Sunday, May 31, 2009
Remember the feeling as a child
When you woke up and morning smiled
Its time its time its time you felt like that again
(Panda, a rescued Guinea pig, lives on a nearby art farm along with a rescued Bengal cat named Chai. Some time ago I asked the art farmer if Panda ever smiled. She emailed me the photo of Panda yesterday.)
Saturday, May 30, 2009
"Most of us arrive at a sense of self and vocation only after a long journey through alien lands. But this journey bears no resemblance to the trouble-free 'travel packages' sold by tourism industry. It is more akin to the ancient tradition of pilgrimage -- a transformative journey to a sacred center, full of hardships, darkness and peril."
(quote from LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK: LISTENING FOR THE VOICE OF VOCATION by Parker J. Palmer (2000) -- author of THE COURAGE TO TEACH)
(Above is one of my trackpad drawings from 2005, made on an iBookG4 using the Apple "Painting" program.)
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
As I was not expecting to see redwood trees in coastal Northwest Washington, for years I was oblivious to three small but mature giant sequoias in plain sight near the lower parking lot in Whatcom Falls Park. Of the three, this one stands in the middle and is oddly shaped and stunted but has its own beauty. It was meant to stand on the Western Slope of the Sierra Nevada in California. These park trees all look somewhat bedraggled, but they have survived here for a long time. Although giant sequoias can thrive in Northwest Washington, the ones in Whatcom Falls Park were planted in an area that is not well-drained. As the trees are not evenly spaced, it appears that there were once four of them standing side by side in Whatcom Falls Park.
Friday, May 22, 2009
From page 7 of Ansel Adams, by Mary Street Alinder:
"Ansel was a lonely child, more comfortable with adults than with others his own age. He made few friends. He looked rather like a skinny squirrel, with eyes that bulged a bit and ears that stuck out. These features, combined with his twisted nose and open mouth -- whether for breathing or to allow for his almost constant chatter -- made him seem strange to other children.
Ansel had to be in motion at all times; otherwise, he would twitch with frustration, his mind flitting along with his body. He had no patience for games, though he did briefly attempt roller skating and golf. Today he would be classified as hyperactive, but then he was seen as a significant behavior problem."
The squirrel below, who allowed himself to be photographed this morning, may be the same squirrel as the one above that I photographed yesterday morning. In both instances, I was in the same general area when I was startled by the close proximity of the squirrel, and I fumbled with my camera. The squirrel waited until I took his picture before flitting away.
Wild squirrels, unlike human children, are fortunate not to be saddled with descriptions such as "hyperactive" or "significant behavior problem." When I read Mary Street Alinder's book some years ago, I wondered what would have happened to Ansel Adams if his high spirits and exuberance had been medicated away when he was a child. What I recall is that his parents chose to homeschool him rather than have him go through the public schools being labeled a problem child.
As Solitary Walker said in his comment yesterday, while I've been taking these recent black and white photographs, I've been thinking of Ansel Adams, and Edward Weston, too, and feeling gratitude for their particular way of seeing the natural world in black and white and shades of grey.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Black and white and grey
Return to the Way.
Just now, searching for a question rather than an answer, I opened my Wilhelm/Baynes version of the I-Ching at random. This is what I found on page 41:
9. Hsiao Ch'u / The Taming Power of the Small
Nine at the beginning means:
Return to the way.
How could there be blame in this?
It lies in the nature of a strong man to press forward. In so doing he encounters obstructions. Therefore he returns to the way suited to his situation, where he is free to advance or to retreat. In the nature of things this will bring good fortune, for it is wise and reasonable not to try to obtain anything by force.
A friend emailed me a link that led to California Transect, the blog of a young man who, right now, is walking to Yosemite along the route that John Muir took not that long ago. See here for a newspaper article about Alex McInturff's journey.
To my great surprise, I just discovered that Alex walked through the tiny town of Santa Nella, which is where half of R's ashes are buried at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery. R's sister learned a few weeks ago that one of R's brothers placed half of R's ashes on the rocks, in the sand, and in the ocean at El Granada Beach at the north end of Half Moon Bay, California, where I met R in December of 1966.
In October 2001, the last time I saw R before the last week of his life, we drove up Highway 120 to Yosemite. Despite feeling ill because he was on chemotherapy for lung cancer, he wanted to see Yosemite again, but when arrived at the Highway 120 entrance, he said quietly, "I've suffered enough today. Let's go back."
Although R's ashes rest at Santa Nella and at Half Moon Bay, I know that one of the places he walks in beauty and joy without obstruction is Yosemite Valley.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
A friend gave me a set of cards with quotations from around the world. Today's quotation is from India:
"Where love reigns, the impossible may be obtained."
Old movie tip for the day.
Monday, May 11, 2009
What you see at the top of the photo is the floodgate for Whatcom Creek. When I took the photo I was standing on Upper Whatcom Creek Bridge. Yesterday I walked for 3 hours -- two 1-1/2 hour walks. At the south end of Whatcom Falls Park is Bayview Cemetery, where I saw the woman with wings for the first time.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
"I've done the portrait of M. Gachet with a melancholy expression, which might well seem like a grimace to those who see it. And yet I had to paint it like that to convey how much expression and passion there is in our present-day heads in comparision with the old calm portraits, and how much longing and crying out. Sad but gentle, yet clear and intelligent, that is how many portraits ought to be done. At times it might well make some impression on people."
(page 496, from THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, translated by Arnold Pomerans. This is from a letter of June 1890, written to his sister, Wil)
Thursday, May 7, 2009
It was after hearing that Robert Hunter, lyricist for the Grateful Dead, co-wrote eight of the new songs on Bob Dylan's "Together Through Life," that I was prompted to see if my memory served me well with the recollection that the last vinyl album I bought was "Dylan & the Dead." Yep.
Previous to this week, when I bought a vinyl copy of Bob Dylan's "Together Through Life," the last vinyl album I bought was "Dylan & the Dead," a live album from Grateful Dead Productions, Inc, released in 1989. I only listened to it one or two times, as I was not much of a Grateful Dead fan after 1971 and wasn't impressed with Dylan on that live album. A few days ago, I listened to "Dylan & the Dead" again. It sounds much better than I had remembered. We're all so much older, that's for sure. Many of us have died. Those who were born in 1989 are as old today as Dylan was in 1961.
When I look at the tracks on that old live album, recorded in 1987, I see that two of its seven songs are from "Slow Train Coming" (Bob Dylan's Christian years of the early 1980s), and the final song is "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" from the soundtrack of "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid" from 1973.
On the new album is a song titled "Forgetful Heart." It ends with:
"The door has closed forevermore
If indeed there ever was a door."
So twenty years went by, just like that. Albums were replaced by cassette tapes, cassette tapes replaced by CDs, CDs replaced by iTunes. Not to mention years of war, terrorist attacks and more war. And Barack Obama is President of the United States today.
As with all except the first of the Bob Dylan albums, I can't say that I like all the songs on this new album. They hurt where I hurt. They are hard to listen to. There is anger, sorrow, loneliness, grief,and dark humor here. The old songs couldn't touch where we hadn't been hurt yet. The new songs don't touch where we haven't been healed yet. Still, as always, I am moved in unexpected ways.
Robert Hunter's "Box of Rain"
Monday, May 4, 2009
"And if you should conclude from these remarks that I meant to suggest your advice was worthy of a quack, then you have completely misunderstood me, as I have no such thoughts or opinions about you. If, on the other hand, you believe that I would do well to follow your advice literally to become an engraver of invoice headings & visiting cards or a bookkeeper or factotum -- or the advice of my very dear sister Anna to devote myself to the baker's trade or many other suchlike things, curiously at odds and hardly compatible -- you would be making another mistake."
(page 63, from THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, translated by Arnold Pomerans. This is from a letter of August 1879, written to his brother, Theo. Vincent did his first painting in November of 1881, after spending several years learning to draw rather than taking a job "at odds and hardly compatible."
Although I don't think of Vincent van Gogh as someone who walked in the woods or painted woodlands, I found this from 1882 when he was still living in the north. His woods look oppressive, unlike the vibrant paintings he did in the south of France.
Last night I dreamed that I saw an ad for a job as a medical transcriptionist in the hospital where I used to work. The ad had been placed in a comic strip. I jumped up in excitement at the thought of being employed again. Then I stopped and said to myself, "Hey, wait a minute. Why would I want that job again, much less in a comic strip world?"
"At odds and hardly compatible," as Vincent said to Theo.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
"Someone who has been wandering about for a long time, tossed to and fro on a stormy sea, will in the end reach his destination. Someone who has seemed to be good for nothing, unable to fill any job, any appointment, will find one in the end and, energetic and capable, will prove himself quite different from what he seemed at first."
(page 73, from THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, translated by Arnold Pomerans. This is from a letter of July 1880, written to his brother, Theo.)
This morning I took a 1-1/2 hour walk in the city park in my neighborhood. That's Whatcom Falls in the morning light as I was returning home. The black and white and shades of grey photographed truer than any color I could photograph.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
"For look: people used to think that the earth was flat. That was true, and still is today, of, say, Paris to Asnieres.
But that does not alter the fact that science demonstrates that the earth as a whole is round, something nobody nowadays disputes.
For all that, people still persist in thinking that life is flat and runs from birth to death.
But life, too, is probably round, and much greater in scope and possibilities than the hemisphere we now know."
(page 370, from THE LETTERS OF VINCENT VAN GOGH, translated by Arnold Pomerans. This is from a letter of June 1888, written to his brother, Theo.)
Dear blog friends, new and old,
With my limited energy, it's all I can do to post on my blog recently. I am grateful for your comments and grateful for your blogs with their beauty, insight and humor. I don't mean to be rude when I don't respond directly to comments recently. Am trying to pace myself. When I had more time and energy, I was spending from 6 to 8 hours each day responding to comments and making comments on other blogs after posting on my blog. I loved doing that! For the time being, I need to work on my book and go back to school so that I can find a job again. Hope your day is a good one!
Kind wishes always,