public.

"They were intended to imitate the intimate essence of nature, not its actual appearance, and to serve as an aid to meditation about the true meaning of life."
(from the Wiki article on Japanese rock gardens)

I'm experiencing something like cognitive dissonance.  Can you tell? The beaches are gratifying to my sense of design and yet I'm deeply aware that the nature of the shoreline of Bellingham Bay has been radically altered from its original state time after time since the first Europeans arrived here in 1792.  I wonder how long this Japanese rock garden phase will last.

When I arrived in Bellingham in 1974, there was little easy access to the shoreline of Bellingham Bay, and much of that shoreline was devoted to the logging and pulp mill industry.  Bellingham Bay is looking much healthier than it did in much of the second half of 20th century, and the relatively recently accessible shoreline is enjoyed by residents and visitors from around the state, the nation and the world.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Thanks to Doonesbury video archives.

for whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea

E.E. Cummings

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Well we all shine on like the moon and the stars and the sun

Listen on John Lennon's 73rd birthday.

The trees were shining in the late-day light yesterday, and there was a gull way up there in the dark clouds.

Sean Lennon is 38 years old today.  Yoko Ono was 80 years old last February.

Why in the world are we here
Surely not to live in pain and fear

(John Lennon, lyrics from "Instant Karma")

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ocean Poem

In the ocean of compassion I sank like a stone,
With no self to protect, breathing out like a koan.

(inspired by Solitary Walker)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Everything looks more like itself

“The passage into mystery always refreshes. If, when we work, we can look once a day upon the face of mystery, then our labor satisfies. We are lightened when our gifts rise from pools we cannot fathom. Then we know they are not a solitary egotism and they are inexhaustible.”

—Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, (Vintage Books, New York, 2007) p. 25
(quoted from Parabola)

Everything looks different and more like itself with my new camera, a Canon PowerShot ELPH 115 IS.  

Thanks to everyone who continues to stop by.  I'm grateful for your blogs and your visits here whether you comment or not.