Sunday, October 31, 2021


My favorite Halloween song ever!  Otherwise, I'm not a big fan of Halloween.  Smashed pumpkins bring up feelings of grief every year since that tradition appeared.  I don't remember smashed pumpkins in my childhood.  Of course, there is a smashed pumpkin element to Warren Zevon's song.  So it goes.  Paradox.  Mystery.  Shadows and Light.

Werewolves of London
Werewolves of London


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Featured speaker on Indigenous People's Day: Matika Wilbur

This event was recorded locally on Indigenous People's Day.  Had we not had the Lummi reservation next to Bellingham and Western Washington University within Bellingham, I may have missed knowing about this particular event presented as a webinar.  I found it rewarding and heartening to put two hours aside to watch it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Language of the heart / Not only above us but all around our beautiful earth / Night falling from the sky (one of Bob's koans)




Many of Bob Dylan's songs remind me of the quilts that were made during the days of the Underground Railroad, in that within the song I find messages that have guided me toward freedom.

Look out across the fields, see me returning
Smoke is in your eye, you draw a smile
From the fireplace where my letters to you are burning
You’ve had time to think about it for a while

Well, I’ve walked two hundred miles, now look me over
It’s the end of the chase and the moon is high
It won’t matter who loves who
You’ll love me or I’ll love you
When the night comes falling from the sky

I can see through your walls and I know you’re hurting
Sorrow covers you up like a cape

Only yesterday I know that you’ve been flirting
With disaster that you managed to escape

I can’t provide for you no easy answers
Who are you that I should have to lie?

You’ll know all about it, love
It’ll fit you like a glove
When the night comes falling from the sky

I can hear your trembling heart beat like a river
You must have been protecting someone last time I called.
I’ve never asked you for nothing you couldn’t deliver
I’ve never asked you to set yourself up for a fall

I saw thousands who could have overcome the darkness
For the love of a lousy buck, I’ve watched them die

Stick around, baby, we’re not through
Don’t look for me, I’ll see you
When the night comes falling from the sky

In your teardrops, I can see my own reflection
It was on the northern border of Texas where I crossed the line
I don’t want to be a fool starving for affection
I don’t want to drown in someone else’s wine

For all eternity I think I will remember
That icy wind that’s howling in your eye
You will seek me and you’ll find me
In the wasteland of your mind
When the night comes falling from the sky

Well, I sent you my feelings in a letter
But you were gambling for support
This time tomorrow I’ll know you better
When my memory is not so short

This time I’m asking for freedom
Freedom from a world which you deny

And you’ll give it to me now
I’ll take it anyhow
When the night comes falling from the sky

Copyright © 1985 by Special Rider Music



Tuesday, October 26, 2021

So many things from my mother leading to my creative life and my spiritual life

That's my red-haired mother as a baby, born in the spring of 1916 in Minnesota.  At times lately I feel as if I am, in some odd way, her mother.  

When my mother was about the age I am, she strongly considered converting to Judaism.  She had long felt a kinship with Jewish people and felt that there must have been someone who was Jewish on her father's side of the family.  While our family was attending an Episcopal Church during my growing up years, she introduced me to the works numerous writers and artists who were Jewish.  I remember that she went to hear Isaac Bashevis Singer speak at a local synagogue when I was in high school.

In the early 1980s, she met people from the Jewish community in Mendocino County and subscribed to their newsletter and felt welcomed and at home in that small community.  When my father protested, she celebrated all the Jewish holidays semi-secretly, far below my father's radar.   My father did not know enough about Judaism to know that she was celebrating the holidays right in front of him.  

My mandala series was inspired by my mother's mandala series which she created when she was about the same age I am.  Her series included mandalas for Jewish holidays.

One of the books she passed on to me when I was in high school was The Chosen, by Chaim Potok.  This morning, following links as I do, I discovered an extraordinary series of drawings and paintings by Jeremy Kagan, the man who directed the film version of The Chosen.  They remind me of Jacob Lawrence's series:  Eight Studies for the Book of Genesis, which I was fortunate to be able to see when they were shown here in Bellingham.  They also make me think of William Blake.  I find Jeremy Kagan's work to be deeply engaging, despite the fact that I am not a religious person.  

My mother's parents were married in a Unitarian Church in Boston.  Her mother's father was a Theosophist.  Some of her great grandparents were Roman Catholic and the others Protestant.  I recall my mother saying that her father, a World War I veteran, had a well-worn copy of the Bhagavad Gita, possibly belonging to my grandmother who died before he did and whose father was the Theosophist. My only nephew's grandfather is Jewish.  His grandmother is a Roman Catholic convert to Judaism.  My father's father's side is entirely Lutheran and then there is the mysterious great great grandfather on my father's mother's side whose ancestry and religion are unknown.  In my generation and the younger generations, there is a little of everything, atheism included!

It will take me some time to look through all sets of drawings and paintings by Jeremy Kagan.  I'm astonished to find that his third set are what I would call mandalas.  A glimpse from his first set:

and then this.

Feeling gratitude this morning to my complicated mother, an artist, writer,  creator of delicious meals, pattern knitter, and spiritual seeker, among other things, who would be 105 years old this year.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Tears of joy revisited / Boundless Love

In the first month after my R returned from Vietnam in December 1970, he bought tickets for us to see the exhibit of Vincent van Gogh's art work at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  It is occurring to me this morning that I sensed Vincent van Gogh's presence as I stood with R in front of the paintings that Vincent van Gogh had stood by or sat in front of or carried with him through his life.  I saw then and see even more now that R had much in common with Vincent van Gogh.  R was an artist.  R's life held both profound joy and immense grief and sorrow and pain.  Watching this video again this morning after a friend sent me the link, I see R healed and whole, walking in peace somewhere beyond reason, somewhere eternally beautiful, with Vincent van Gogh and so many others like them, like all of us, worthy of unconditional love.


This brought tears of joy, too.  Thank you, beth coyote.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Connection / 37 years ago / Turning Points

There was a turning point in my life 37 years ago in October when I looked out from the porch of what was to become my new home and saw those brilliant fall colors.  There was only one tree at that time, a much smaller version but just as radiant.  

Unknowingly, I had turned down a dead-end street when I was a young girl which led me to years of despair, bringing me to a point where I both hoped that I would die and hoped that something would happen so that I could live in a different way.  The turning point began with an outburst of rage on my 35th birthday and a decision to leave a marriage of 8 years that I had entered into believing that I needed to be married to survive in the world.  It is occurring to me now that finding my identity as an artist in 1980 and that moment of rage in October 1984 were the beginning of the end of the eating disorder that had shadowed my life from the age of 10 when I went on my first diet.  Upon leaving that marriage, I entered into 6 years of astonishing creativity in which I completed 200 drawings and paintings.   

After almost exactly three years of thriving alone, amazed that I could support myself as a medical transcriptionist while living the creative life I had only dreamed of, there was another turning point in which I heard an Indigenous woman, in her late 20s and learning to read and a member of a small support group I had joined, speak of knowing that she was loved unconditionally by something that she couldn't see.  She trusted something that she couldn't see.  She had a relationship with something that she couldn't see.  There was a light around her that I had not seen in anyone before in my entire life.  The light was real.  I experienced that light and was changed in that moment.  She had suffered from an eating disorder far worse than mine.  She had been free of it for 6 months at that time.  I knew that freedom was possible for me as well.

The video that was brought to my attention this early morning carries the message that it's not just that the Navajo need the internet -- the internet needs the Navajo.  What I had needed all my life was brought to me by an Indigenous woman.



October 2021 has brought a new turning point.  Something moved me to begin at one end of my small condominium and take an inventory of all my belongings.  I looked closely at everything, sorted, organized, and found those belongings that I was ready to let go of -- belongings I had needed for so long but no longer needed to possess because I had finally let them enter my heart -- a place where they now live.  Among those belongings were framed drawings and paintings that have been stored in my walk-in closet and my bedroom for 37 years.  I took them to the Assistance League, a local thrift store that uses the proceeds of its sales to help those in need in our community.  Yesterday I was overjoyed to find a kind comment by a woman who had bought two of my paintings from the thrift store, did some googling and found my blog:

"Though I don’t know you, best wishes for your 72nd year of making a difference upon this earth. I am writing because I have recently acquired from the Assistance League two of your earlier paintings and I am so happy to sit at my dining room table and enjoy your definite style and detail. When I bought them, I didn’t know they were done by a local artist - that discovery has made my acquisition even more special. As of today, the 21st, there remains one more of your work on display at the Assistance League if you’re so inclined to check it out.
Thank you."

Speaking of turning points, December 8, 2006, was the day I started blogging.  I had been reading Robin and Roger's blog and commenting there and was inspired to start my own blog.  In the last 15 years (!) I've become a part of a small community of kindred spirits, near and far, and for that I couldn't be more grateful.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

More and more of one thing leading to another / Simply being human

Not sure how this came to my attention in the last few days.   Probably more of "one thing leading to another."

Although I find it odd that this is sponsored by Proctor and Gamble and feel cynical about their financial motives, I was moved and enlightened by what Alok had to say.  Our public library has a copy of his small format 64-page book published in 2020, Beyond The Gender Binary, in their section for teenage readers and so I put a copy on hold.  I've finished reading the book this morning.


"Indigenous people and people outside the Western world have long existed outside of the gender binary: two-spirit among American Indians, hijra in South Asia, waria in Indonesia, muxe in Mexico, just to name a few.  In many of these societies,  people outside of the binary were and continue to  be recognized as leaders."

Until I learned that an intersex child was born around 13 years ago to a member of R's extended family in the San Francisco Bay Area, I did not realize that intersex children have been born as long as there have been children in the world.  The doctors involved could not determine whether the newborn was male or female.  However, the parents decided that what they wanted was a boy and surgery was performed on the infant.  I did not meet, only heard of, that child who is a teenager by now.  I have wondered how that child has fared as a boy and now a teenage boy.  I wonder if that teenager will find Alok's book and feel supported in whatever choices there are to be made or not made. 

Alok writes:

"The fact that doctors still perform non-consensual and non-medically necessary surgeries on intersex people just because they are different shows how binary sex -- like binary gender -- is a political construction.  These people are not accidents or malfunctions; this is how human diversity works."

Listening to the discussion with Alok Vaid-Menon and reading his book, I'm grateful to have heard what I needed to hear about his experience of simply being human.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

All Of Us Going Forward Without Denying The Past AND The Present

A friend emailed me a link to:

I don't have HBO and may not have heard about this otherwise.  A quick check with our public library shows that it is available there on DVD.  Maybe some of you have seen this already, given that it was released in 2019.  I just finished watching it.

I'm grateful to diverse friends who bring to my attention what needs to be brought to my attention.

At the end of the documentary, Sweet Honey in the Rock sings "We'll Never Turn Back."  With a little googling I found that Mavis Staples featured it on an album released in 2007.

I found the following quote here about "We"ll Never Turn Back."

"One of the symbolic songs of the civil rights movement in the USA, interpreted by many artists starting from The SNCC Freedom Singers, through Sweet Honey in the Rock and Barbara Dane. However, I preferred to attribute it to Mavis Staples for the recent, very intense interpretation of hers in the 2007 eponymous album." 


A local young woman:


How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be? -- Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

Thursday, October 14, 2021

More of one thing leading to another / Sandra Hard: Freedom Summer 1964 / Postscript


This morning I found this quote at whiskey river:

"What does it mean to be radical, to tell radical stories in our time, to win the battle of the story? The North American tradition seems to focus its activity on the exposé, the telling of the grim underside of what we know: the food is poison, the system is corrupt, the leaders are lying, the war is failing. There is a place for this, but you cannot base a revolution on the bad things the status quo forgot to mention. You need to tell the stories they are not telling, to learn to see where they are blind, to look at how the great changes of the world come from the shadows and the margins, not center stage, to see where we're winning and that we can win something that matters, if not everything all the time."

 - Rebecca Solnit

A while later, something prompted me to take a good look at a pencil drawing my mother bought for me in 1970 or 1971.  I believe that she bought it at an arts and crafts fair on Skyline Boulevard on the San Francisco Peninsula but I can't be sure.  I decided to try to photograph it to show here on my blog.  It was difficult to photograph because of reflections and poor lighting.  I remember that my mother told me that the artist's name was Gary Dungan and that the drawing was of his wife.  They lived in Half Moon Bay.  It turned out that my R had been acquainted with Gary Dungan and that Gary had taught R some guitar/banjo finger-picking which R then taught me.   

Out of curiosity, I googled Gary Dungan and found that a Gary Lane Dungan (see signature on drawing -- GLD) had lived with his first wife in Half Moon Bay, California, and had died in Florida in 2004 and that his first wife's maiden name was Sandy Hard.  With a little more googling, I found the following website, which includes historical papers and letters of Sandy Hard.  The letters were written in Mississippi and sent to family in California in the summer of 1964.

Of course, I can't be sure but my gut feeling was that the woman in the drawing is the same woman who participated in Freedom Summer 1964.  I have always been inspired by the spiritual strength and beauty I saw in the woman in the drawing.  More googling showed a Sandy H. Dungan who was born in 1942 and died in 2000 in Northern California.  I feel certain there is a connection, and I'm continually astonished by what one can discover when one sets out on an internet search.  



Just now, something prompted me to move the drawing from the walk-in closet, where it has been since October 1984, to the wall in my bedroom.

This drawing of mine in chalk pastel will be moved to the empty space in the walk-in closet:

Imaginary Brother as Botanist (1984) 

Suddenly I realize that the man in the drawing reminds me of my nephew who was born in 1993.  Of course, my nephew is much younger than the man in my drawing.  Because of a family estrangement, I have not seen my nephew since he was 10 years old.  It was in 1984 that I traded this drawing for a tapestry woven by my friend who died last year in December.  She brought it with her when she moved from Bellingham to St. Louis to Eugene to Norway and then back to Bellingham where it was on the wall of her apartment and then on the wall of the assisted care facility room where she lived for several months.  She had it in the lovely room in the memory care unit where she lived at the end of her life.  She chose it because it reminded her of her older brother.

Here's the tapestry I received in trade:

One thing leading to another.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Mandala #64 (four more and I'll have a calendar for 2021) / Late September and Early October Sky


I wish my camera made a sharper image.

Will have the mandalas scanned 

professionally for optimal appearance.

Always interesting to see what my art

works looks like in black and white and 



September and October skies are always

a joy.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Revisited / "There's Orion!"

"... What is real but compassion as we're moved from birth to death? ..."


Kenneth Rexroth took a walk with his young daughter and wrote this poem, which was a favorite of my mother and became a favorite of mine.

“A Sword In A Cloud Of Light”
By Kenneth Rexroth

Your hand in mine, we walk out
To watch the Christmas Eve crowds
On Fillmore Street, the Negro
District. The night is thick with
Frost. The people hurry, wreathed
In their smoky breaths. Before
The shop windows the children
Jump up and down with spangled
Eyes. Santa Clauses ring bells.
Cars stall and honk. Street cars clang.
Loud speakers on the lampposts
Sing carols, on juke boxes
In the bars Louis Armstrong
Plays White Christmas. In the joints
The girls strip and grind and bump
To Jingle Bells. Overhead
The neon signs scribble and
Erase and scribble again
Messages of avarice,
Joy, fear, hygiene, and the proud
Names of the middle classes.
The moon beams like a pudding.
We stop at the main corner
And look up, diagonally
Across, at the rising moon,
And the solemn, orderly
Vast winter constellations.
You say, “There’s Orion!”
The most beautiful object
Either of us will ever
Know in the world or in life
Stands in the moonlit empty
Heavens, over the swarming
Men, women, and children, black
And white, joyous and greedy,
Evil and good, buyer and
Seller, master and victim,
Like some immense theorem,
Which, if once solved would forever
Solve the mystery and pain
Under the bells and spangles.
There he is, the man of the
Night Before Christmas, spread out
On the sky like a true god
In whom it would only be
Necessary to believe
A little. I am fifty
And you are five. It would do
No good to say this and it
May do no good to write it.
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.

*The Poetry Center Digital Archive is a Project of The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University.

The first thing I saw on my 72nd birthday was Orion.  I woke up at 3 a.m., as I usually do, and walked from my bedroom to my porch which looks out to the east.  The sky was extraordinarily clear, revealing Orion, the Pleiades, and a crescent moon.  Such a generous gift.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Cousins / My 72nd Birthday

Yesterday was my 72nd birthday.  I usually keep my birthdays very simple.  Only a few friends near and far even know the date of my birthday.  When I had suggested to my first cousin who lives here in Bellingham that we meet with a fifth cousin from our grandfather's mother's side, my first cousin suggested that we meet at Big Rock Garden Park on my birthday.  Big Rock Garden is a short walk up the hill from where I live.  I agreed to the plan.  My first cousin and fifth cousin had not met before.  I worked as a hospital medical transcriptionist with my fifth cousin for years, unaware that we were cousins until I saw her name on my list of DNA cousins on  Our ancestors came from Nordfjord in Norway to the Midwest in the 1800s, one branch of the family settling in Western Minnesota and the other in Nebraska.  My fifth cousin's ancestors went on from Nebraska to Washington State and became dairy farmers about 10 miles north of Bellingham.  Although I was born in Northern California, I have lived in Bellingham since I was 24 years old.  My first cousin was born in Minnesota and came to live in Bellingham in the early 1980s.  My fifth cousin knows of another fifth cousin who was born locally.  I hope to meet her, too.  

After days of clouds and rain that included a wild roaring wind and rain storm, my birthday couldn't have had better weather, with sunshine, deep blue sky and beautiful big white clouds.