Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.” 
(Maya Angelou)

Monday, May 26, 2014

My Great Nephew (-:

Born this morning at 5:30 a.m. in Seattle, Washington!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Catching rainbow trout / Bob Dylan's 73rd birthday

"Thank you for everything.  I have no complaint whatsoever."
(quote from a story about a Buddhist nun)

Build me a cabin in Utah
Marry me a wife
Catch rainbow trout
Have a bunch of kids that call me Pa
That must be what it's all about.
("Sign on a Window," by Bob Dylan, 1970)

And this from May 2014.

And something about The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob.

Happy 73rd Birthday, Bob.  Gracias por tu musica!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

In Which We Take Flying Lessons from Mother Earth and Father Sky and We Don't Laugh at Each Other

Father of night, Father of day
Father, who taketh the darkness away
Father, who teacheth the bird to fly
Builder of rainbows up in the sky
Father of loneliness and pain
Father of love and Father of rain
(lyrics by Bob Dylan from "Father of Night")
They say prayer has the power to help
So pray from the Mother
In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I'm trying to love my neighbor and do good unto others
But oh, Mother, things ain't going well

(lyrics by Bob Dylan from "Ain't Talkin")

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Damnation! / DamNation / Watching the River Flow / Roll on Columbia / All the little birds will come again

Coincidence?  My mother has been in my thoughts frequently since Mother's Day.  This morning I received an email from Bellingham's Mt. Baker Theater, announcing the showing of the film, "DamNation."

Google definition of "damnation":

  1. (in Christian belief) condemnation to eternal punishment in hell.
  2. Expressing anger or frustration.

My thoughts went back to when I was a toddler, and my mother was around 36 years old.  I remembered hearing the first words I can recall my mother saying.  She wasn't angry or frustrated with me (as far I could tell), but she was steamed up about something.  She was vacuuming our small apartment and cursing, "Damnation!  God damn it to hell!"

In one of my last conversations with her (when she was almost 78 years old) she told me that she was tired of being angry.  

Maybe my mother just needed to cry.

People disagreeing on all just about everything, yeah
Makes you stop and all wonder why
Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street
Who just couldn’t help but cry
Oh, this ol’ river keeps on rollin’, though
No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does I’ll just sit here
And watch the river flow
(Bob Dylan, lyrics from "Watching the River Flow."
The source is clear and bright,
the tributary streams flow through the darkness.
To be attached to things is an illusion:
To encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment.
P.S.  I'm giving some thought to a post inspired by The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob.  My name is am and I am a Dylanologist.  My guess is that only Dylanologists will be reading this book (-:
Coincidentally (or not) one of the Dylanologist websites left a comment (a clarification) on my totem pole post while I was in the process of reading The Dylanologists.  A comment from a Dylanologist website is a first for me. The only Dylanologist website I subscribe to is this one.

I take Bob Dylan at his word in his song "Mississippi":

Well my ship’s been split to splinters and it’s sinkin' fast
I’m drownin’ in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it’s light and it’s free
I’ve got nothin’ but affection for all those who’ve sailed with me.

P.P.S.  Another connection to my mother, revisited today:

"Although I didn't pick up all the details on the first watching, the second time I did notice many significant details I had missed the first time including the Scandinavian knitting pattern that my mother had used when she made a pillow for me many years ago":

Mad River Rising from daniel houghton on Vimeo.

"All the little birds will come again when winter ends ..."
(music by Michael Chorney and Anais Mitchell)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Weekend Meditation 2014

Remembering my mother.  Remember how creative she was as a writer of short stories, a poet, a seamstress, a painter, a printmaker, a batik artist, a stained glass artist, and a pattern knitter.  Remembering her love of horses and how gracefully she was able to ride horses and that she gave that up to get married and have children when she was 33 years old.  Remembering her lifelong love of books and her passion for art and music.  Remembering the time she thanked me for introducing her to the music of Bob Dylan.  Remembering taking her to see "The Last Waltz" and how much she loved that movie.  Remembering that she thanked me for introducing her to the writing of Ursula K. Le Guin.  Remembering her spiritual journey from Christianity to Judaism.  Remembering what an extraordinary woman she was.  

Remembering how terrified of her I was from early childhood and how angry I was at her from about age 37 until the day she died suddenly, with no warning signs, of a massive heart attack in December of 1994 when I was 45 years old.  Remembering that my first words to my youngest sister upon hearing over the phone, while at work, the shocking news that our mother had died that morning were:

"Now she can't hurt me anymore." 

Just before I spoke those words I looked out the window at the hospital where I worked, and I had a vision of a dark cloud lifting and disappearing from my sight.  Remembering how I could feel truly safe with my mother only after she died.  It was only after she died that I could feel safe enough to begin to love my mother.  

Not everyone can understand that, but I know that I am not alone in my experience.  My mother would understand.  She was angry at her own mother, and then when my mother was in her first year of college, her mother developed gallbladder cancer and wasted away to a living skeleton before dying.  My mother grew to love her mother after her mother died.  I am just like my mother in that way.  I don't have children of my own and was never even pregnant, but this weekend I am due to become a Great Aunt.  My only nephew's girlfriend is due to give birth tomorrow on Mother's Day.  As she gives birth, she will be born again as a mother.  

I am sending all my love to my nephew, his girlfriend, and their baby who is so close to being born.

My heart goes out to the Nigerian girls and their families.

What is complete   

The valley spirit never dies.
Call it mystery, the woman.

The mystery,
the Door of the Woman,
is the root
of earth and heaven.

Forever this endures, forever.
And all its uses are easy.

(Chapter 6, from an English version of the Tao Te Ching, by Ursula K. Le Quin)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Double rainbow on a sunny day with Albert Einstein and Charles Simic

Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse 
while all the others were making ships. 
(Charles Simic, poet -- b. 1938)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Walking meditation in color and black and white / Reading meditation

Thank you to wood s lot for this:

Children Selecting Books in a Library
Randall Jarrell

With beasts and gods, above, the wall is bright.
The child's head, bent to the book-colored shelves,
Is slow and sidelong and food-gathering,
Moving in blind grace ... yet from the mural, Care
The grey-eyed one, fishing the morning mist,
Seizes the baby hero by the hair
And whispers, in the tongue of gods and children,
Words of a doom as ecumenical as dawn
But blanched like dawn, with dew.
The children's cries
Are to men the cries of crickets, dense with warmth
-- But dip a finger into Fafnir, taste it,
And all their words are plain as chance and pain.
Their tales are full of sorcerers and ogres
Because their lives are: the capricious infinite
That, like parents, no one has yet escaped
Except by luck or magic; and since strength
And wit are useless, be kind or stupid, wait
Some power's gratitude, the tide of things.
Read meanwhile ... hunt among the shelves, as dogs do, grasses,
And find one cure for Everychild's diseases
Beginning: Once upon a time there was
A wolf that fed, a mouse that warned, a bear that rode
A boy. Us men, alas! wolves, mice, bears bore.
And yet wolves, mice, bears, children, gods and men
In slow preambulation up and down the shelves
Of the universe are seeking ... who knows except themselves?
What some escape to, some escape: if we find Swann's
Way better than our own, an trudge on at the back
Of the north wind to -- to -- somewhere east
Of the sun, west of the moon, it is because we live
By trading another's sorrow for our own; another's
Impossibilities, still unbelieved in, for our own ...
"I am myself still?" For a little while, forget:
The world's selves cure that short disease, myself,
And we see bending to us, dewy-eyed, the great
CHANGE, dear to all things not to themselves endeared.

Also see: 12-year-old wisdom

And this:

Monday, May 5, 2014

Meditation in the rain on the 5th day of May

Isis, oh, Isis, you're a mystical child
What drives me to you is what drives me insane
I still can remember the way that you smiled
On the fifth day of May in the drizzling' rain

(lyrics from "Isis," by Bob Dylan -- the phrasing and music in this recording sound like the original but the voice doesn't sound like Bob Dylan.  There is a discussion on YouTube as to the identity of the vocalist.)

(pastel drawing on paper, by am, early 1980s and rainy day film clip taken at Derby Pond not far from Whatcom Falls in Whatcom Falls Park.  Whatcom is a Lummi Indian word meaning "noisy, rumbling water")