Friday, January 31, 2014


What I am I am, and say not.
Being is the great explainer.
(Henry David Thoreau)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Learning to play "Black Waters"

Negative Capability, that is, when [Amanda] is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.
(John Keats)

That's a song written by Jean Ritchie for the Appalachian dulcimer.  I like the way it sounds on my recently purchased 1976 Oscar Schmidt 15-chord autoharp.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Following up on song lyrics / Masked and Anonymous

Today some of the lyrics from George Harrison's final album came to my mind out of nowhere while I was puzzling over how to deal with my severe sensitivity to perfume, which is causing me some problems as I try to move forward with my life by taking classes that will give me a better chance in the workplace as a woman who is going to be 65 years old this year and will have to work for the rest of her life.  Certain perfumes trigger 3-day headaches for me, and I have had to leave class twice and have already missed a class due to a 3-day headache.  I approached the teacher with my problem, and he suggested wearing a mask.

OK.  I found a respiratory mask that made me laugh out loud.  Okay.  I'll bring a mask to class and put it on if someone shows up wearing perfume.  I can't wait for the mask to arrive in the mail by way of London.

Still thinking about the George Harrison lyrics, I did more searching and found this which readers in England may have seen before.  I'd not come across it until now:

Here are the first lines from "Brainwashed," by George Harrison:

It was on the longest night
God God God
An eternity of darkness
God God God
Someone turned out the spiritual light

Thank you, George, for sharing your spiritual journey and unquenchable sense of humor!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Birthday in January / Happy Birthday to Ya

Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.

-- Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Talking about a Painting Class Dream

Not having painted in years and not expecting anyone to show up, I had put up flyers around town for a painting class I am offering at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. At 8 a.m., the first students appear. (When the teacher is not ready, the students appear).

My painting class is being held in a vast field with a long banquet table that is large enough for more than 30 people.   Not far beyond the table is a dark brown barn. There is a mysterious tour bus parked in between the place where I live (near the entrance to the field) and the banquet table.  A young man tries to enter the bus, but I stop him.  I don't know who owns the bus, but I feel responsible for it.  I continue to wonder why the students are arriving so early.  As I usually do, I assume I am the one who is mistaken. More and more students arrive.  I am tall, but they are all taller than I am. Soon, all the places at the table are taken, and the students are talking with each other.  Even so, more students are streaming into the field.  I get up from my place at the east end of the table and ask the arriving students when they think the class is supposed to begin.  My voice is quiet, and none of them appear to to hear me.  They all have earnest faces.  I do not look like a teacher.  They are looking for the teacher.  

I feel tremendous inner pressure to be a good teacher for them but have no idea how to begin teaching the class.  These students know more about painting than I do.  One of the students, a man in his early thirties, has set up a display of his paintings on the sides and in front of the barn.  His small painting of waves breaking on an ocean shore comes to life.  I say, "Your painting comes to life."  He is the first student who can hear my voice.  His smile is confident.  His large paintings on all sides of the barn are darkly optimistic and abstract. I am sure that he doesn't realize that I am the teacher. Nobody does.  Then it occurs to me that I am not the teacher at all. These students are my teachers.  They are waiting for the teacher to appear.  

(The painting above is from my Calendar Series from the late 1980s and is titled "42nd Month:  Gifts of Love from Imaginary Brothers")

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Zora Neale Hurston

"Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place." 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A vision for the first day of 2014

"... And the coho are there -- speaking to us with their presence, telling us what they need.  Not a neat and tidy little stream, but messy and dynamic -- with dark places and slow, murky side-channels to hide in. We are learning, ever so slowly, to think less like humans and more like fish.  It is a complex journey, and now at the end of this first project, we extend our deep gratitude to the coho for returning to Baker Creek, and for keeping the faith alive in the Mattole River watershed ..."

(from Sanctuary Forest in Whitethorn, Humboldt County, California)

In keeping with a splendid tradition, Val McKee's luminous art work graces Sanctuary Forest's 2014 calendar: