Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Listening / The Beginning of Survival / More Turtles

The Beginning of Survival (Cool Water)


Something I wrote nearly 40 years ago during a time of heat and drought came to mind this morning:


There is a drought and no messiah in sight. Look at the thirsty land.

Look at the magnifying glass sun,
But no hand holds the glass;

no heart is moved by our sorrow.
Through a telescope, we look for healing hands, a human heart, and eyes that shed tears.
In drought and in deluge
these suns and gods
are distant,
though amazingly graceful and near.
As we watch through telescopes,
our church of sky, land and sea
fills with healing hands,
human hearts and eyes that shed tears. 


How odd.  More turtles found while looking for a way to acknowledge where the idea of watching each other through telescopes came from:

"... Why should we go on watching each other through a telescope? ..."

-- Bob Dylan (1978)

Friday, June 25, 2021

Dancing to the magic of suggestions by YouTube / Rainbow Girls Channel / Energetics of feeling

It takes a long time to become young.

-- Pablo Picasso


Yep.  Indeed!


Energetics of feeling, at any age:

Have been saving this to share.  Not sure where I found it.  The Rainbow Girls appear to be feeling love.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

More of one thing leading to another / Tibet: Through the Red Box / Remembering Oboe


Long long ago, in the early days of the pandemic, an artist friend of mine said that she had a book that she thought I might like to read.  For one reason or another, she wasn't able to bring the book to me during the past year.  A week or so ago, I went to her house for the first time in more than a year to visit and borrow the book.

First some backstory.  Some years ago I went to see an exhibit of diverse art work created in the context of climate change.  Of the many art works, there was one that stood out.  It was a felted wool jacket with inlaid drawings made using strands of handspun wool.  There had been an arrangement for the artist to live in a village in Nunavut in order to learn from the women who lived there.  The felted wool jacket was inspired by her time spent with the women in the Nunavut village.  As I read the information to the side of the beautiful jacket, I was surprised to see that the artist had grown up in the same small oil town in the desert in the San Joaquin Valley where my family had lived from 1954 to 1957 because of my father's job with Standard Oil which later became Chevron.  The artist's father had worked for the same oil company as an engineer.  Both the artist and I and the majority of children who lived there were exposed to, if not sprayed with DDT when the trucks came through the streets of the neighborhoods where we played.

I wrote down the email address of the artist and emailed her to let her know that, in my opinion, her jacket was the best art work in the exhibit and that I had also lived in Taft, California.  We emailed, then talked on the phone and became friends.

She was absolutely right in thinking I would enjoy the book, both the story and the detailed art work, including mandalas.  I liked it so much that I wanted to read other books for children by Peter Sis and found that our public library has a good collection of them.  My friend also has a collection that she offered to loan to me.

Peter Sis' book was inspired by the experiences his father had as a documentary filmmaker in the 1950s in Tibet where he had been hired by the Chinese government in their process of building a highway into Tibet.  There was a stressful period of time where Peter's father's whereabouts were unknown.  Peter and his family awaited his return to Czechoslovakia.  With some Googling, I found Vladimir Sis and Josef Vanis' documentary in Czech which is available here and bought a copy of the 1970 translation of their book originally published in Czech in 1955 or 1956 or 1957 (depending on the source).

The book begins with a series of short essay/stories which are followed by 224 photographs, including the Dalai Lama photographed as a young man by Vladimir Sis, along with photos of life in Tibet before the Chinese occupation.

Here is something about the documentary:

The first and only western visitors (although coming from the Eastern Soviet Bloc) to Lhasa after a three-year gap following the visit of Americans, father and son Lowell Thomas (summer 1949) and Austrians Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter (December 1950) were Czechoslovak army filmmakers Vladimir Sis (7 July 1925 – 7 September 2001) and Josef Vanis (6 January 1927 – 12 February 2009), who stayed in Tibet for ten months in years 1954-1955. They shot an hours documentary film in cooperation with the Peoples Liberation Army Film Studio (established on 1 August, 1952, in 1956, it was renamed August First Film Studio), which premiered in 1956 as On the Road through Tibet (original title: Cesta vede do Tibetu) and obtained an award at the Venice festival. The film captured the construction of a strategic military road from Ya-an to Lhasa, which was mainly built by Chinese soldiers and workers but also Tibetans. Vanis and Sis also published books with a number of photographs and they made TV coverages. Due to the dispute between Beijing and Moscow in 1959, this topic became a taboo in Czechoslovakia until the fall of communism in 1989. Besides these official published outcomes of their documentary work in Tibet and China their family archives contain unpublished private travelogues, correspondence and many photographic negatives and positives. Using both these information sources, but primarily thanks to the not yet known literary and photographic records, the large and deep background of their expedition may be examined for the very first time.

All of the above has given me the inspiration to work on Mandala #62 using every single one of my FaberCastell Polychromos pencils, all thirty-eight of them, some of which colors I don't like very well but which seem likable when used in the context of the ones I favor and use frequently.  This year I'm alternating drawing my mandalas with my right hand and non-dominant left hand.  This is a left-handed one. There is a distinctly different process going on in me when I use my left hand.  Are any of you left-handed?  Or ambidextrous?


My beautiful talkative cat, Oboe, died a year ago today.  I'm grateful for her quirky and healing presence from 2006 to 2020.  Our animal friends are dear to us.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Women carrying a Bob Dylan song forward / "... most of the time, I'm strong enough not to hate ..." / Strength to Love

Most of the time

Most of the time

I'm clear focused all around
Most of the time
I can keep both feet on the ground
I can follow the path
I can read the signs
Stay right with it
When the road unwinds
I can handle whatever
I stumble upon
I don't even notice
She's gone
Most of the time
Most of the time
It's well understood
Most of the time
I wouldn't change it if i could
I can't make it all match up
I can hold my own
I can deal with the situation
Right down to the bone
I can survive
And i can endure
And i don't even think
About her
Most of the time
Most of the time
My head is on straight
Most of the time
I'm strong enough not to hate
I don't build up illusion
'Till it makes me sick
I ain't afraid of confusion
No matter how thick
I can smile in the face
Of mankind
Don't even remember
What her lips felt like on mine
Most of the time
Most of the time
She ain't even in my mind
I wouldn't know her if i saw her
She's that far behind
Most of the time
I can't even be sure
If she was ever with me
Or if i was ever with her
Most of the time
I'm halfway content
Most of the time
I know exactly where it all went
I don't cheat on myself
I don't run and hide
Hide from the feelings
That are buried inside
I don't compromise
And i don't pretend
I don't even care
If i ever see her again
Most of the time

(Bob Dylan -- 1989)


“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

― Martin Luther King Jr., from Strength to Love

Monday, June 21, 2021

THE BOUYANCY OF THE CRAFT: The Writings and Travels of Annemarie Schwarzenbach, a novel by Morelle Smith / The day after the summer solstice 2019 and 2021


p. 3  

In 1942 the young American writer Carson McCullers penned a story A Tree.  A Rock.  A Cloud.  The idea of the story was that for a relationship to be sincere and genuine it need not be confined to one with another person but could be with any external object or being.  She had taken this idea from something her friend Annemarie Schwarzenbach had written to her, in a letter.  The separateness, wrote Annemarie, that we perceive between all beings is false; there is a greater perception, that of the heart which, if accessed, can override the illusion of separation.  Love is stronger, she wrote, no matter who or what one loves, even if it is 'a stone, a tree'.


p. 25

There are detailed descriptions of the conflicting sense of knowing and not knowing a once familiar place that we've returned to.  It has changed in the interim, as have we.  There is the conflict between what we remember -- more than just images in the mind, they seem to form part of our body and psyche, a blueprint for our being, a meshwork around which memories, feelings and thoughts spin and spiral, creating the fabric of our life.  So there's what we remember and what we see now, in the present time.  And there can seem little traffic between the two, few bridges to connect them.  It feels vital to effect a reconciliation between the two, yet there's no perceptible way of doing this.  It feels as if we have to choose between one of the other and we rebel against such a choice for whichever we choose, half of our being has to be abandoned.


p. 40

Though it sounds scarcely credible today, with our knowledge of what happened later, Breslauer says that up to that point they really were not aware of what was happening politically.  And Hitler seemed such a ridiculous figure that they did not believe that he and his party could stay in power for long.  How could one take such a person seriously?


p. 43

But 1933 was not just a year of personal success.  It began in the poisonous and dangerous atmosphere of Berlin, where she knew she could no longer stay, but would have to leave.  After living there and witnessing what was happening, she saw there was a new force to contend with, negative and destructive.  This new dynamic changed her outlook and her sense of purpose.  She could no longer live only for herself, for the pursuit of her own desires and her own personal freedom, however vital that still was.  From now on in her life, she would be seeking to serve a greater purpose, to find a way of doing something that would serve others, serve a cause, for a way to be committed to freedom in general, to be useful.


The enigmatic Annemarie Schwarzenbach was both dear and a puzzle to so many who met her during her short full life which ended in 1942.  I'm absorbing the experience of reading Morelle's book.  Last night I was compelled to stay up way past my bedtime to read the last .  It is one of those rare books that I am going to start reading a second time within 24 hours of reading it for the first time.

Morelle writes (p. 110) that on the day after the summer solstice in 2019, she was visiting Horgen on the shores of Lake Zurich, spending three days visiting the grave of Annemarie Schwarzenbach.

I'm grateful to Morelle for her blog, her photographs, her travel books and her books of poetry, and now her timely novel.

Photos of Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Morelle Smith from the lower left hand corner of the back cover:

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Father's Day 2021 meditation


Here's a song for my father who was born in 1914, died in 2003, and loved baseball.  I'm sure that my childhood memories of Father's Day had a baseball game on the radio as part of the sound track:


For many years, for Father's Day, I used to bake my father a loaf of Norwegian braided bread and mail it from my home in Washington State to where he lived with my mother in Northern California after he retired.  He always expressed appreciation for that bread.  My father was confusing to me in the ways he hurt my feelings deeply, undermining my self-esteem throughout his life and at the same time seemed to be proud of me.  After my mother died, a first cousin asked him which of his daughters was most like him and he said, "Amanda."  I found that startling.  Perhaps he had mixed feelings about himself as well as about me.  Who knows? It has occurred to me in recent years that my father may have had Asperger's because that is being diagnosed in numerous members of the younger generations of my family.  Perhaps my father's father had Asperger's, too.  


I wish I could remember my father holding me when I was a baby.  I'm grateful for this photo of him as a first-time father at age 35.  He was often away on business trips.  I became used to his absence as a young child and eventually didn't miss him at all when he was gone.  I have to remember that he always came home eventually and that the work that took him away from us was what supported us.


Friday, June 18, 2021

Stream of consciousness while walking from my mind to my heart




I would like to experience the following as true on the deepest instinctive level.

"... if only people were granted absolute liberty, and were compelled to obey no one, they would then voluntarily associate themselves in the common interest..."
(Anonymous, paraphrased)


I'm currently reading Bouyancy of the Craft, by my blog friend in Scotland, Morelle.  Previous to reading that novel, I've bought several of Morelle's books of poetry and travel writing and am grateful to have connected with her and her literary work through blogging.  I'm recommending her books and her blog, with its splendid photographs and writing.


Thank you for all your stories of turtles, most of which have turned out to be sea turtles.  In the past few days I've remembered that someone I knew in grade school, junior high and school lives on an island in South Carolina, is involved with protection of sea turtles and belongs to the Global Sea Turtle Network.  In recent years she found me when I used to be on Facebook.  We had not been in touch since high school.  I'm no longer on Facebook but do have her email address.  I'm taking all this turtle talk as a sign to email her and say hello.



Sending love to blog friends near and far.  

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Further on / More of one thing leading to another / The Sand Talks / Gratitude

 Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World

I want to thank Beth at Alive On All Channels for introducing me to so many sources of wisdom through the world's diverse traditions that communicate through books, visual arts, theater, dance, music, and often through oral tradition written down.  Most recently Beth has been posting excerpts from Tyson Yunkaporta's Sand Talk:  How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World.  I had just begun reading a copy that came from our public library when I learned about the concept of walking the spirits of the 215 children home through this YouTube channel which has its source in the Lummi Nation, located 30 minutes from where I live in Washington State.

We are all just walking each other home -- Ram Dass.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Our June sky has many faces / Turtle Day


Addendum:  Hmmm ...  In the last 24 hours, three people sent me or posted photos of turtles and then I picked up a book I just started reading, a library copy of Sand Talk:  How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World, by Tyson Yunkaporta, and was startled to be presented with a creation myth involving Turtle.  Just now as I was getting ready to get in bed and read until I fall asleep, I debated about turning over a new card in a stack of cards with proverbs from all over the world.  I keep the tiny cards on the desk in my bedroom.  I laughed out loud upon reading this:

"The turtle lays thousands of eggs without anyone knowing, but when the hen lays an egg the whole country is informed."  (Malayan)

Of course I thought of "Turtle Blues"

Turns out that Janis' first major performance was on June 17, 1967, at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Hmmmm ...

Turtle Day 2021

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Three days of prayer in solidarity with those who are walking 215 spirits back to their families / Addendum: Further on


Especially listen at 32:30 regarding the power of song

Addendum on June 17, 2021:  Context.  Just in case this is not widely known.

This morning during the yoga and focusing-based meditation that has evolved for me, I remembered the words of Ram Dass:

We're all just walking each other home.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Yet another recommendation / Patriarchy Blues, by Rena Priest

"... to trade the sweetness of

transient pleasures for the steady sweetness
of your own voice.  To be destroyed,
and rebuilt by songs.

(from the poem titled "Toward a Beautiful Flare of Ruin," by Rena Priest


Next on my list of books to read:

When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, by Joy Harjo

Friday, June 11, 2021

Another book recommendation / JUST AS I AM, by Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson was interviewed shortly before she died on January 28, 2021.  It was after reading her book this past week that I found the interview.


"... A lesson before dying -- that is what Miles, in his passing, left for me.  We don't have long here, children.  Our hopes and aspirations may feel limitless, but our days are finite, our experiences fading in the twinkling of an eye.  Death is a love note to the living, to regard every day, every breath, as sacred.  "What is your life?" the scriptures ask us.  "You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14, NIV).  The Spirit is ever beckoning us to heed that wisdom, to get on with what we've been put here to do.  And whatever that calling looks like, however it may seemingly vary from one person or season to the next, at its core, it is simply this:  cherish one another.  That is all.  That is our purpose in its entirety, to bestow God's care onto others.  "Do you think Miles knew just how loved he was?" a friend asked me after his passing.  Sadly, he did not.  That awareness is why now, in these times today, I hold my dear ones ever closer.

In the years immediately after Miles's passing, I grieved in the way that I always have, between the crevices of my art.  Stepping into another's reality gives me shelter from my own.  Slowly, as I become a conduit for someone else's anguish, the raw pain of my own throbs less.  Healing, as I see it, is not the absence of pain.  Rather, it is a gradual reduction in the ache.  The lessening of the hurt eventually makes room for fond memories to surface.  Miles has been gone for three decades now, and to this day, when I see a photo of him, or else recall one of his crazy sayings (Can't no one monkey stop a show," he'd quip when someone attempted to block his path), it can take me right back to our years together.  At the start of this journey called grief, I teared up upon remembering him.  These days, I do more smiling than weeping.  Though Miles is long gone, he is right here with me.  Our love story will never be finished.  After his passing, I went out with other men, some of them in the industry, none of whom I care to name.  Nothing serious came of it.  We're fortunate, in this life, if we've known true love once.  I have and I relished it." 
(p. 346-347)


"Each of you, my dear readers and viewers, has surrounded me with the sweet scent of your presence.  When I made the choice to devote my life to the stage, I did so with the hope that I might change one person -- just one.  God heard my quiet prayer and granted it a hundredfold, with grace beyond measure over all those decades.  Thank you for your abundant love to me during my journey.  In your care, I have flourished."
(p. 406)

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

"Hi. I'm Aiden. Are you ready to watch the solar eclipse on June 10th? ..."

My only total eclipse experience was on August 21, 2017.  I hope to be able to see one in the future, if at all possible, and am grateful to have lived long enough to see one within driving distance of my home in northwest Washington State.  On August 20, 2017, I drove across the Cascade mountain range to Wenatchee, Washington, and stayed overnight there.  On August 21, I woke up at 2 a.m. (just a hour earlier than I usually wake up) and drove from Wenatchee to Fossil, Oregon, for the extraordinary experience of a total eclipse. As I had hoped, there were few cars on the road during my journey to and from the eclipse because I chose to travel through the sparsely inhabited parts of Washington State and Oregon.

I'm wondering which readers have witnessed a total eclipse.  Until the moment of totality, I had no idea how physically and emotionally startling and sublime that moment would be.


Annie Dillard:

"I had seen a partial eclipse in 1970. A partial eclipse is very interesting. It bears almost no relation to a total eclipse."  

"Abruptly it was dark night, on the land and in the sky. In the night sky was a tiny ring of light. The hole where the sun belongs is very small. A thin ring of light marked its place."


Here's my total eclipse mandala from 2017

Friday, June 4, 2021

Recommending Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter's Story, by Mazie K. Hirono in collaboration with Rosemarie Robotham / "... you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one .." / Northern Flicker

"... I have often wondered how it was that a quiet, watchful Asian-American immigrant girl who had grown up desperately poor could one day aspire to become the chief executive of her state.  The closest I've come to an explanation is this:  My mother had lived as if nothing was truly impossible, and her determination -- the heart of fire she carried within her, despite her calm demeanor -- had set a powerful example for us.  She had worked tirelessly to make it possible for me to become a woman with outsize dreams ..."


"... you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one ..."

Brian Zhang:


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

It could have been the gift of a full moon in the palm of her hand and then I noticed the presence of her father for the first time


Yesterday I stopped at my hall closet door to look at the flyer attached there and announcing the last exhibit of some of the tapestries which my friend, Linda Rees, worked on over a period of 50 years before she had to stop weaving due to increasing memory loss.  When she could no longer remember how to warp her floor loom, a friend stepped in and warped it for her.  Linda still remembered how to weave and was not ready to stop, but the time came when she made a conscious decision to sell to a younger weaver the loom she had woven on for fifty years, beginning at the time her only daughter was born.

While looking closely at the image I had looked at so many times before, I suddenly noticed the figure of the father of her daughter.  He is dressed in pale green and khaki.   Odd how certain important details escape us until we can see them.  

Linda and I became good friends in the 1970s when her daughter was in grade school.  I bought one of Linda's earliest tapestries from a local yarn store.  When I handed the store owner my check, she noticed my address and told me that Linda lived a few houses down the street from where I lived and said that I might like to get to know Linda.  The store owner was right.  Linda and I bonded through our complementary art work and a love for long walks.

Linda died this past December after having turned 80 years old in November.  I miss her but can still feel her creative presence and encouragement as I prepare to begin working on Mandala #62.

Although the early morning sunlight is coming through the cottonwood trees to the east as I write, the half moon is visible high in the sky to the south.  The moon keeps us company more than the sun does.  The moon is present in our sky both day and night.  There are only two days of the month when it is not lit up for us by the sun at night, but it is still keeping us company while the sun is absent. 


Hmmm ... and then there's the story of a bad moon rising first told in 1969 and continuing to be told more than 50 years later, carried forward by several generations:

"To us, the song is saying: "Prepare for tough times, but stay positive" -- an important message to share at times like these!" (The Melbourne Ukulele Community)

There's the story of the Whole of the Moon as well:


"... The moon, like a flower
In heaven's high bower,
With silent delight,
Sits and smiles on the night ..."
(William Blake, from "Night" -- Songs of Innocence)

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Jacaranda / "Crying in the Wilderness: A Tribute to George Floyd in 8:46"


(to watch tribute, click on link)


Ben Caldwell:

Patrick Scott:


Note:  It was while searching Google for information on Jacaranda trees that I found this tribute to George Floyd, co-conceived by Ben Caldwell and Patrick Scott.


I slept and dreamt
that life was joy,
I awoke and saw
that life was duty.
I worked - and behold
duty was joy.

- Rabindranath Tagore, as quoted by Viktor Frankl in Yes to Life