Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lost Coast

While on a brief break from working on the medical transcription editing online training program just now, I was right on time for sunset at the Lost Coast webcam.

There are 29 days left for me to finish the training program. I've been unemployed since 2011 and hope to be working part-time as a medical transcription editor sometime after I have cataract surgery on my left eye in mid-April.

My memories of time spent on the Lost Coast continue to sustain me.

Friday, February 20, 2015

"Inside @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz"

“The misconception of totalitarianism is that freedom can be imprisoned. This is not the case. When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill.”
— Ai Weiwei

Monday, February 16, 2015

Small Hours

Thank you to Sabine for bringing "Small Hours" to my attention. It brought to mind Carlos Santana, and, sure enough, there is a connection. Carlos Santana has performed "I Don't Wanna Know About Evil," by John Martyn, but I like John Martyn's version better.

Yesterday morning the Canada Geese arrived in the fog. Each year around this time, I listen for their arrival. Other years I have seen them land in Scudder Pond or simply heard them flying over my bedroom, announcing their arrival.

ADDENDUM: February 17, 2015

Look here for something else that moved me:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day 2015 Meditation

“Love, that moves the sun and the other stars - L'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle.”

-- Dante, Paradiso

Above is "Person with Questions" in gouache, water, and chalk pastel on paper, created by me around 1982 during the last years of a marriage I had entered against my better judgement. In 1976 I had married a man I didn't love and had remained in what I then knew as love with a man who was as incapable of love as I was. Still, that man and I were kindred spirits, trauma-bonded by our experiences in connection with the war in Vietnam. 

When I looked through my drawings and paintings for something to post for Valentine's Day today, I noticed the heart-like images to the left of the woman in this painting and wondered why I had not remembered them until I saw the image again. 

In 2008, when my kindred spirit was in the last months of his life in a VA hospital in California, I used this same image a few days before Valentine's Day and then posted this on Valentine's Day. 

Here is my first Valentine's Day post in the first year of my blog. At that time in 2007, early in my blogging days, I had been out of touch with R since early 2003, unable to act as a witness to the alcoholism and drug addiction that continued to destroy him and doing my best to go on with my own life.  2003 was the year he sent me lovely pale purple carnations on the day after Valentine's Day but didn't respond when I tried to thank him and didn't respond when I let him know of my father's death on St. Patrick's Day a little over a month later, and then sent a flower arrangement including red roses on July 3 of that year, the day after what could have been our 35th wedding anniversary.  On that day, I was horrified to find myself feeling no love at all for him, only an anger that I had never dared to feel. I couldn't bear to have the flowers in my home and decided to take them to the chapel at the local hospital and to leave them there. As angry as I felt that day, I couldn't bring myself to throw those flowers in a dumpster. 

Completely letting go of those flowers proved impossible. The next day I went back to the chapel to see if they were still there. For several days, I returned to the chapel and sat looking at them in the silence. Then the day came when I returned, and they were gone, and I felt both sadness and relief. The anger was gone. I assumed that they had wilted and that someone from the housekeeping department had disposed of them.

I'm not sure why I returned to the chapel an additional time a week or more later but as I entered the silence again, I saw dried dark red rose petals arranged in a chaotic way on the disturbed white cloth covering the altar, and I knew they were the same roses R had sent to me, being used by someone else to make a startling statement. As I approached the altar, I saw an 8-1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper with a child's handwriting on it. It was an anguished prayer to God. The girl was asking God to help her alcoholic mother who was in the hospital for life-threatening complications of alcoholism. I could feel the anger the young girl felt in connection with her mother. Somehow, by letting go of those flowers in the most loving way I could imagine while feeling the long-denied anger that turned out to be part of my healing and regaining my ability to love, I was able to pass on to that young girl what she needed to express herself in the best way she could imagine under circumstances that were pushing her to the edge of her own ability to cope.

Have I told this story before? If so, I must have needed to tell it again this Valentine's Day, and thank you for listening again.

Looking at the hearts on the left side of the person with questions today, I remembered writing a poem about an experience I had in a meditation where I suddenly was aware of tiny hearts everywhere. With a little searching of my bookshelves, I found the poem and was surprised to see that I had written it sometime between December 28, 2003, and Good Friday of 2004:


Someone breathing
Someone not alone
Someone walking lonely paths
Someone leaving lonely shelters
Someone finding a lonely ocean

Someone feeling Something New
Thousands of tiny hearts
Within the left side of Someone
Someone's right side perfectly empty
Someone's emptiness graceful as sky
Thousands of tiny hearts
Filling half the emptiness
Something loving the emptiness
Emptiness loving Something
Yes and No becoming simple again
Something New becoming emptiness
Emptiness becoming Something New

Something New and emptiness finding Someone
Someone finding the seasons of a lonely path
Someone finding shelter from a lonely storm
Someone finding a lonely ocean

With Someone sleeping, there was still Something New
Still the emptiness, still a path,
Still a shelter, still an ocean.

And Someone waking up
Feeling sacred hearts everywhere
On paths in and out of time
In shelters from a lonely storm
By the lonely and beloved ocean

Hearts bearing sacred cushions
Of loneliness, emptiness, 
And Something New.

As I recall, I wasn't thinking about "Person with Questions" when I wrote that poem, but it describes her well in that moment before she woke up to feel sacred hearts everywhere.

In the past few days, I noticed that the day lily bulbs on my porch are up and that my flowering quince is budding out. Watch for the Red-winged Blackbirds in the cattails. Maybe you can identify some of the other bird voices, including a Steller's Jay:

I'll leave you with a song which I first heard as part of the soundtrack of "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," which tells a story about alcoholism and drug addiction from the perspective of the daughter of a Dexadrine-addicted alcoholic mother whose first love died in a time of war. The mother reminded me of my own mother who also suffered from the effects of using prescription Dexadrine and alcohol. This song from 2002 seems to have planted the seed for the experience I had in meditation and reminds me of what I want to remember as part of Valentine's Day 2015:

And one more thing I came across late in the day today at whiskey river that made me think of one of the gifts R gave to me:

Many love stories are like the shells of hermit crabs, though others are more like chambered nautiluses, whose architecture grows with the inhabitant and whose abandoned smaller chambers are lighter than water and let them float in the sea.

-- Rebecca Solnit, from A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Friday, February 13, 2015

Turning to music in the days of beheadings and never-ending wars

...when asked if you care about
the world's problems, look deeply
into the eyes of he that asks
you, he will not ask you again...

(Bob Dylan, 1964, from "Advice for Geraldine on her Miscellaneous Birthday")

Brothers in Arms

Don't Think Twice It's Alright

Diamonds and Rust

Joan Baez sang after John Martyn on the Jools Holland Show in 1992.

Thank you to Sabine and Robert for introducing me to the life and music of John Martyn which inspired this stream of consciousness post and reminded me of Tim Buckley and brought to mind my Richard who was nothing if not a kindred spirit to John Martyn. I wouldn't be surprised if they shared some of the same creative/self-destructive DNA, seeming to be at war with themselves unto death.

...I fought with my twin
That enemy within
'Til both of us fell by the way...
(Bob Dylan, 1978, from "Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat)")

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
(Sun Tzu)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Mandala #10 / "That Lucky Old Sun" / Building Bridges, Not Walls


Lyrics: Haven Gillespie, Beasley Smith
Music: Haven Gillespie, Beasley Smith

Played by Jerry Garcia regularly with the JGB from 1986 to 1995. Also covered occasionally by Robert Hunter in 1997.
Up in the morning, out on the job
Work like the devil for my pay
But that lucky old sun has nothing to do
But roll, roll around heaven all day

Fuss with my woman, toil with my kids
Sweat till I'm wrinkled and grey
While that lucky old sun got nothing to do
But roll, roll around heaven all day

Lord above, can't you hear me pining?
Tears all in my eyes
Send down that cloud with a silver lining
Lift me up to Paradise

Show me that river, take me across
Wash all my troubles away
Like that lucky old sun, give me nothing to do
But roll, roll around heaven all day

Show me that river, take me across
Wash all my troubles away
Like that lucky old sun, give me nothing to do
But roll around heaven
Let me roll around heaven
I just want to roll around heaven
All day
"Shadows in the Night", with Bob Dylan and his Band, gets my five stars. Started listening to it this morning in my car. It works for me on many levels. These are the songs that were being sung when my parents were young. These are the songs that I never thought would speak to me at all.  For me, there is something about Bob Dylan's voice that has held my attention since I first heard it when I was 13 years old. I walked into our family living room on August 28, 1963, and heard this:

"... and the sun will respect every face on the deck ..."

"... Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He'll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game."

Hearing "Shadows in the Night" makes me think about my parents and the way the world was when they were young. Bob Dylan builds bridges, not walls. He has done that as long as I have been listening.