Tuesday, October 27, 2009


This seems to be a day for counting blessings. Why wait for the government-sanctioned observance coming in November? Kate Wolf had what I imagine was a signature song, called "Give Yourself to Love" which I like to sing in the kitchen (as I also like to sing "Pancho and Lefty" and disparate tunes from a long, eclectic musical history). My truest blessing today is that this is my son's birthday. He is the teacher I never knew I needed, bringing with him thoughts and devices that expand my world...these are not non-sequiturs but merely poorly arranged sentences...and he connects, especially, to the final verse of Kate Wolf's song, "Love is born in fire, it's planted like a seed. Love can't give you everything but it gives you what you need. Love comes when you are ready, love comes when you're afraid. It'll be your greatest teacher, the best friend you have made."

The anticipation and joy over his arrival has not diminished in the years since his birth. Fresh aspects and awareness emerge anew as he, as we all do, continues to evolve. I had never imagined myself capable of being someone's mother but the knowledge of his pending arrival (miraculous, in my mind) told me that a greater wisdom than I possessed felt I was equal to the task. That I was given the chance continues to humble me. Happy Birthday. Live long and prosper.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1dZ-x8DLDQ - Kate Wolf singing her own song, with the added bonus, for BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fans, of Helo and Sharon scenes)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Not quite a rant, but maybe a ramble

The kitchen clock stopped working at least 2 years ago. Both of my old, but not vintage, wristwatches need batteries. Time and I have reached a different plateau in our relationship.

We do have a few clocks, our cell phones and, if I pay attention, the angle of sunlight to help me know when a call needs to be made or dinner started or if I can get those last dishes washed before FRINGE comes on. But time is not the companion I once thought. For many years I truly saw my life as endless, impossible-to-win rounds of BEAT THE CLOCK. So many tasks and deadlines in any given day, no lazing, no lolling. Family members who balked at restaurant Thanksgiving dinners (before the supermarkets started selling whole meals, pre-cooked), Christmas eve, Christmas morning, Christmas day cooking and entertaining. Self-assigned hour thieves like writing class or public access tv training, 12-step programs, volunteer newsletter editing, rubber stamp art and early-morning walking. I had to be stopped and I was. (Reminder: thank body for wisdom which far exceeded that of brain.)

For me, time is a thing that evaporates...you know it was there yet when it has gone, no trace, not even a water line, remains. My perspective is greatly skewed - whether that is good or not, I can't say - and what I think has been a few weeks is actually six or seven months. And then I started listening to talks by people who understand things like energy and physics, who say things such as, "Everything is now." And for a flickering I have a glimpse of what they may be telling us. Concepts appear to me either as visuals or metaphors, or a combination, and I saw time as a bowl of water, out of which I believed I'd been asked to construct something solid and dimensional, as I might have done with a bowl of clay. But it resisted all my efforts to shape it into something that could be called tangible. It was still there, it just wouldn't behave.

My studio bulletin board once held a quote clipped from somewhere that said, "Life should feel like floating." It is more than that, it IS floating, allowing us and all our hours to be here AND there simultaneously. We are at once walking histories of all we've done or seen or heard and also repositories of ages, eons, wisdom and dreams from every direction and distance. This is information that I process slowly, incrementally, noticing without much surprise that there might be a reason why I've always been drawn to stories of time travel. I don't think (speaking of time) that it is too late to learn what physics can teach or perhaps it is a variation on that discipline which holds the answers. My advice? Avoid all who would have you believe that life is not a mind-expanding experience, that all walls are solid and time is just numbers on a clock.

I grew up among people who believed passionately that THIS was not the whole of anything. One of the few teachings I retain from a junior college geology class comes from Edward Teller. We listened to a tape of one of his lectures in which he described everything we could possibly imagine or guess at in the universe - picture great minds really stretching - as being (I quote as accurately as possible) "...a goldfish in a fishbowl on the back of a great white elephant." Will we grasp the lessons that don't match anything we thought we knew? Time will tell.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

May We Always Expand

Even as time’s moving sidewalk pushes me within months of THAT date, the moment when we Americans become truly senior, there are still so many things I want to be and do when I grow up. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say “with the rest of my life” but really growing up, in spite of chronological age, milestones observed, challenges faced - with grace and courage or without - is, for me, an ongoing process. I learn every day; my hope is that I grow every day or evolve or morph or refine or draw closer to enlightenment so I choose not to declare myself a complete grown-up. Which leaves so many doors to peer behind, endless lives still waiting to be tried on. Sometimes it is the mental process of considering, envisioning; other times, actual steps are taken toward enlarging my bag of tricks.

This week I would wish to be Neil Gaiman, for his fluid and vividly humorous (or frightening) writing but mostly for his mind and how it appears to his readers to travel without footprints from ordinary to most decidedly non-ordinary reality with stories we can move right into without renovation - or any intentional suspension of disbelief.

To see the world with his imagination, to paint the - or so we should believe - impossible so that we not only nod in recognition but wonder precisely where we can buy a ticket is a gift for which no measuring instruments exist. It may be that as he writes he feels constrictions, limitation, but I find no sense of that in his work. It flows without boundaries like water across the Earth and reminds me that anything described as infinite is really, really vast.

What a wonder it would be if, with the rest of my life, I possessed the ability to conjure worlds upon worlds with the letters of the alphabet as my tools, that and a mind which stretches in either knowledge or speculation on our institutions, our very gods, ourselves in alternate realities; who we are, from where have we come and who knows and can tell us the rules.

Contemplating my Gaimanesque existence, I wonder if there was some switch that was thrown, either by divine forces, chance or something unnamed, that carried a young Neil to the borderlands where, as I picture it, he was given a hat that didn’t fit quite so tightly, his brain/mind had more room to expand. It was allowed to breathe deeply of the what-ifs; I do not know his biography so I can merely speculate. I only know that I long to learn the secret of dreaming such dreams and then being able not only to recount but interpret them, for myself and all seekers.

While it may not be the answer, I follow the work of teachers who believe we can learn to get out of our own way. Where we may be blocked, we can open; where we resist, we can practice surrender. In the best possible sense, I believe our limitless child remains the larger portion of who we are and the notion of, at 65, anticipating a life that will burst into flower given the right circumstances may denote an understanding of perhaps the way things really work.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tricksters Among Us

The trickster gods, for surely there must be more than one, picked my name today or, more likely, had me in their sights days ago when the high jinks were kicked off.

It is in my nature - and heritage - to have what we shall call an indifference to housework that can run longer than "The Fantastiks." Factor in fatigue, mobility issues, pointless angst over most uncontrollable human variables and a lifelong kinship with Ferdinand the Bull - just lead me to the field of flowers - and ordinary, probably normal, tasks go undone for lengths of time that make me want to leave home. At one time I considered that my life was pocked like a glacier with chasms not of ice but of apathy and I would drop into them, leaving matters of some consequence unattended. Then I became disturbingly tired and disconnected, still disinclined to just take up the dust cloths and have at it, possibly overcoming a great weariness and making my surroundings more hospitable in the process.

In this home those, um, tendencies were once overcome by having a twice monthly meeting of fellow artists here. Those glad occasions went on for a few years and kept tidiness at a level which didn't induce shame but a very hot summer and the option of central air moved our group to a new location. My motivation moved with it.

The recent visit of a dear and lifelong friend gave me the desire to have all in some sort of order, not perfection but something livable. What it did not give me was the enduring energy to keep getting up every day and whittling, whittling until it was done. She among all my friends truly knows of the chasms, the history that created them and the challenge of, yet again, climbing back out and pressing on. At least for her visit we had habitable spots where we could visit and eat and spend time together. I have come to believe that she loves me for myself and not for my exhausting attempts to be thought, well, normal.

Then came the notice of Edison crews due to replace ancient light fixtures, overseen by our building manager, a woman of order and efficiency and my shrieking mind took over, horrified by the state of some corners of our small kingdom. And the gods were with me, bringing strength, some stamina, willingness, humor and pleasure at the segments which became the cleanest. The upgrading process was set to begin at 9 a.m. today, after a day of moderate, steady rain with more to follow this morning. I was far from what I would consider a comfort zone and started in at 3:30 going room by room - some of them pretty acceptable, others better seen in dim light. As I started the last self-assigned chore of the morning, changing the bed, the phone rang and our resident manager's wife, with whom I had shared my stress level, told me they weren't coming and might not be rescheduled. Other residents had stayed home to watch over pets or just to see that all went well...at least I was going to be here anyway. But after the call I sat and laughed, somewhat shaky and aching and looking forward to a peaceful afternoon napping or watching the clouds, smelling not the flowers but furniture polish and Lime-A-Way, having been prodded into discovering unknown energy, rediscovering the pleasure of our comfortable apartment and feeling that some border of resistance had been crossed while protective forces looked on. Benevolent, protective affirming and with a true, yet almost disturbingly true sense of knowing me for exactly what I am and exactly what I needed. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rocket Girl

I am very fond of the moon. Many situations cause me to think of the moon...it serves ably as symbol, metaphor, object, force. With regard to my "between stations" circumstance, I think of rockets and the fuel they require to lift them beyond Earth's gravitational pull and have a sense that it takes at least as much power to free us of old ways of being and doing. This seemingly long ante-chamber wait on fidget-producing chairs is the voyage away - we couldn't have slept through this part, could we? - and our own semi-willingness to return to the familiar, however inappropriate or destructive or simply over it may be, has moments when it seems preferable to having been launched toward...who knows what.

So I imagine the booster engines falling away, the final burst carrying us out beyond the reach of any hands that would pull us back - too late now - followed by the drift which trust alone tells us will place us into a wholly new orbit. Too bad no one asked - or mentioned - just how long the drift would last.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not exile, simply absence

There are stretches of time when the words...well, they do arrive but not, apparently, for the printed page. If I could say where I've been for the past two months I would tell you. Perhaps the best word would be...processing. Should any of you be experiencing a period of being between stations, I would like to hear of it.

Within a few days - after some art deadlines have been met - I will do my best to return to this space with, one can but hope, phrases that are precise enough to please me and clear enough so that anyone who doesn't live in my head will understand.

If any readers remain after so much time, thank you. I am just happy that I haven't used the lack of postings as one of those Big Sticks which have left bruises for much of my life. Goodbye Big Stick, good riddance. Writing will happen when it does.