Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Rainbow and Sacred Grief and Fierce Grace and Reconciliation After Death and Our Golden River and The Beloved Community















Thank you to Robert at The Solitary Walker, for posting the following from D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow on his Facebook page.  It is a bit of synchronicity that I read this passage this morning, the 9th anniversary of the death of the man that I met when we were 17 years and whom I loved, mostly from a distance, for 42 years and with whom I have found reconciliation and peace through his death.  When R and I were 20 years old, he was drafted and spent the year in Vietnam, and I spent the year waiting for him as well as participating in protests against the war in Vietnam.  One of the things we did after he returned was to go to a protest against the war, during which Joan Baez sang. During the time R was in Vietnam, I read The Rainbow.  It was this passage that engaged my full attention all those years ago:
'And then, in the blowing clouds, she saw a band of faint iridescence colouring in faint colours a portion of the hill. And forgetting, startled, she looked for the hovering colour and saw a rainbow forming itself. In one place it gleamed fiercely, and, her heart anguished with hope, she sought the shadow of iris where the bow should be. Steadily the colour gathered, mysteriously, from nowhere, it took presence upon itself, there was a faint, vast rainbow. The arc bended and strengthened itself till it arched indomitable, making great architecture of light and colour and the space of heaven, its pedestals luminous in the corruption of new houses on the low hill, its arch the top of heaven.
And the rainbow stood on the earth. She knew that the sordid people who crept hard-scaled and separate on the face of the world's corruption were living still, that the rainbow was arched in their blood and would quiver to life in their spirit, that they would cast off their horny covering of disintegration, that new, clean, naked bodies would issue to a new germination, to a new growth, rising to the light and the wind and the clean rain of heaven. She saw in the rainbow the earth's new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth, fitting to the over-arching heaven.'
Most of you are familiar with my story.  Today I need to tell it again and see how far I have come this past year.
These last few months have been an unexpected and particularly difficult part of my grief journey, which began in 1971 with R's return from Vietnam and the violence that led to our separation and my inability to accept that the physical separation was permanent, until his death in 2008.  Although the bookAmbiguous Loss:  Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (recommended to me through a community grief support group in 2008) was immensely helpful in acknowledging my grief, a turning point came in the last few weeks as I was reading a book called Sacred Grief:  Exploring a New Dimension to Grief, by Leslee Tessmann. 












Sacred Grief.  "Fierce Grace" was the way Ram Dass spoke about it. Patti Smith has some healing thoughts about it here, and I thank Sabine for posting that just when I needed to hear those words spoken out loud by a woman who has survived many losses.
The painting at the top of this post was painted by me in 1999 soon after learning that R had been diagnosed with throat cancer and was recovering from a major surgery to his neck and throat.  We had not seen each other for 13 years at that point and had not talked for 9 years.  He had a lifelong struggle with drugs and alcohol and anger issues and for my well-being, I needed to keep a healthy distance from him, but something prompted me to call his mother in December of 1999.  It turned out that he had moved back in with his parents because of the cancer.  His mother handed the phone to him. The painting is titled "Reconciliation Dream."  
R's cancer returned in 2001 and went into remission again in spring of 2002, at which time he began to use drugs and alcohol again, and I had to distance myself from him for my own well-being.  
After having a brainstem stroke in September of 2007 as a result of alcoholic drinking, R spent the last 8 months of his life in a VA hospital.  I would not have known this except that, once again, I was prompted, against my better judgement, to contact his sister, who told me that she knew that he would love to hear from me. Two months before R died, I dreamed that we were connected forever by a rainbow, although we could not touch each other in a physical way. In the distance between us, a rainbow was created.  I wrote him a letter, in which I related the dream.  His brother, whom he asked to read the letter to him, said that R was deeply moved by my dream of us. 
In the last week of R's life, I drove from Washington State to be with him in the ICU at VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California.  Because he had MRSA, I had to wear a face mask, hospital gloves, and a protective gown when I visited with him.  I could touch him but only through hospital gloves.


Words and music by Pete Seeger

Sailing down my golden river
Sun and water all my own
Yet I was never alone

Sun and water, old life givers
I'll have them where ere I roam
And I was not far from home

Sunlight glancing on the water
Life and death are all my own



Yet I was never alone

Life for all my sons and daughters
Golden sparkles in the foam
And I was not far from home

Sailing down this winding highway
Travelers from near and far
And I was never alone

Exploring all the little byways
Sighting all the distant stars
And I was not far from home

Sailing down my golden river
Sun and water all my own
Yet I was never alone

Sun and water, old life givers
I'll have them where ere I roam
And I was not far from home

Yet I was never alone
And I was not far from home

From my self-published book, in which I put together, soon after R died, my paintings and poetry from the previous 42 years: 

"Both of us sustained war wounds.  Something in us died young.  We were not alone."

I know this for sure today.  We were never alone.  There is a beloved community that Martin Luther King, Jr., envisioned.  It continues to grow, despite all odds.

(As I was finishing this post, the phone rang.  It was my old friend, Yom, who came from Vietnam with the first wave of refugees in 1975.  I was one of the first people she met after arriving in Bellingham.  She sustained war wounds, too, but went on with her life in a way that I was unable to do.  We met in a factory, here in Bellingham, where we both did industrial sewing.  I felt an immediate connection with her because we were the same age and had been deeply affected by the Vietnam War.  The man she had loved had died when his throat was slit by a Viet Cong.  She just happened to call today.  We talk every few months.  She has been happily married for many years.  She and her husband adopted a baby Vietnamese boy who is now a thriving American teenager.  There is much joy in her life as a wife and mother and gardener.  She continues to work part-time after retiring. I am grateful for her friendship. This day has been filled with synchronicity, beginning with the quote from The Rainbow on Robert's Facebook page. Astonishing that Yom would call today of all days.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hexagram 58 / Tui / The Joyous Lake that I have not fully acknowledged























































Between my living room and porch and the
mountains to the east, there is a 14-mile lake.  I rarely
mention it.  I'm not sure why I have paid so little
attention to such a beautiful lake, except that for
so many years, I missed the ocean so much that I
could not get excited about a lake. That is changing.
I've been walking a short  distance along its shore
as part of my walking route in the last few weeks.
There is also a 6-mile round-trip trail along the
north shore of the lake.  Next time I walk there,
I will bring my camera.

Hexagram 58 -- Tui -- The Joyous Lake on a cloudy
early morning a few weeks ago:















You've seen the mountains on the other side of the lake
before.  Here's a spring view of them:













Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Walk of Life

















Above is a photo from early May of 2016 at West Beach of Deception Pass State Park, about a hour's drive south from Bellingham.

April 16, 2017, is a sunny day on the coast in Mendocino County, California.  It's a cloudy day here in Northwest Washington State, but the birds are singing and there are flowers everywhere and people out walking.

And I found this interview from 2011:

"Mary Oliver: What I have done is learn to love and learn to be loved. That didn't come easy. And I learned to consider my life an amazing gift. Those are the things."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

"15,000 Years Later"







































1.  Nikki McClure's paper cut:  15,000 Years Later.

2.  Coast Redwood seedling on my porch.  Ordered on-line from Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California.  Arrived in my mailbox on St. Patrick's Day.  Planted in memory of my father who died on St. Patrick's Day in 2003.  I hope that my seedling lives 2,000 years, if not 50,000.  The three redwood seeds that I planted in December did not sprout, but I have followed my intuition as did the man in my dream from last December.

3.  "Another, more beautiful America is arising ..." (Rebecca Solnit)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mothers and Dolls and Horses and Daughters / "Music is the best way to communicate"


































































Still thinking about my unbridled laughter mixed with tears in response to the video of the runaway horse, along with the one of the Tyrannosaurus Rex making a snow angel and making its uneven way through the snowy landscape and how those tears and that laughter relate to experiencing some peace in connection with my mother, who died in 1994.  If she were still alive, she would be 101 years old on April 30. Maybe not peace.  Maybe just losing my fear of the Tyrannosaurus Rex mother and meeting the gentle looking child that my mother was as she held her doll.

1.  My mother as a 4-year-old girl in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1920, holding a beloved doll.  My mother said that she always wanted to have children, from an early age.

2.  My mother as a young woman in the 1930s in Los Angeles.

3.  Me in our apartment in San Mateo, California, with my red horse, 21 months old, Easter Day.

4.  Me at 2 years old with my red horse.  My mother did not seem to like me and my sisters or my father, and I did not like dolls or ever picture myself being married.  When my mother brought me to a toy store and asked me to choose a doll, I angrily refused to choose a doll.  I remember that moment so clearly.  I wanted a boyfriend from a very early age but believed I would never have one because I was unloveable, that no one would ever want to marry me.

5.  The orange horse with the purple mane and red-violet bridle that I drew when I was 5 years old.

6.  My mother, my youngest sister, and me just before I turned 8 years old, when I was starting riding lessons at Rohn Stables, not far from where we lived in Redwood City, California.  I was not afraid of horses, but I was deeply afraid of my mother's anger.  When I saw the movie "Jurassic Park," around the time my mother died, the terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex reminded me of my mother.  I could not imagine growing up and having children and being as unhappy and angry as my mother seemed to be.

I've probably posted all these photos before.  I am seeing them with new eyes.

"Music is the best way to communicate" (Toumani Diabate)

Friday, March 24, 2017

We shall be released in unexpected ways



When I was a young girl I took English horseback riding lessons at Stanford Riding Academy.  My mother was a natural born horsewoman and wanted her three daughters to have the wonderful experience she had with horses as a young woman in her 20's, but none of us inherited her gift with horses.  One of the many horses I rode was named Beau. Beau was very much like the horse in the YoutTube video in that he had a mind of his own.  Beau ran away with me on several occasions and once stopped abruptly, and I flew over his head and landed on my feet on the ground in front of him.  Shaking in my boots, I climbed back up on Beau.  I clearly remember my tears and frustration.  I wanted so much to be good at riding horses like my mother, but I simply didn't have what it took.

It's been a long time since I laughed in the way I did watching this video and the one on my previous post with the Tyrannosaurus Rex making a snow angels and wandering off into a snowy landscape. Something is shifting inside me, with the arrival of both tears and laughter.

I would not have found the horse that made me laugh if I hadn't searched for, found, and listened to the video below.  For some reason, the horse video in the sidebar caught my attention.  Who knows why.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A medical term. Plicate: being folded, tucked, or ridged, especially like a fan. Not to be confused with placate.



Still thinking about The Neverending Story and Bob Dylan's Neverending Tour and Charlie Chaplin and "The Dictator."

And current events.

In the end of the book, Bastian cannot remember his own name, but Atreyu (his mirror image) steps in and makes a promise to complete Bastian's unfinished stories.

A younger friend of mine commented that she was mourning the disappearance of Bob Dylan as she listened the cuts that have been released from "Triplicate." She said she was grateful to have all his previous work to listen to.  She asked me for an explanation.  I don't have one.

All I know is that I keep hearing the sound of Bob Dylan's voice in my mind and my heart.  That's good enough for me.

Playing with words today.  Triplicate.  Threefold.  Triptych.  Fans. Covers. Prayers like rhymes.  Liner notes from "John Wesley Harding":

There were three kings and a jolly three too. The first one had a broken nose, the second, a broken arm and the third was broke. "Faith is the key!" said the first king. "No, froth is the key!" said the second. "You're both wrong," said the third, "the key is Frank!












"... With your holy medallion which your fingertips plicate ..."

Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
With your mercury mouth in the missionary times,
And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes,
And your silver cross, and your voice like chimes,
Oh, do they think could bury you?
With your pockets well protected at last,
And your streetcar visions which you place on the grass,
And your flesh like silk, and your face like glass,
Who could they get to carry you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I put them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?
With your sheets like metal and your belt like lace,
And your deck of cards missing the jack and the ace,
And your basement clothes and your hollow face,
Who among them can think he could outguess you?
With your silhouette when the sunlight dims
Into your eyes where the moonlight swims,
And your match-book songs and your gypsy hymns,
Who among them would try to impress you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I put them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?
The kings of Tyrus with their convict list
Are waiting in line for their geranium kiss,
And you wouldn't know it would happen like this,
But who among them really wants just to kiss you?
With your childhood flames on your midnight rug,
And your Spanish manners and your mother's drugs,
And your cowboy mouth and your curfew plugs,
Who among them do you think could resist you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?
Oh, the farmers and the businessmen, they all did decide
To show you the dead angels that they used to hide.
But why did they pick you to sympathize with their side?
Oh, how could they ever mistake you?
They wished you'd accepted the blame for the farm,
But with the sea at your feet and the phony false alarm,
And with the child of a hoodlum wrapped up in your arms,
How could they ever, ever persuade you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?
With your sheet-metal memory of Cannery Row,
And your magazine-husband who one day just had to go,
And your gentleness now, which you just can't help but show,
Who among them do you think would employ you?
Now you stand with your thief, you're on his parole
With your holy medallion which your fingertips fold,
And your saintlike face and your ghostlike soul,
Oh, who among them do you think could destroy you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Seeds of a longer post on Bob Dylan



Spirit on the Water
Spirit on the water
Darkness on the face of the deep
I keep thinking about you baby
I can't hardly sleep
I'm traveling by land
Traveling through the dawn of the day
You're always on my mind
I can't stay away
I'd forgotten about you
Then you turned up again
I always knew
That we were meant to be more than friends
When you are near
It's just as plain as it can be
I'm wild about you, gal
You ought to be a fool about me
Can't explain
The sources of this hidden pain
You burned your way into my heart
You got the key to my brain
I've been trampling through mud
Praying to the powers above
I'm sweating blood
You got a face that begs for love
Life without you
Doesn't mean a thing to me
If I can't have you
I'll throw my love into the deep blue sea
Sometimes I wonder
Why you can't treat me right
You do good all day
Then you do wrong all night
When you're with me
I'm a thousand times happier than I could ever say
What does it matter
What price I pay
They're braggin' about your sugar
Brag about it all over town
Put some sugar in my bowl
I feel like laying down
I'm as pale as a ghost
Holding a blossom on a stem
You ever seen a ghost? no
But you've heard of them
I see you there
I'm blinded by the colors I see
I take good care
Of what belongs to me
I hear your name
Ringing up and down the line
I'm saying it plain
These ties are strong enough to bind
Now your sweet voice
Calls out from some old familiar shrine
I got no choice
Can't believe these things would ever fade from your mind
I could live forever
With you perfectly
You don't ever
Have to make a fuss over me
From East to West
Ever since the world began
I only mean it for the best
I want to be with you any way I can
I been in a brawl
Now I'm feeling the wall
I'm going away baby
I won't be back 'til fall
High on the hill
You can carry all my thoughts with you
You've numbed my will
This love could tear me in two
I wanna be with you in paradise
And it seems so unfair
I can't go to paradise no more
I killed a man back there
You think I'm over the hill
You think I'm past my prime
Let me see what you got
We can have a whoppin' good time.

 ,

Friday, March 10, 2017

From Stardust to Political World and The Neverending Tour





This morning I received an email from bobdylan.com with "Stardust" from "Triplicate," the three CD set that Bob Dylan is releasing this month.  Immediately following "Stardust" on YouTube was "Political World."

John Goodman said,  "Just working with him, because if you try to read anything into him or try to interpret anything but just face value, you could get yourself in trouble."

For the first time since was 14 years old, I will not be buying Bob Dylan's latest offering because I really can't afford it.  However, I will listen to the copy that our public library will inevitably purchase for its collection.

Just finished reading The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, translated from German.  Timely.  A friend had recommended it. Otherwise I never would have read it.  Why?  It was too popular. However, I did wonder if there was a connection between the book and Bob Dylan's Neverending Tour.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Mandala #25: Evolution of Forgiveness Revisited




















Finished this early this morning.  Started it a few months ago. December, I think.  There was nothing except the black center until sometime in the last few weeks.

Listen to Sean Lennon talk about "The Conscious Universe":



This series of interviews took place in 2010 when Sean Lennon was 35, the year John Lennon would have turned 70.

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.


video

video
  video


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.