Sunday, April 29, 2018

Mandala Series: Fearless and Asymmetrical (For William Blake)

Just updated the slideshow for anyone who hasn't seen my mandalas completed since September 2014.

Synchronicity Revisited / Drinking Down the Years with Bob Dylan to Heaven's Door (If nothing more, watch the video at the end of this post that has been a 4-hour meditation for me this morning and possibly of little interest to anyone else)

"I don't want this ever published while I'm alive," he said, "'cause if I did ever get any money for it, I would just drink myself to death."

(That's Blind Willie McTell in a quote from the 1950s.  He was an alcoholic musician who sang the blues and caught the attention of Bob Dylan at an unknown time)


Mama, take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark for me to see
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door

("Knocking' on Heaven's Door", lyrics by Bob Dylan, 1973)


My daddy he made whiskey, my granddaddy he did too
We ain't paid no whiskey tax since 1792
You'll just lay there by the juniper while the moon is bright
Watch them jugs a-filling in the pale moonlight.


Well, ask me why I’m drunk alla time
It levels my head and eases my mind
I just walk along and stroll and sing
I see better days and I do better things

("I Shall Be Free", lyrics by Bob Dylan, 1963)


Now, don’t crowd me, lady
Or I’ll fill up your shoe
I’m a sweet bourbon daddy
An’ tonight I am blue
I’m a thousand years old
And I’m a generous bomb
I’m T-boned and punctured
But I’m known to be calm
Please, Missus Henry, Missus Henry, please!
Please, Missus Henry, Missus Henry, please!
I’m down on my knees
An’ I ain’t got a dime

("Please Mrs. Henry", lyrics by Bob Dylan, 1967)


Judges will haunt you, the country priestess will want you
Her worst is better than best
I’ve seen all these decoys through a set of deep turquoise eyes
And I feel so depressed

China doll, alcohol, duality, mortality
Mercury rules you and destiny fools you
Like the plague, with a dangerous wink
And there’s no time to think

Equality, liberty, humility, simplicity
You glance through the mirror and there’s eyes staring clear
At the back of your head as you drink
And there’s no time to think

("No Time To Think", lyrics by Bob Dylan, 1978)


Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

("Gotta Serve Somebody", lyrics by Bob Dylan, 1979)

How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?

("When He Returns", lyrics by Bob Dylan, 1979)


Don’t need a shot of heroin to kill my disease
Don’t need a shot of turpentine, only bring me to my knees
Don’t need a shot of codeine to help me to repent
Don’t need a shot of whiskey, help me be president

I need a shot of love, I need a shot of love ... 

Doctor, can you hear me? I need some Medicaid
I seen the kingdoms of the world and it’s makin’ me feel afraid

("Shot of Love," lyrics by Bob Dylan, 1981)


Oh, the gentlemen are talking and the midnight moon is on the riverside
They’re drinking up and walking and it is time for me to slide
I live in another world where life and death are memorized
Where the earth is strung with lovers’ pearls and all I see are dark eyes ...

Oh, the French girl, she’s in paradise and a drunken man is at the wheel
Hunger pays a heavy price to the falling gods of speed and steel
Oh, time is short and the days are sweet and passion rules the arrow that flies
A million faces at my feet but all I see are dark eyes

("Dark Eyes", lyrics by Bob Dylan 1985)


Well the fat’s in the fire and the water’s in the tank
The whiskey’s in the jar and the money’s in the bank
I tried to love and protect you because I cared
I’m gonna remember forever the joy that we shared

("Cold Irons Bound", lyrics by Bob Dylan, 1997)


Everybody get ready—lift your glasses and sing
Everybody get ready to lift your glasses and sing
Well, I’m standin’ on the table, I’m proposing a toast to the King

("Summer Days"lyrics by Bob Dylan, released September 11, 2001)

I’m gonna buy me a barrel of whiskey—I’ll die before I turn senile

("Cry A While", lyrics by Bob Dylan, released September 11, 2001)

Some of these bootleggers, they make pretty good stuff
Plenty of places to hide things here if you wanna hide ’em bad enough
I’m staying with Aunt Sally, but you know, she’s not really my aunt
Some of these memories you can learn to live with and some of them you can’t

("Sugar Baby", lyrics by Bob Dylan, released September 11, 2001)


They say whiskey will kill ya, but I don't think it will
I'm riding with you to the top of the hill

Oh, I miss you Nettie Moore
And my happiness is o'er
Winter's gone, the river's on the rise
I loved you then and ever shall
But there's no one here that's left to tell
The world has gone black before my eyes

("Nettie Moore", lyrics by Bob Dylan, 2006)


This is how I spend my days
I came to bury not to praise
I`ll drink my fill and sleep alone
I pay in blood, but not my own

("Pay in Blood", lyrics by Bob Dylan, 2012)


From the Heaven's Door website:

"Orders will begin to ship on May 21, 2018"
(3 days before Bob Dylan's 77th birthday)


I spend all my money on whiskey and beer ...

And if whiskey dont kill me,
Then I dont know what will,

("Moonshiner", lyrics by Bob Dylan, 1991)

Yet more synchronicity.

While reading about Carl Jung in the past few days, I came across this in a letter written by him to the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous just a few months before Carl Jung's death in 1961:

"Alcohol in Latin is spiritus, and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison.  The helpful formula therefore is:  spiritus contra spiritum."

Mysteriously, alcohol isn't poison for everyone.

For those who are alcoholic, however, alcohol is a recurring nightmare.  There is no cure for alcoholism.  

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bootleg whiskey incident / "... This land is condemned all the way from New Orleans to Jerusalem ..."

Well, God is in His heaven
And we all want what’s his
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is
I’m gazing out the window
Of the St. James Hotel
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Copyright © 1983 by Special Rider Music (Bob Dylan)

I live down in Bell street alley, just as drunk as I can be
I live down in Bell street alley, just as drunk as I can be
Seem like them Bell street Crow Janes, have done got rough with me

I drink so much Bell Street whiskey, they won't sell McTell no more
I drink so much Bell Street whiskey, they won't sell poor boy McTell no more
I've got the Cavenglass boys, playing all around my door

This Bell Street whiskey, make you sleep all in your clothes
That old Bell Street whiskey, make you sleep all in your clothes
And when you wake up next morning, feel like you done laid outdoors

You can get booze down on Bell Street, for two bits and a half a throw
You can get booze down on Bell Street, for two bits and a half a throw
They'll make you send out your mother and father, to just break down the jailhouse door

Walked in my room, the other night
Man come in, he want to fight
Took my gun, my right hand
Hold me people, I don't want to kill no man

When I said that, he rapped me across my head
The first shot I fired, then the man fell dead
Bell street whiskey, drove me to the county jail
Got me laying back here on my bunk, nobody in the world to go my bail

Lyrics by Blind Willie McTell

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Synchronicity / Just finished reading Carl Jung's definition of synchronicity / Brilliant Minds / "qua-quer' go"

After reading Elizabeth's post and appreciating her brilliant mind, I checked my email, and was presented with a photo of a woman with a star on her forehead.  The star seemed to be very much like the cannabis bindi on Elizabeth's forehead.  The photo was presented in connection with a local screening of a movie about Hedy Lamarr.

Which led me to the source of the poem quoted by Hedy Lamarr at the end of the PBS special that I watched after watching the movie trailer in the email.

Although I was planning to be silent for awhile beginning today (photos only) and only post this photo of Oboe in the morning sun during my morning yoga practice yesterday,

synchronicity guides me away from silence today to thank Elizabeth for her fierce and graceful writing and her powerful sense of humor.

Here's my newest mandala, #30: "qua-quer' go":

("qua-quer' go" is one of the vocalizations of a California Quail)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 19, 1943 / Resistance / April 19, 2018

This was in my email inbox this morning, from American Jewish World Service:

Dear Amanda,

Today is especially poignant for me, as the granddaughter of Edna Brill. April 19th marks the day my grandmother joined with thousands of other Jews in the Warsaw ghetto in 1943 to resist the Nazis’ plan to transport the remaining Jews in the ghetto to Treblinka for their extermination. This was the largest act of Jewish resistance during World War II. My grandmother’s love for me and her life story have shaped me to be the proud Jewish woman and human rights advocate I am today. I could not be more thankful.

As a young girl, my grandmother risked her life by sneaking in and out of the ghetto each and every day. Able to pass as a non-Jew, she sang on the streets of Warsaw for food in order to keep her family and others in the ghetto alive, where they faced crowded conditions, filth, disease and starvation. At age nine, she bravely became a “runner” for the ghetto resistance movement — carrying messages between the Warsaw ghetto fighters and the Polish army. Even though she witnessed the deportation of her parents and four siblings to the death camps, my grandmother’s remarkable spirit enabled her to survive and, after the war, build a new life and family.

My commitment to build a better world today is the legacy of my grandmother’s indefatigable quest for human dignity. When I think about how my grandmother and the brave Warsaw ghetto fighters remained hopeful despite having every reason to despair, I’m reminded of the many advocates around the world I have come to know through American Jewish World Service (AJWS). I have met activists who are engaged in their own struggles against hatred and, yes, genocide, often in the face of great danger. I’m reminded of the women I met in Burma while traveling with AJWS in 2016; women who, much like my grandmother, are risking their lives to protect their homes and livelihoods in the face of ethnic persecution. The world of these Burmese women, and the ongoing plight of the Rohingya people in Burma, looks very different today from that of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. But I know that they share a desire to shape their own futures, to liberate themselves from ethnic oppression and build a better world.

As a child, 75 years ago today, my grandmother fought for dignity and justice. Today, I honor her legacy as a proud member of the AJWS community, to ensure that all people can live in safety and freedom with respect to their human dignity, culture and religion — no matter who they are or where they live.

For me, ‘Never Again’ means no oppression and no genocide against anyone, anywhere, ever again. Thank you, grandma. You taught me well.

Mia Brill

Once again, I am reminded of the quote by John Steinbeck that also came via email not long ago:  “All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.” 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

"... I'm not from here but neither are you ..." (translated from Spanish on NPR)

This post was inspired by reading this article about the past and present in our local community in the far northwest of the continental United States and having listened to Jorge Drexler and the musicians accompanying him, with hope for the future.

Visit here for English translation of lyrics for "Movimiento."

I continue to be fascinated by DNA testing and genealogy.  According to what science has determined about maternal haplogroups, my mother's mother's line of ancestors lived in Syria thousands of years ago.  What could have prompted them to leave Syria thousands of years ago? Since the 1800s, every generation in my family has left the place of their birth and moved west, eventually arriving at the Pacific Ocean, where I was born.  As a young woman in 1974, I left California and moved north 1000 miles.  I never dreamed that I would not be able to return to live in the beloved landscape of my birth.

My only nephew was born in Seattle.  His grandfather was from the Philippines.  The mother of my nephew's young son has roots in Mexico and the Philippines and Sweden on her mother's side, and her father is Jewish.  My nephew seems to be rooted in Seattle but will someday inherit a home near Pune in India that belongs to my sister who has spiritual roots in India.  I can only wonder what the future will bring to our maternal family line that can be traced to Syria thousands of years ago.  Will we come full circle?

Sunday, April 8, 2018


Thich Nhat Hanh: “I am often on the verge of tears or laughter. But beneath all these emotions, what else is there? How can I touch it? If there isn’t anything, why would I be so certain that there is?

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Music is

Thanks to Sabine for her comment and the links to Brian Keenan and his book.

My introduction to Turlough O'Carolan was through a musical friend with Sephardic ancestry who learned to play some of his tunes on her baroque viola.  It was about that time that I found this website. 

“Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is THE BEST.”

 -- Frank Zappa (1940-1993)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Young and old / 50 years later / Maya Angelou's 90th Birthday

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. "

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

Maya Angelou would have been 90 years old today.

Monday, April 2, 2018

"Everybody's Coming To My House"

Not sure how I discovered this in the last few days.  Grateful for serendipity.

(Update:  I found it at the Doonesbury website video archive.)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hearing the voice of a Christian on Easter Morning 2018 / The Second Day of Passover 5778

With immense gratitude for having witnessed the power of the human spirit in Maya Angelou this Easter morning and for the local non-Christian friend who shared this powerful Christian voice with me, another non-Christian.

"I'm grateful to be a practicing Christian.  I'm always amazed when people say, 'I'm a Christian.'  I think, 'Already?' It's an ongoing process. You know, you keep trying.  And blowing it and trying and blowing it." -- Maya Angelou

A local friend of mine who will be 90 years old soon said that all she knows for sure is that "something" happened on Easter morning all those centuries ago.  She doesn't claim to know what happened.  I've never heard her talk about virgin birth or resurrection.  She doesn't insist that anyone else believe that something happened.  She belongs to one of several local First Congregational Churches (United Church of Christ) which have lesbians as pastors.  My friend has been a Christian all her life, a life of turmoil and grace.

My friend stands with a diverse group of Christians throughout the centuries, including Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez as well as numerous dear friends of mine who identify as Christian and who have walked through their lives or continue to walk through their lives in what they hope is the true spirit of Jesus.

This morning I'm reminded of what John Lennon said in 1966, when I was 16 years old.  His words stayed with me:

"Christianity will go, he had said.  It will vanish and shrink.  I needn't argue about that; I know I'm right and I will be proved right.  We're more popular than Jesus now.  I don't know which will go first -- rock & roll or Christianity.  Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary.  It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."

At that time, I was attending the Episcopal Church every Sunday with my family.  My family went to church together until the fall of 1967 when I stopped going to church during my freshman year of college because so many of my friends by that time were Jewish and/or atheist, and I could no longer listen to sermons that denied the validity of the beliefs of Jewish people as well as anyone who was not a Christian.  Not long after I stopped going to church, my mother stopped going to church. This was not long after one of the priests at our church was found to have been molesting one of the choir boys who was the same age I was. Within a year of the time I left the church, my younger sisters also stopped going to church.  My father continued to go to church alone for a while, but then he stopped going to church as well, never to join a church again until he became a member of the Crystal Cathedral.  He never visited the Crystal Cathedral but faithfully watched its services on television from 1994 until his death in 2003, donating 10% of his income to that church and continuing to wonder if Jesus truly was the "son of God."

It has been my good fortune to learn over and over again that all followers of Jesus are not thick and ordinary. Maya Angelou was not thick and ordinary.  My father was not thick and ordinary.  My Christian friends are not thick and ordinary.  Something still keeps me from identifying as a Christian, but it does not keep me from listening with all my heart to those Christians who do not twist Jesus' message and who inspire me to experience the loving power that Martin Luther King, Jr., talked about again and again in his sermons:

"Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit.  The transformed nonconformist, moreover, never uses the passive sort of patience as an exercise to do nothing.  And this very transformation saves him from speaking irresponsible words that estrange without reconciling ... He recognizes that social change will not come overnight, yet he works as though it is an imminent possibility." (p. 18, Strength To Love, a book of sermons published in 1963 and published again with an introduction by Coretta Scott King, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968)

From the book, The Glorious Impossible, by Madeleine L'Engle:

"... After his resurrection he was never recognized by sight, but by his voice, or in the breaking of bread, the eating of fish ..."

May this day, Easter 2018 as well as the second day of Passover 5778, be an opportunity to listen for voices, Christian or otherwise, who speak out against the ever-present forces of injustice.