Thursday, July 31, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #12 of 21


5/9/90 - Full Moon AT APOGEE

Towards full -- waxing
Towards new - waning

Synodic Month:
1 revolution
from new moon
to new moon
29 days 12 hours

Luna  Diana


Hunter's moon  Harvest moon

Low tide  High tide



First Quarter
Last Quarter

Sidereal Month:
1 revolution in
relation to a fixed star
27 1/3 days

A . . Apogee - farthest from Earth
P . .  Perigee - closest to Earth

(click on image for additional details)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #11 of 21

3/11/90 (Adar 14)


Book of Esther

(click on image for additional details)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #10 of 21


You are looking at Jupiter watching the Dog nipping at the Hunter's heels as the Hunter pursues the Bull ...

(click on image for additional details)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #9 of 21

Year of the Horse

(click on image for additional detail)

2014 is also a year of the horse (mă in Pinyin).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #7 of 21

2/10/90 - Turtle Island

- Tu Bishvat - (Shevat 15)

See 11/2/89

(click on image for additional details)

For the rest of this series, I'm going to let my mother's mandalas speak for themselves.

Comments are welcomed (-:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #6 of 21


Twinkle Twinkle, little cell .....
You've done your work and done it well
When I die, you'll drift to sea ......
And wait there for another me ..... (-:

(click on the image for additional details)

This mandala was made on a Wednesday, within 24 hours of the previous one.

Up until the last year of her life, my mother had planned to be cremated and have her ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean. My recollection is that she had made arrangements with the Neptune Society.  This was a sore point with my father. He wanted her ashes to be buried alongside his ashes in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where his mother and father and younger brother were buried. Almost exactly a year before she died, she gave in to his wishes and changed the details of her will.

It has always seemed to me that her freed spirit remained in and around Gualala. Three days after she died, a Black Phoebe appeared on the ocean side of my parents' home. I had never consciously seen a Black Phoebe before. It sat on the porch railing and peered at me as I stood near the door to the porch, talking on the phone with one of my older cousins who had been close to my mother. The Black Phoebe remained for sometime, seeming to be calling to us in the house:

Twice when I returned to Gualala for visits after my father had sold their home and moved to Bellingham, I had encounters with a Black Phoebe. Both times I was out walking and felt greeted by a Black Phoebe who stood on the soft dirt path and looked at me in what I perceived to be a friendly and fearless manner. Black Phoebes are dear to me now.

I like the single bright red star and the shimmering energy of this mandala with its radiating words.

After both of my parents had died I had an unexpected dream of seeing them joyfully reunited on the sloping hillside outside their home in Gualala. In the dream image, they were free of the differences that had kept them at odds with each other -- at least during many of the years I observed of their 46 years of marriage. They seemed to truly love each other in my dream.

This is what their home looked like in 1974 before more houses were built on their street. My Dad is looking south out of the living room window. My impression is that this was the happiest time in their lives. Their three daughters were grown. My father had retired and enjoyed gardening and woodcarving. My mother loved their new life in Gualala and had an abundance of creative energy. As always, she was never without a book to read.

My mother is sitting just to the south of house.

My father did the finish work on the addition to
their house which included a garage, a master
bedroom and an art room for my mother.

My mother took the paintings she had done in the
early 1960s and hung them up in the garage.

I am guessing that this photo was taken in 1974.

It just occurred to me that, in these photos, my mother 
is 7 years younger than I am now. I am 9 years
younger than my mother was when she made her
mandalas. My mother's mother died when my
mother was 20, and her father died when she was
29. She didn't have her parents for as long I 

It is also occurring to me that looking at my mother's 
mandalas is bringing thoughts of my father and of
my parents' marriage to my mind.

Thanks to whiskey river for this reminder.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #5 of 21


   .  .  .


After my mother died without warning of a massive heart attack on December 3, 1994, on the day before her 46th wedding anniversary, I found one of her books of poetry bookmarked at a poem by Kenneth Rexroth.  The poem had been written to his daughter.   The book was sitting in a prominent place, in what appeared to be a deliberate manner.  Underlined was:

Believe in Orion.  Believe
In the night, the moon, the crowded
Earth.  Believe in Christmas and
Birthdays and Easter rabbits.
Believe in all those fugitive
Compounds of nature, all doomed
to waste away and go out.
Always be true to these things.
They are all there is.  Never
give up this savage religion
For the blood-drenched civilized
Abstractions of the rascals
Who live by killing you and me.

(from "A Sword in a Cloud of Light")

("Boy with Amaryllis and Orion," a track-pad drawing by am, from the winter of 2008)

I'm looking for patterns in the dating of my mother's mandalas.  She made the first two of her mandalas on consecutive Wednesdays and the other two on a seemingly random Thursday and a Tuesday.  I wonder what kind of mood prompted them or what events in her life.  I can't remember exactly when it was that she showed her mandalas to me, but I am fairly sure that the series was complete when I first saw them. I understand that she showed them to my sisters, too. It isn't likely that she showed them to my father because he was opposed to her interest in Judaism. After he expressed his disapproval, she continued celebrating Jewish holidays in secret and found solace in the seasons of the Jewish calendar.

It seems that when she made this mandala, she was acknowledging and pondering paradox.

My mother loved the night sky.  Gualala is a coastal town which is a 3-1/2 hour drive north of San Francisco -- a splendid place for night sky viewing.  That is one of the few places I have been where the stars and the Milky Way can be seen as our ancestors must have seen them. With nothing blocking her view of the sky from the zenith to the western horizon, she could study the moon and stars and constellations and planets and befriend them.  The last time I saw my mother she told me in a matter of fact way that she had no friends.  "That's just the way it is," she said.  But when she died, her friends grieved deeply.

Even though Bellingham is a small town, the city lights are bright enough that night sky viewing is limited -- even when the frequent cloud cover lifts.  Only the brightest stars are visible here.  The clearest night sky here doesn't come close to the brilliance of the night sky in Gualala.

On one visit to Bellingham many years ago, my mother was drawn to a pretty little yellow house up above a busy street that runs between where I live and downtown Bellingham.  She said, "I'm going to live in that yellow house someday."  With her red hair and freckles, she didn't mind cloudy or rainy days, but I know that she would have missed seeing the stars if she had moved here.

After about a week of 80 degree weather, things are back to normal here in the coastal Pacific Northwest with a light rain that has been falling all day today.  It wouldn't be unusual if it cleared up by evening. It's always startling to see the first leaves falling in late July.

I'd like to take a walk but am hesitating due to the rare occurrence of thunder and lightning that is predicted.

Before dawn on the day that my mother died, Orion was setting.  It was just above the horizon in the western sky.  My star book says of those pre-dawn hours , "Don't search for the Milky Way:  it is too close to the horizon to be seen well."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #4 of 21


(Shevat 15)

(For Tu Bishvat 02/10/90)

Trees are forever

(Click on the image for additional details)

Today I'm going to try something different.  I'm going to give a good look at my mother's 4th mandala and then take a walk and think about her mandala and then finish this blog post.  I'll be back in about an hour.


My mother rode horses when she was in her 20s and early 30s.  She did yoga in her 40s and tai chi in her 70s, but walking was not part of her life as far as I know.  My mother was a reader.  She traveled all over the world through books and magazines and films and television.

As I was walking in Whatcom Falls Park, which is deeply forested, I thought about the trees my mother drew on her 4th mandala and wondered if that was a tree from her childhood and what it meant to her.

The photo above may have been taken on her 7th birthday (April 30, 1923) in St. Paul, Minnesota.  While I was walking this morning I remembered the photo.  Until today, I would have said that she was standing next to her house in St. Paul, but looking at the photo now, I am guessing that she is in a public place -- maybe a park, maybe on church property.  Checking with the perennial calendar, I see that her birthday was on a Monday in 1923.  Perhaps the photo was taken at her school, although she does look as if she is dressed for church.  My guess is that her father took the photo.

My father planted two cherry trees side by side in our backyard in Redwood City.  I wonder if my mother asked him to plant them.  My father had planted an apple tree in another section of that backyard. When I was quite young and our family traveled from California to Minnesota, I remember an apple tree in the backyard of the house where my grandmother was still living after my grandfather had died.  I distinctly remember watching ants climbing on the tree.  I wanted to climb the tree but was discouraged from doing that.

My parents' home in Gualala was in Redwood country on the California's north coast, and my father planted a variety of evergreens on their property which previously had been a treeless grassy bluff.  I imagine, though, that there were lovely flowering trees in and around the town of Gualala in the spring.

I wonder if she had been thinking about the pink flowering almond tree that Thich Nhat Hanh writes about in his book The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice:

It was in November of 1989 that my mother created this mandala. November on the north coast of California can be something like summer here in the Pacific Northwest.  My memory is that there are flowers blooming all year in Gualala.  My mother was blooming in her 70s.

I just noticed the pink branches with dark flowers that are branching from the pink curved line at the bottom part of the mandala.

Below are some of the flowers that are just beginning to bloom on my porch today:

Here is Josephine's great grandson, Pablo, who is almost two months old.  That must be my nephew holding him:

Pablo is looking up at something in much the way my mother was when she stood next to that flowering tree in St. Paul, Minnesota, when she was 7 years old.

Trees are forever.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #3 of 21

... Flowers on the hilside bloomin' crazy...


(Click on image to see additional details.  I couldn't fit all of this mandala on my scanner.)

This mandala was made on a Tuesday -- exactly one week after the previous one.  I checked to find the day of the week on a perennial calendar.  Here's the song my mother was thinking about or maybe even listening to as she made this mandala:

Ever since Miley Cyrus recorded her version of that song, YouTube is full of covers in the style of Miley Cyrus.  It took me a while to find a cover that wasn't inspired by Miley Cyrus.  Miley Cyrus made the song her own (singing to herself on her cell phone!), just as Arnoldusk did in the video above, and just as so many others have done in the past and will do in the years to come. That's the beauty of songs written by Bob Dylan.

My mother made that song her own with this mandala.

My mother took great pride in her correct grammar and in her ability to spell.  Just noticed that she left the second "l" out of "hillside."  By the time she moved from the center of the mandala to the outer edge she must have been deep into her right brain with all those little flowers bloomin' crazy.

When she died, my mother still had long red hair (crimson hair?) with only a few grey hairs.  Was she thinking specifically about the image of the flowers or did she hear Bob Dylan or someone else singing this love song to her?  That's how I heard it.  I had long red hair when I was young.  I felt loved when I heard this song.  I felt that I would be missed when I was gone.  I thought about people I loved and would miss when they were gone.

In the last years of her life, my mother thanked me for introducing her to the music of Bob Dylan many years before that.  I'm not sure, but I think that her favorite Bob Dylan songs were on "Oh Mercy."  She loved "Ring Them Bells."

Here are the lyrics to "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go":

I’ve seen love go by my door
It’s never been this close before
Never been so easy or so slow
Been shooting in the dark too long
When somethin’s not right it’s wrong
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go
Dragon clouds so high above
I’ve only known careless love
It’s always hit me from below
This time around it’s more correct
Right on target, so direct
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go
Purple clover, Queen Anne’s Lace
Crimson hair across your face
You could make me cry if you don’t know
Can’t remember what I was thinkin’ of
You might be spoilin’ me too much, love
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go
Flowers on the hillside, bloomin’ crazy
Crickets talkin’ back and forth in rhyme
Blue river runnin’ slow and lazy
I could stay with you forever and never realize the time
Situations have ended sad
Relationships have all been bad
Mine’ve been like Verlaine’s and Rimbaud
But there’s no way I can compare
All those scenes to this affair
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go
Yer gonna make me wonder what I’m doin’
Stayin’ far behind without you
Yer gonna make me wonder what I’m sayin’
Yer gonna make me give myself a good talkin’ to
I’ll look for you in old Honolulu
San Francisco, Ashtabula
Yer gonna have to leave me now, I know
But I’ll see you in the sky above
In the tall grass, in the ones I love
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #2 of 21

A house is a home A house is a home A house is a home A house is a home A house is a home A house is a home A house is a home A house is a home A house is a home

Statement or question?

(Click on image to see additional details)

What house or home could my mother have been thinking about?  As a 20-year-old woman in the 1930s she lived in Hermosa Beach, California, after moving from St. Paul, Minnesota, not long after her mother died of gallbladder cancer in bed at home.   My mother came to California with her father, her brother and sister-in-law, and her young niece.  She lived in several different places in L.A. County and entered a brief marriage some years before marrying my father in 1948 and moving to the Marina District in San Francisco where she and my father lived in an apartment until I was born in 1949.  A week after I was born, we moved south 20 miles to San Mateo where we lived in another apartment.  Mostly because of my father's job, we moved three times after that, ending up in Redwood City, California, in 1957, and that was where our home/house was for the next 16 years.

Could she have been thinking about all the houses and homes that she had lived in throughout her life?  I don't see any evidence of her last home in her drawing.  She and my father lived for 20 years in a small house on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean in Gualala, California, a tiny coastal town at the southwestern border of Mendocino County, right next to the Gualala River.  There was plenty of space between houses there, and the vast Pacific Ocean dominated the landscape.

I don't see any sign of the ocean in her drawing, but I do see what might be a river or lakes.  She grew up near the Mississippi River in the land of 10,000 lakes,  Maybe that is an image from her early memories in Minnesota.

Is the tilt intentional?  I thought I had looked closely at this mandala previously.  Just now I can see the entire image as a sun with a face.  There is so much to see in my mother that I couldn't see when she was alive.

Is a home a house?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Josephine's mandalas: #1 of 21

In my mother's 74th year she wrote words and made marks and drawings on the inside cover of a spiral notebook.  I am guessing that this was in the context of having been a volunteer who helped out with the children at Starcross Community, and then in the context of having felt drawn to learn about Judaism from the Mendocino Jewish Community because she had a strong sense that she had Jewish ancestors on her German father's side of the family.  On October 18, 1989, she began a formal series of mandalas, completing 20 more of them.  Her final mandala was dated July 12, 1991.  My mother died on December 3, 1994, and the mandalas came to me.  I scanned them at the end of December 2013 and have been meaning to post them ever since.

These mandalas came near the end of her lifetime of spiritual seeking.  My mother had narcolepsy and told me that she made some of these as she drifted back and forth between waking and sleeping.  In that dream state she would hear words in her mind and see images and record them in the mandalas.  

I can imagine my mother keeping a blog and reading blogs.  She was a lifelong reader and creative spirit.  She wrote short stories and poetry until she was about 50 years old.  She had dreamed of being a writer since childhood.  She did no more creative writing after that time, but she turned her attention first to watercolors and Japanese brush painting and then on to silkscreening, batik, stained glass, and finally to complex colorful pattern knitting in her last years.

Click on the images for all of the fine details.  I hope to post one of her mandalas every day for the next 20 days and hope to gain some new insight about my mysterious mother through that process.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Porch garden meditation 18 July 2014

Don't know the name of this flower, but that's okay.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Totem Pole Journeys

Another Totem Pole Journey will be starting on August 17, 2014.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Talking 4th of July Blues with Antidote

The 4th of July is approaching.  Since 1970, it's been a day of vulnerability and bewilderment for me.  Difficult memories. Time to listen to this song again.  Thank you to my nephew, Lee, for introducing me to this song by The Lonely Forest, a band from Anacortes, Washington. 

"Toward true independence of the spirit"

"She speaks of the great kind spirit and doubt"