Monday, November 30, 2020

One day in 1971 or 1972, Justine asked if I would play the up-and-down record ... / And now, another time when balance and direction and George Harrison's musical genius are welcomed

"The album cover consists of a painting by American artist Bob Gill in which, as in Massot's film, two contrasting worlds are separated by a wall, with only a small gap allowing visual access between them."

The back cover of "Wonderwall Music" was created using a photo of the Berlin Wall:


When R and I began to live apart in May 1971, I rented a room in a house where four other people lived. R and I continued to spend time together on a regular basis until October 1971, when our separation became a permanent one.  The house was owned by a man who was a high school teacher (second from the left).  He had three children.  His older daughter is standing in front of him, his younger daughter is at his side, and his son (or was the boy his ex-wife's son whom he had adopted during the marriage?) is at the top of the photo.  Next to his son is the daughter of the woman in the middle of the photo.  The high school teacher had also rented out a room to a couple, the man on the far left and woman in the middle.  That couple and the man on the far right had met at San Jose State University and had grown up in Southern California.  The man on the far right, holding a kitten, is standing behind a dog that is barely visible.  He had a degree from San Jose State University in photography.  He was the one who set up the camera on a tripod to make this photo possible.  I'm standing next to him.  He slept outside in a tiny open air playhouse that had been built for the high school teacher's children and was only large enough for him to arrange a sleeping bag with cushion underneath, along with his few belongings.  This was Northern California, where the weather was such that a person could sleep comfortably outside during all seasons of the year.  Note the low brick wall behind all of us.


As part of the rental arrangement, I was to be a sort of nanny for the high school teacher's two pre-school girls on the afternoons that their mother brought them to stay at their father's house before he came home from work.  I am struggling to recall how the son fit into the picture that day.  He didn't live in the house.  Perhaps he was there because this group photo was taken to serve as a surprise birthday gift for a woman who also lived in the house.  Until just now, I had forgotten about her.  She was my age but in a relationship with a man who was in his 40s and lived somewhere else.  At the time I thought that was a little odd because at 21 years old, 40-year-old men were "old" and unattractive to me.  

During those months, I would often put "Wonderwall Music" on the turntable because I found it oddly comforting during that time of emotional anguish as I tried to find some balance and direction.  While listening to "Wonderwall Music" on the turntable downstairs, I would work at making macrame wall hangings in my room.  

One day, Justine, the older of the two little girls came to me and asked if I would play the "up-and-down" record for her.  I tried to guess which record she was referring to.  We looked through house's record collection until she identified my copy of "Wonderwall Music" as the up-and-down record.  Still baffled, I put it on the turntable for her to listen to.  She pointed to the way the record needle went up and down.  It turned out that my copy of "Wonderwall Music" had somehow become warped, although it was still perfectly playable.  Only a small child would be able to easily observe the needle going up and down!

It still delights me that Justine was so adept at describing exactly what she observed -- an up-and-down record -- and was as drawn to listen to "Wonderwall Music" as I was.  When I left California in 1974, I lost touch with all of the people in the photograph.  I do know, though, that the man on the far right went on to start a building crane business and was one of the first responders in the wake of the devastation in New York City on September 11, 2001.

I wonder where Justine is today.  She would be in her 50s now.  I wonder if she remembers "Wonderwall Music."  While writing this post, I've been listening to "Wonderwall Music," grateful to have found the entire album on YouTube.  I'll be listening to it later today as I work on Mandala #54, with immense gratitude to George Harrison.

Something occurred to me about the possibility of making a 2021 Mandala calendar available to those blog readers who are interested, assuming that I complete four more mandalas in the next few weeks.  Given the cost of having calendars printed in addition to shipping costs, I could simply attach 12 photos of the mandalas in an email to anyone interested.  The images could be sent via email to one's local print shop and made into a calendar.  What do you think?  I have Robin's email address.  Anyone else interested can email me:


Happy Birthday to Sabine, born on November 29, 1957, if I am not mistaken.  On one of my perpetual calendars, I had written "Sabine's Birthday 1957."

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Friday, November 27, 2020

Weltinnenraum / Synchronicity and more of one thing leading to another / With Blogger playing tricks with fonts and spacing and formatting

Recently, a friend mentioned that she had found an unusual book on the "free" table of the apartment complex where she lives.  The book turned out to be Grapefruit, Yoko Ono's square yellow book of instructions and drawings first published in 1964, before she met John Lennon.  I remembered looking at the book 50 years ago and expressed that I knew of the book and hoped she would enjoy reading it.  My friend has written poetry since childhood, and the book caught her attention because she saw Yoko's instructions as poems of a memorable nature.  She was born too late to experience the Beatles firsthand.  I'm not sure how much she knew about Yoko Ono when she picked up the book.

Last Sunday in a socially distanced masked visit with my friend, she brought it out and asked if I would like to borrow it.  (Given my growing awareness of the alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in our county since my visit with her, I have decided to refrain from any more socializing during the next few months.)

It may have been in a bookstore in Santa Cruz in 1970 that I eagerly looked through Grapefruit, Yoko Ono's small book of instructions and drawings, for the first and only other time.  The book had evolved from her 1964 limited edition version (500 copies), with an added introduction by John Lennon and new instructions including pieces such as "SKY EVENT for John Lennon," which ended with:

"Do not talk loud or make noise, as you may scare the sky"

and was followed by:

"SKY event II


Do the sky event in your mind

THEN go out into the street and take photos to document the event

If the sky event in your mind takes place in another city,

ask a friend in that city to take photos for you."

My recollection is that I was delighted by some of the instructions and disturbed, dismayed, even horrified by others.  I didn't buy the book and blocked out the instructions that upset me.  Reading the book in its entirety this week, I remembered some of the instructions as if I had read them yesterday, some even more delightful, some even more upsetting ("ON RAPE").  The following set of instructions intrigued me, but I had only a vague recollection of ever reading them before.  In 1970, of course, I didn't have Google Translate and would have puzzled over the German word, only able to guess what it might mean in the context of the instructions.


Walk to the center of your Weltinnenraum.

Leave a card.


Cut a hole in the center of your 




Shuffle your Weltinnenraums.

Hand one to a person on the street.

Ask him to forget about it.

1964  spring


Google Translate:

Weltinnenraum:  Diesen Raum der Erfahrung, der sich in der Präsenz ereignet auch zwischen Mensch und Welt nennt der Dichter Rainer Maria Rilke Weltinnenraum

Weltinnenraum:  The poet Rainer Maria Rilke calls this space of experience, which also occurs in presence between man and world


The photo at the top of this post caught my attention because, coincidentally, I had made similar marks on one of my recently completed mandalas.  

The marks were based on a drawing in India ink that I made in 1967 or 1968 during my freshman year at UC Irvine.  I titled it "God."  The drawing was made on an 8-1/2 x 11-inch piece of paper and was a single line that went up and down in small varied increments across the center of most of the page, which I had placed horizontally.  I had not thought of the drawing for years but when it came to mind, I decided to incorporate the idea into the mandala I was working on this week.  A college acquaintance had expressed that she loved my "God" drawing, and so I gave it to her all those years ago. 


I've continued thinking about the concept of Weltinnenraum.  George Harrison's song, "Anyroad," came to mind early on:

I keep traveling around the bend
There was no beginning, there is no end
It wasn't born and never dies
There are no edges, there is no size

Oh yeah, you just don't win
It's so far out - the way out is in (am's italics)
Bow to God and call him Sir
But if you don't know where you're going
Any road will take you there

I'm almost finished working on Mandala #54.  Maybe I'll finish it today.  Maybe there will be a 2021 calendar with 12 mandalas after all.  These mandalas may well be Weltinnenraums. Thank you, Sabine and Robin and Ellen, for your encouraging comments.

Rainer Maria Rilke

For some reason, in the context of "weltinnenraum" that poem came to mind.  During my early years of counseling for PTSD, a Gestalt counselor I worked with for several years quoted this to me, changing Rilke's "man" to "woman":

Winning does not tempt that woman. 
This is how she grows: by being defeated, decisively, 
by constantly greater beings.


If I understand the word correctly, I sense that COVID winter is opening up weltinnenraum.

"... One single space pervades all beings here:
an inner world-space. Silently, the birds
fly through us still. Oh, I who want to grow,
can gaze outside: a tree will rise inside me ..."

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Mandala #52 / Zhenni Li Cohen and Matthew Cohen / Female Downy Woodpecker

Just now I was able to finish Mandala #52 while listening to Zhenni Li Cohen and Matthew Cohen.   There is an interview with Zhenni and Matthew at 31:16, during the intermission.  I'm inspired by this young couple who are passionate about playing music and about each other.

For the first time ever, I have been able to show you a new mandala in its true colors!  Until today, I have not been satisfied with the way my camera registers the colors in my mandalas.  As an idle experiment, I photographed my most recently completed mandala in the natural light that is coming through my windows on this stormy coastal Pacific Northwest day.  Although the result was somewhat washed out, the colors were surprisingly accurate, and so I went into my MacBook Pro's photo editing function and found that I could bring the colors up to what I had always wished for!

Although I was not consciously making a Star of David, that is what appeared as I worked on the mandala in my usual intuitive manner that is something like jazz improvisation.  In  the center of the mandala I had drawn a small blue triangle and was simply working from the center outward, playing with the possibilities that occurred to me, when I realized I had made a rolling Star of David.  

As of today, I've completed six mandalas this year and have started working on Mandala #53.  Who knows?  I just may complete twelve in time to make a calendar for 2021.


Yesterday I looked up and became aware of a female Downy Woodpecker for the first time.  She stayed at the feeder long enough for me to find my camera and get numerous images of her through my window.  This was the best image.   The red-topped males are frequent visitors at my feeder.  The female has her own beauty.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Revisiting November 22, 1963 / Murder Most Foul (with accompanying translation into Spanish) / Context

Despite the elation after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, a fear arose in me that he was in danger of being assassinated.  Something in the air felt too much like the 1950s (note: regarding link, expect deeply disturbing content and jarring commercial interruptions) and early 1960s.  What happened during his presidency and what has happened since his eight years as president ended has been most foul, an attempted assassination of democracy, of human rights, of human decency.  

Murders most foul throughout U.S. history in all contexts have come to light in the past four years.

"OK, what now? What should I be doing now? What should our country be doing now? What should I be striving to be now?"

"You have to believe you can change in order to bring it about. I can't engage in something when I think it's impossible for that thing to actually happen. So I think, philosophically, that gives me hope."

 -- Ibram X. Kendi

On November 22, 2020, the Bellingham Public Library has 62 holds on 22 copies of How To Be An Antiracist.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

"... The seeds remembered the land they came from ..." / Mandala #51: Something Happened / Listening / November Light / Surprise


I wish my old friend, Deven, were still alive and could hear her only nephew play the viola so beautifully.  He reminds me so much of her.

My chrysanthemum waited until this week to surprise me with two flowers.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

With immense gratitude to Joy Harjo


Joy Harjo, third-term U.S. Poet Laureate 


It’s closing time. Violence is my boyfriend
With a cross to bear
        Hoisted on by the church.
He wears it everywhere.
There are no female deities in the Trinity.
  I don’t know how I’m going to get out of here,
Said the flying fish to the tree.
            Last call.
We’ve had it with history, we who look for vision here
In the Indian and poetry bar, somewhere
To the left of Hell.
Now I have to find my way, when there’s a river to cross and no
Boat to get me there, when there appears to be no home at all.
               My father gone, chased
By the stepfather’s gun. Get out of here.
I’ve found my father at the bar, his ghost at least, some piece
Of him in this sorry place. The boyfriend’s convincing to a crowd.
Right now, he’s the spell of attraction. What tales he tells.
In the fog of thin hope, I wander this sad world
We’ve made with the enemy’s words.
The lights quiver,
       Like they do when the power’s dwindling to a dangling string.
It is time to go home. We are herded like stoned cattle, like children for the
 bombing drill—
        Out the door, into the dark street of this old Indian town
Where there are no Indians anymore.
I was afraid of the dark, because then I could see
              Everything. The truth with its eyes staring
Back at me. The mouth of the dark with its shiny moon teeth,
No words, just a hiss and a snap.
        I could hear my heart hurting
With my in-the-dark ears.
        I thought I could take it. Where was the party?
It’s been a century since we left home with the American soldiers at our backs.
The party had long started up in the parking lot.
       He flew through the dark, broke my stride with a punch.
I went down then came up.
         I thought I could take being a girl with her heart in her
Arms. I carried it for justice. For the rights of all Indians.
                    We all had that cross to bear.
Those Old Ones followed me, the quiet girl with the long dark hair,
     The daughter of a warrior who wouldn’t give up.
I wasn’t ready yet, to fling free the cross
     I ran and I ran through the 2 a.m. streets.

It was my way of breaking free. I was anything but history. I was the wind.


Just in case anyone hasn't seen this.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

"Dear friends, ..." / A letter from Pádraig Ó Tuama and a poem by Paul Tran


Today's letter from Pádraig Ó Tuama is the source for the poem below that can be read in full by clicking on the link in this sentence.

"The Cave, by Paul Tran:

Someone standing at the mouth had
the idea to enter. To go further

than light or language could
go. As they followed
the idea, light and language followed ...

Friday, November 13, 2020

Vincent van Gogh visits the gallery

Sometimes YouTube brings me what I need to see, just when I need to see it.  A random act of kindness.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans Day 2020 Meditation: Something he never planned on being / 50 years later -- Two Trees

R in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam, 1970


Michael Yandell in 2016:

"These memories have blurred in the time since my deployment. Nonetheless, taken together, the feeling they produce is grief. I know I am not who I thought I was. I am something different, something I never planned on being."


The article that the above quotes are taken from was in my email this morning, Veterans Day 2020.  How I wish that R, the man I met when we were just 17, the man who was drafted into the U.S. Army in spring of 1970 at age 20, the man who almost didn't go to Vietnam because he was against the war, the man who could not forgive himself for something he did while he was in Vietnam serving as a helicopter mechanic and felt that there was no one he could talk to about his experience; who suffered from alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness; who died having told no one the nature of what it was that haunted him down the years -- how I wish he could have talked with the veteran who wrote about his experience in the March 2016 article linked to in the above quote.

Every November 11 since I began blogging. I have posted something on Veterans Day.  I've just revisited those posts:














This morning I received an email from PeaceTrees Vietnam and as a result two indigenous trees will be planted in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam, in honor of R.  I am thinking of R's painting done after he suffered a brainstem stroke and was living in a VA Hospital, which was to be his home for the last 6 months of his life.  He titled his painting "Plant My Heart."

"This Veteran's Day we invite you to join us in honoring those who have served and sacrificed by planting an indigenous tree in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. This living and breathing tribute will benefit present and future generations and support reforestation essential to addressing the legacy of war in Vietnam.
We express our most sincere gratitude and respect to all veterans and their families for their selfless service this Veteran's Day and always.
How to Participate: 
When you register to participate by ordering a free "ticket" on our website, we will plant a tree in Quang Tri Province, send a personalized note to your honoree or their family to let them know about this tribute, and will stay in touch as these trees get planted." 

This Veterans Day I am remembering one morning after R returned from Vietnam, the morning when he put an album on the turntable for me to hear:

"A soldier so ill looks at the sky pilot
Remembers the words
'Thou shalt not kill'"

On this Veterans Day, as on many before, I am sending love to all the living women and men whose lives are profoundly affected by war throughout the world.  I used to think I was alone.  I was never alone.  We are never alone.

Morning sky:

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Morning light / November 7, 2020 / Joe Biden and Kamala Harris / Listen to voices of healing



NPR on Joe Biden on November 7, 2020:

Regardless, throughout his entire campaign, Biden largely emphasized tone and style over policy. He began and ended his campaign promising to "restore the soul of the nation" and repeatedly vowed in its closing days to govern with all Americans in mind, not just the ones who voted for him.

"We must seek not to tear each other apart, but to come together," Biden said in a speech in Gettysburg, Pa., last month. "What we need in America is leadership that seeks to deescalate tension, to open lines of communication, and to bring us together."


Joe Biden in October 2020:


Kamala Harris:  

"Our unity is our strength, and our diversity is our power."

Kids interview Kamala Harris in 2019:


Hundreds of tribal and Indian Country leaders endorse Joe Biden for president


From last March -- Gathering Song (Lummi Youth Canoe Family)

Thursday, November 5, 2020

We are all waiting / Linda Rees -- Tapestry Weaver


My friend of almost 50 years lives in a memory care residence.  She can no longer sign her name and cannot speak without great effort, but she was able to ask a friend for help in filling out her ballot so that she could vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Click here to read about her and see her tapestries from 1977 to 2007.  She used to have an extraordinary website that some of you may have seen featured on my blog.  Her website has disappeared into cyberspace.  

Click here and here for previous posts.