Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Valentine's Morning Visit

Early this morning, before reading what Sabine wrote in the face of her fear, I dreamed that my own prince on the white horse returned from death for Valentine's Day.  The first sign of his return was that all my clothing which I was preparing to wash disappeared mysteriously from my hallway.  The washing machine had disappeared, too. Then, I found two puzzling and cryptic unsigned notes written in pencil.  They had been left side-by-side next to my front door.  I recognized the handwriting.  I said, "R is somewhere near." Then I heard voices chanting sweetly in Sanskrit.  A seemingly endless line of men and women were arriving at my home.  They were all dressed in flowing robes with stripes.  Except for the fact that the stripes were horizontal, I was oddly reminded of the escaped prisoners in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" When R had been receiving chemotherapy for lung cancer at the Palo Alto VA Hospital in late summer of 2001, he had watched that movie along with other veterans who were not at all well physically or emotionally.  I can still see the laughter in his eyes as he told me how much he loved the movie!  I searched for R's face among the line of chanting people and was overjoyed to find him not far from the front of the line. When he saw me, he smiled broadly and took my hand and, along with all the other men and women, we entered my house.  My house turned out to be much larger than I thought it was.  There was plenty of room for the vast group of people that R traveled with, so that they could all rest and talk and eat.  It became apparent that some of the people still seemed to be stuck with the problems of living, but R appeared to be free of all that.  I had never seen him so at peace with himself.  I wanted to show him my mandalas, but I woke up before I could do that.

How about that? I woke up and laughed with joy.

From the very beginning of "O Brother, Where Art Thou":

“O Muse!Sing in me, and through me tell the storyOf that man skilled in all the ways of contending,A wanderer, harried for years on end …”
and soon after:

The second of the two Amaryllis blooms has opened this morning:

From my Valentine's Day blog post in 2010:

"When I drew the image above in January of 2008, using a laptop touchpad, it was three months before R died, and I was thinking about a story R told me in 2001. 

His story was that late one night he went out walking down the hill in the direction of the ocean in Half Moon Bay, California. Before he reached the ocean, he noticed a horse standing in a pasture. After talking to the horse, he climbed over the fence and slowly and quietly approached the horse. He stood there talking to the horse at length, gaining its trust, and finally asked the horse if it would be okay for him to climb onto its back. The horse allowed him to do that. He told me that he took off his belt and was able to use it as a makeshift bridle. 

At that point in his story he stopped to explain to me that although he had not known how to ride a horse at the time we went riding together in 1970, he had learned later. At the time when we had rented the two horses and rode on the bluffs at Half Moon Bay, I had about four years of experience riding horses.

Continuing with his story, he told me that he rode the horse around the pasture for a little while and then opened the gate to the pasture and rode out into the night. He said that they went through the neighborhoods, out along the bluffs and then down to the long sandy beach. He said that they wandered for a good part of that night, and then they returned to the pasture where he left the horse and went home and went to sleep.

He ended the story by saying, "When I went back the next day to see the horse, it was gone. I never saw the horse again. It was a magical night."

In January of 2008, remembering R's story, I pictured that magical horse coming to him at night, coming to the bed where, depressed and anxious, he tried to sleep in the stroke rehabilitation unit at the V.A. hospital in Palo Alto. R was blind in one eye, unable to speak, breathing with the help of a tracheostomy tube, having difficulty swallowing and requiring tube feeding, and only able to walk with great effort. I pictured the horse talking to R, asking him if he would like to leave the hospital for a night ride. When R said, "Yes," the horse lowered itself down so that R could pull himself over onto its back. Once R was on the horse's back, he found that he had the energy he had had as a boy and that he was no longer in the hospital room but out on the hospital grounds. By the light of the full moon, accompanied by a single bird, he and the horse went out to the coast. They returned before dawn. R felt a peace of mind and heart that he had not felt since he was a boy. He asked for an easel and began to paint again."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Before the Snow Moon 2017 / Two Flickers / Oboe / "It's a shadowy world, skies are slippery grey"

Scroll down through the blank space below.  Not sure what happened to the videos I uploaded.



See what Beth posted.

My young neighbor told me about the Snow Moon.  It will probably be too cloudy here to see it, but I imagine some of you will see it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Keep On Doing What You Do / Jerks On The Loose

For years, this song has come to mind whenever I needed it. It is serving me well now.  With much gratitude to The Roches.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Remembering Maggie Roche (1951-2017)

How very odd that I didn't learn of Maggie's death until today.

How very odd that I wouldn't have learned of it if I hadn't been looking at recent photos of Donald Trump, wondering about his mental health, and suddenly heard the Roches singing an obscure Bob Dylan song (a sly and pointed political comment) in my mind, with something in it about a president or someone going mad:

It was January the 30th
And everybody was feelin' fine
The next day, everybody got up
Seein' if the clothes were dry
The dogs were barking, a neighbor passed
Mama, of course, she said, hi
Have you heard the news he said with a grin
The vice president's gone mad (am -- the president's gone mad)
Where downtown when last night
Hmm, say, that's too bad
Well, there's nothing we can do about it, said the neighbor
It's just something we're gonna have to forget
Yes, I guess so said ma
Then she asked me if the clothes was still wet
On my way to finding the YouTube video, I discovered that Maggie had died on January 21 of breast cancer.
Listen to Maggie and Suzzy singing on Zero Church, released in response to the events of September 11, 2001.  They collected prayers they had heard as part of an arts collaborative:
Here's Maggie as I first remember seeing her face on an album I played over and over again:

And a more recent photo:
“She was a private person, too sensitive and shy for this world, but brimming with life, love, and talent,” Suzzy Roche wrote on the Roches’ Facebook page. “She was smart, wickedly funny, and authentic — not a false bone in her body — a brilliant songwriter, with a distinct unique perspective, all heart and soul.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

La Alameda / Alfredo Arreguin

Looking forward to an upcoming exhibition at the Whatcom Museum. Included in the exhibition will be the above painting by one of my favorite artists, Alfredo Arreguin.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Early Morning Light

We are so lightly here. 
It is in love that we are made. 
In love we disappear.
Leonard Cohen, Boogie Street

Thanks to Beth for the quote.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Absolutely on Music

Thank you to Lori for the inspiration.

I'm in the process of reading Absolutely on Music and have found myself inspired to retrieve my Suzuki keyboard from my bedroom closet and pick up where I left off in teaching myself to play the piano nearly 20 years ago.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Papoose / Martin Luther King's Birthday 2017 / Alberta Williams King / Dream Variations / Women's March 2017

Around 4 a.m., I awoke, and the word "papoose" came to me, along with a surprising sensation of being loved, cared for, and protected, no matter what danger threatens.  I went back to sleep.  When I woke up again, I realized that today is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just now I found this:

"Also, little known is that in the 1963 March on Washington there was a sizable Native American contingent, including many from South Dakota. Moreover, the civil rights movement inspired the Native American rights movement of the 1960s and many of its leaders. In fact, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) was patterned after the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund."

and this where Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote about his mother, Alberta Williams King.

"My mother confronted the age-old problem of the Negro parent in America: how to explain discrimination and segregation to a small child. She taught me that I should feel a sense of "somebodiness" but that on the other hand I had to go out and face a system that stared me in the face every day saying you are "less than," you are "not equal to." She told me about slavery and how it ended with the Civil War. She tried to explain the divided system of the South—the segregated schools, restaurants, theaters, housing; the white and colored signs on drinking fountains, waiting rooms, lavatories—as a social condition rather than a natural order. She made it clear that she opposed this system and that I must never allow it to make me feel inferior. Then she said the words that almost every Negro hears before he can yet understand the injustice that makes them necessary: "You are as good as anyone." At this time Mother had no idea that the little boy in her arms would years later be involved in a struggle against the system she was speaking of."
"Nothing lights a fire like a dream deferred."
Papoose.  A child.  Something lovingly made, in which a child is kept safe.  All children.  All people.  Loved, cared for, and protected.  We carry the dream as if it were a beloved child. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Self-Portrait with "you" / the mystery of encounter and relationship

A few days ago, I started re-reading a book written by a Zen teacher with Jewish roots.  He had visited a Trappist Monastery and was startled by the anger and violence that appeared along with joy and wonder in the Psalms that were sung on a daily basis.  He talked with the monks about the anger and violence and listened to their perspective that human emotions find healing through expression.  He decided to investigate the Psalms for himself (just as Joni Mitchell investigated for herself the story of Job and that particular definition of "God").

Throughout these translations that came of his investigation, Norman Fischer replaces the word "God" with the word "you."  His perspective is that of a Zen teacher encountering life and death in all its fullness and mystery and sorrow and joy and intimacy.  

Here is what he says about the "you" that he addresses in his own poetry and (I am extrapolating) in his translation of the Psalms:

"The person to whom my poems actually seemed to be addressed was someone much more silent and much more profoundly receptive than any human being could possibly be.  This person wasn't a person at all. It was nobody, nothing, and it wasn't anywhere or at any time.  It was even beyond meaning.  So poetry is important to me not because it gives me a chance to express myself, or to communicate, but because it is an encounter with that which is both so close to me that I can't see it and so far away I can never reach it.  Poetry evokes the unknowable."

(the italics are mine -- am)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Saturday, January 7, 2017

We have this momentum

We have this momentum.  Nothing can stop us.

Wish I had more time for blogging.  My free time is very limited these days.  

Grateful to be self-employed and coming close to being able to pay my bills after 1-1/2 years doing medical transcription editing.  Once I reach the goal of basic survival, my next goal is to be able to put money in savings.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Finally arrived at going forward without regret

Looked for a version of this sung by a woman.

That YouTube version by this man is just what I needed to hear this morning.  Making my way out of the darkly seductive and destructive times in my past and present that this song evokes.

How long can we search for what is not lost?

"How long, babe, can you search for what is not lost?..... Everybody will help you.  Some people are very kind ... Everybody will help you discover what you set out to find ..." (Bob Dylan)

The sun is rising over the foothills this very moment.  My life feels right this morning.  No regrets.  Nothing lost.

Where the Yin Yang symbol came from: 

"When observing the cycle of the Sun, ancient Chinese simply used a pole about 8 feet long, posted at right angles to the ground and recorded positions of the shadow. Then they found the length of a year is around 365.25 days. They even divided the year's cycle into 24 Segments, including the Vernal Equinox, Autumnal Equinox, Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice, using the sunrise and Dipper positions.
They used six concentric circles, marked the 24-Segment points, divided the circles into 24 sectors and recorded the length of shadow every day. The shortest shadow is found on the day of Summer Solstice. The longest shadow is found on the day of Winter Solstice. After connecting each lines and dimming Yin Part from Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice, the Sun chart looks like below. The ecliptic angle 23 26' 19'' of the Earth can be seen in this chart." (from sacredlotusdotcom)

Friday, December 30, 2016

This is not easy

When I listen to Deborah Parker speak from her heart, I think of Sabine, and her raw pain and the something else she and Deborah Parker and so many of us have that can be there with the pain that is so real and present and unequivocal.

We are not alone.  We can turn to the power of good memories and the power of beauty and the power of community during times of raw pain. Deborah Parker's words remind me of what I know of  you, Sabine.  It is not easy.  It is not easy.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Mona Lisa angel and the Sierra Nevada / Visions on a snowy December morning

The angel on Sabine's family's Christmas tree in 1966 reminded me of the angel that was on my family's Christmas tree in 1966.  My mother sent it to me after she and my father replaced it with something else at the top of the Christmas tree.  That might have been in the 1970s.  The angel didn't have a face.  Instead she had a silver-colored globe ornament for a head, which I found vaguely disturbing.  There was a halo above the faceless angel.  It may have been last December that the head fell off.  I thought of trying to reattach it, but something prompted me to attach an image of the Mona Lisa.  For the first time ever when I opened my box of December things, I was happy to see that green angel from my childhood.

"Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues.  You can tell by the way she smiles."
(Bob Dylan lyrics, from "Visions of Johanna," 1966)

You can see the decorations I put out this year for December as well as what is always there.  Even though I don't call myself a Christian or anything else, during December I think about Mary and Joseph waiting for the Baby Jesus to be born.  The ceramic figures were given to me by my mother.  They were brought out during December in my childhood.  I bring Baby Jesus out on Christmas morning.  Two angels given to me by a friend in the last few years are there during December, too.  There is sprig from a eucalyptus tree in a glass of water.  That's new this year.   See the little tree outside.  It has been there for a year or two.  The Principles of Uncertainty, by Maira Kalman.  If you haven't read it, I recommend it.  It is always there to the right of the elephant batik that came to me after my father died.  My Christian father was drawn to that elephant from India.  He traveled to India in the 1970s.  The batik is always there, too, along with  Gentle Wilderness: The Sierra Nevada.  The lavender and orange and gold tapestry rug on the floor is new this year.  My friend, Linda, gave it to me a few months ago.  The woven blue rug comes from Vida nueva and was made by Zenaida Lazo.  On the windowsill is a jar filled with beach glass and beach ceramic from a beach near Port Townsend, WA.  It was a gift from a friend many years ago.  On top of the jar is prism that channels a spectral light show on my walls when the sun shines.  And everyone knows Oboe!  It looks white outside because it is snowing this morning.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Creator Meditation by Gyasi Ross

As suggested, I thought twice before sharing this.  I trust that it is safe with you.  I know that you, my blog friends, will also think twice before sharing it.

A friend mentioned Lily Gladstone in a recent conversation.  Doing a little internet research about her, I discovered this meditation on the Creator:

YouTube description:
A short film written, produced, directed by Natives and starring an all-Native cast. Based on the short story "Unworthy" by Gyasi Ross

Thursday, December 8, 2016

10 years ago meets Mandala #24 on Bodhi Day 2016 and they listen to John Trudell

Ten years ago this morning I began blogging, taking a new direction in my life, having found myself going in circles that were getting smaller and smaller.  My plan was to post a 40-year retrospective of my art work, one day at a time.  I was wondering if I would ever be able to do any art work again.  I was unemployed and unemployable.  

Now I have been self-employed since August 2015.

On December 4 of this year, I completed "Mandala #24: For Kael," from a series that I started in September 2014, which was when the desire to create returned and has remained to this day.  In the center of my most recent mandala is a photo of a man flying through the air on a snowboard.  He is the son of a friend of mine.

It was a year ago on Bodhi Day, December 8, that John Trudell died. Today I am again grateful for John Trudell's voice with its healing message of survival against all odds.  I am grateful for the blog friends who have shared these years with me.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Undefeated Then And Undefeated Now

"52nd Month: Speaking Without Words About Holy Contradictions," painted by am in gouache and watercolor in June of 1989.  The numbers reflect the years of my life up to that point, beginning with my birth year.  As I was painting, I was meditating on the fact that there had been war throughout my 40 years of life.  Coincidentally, 1989 was the year the South Dakota state legislature passed a bill proclaiming 1990 as the "Year of Reconciliation" between the state's American Indian and White citizens.

Some of you have seen this painting before in different contexts.  As I was thinking about the events at Standing Rock, the image appeared in my mind again.

Monday, November 28, 2016


The first version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" that I heard was sung by Jeff Buckley.  It was recorded in 1994. My first listening was early in June of 1997, soon after Jeff Buckley drowned in the Mississippi River at age 30.  I listened and wept and felt immense gratitude.  I had not heard Leonard Cohen's version.  Although I've heard many many versions since then, none moved me again in that way until I heard the Yiddish version by Daniel Kahn soon after Leonard Cohen's death.

Yesterday my copy of Leonard Cohen's final songs arrived in the mail. I listened to it in my car while doing the things I needed to do yesterday and was deeply moved by words like these:

"...When I turned my back on the devil / Turned my back on the angel too..."

"... I heard the snake was baffled by his sin ..."

Although I was expecting only 8 songs, when what I thought was the final song ended just as I arrived home, I realized that there was a 9th track.  Something told me to wait to listen to it until today when I got into my car at 7 a.m., on my way to get together with a group of eccentric friends for what serves well as our breakfast together.  I want to give anyone who hasn't heard the CD the opportunity to have their own experience of that final track.  My guess is that I'll be listening to Leonard Cohen's final songs in my car for some time to come.

In the meantime, here's the song called "Treaty":

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sources of Joy Totem and Coast Redwood Seeds Dream

My friend, Kathy, in the center
My first cousin twice-removed, Lila, with a blue piano in a forest
Leonard Cohen in Greece in the 1980s
Detail, stamp collage by Laura Sindell, in hallway of University of Washington Medical Center
Oboe in the sunlight next to my art and music table, with elephant and Tyrannosaurus Rex

Early this morning I dreamed that, at the urging of a mysterious someone, I checked on the three Coast Redwood seeds that have been in my refrigerator for nearly 45 days.  My plan had been to wait until December 1, per the seed packet instructions, before bringing the seeds out of the refrigerator so that they would sprout, according to their nature and according to the instructions on the seed packet.  By checking on the seeds prematurely, I was going against my better judgment, something I do frequently, with predictable negative consequences.  I dug down in the bedding soil in the first pot and found a tiny redwood tree and experienced great joy.  Then suddenly, as things can sometimes go in dreams, the tiny redwood tree was nowhere to be found.  I looked and looked for it with increasing grief as I realized it was gone.  There were two more pots to check but nothing to be found growing in either of them.  In my mind, I went to what I call "the dark place," which is a place of remorse, regret, guilt, shame, blame and everything that takes the joy out of my life.  Then a man, close to me in age, appeared with his own three tiny bedding pots.  He was someone I had never seen before.  His demeanor was calm and peaceful.  He wasn't following the instructions on the seed packet.  He had placed small smooth multi-colored ocean stones on top of the bedding soil.  He told me that he planned to place the bedding pots in his car for the 45 days.  I came out of "the dark place" in my mind, seeing the light surrounding the man who was following a different set of instructions, following his intuition.  I felt curious and hopeful for all of us.

Now, awake, a few hours later, I am grateful that the Coast Redwood seeds are still untouched in my refrigerator.  Last week, a friend whose passion is bonsai told me to put the bedding pots outside as soon as I take them out of the refrigerator.  I had planned to keep them inside, despite his suggestion.  Something in me rebels against any authority, no matter how benign.  Sure, I can take suggestions from a seed packet without feeling rebellious, but what is it that makes me bristle when a friend suggests not following the instructions?  

We'll see what happens between now and December 1.  I'll know what to do when the day comes.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Meditation for Thanksgiving 2016

Megan Singer, MA 

Meg Singer (Navajo; Towering House/Biligaana Clans) grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah but for the past few years has called Montana home. Meg has a BA in Literature with an emphasis in YA Native American Literature from Westminster College in SLC, UT. Her Master’s is in Native American Studies with an emphasis on Indigenous Deaf Studies at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. Meg’s academic career has included reviving and performing the Indianist opera, “The Sun Dance Opera”, Natives in Science Fiction, Native Humor, Indigenous films, and Indigenous decolonization theories. In her down time, Meg loves to sing, watch TV, and cook.

From the Minnesota Star Tribune:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."
  - Lao Tzu

Thanks to Beth for this quote today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Veteran's Day Sunrise 2016 (revisited a few days later)

(Unable to make the fonts uniform.  Oh well.)

I've been away at Facebook, not posting much here.  Now I am choosing to return here.  In a few weeks, I will have been posting here for 10 years.  That's a substantial part of my life.  When I began to blog, I was at a turning point in my life, stuck, haunted, needing to move forward.  I'm grateful for the community I have found through blogging.  I'm grateful for this place where I can post my art work, my poetry, the music I love, memories, dreams, photographs, and all that gives life meaning.  I've come a long way since 2006 and learned so much from you, my blog friends.

As you know, I don't call myself a Christian or anything else, but this came from a Christian source (plough.com), and I found it to be enlightening regarding the life of Che Guevara:

"What exactly was the heart of Che’s vision, that it still animates young people around the world? His words on the revolutionary power of love hint at one answer. So, perhaps, does a poem found in his backpack after his death:
Christ, I love you,
not because you descended from a star,
but because you revealed to me
man’s tears and anguish;
showed me the keys that open
the closed doors of light.
Yes, you taught me that man is God,
a poor God crucified like you.
The one at your left,
at Golgotha – the worst thief –
he, too, is God.
León Felipe"For some reason, it reminded me of something Leonard Cohen wrote about Jesus:  "He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone."