Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

There is too much that pretends to be news and what matters is swept aside by what doesn't.  On CBS Sunday Morning we were reminded that Ray Bradbury left us this year.  I can't but wonder, would we have landed exploration vehicles on Mars without his words and visions?  Would we have wanted to or dreamed that we might?

If you are feeling flat or lost or unconnected and have any of his books on your shelves, grab one and open it anywhere.  Or go to Google and find his quotes.  Let them fill you and tell you this life is a both-hands business, no shilly-shallying, no farting about.  We have to throw our arms around it, somehow calm its tentacles and shrill voice and befriend it for the impossible thing it is.  With grateful excess of passion for a man who had no use for lukewarm.

We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.
Ray Bradbury

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gene Clark and Carla Olson


In his review for Amazon, Michael J. Shogi wrote, ""So Rebellious a Lover" is an album that comes along only a few times in a lifetime. It represents a true moment of inspiration for Gene Clark and Carla Olson. Clark was a founding member of The Byrds, whose career had been on the skids for several years when his manager suggested he team up with Olson, a little-known singer/musician/songwriter from the Textones. The resulting collaboration, "So Rebellious a Lover", is considered by some to be the genesis of the alt-country movement (along with Gram Parsons' two studio albums). If true, I can certainly understand the interest that this movement generated."  The CD is available here

The brief editorial review says, "A triumphant chapter in the career of this original member of the Byrds and cofounder of country rock-yet one with a tragic side. For this was the only album this duo made; they were working on a second when Gene died. This 1987 LP is full of emotional performances by Gene and Carla on The Drifter; Are We Still Making Love; Gypsy Rider , and more beautiful songs-plus five unreleased tracks!"   Two tracks, one performed live.


Because it really can't be all Ram Dass, all the time.  Consider yourselves fortunate.  I almost wrote about Musso and Frank's mushrooms on toast.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Today

Somewhere in space and time it will always be 1969.

Under the heading, Material from Other Sources, these words from Ram Dass:

"We're sitting under the tree of our thinking minds, wondering why we're not getting any sunshine!"

and

"Our culture has trained us to dismiss any experience that falls outside our rational, conceptual framework."

and

"Our task is to extricate ourselves from living exclusively in the world of form."

This is what seems to be calling or jabbing me with its pointy elbow:  we are being asked to transmute all of the above into something we can digest and to find peace with unknowing, to find peace, period, to be.   There THAT is again.  One thing which is not unknown: being Jackson Browne's "happy idiot" hasn't been a choice for a very long time.

No disrespect.  The opposite, in fact.  God, Geezer Rock makes me happy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Being Suzy Bishop

For Wes Anderson fans, confirm your identity as one of his movie characters.  An amusing parlor game for Boxing Day. 
Kara Howard as Suzy Bishop in Wes Anderson's MOONRISE KINGDOM.
The choices offered as you follow the limbs of the family tree may be clear-cut or leave you feeling a bit ambivalent.  One of mine, "Does your family trust you?" had to be answered, "...some do, likely some don't."  We make our best guess.  Which means, I am Suzy Bishop.  This is Wes Anderson.  There are no truly undesirable characters.

Self-awareness, a actual knowing-without-prejudice of one's true self, is about as predictable as being able to say how many jelly beans are in the jar for the candy store contest.  Early models of chronic parental disappointment tend to set us up for continuing that low-hearted feeling when no one else is around to berate us.  Maybe I've had this thought before, maybe it comes fresh today, an ingenue of an image, optimistic and full of unconsidered possibility:  How can we be doing it wrong when there is no way to know the full measure of the assignment?

I believe we each have an assignment, which you have likely read here many times before.  I trust that with each go-round of me as I have thought me to be versus a me that is more accepting, more forgiving, less invested in how most of what I am doesn't match anything known or seen in the neighborhood, that I get closer to a true center.  That the process seems to require repeating over and over, but as a spiral not a circle, accounts for fatigue, occasional disbelief and the need to rest, frequently.  I am unable to stop asking questions.  I long for instruments, calibrations, that would help my study; all I have is intuition.  There is no proof.  For today, all evidence to the contrary, I will allow that I am fulfilling my destiny, bringing my unique gifts as was intended, being.  This is not an easy world in which to claim simply being as an occupation.  Being, and being Suzy Bishop.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Glad tidings

The envelope for Christmas cards I have not sent. Wishing you glad tidings of great joy. And extra portions of whatever you need and want the most.  Much love.
Kristen Power's new bird (with added Santa hat) from the newest supplement at rubbermoon.com

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Celtic greetings

A rich version, steeped in the exotic and accentuating the mystery.  My opinion.

From the YouTube post:
This is an old english carol; the composer is unknown.

Loreena McKennit is a is a Canadian singer, composer, harpist and pianist most famous for writing, recording and performing world music with Celtic and Middle Eastern themes.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Two Bobs and a bit of fringe

A little holiday fringe to distract you from all the other things on your list.  If you are not familiar with what is called lucid dreaming, here is an introduction.  I am not the least offended if you find this unlikely at best and deranged, delusional at worst.  As a friend once said, "Time is long and space is big."  There is room for more than we can ever imagine in the multiple universes of the cosmos.

In what I will call a lucid dream night before last, I found my ideal self:  young enough to be entirely mobile, without depression or depletion, possessing a certain appeal and knowing everything that I know now.  She exists somewhere as the continuum flexes, hidden in a sharp crease of the cosmic fabric.  I marvel at the way in which our minds can bring along misery and its twin handmaidens, cortisol and adrenalin, or allow us to appear in fully realized fantasies, knowing we are dreaming, yet gamely playing along to see how it all turns out.  I picture my mind cooking up a treat on its little hotplate, using its one well-seasoned, cast iron skillet and holding it out for approval, like Ratso Rizzo saying, "G'head.  I want you to have it."



Dylan says it, "The human mind can only stand so much."  For escape, even illumination.  We dream.

Keep moving, even just to shift your shadow.  Keep singing along.  Stay out of places that steal your spirit and know there are rooms where you dance and laugh and know it will all, somehow, be all right.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rose balm

Posted yesterday on FB by my friend and lover-of-the-beautiful, Tricie, I was able to carry this rosy image, and a second gift of rose photo-by-phone, in the front of my mind as Real Life tried to overtake me during the day - and the night.

Surely I am not the only one with a case of the soul shivers, not the only one for whom Christmas as we seem to observe it stirs ambivalence.  I must be wearing my thin winter skin.  I feel as though I have no defense against the dark arts other than conjured visions of roses, then music and sleep.  My weariness amazes me.

It is a risk, to write of ache and bewilderment and not be seen as complaining.  These are not complaints but observations, experiencings, the owning of disturbance in the surrounding air not as an anomaly but a state of things from which we can, at times, distract ourselves.  Pull the proverbial wool over our own eyes.  Tragedy, trauma, loss and grief are not occasional visitors, they are the haints that circle our beds at 3:30, prodded into being by reminders that they are part of us and ours.

What I wish to declare is we possess the ability to hear our own authentic voices above their moans.  The roses appear - I've found them woven into socks, printed on a cotton shawl, embroidered on a pillow - and whatever their form represents, they fill the screen effectively.  Roses are anti-venom distilled from another corner of ordinary reality, matter, the definition of which is being studied and refined.  It all exists simultaneously, roses and tears, rest and pain, delight and sorrow.  It is not an option to pick out the juicy bits and leave the gristle on the plate, not if we're going to see this assignment through in a way that can't be called half-assed.

Last week on her blog Elizabeth shared a poem reminding us of how fully round this life is, how we find ourselves at odds with it and with us, what we wish to be true and what we know we actually have to work with.  If this post rambles and adds to the confusion, I'm sorry.  This was the clearest path I could carve on short notice.   xo

A Brief for the Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only 
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront 
is three shuttered cafes and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

from Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert


Saturday, December 15, 2012

The moon, un flambeau


"Moon River" is medicine for melancholy.  It is gentle and, either by its own power or its connection to Audrey Hepburn, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and other times and places, it reverberates with the power of love, of dreaming, of how, in spite of everything, we endure and, perhaps, thrive.  We are altered, not defeated.

After two years of Latin in junior high school, French - in high school - seemed so much more sophisticated, lent itself more easily to dreaming and the vocabulary, shaped with such unfamiliar care in the mouth, so much more succulent.  Other than the occasional word and how nearly to pronounce it, the portion of poem below is what I remember best.  It sidled up in curiously continental fashion today to address itself to countless heavy hearts.

Alfred de Musset
CHANSON (SONG)

Quand on perd, par triste occurrence,
      Son espérance
      Et sa gaieté,
Le remède au mélancolique,
      C’est la musique
      Et la beauté !
 


When you lose, by sad occurrence,
His hope
And gaiety,
The cure for melancholy,
This is the music
And beauty!

I nearly forgot.  This is the other thing I remember.


Credit goes to:
Sacred Heart Choristers - Sacred Heart Catholic Church - Warner Robins, GA - Mrs. Lindsey Skinner, Director of Music - May 8, 2011

Monday, December 10, 2012

What if there was no such thing as music?

With thanks to the friends who shared this on Facebook.  With the wonder of it all.

If the video doesn't play full screen (which it seems not to, due to my template) you can find it and more on YouTube under LANDFILL HARMONIC.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Flashmob, the good kind

With thanks to my brother and niece for sharing this.
On the 130th anniversary of the founding of Banco Sabadell we wanted to pay homage to our city by means of the campaign "Som Sabadell" (We are Sabadell) . This is the flashmob that we arranged as a final culmination with the participation of 100 people from the Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the Lieder, Amics de l'Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs.

Who could refuse to turn up for the music of joy?  Ahhhhh.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Here on Earth and other places

Unknown to me until yesterday, introduced by my friend Melissa, this is Darrell Scott.  His music dovetails handily with a recent conversation or two about feeling enlisted as banner carriers  for the Perfection of Chaos.  I walk a crooked road.

I have issues with any view of life as a linear experience.  This is not a secret.  I am cheered when what seemed to be a solitary trudge turns out to be more companionable, when information zooms in and says I am not alone in my notions of what any of this is or is not about or how it works.

Last week my son and I began watching STARGATE UNIVERSE upon his friend's recommendation.  Having seen the movie and tried watching the other series, we had missed this, something altogether different.  Without, I hope, revealing too much, the two, 20-episode seasons are going to pass too quickly.  If sleep wasn't one of our requirements, we'd be well into Year Two by now.  Any television show that could push the pleasure and surrender of a night's sleep to second choice has to be way beyond ordinary.  Brief synopsis of what particularly caught my attention: ancient space ship powered by ancient wisdom, its course known only to it, Destiny, by name.  Sound familiar?  In my unwritten manifesto, one of the first observations is that what happens to any and all of us is just life being life.  And that's just one aspect of the show.  Power struggles and choosing of sides that remind me of an ill-fated newspaper guild drive in another life, believers, non-believers, creative pseudo-and-real science and plots worthy of Shakespeare or Machiavelli lurk in every under-lit passageway.

We will grow even wearier than we otherwise might, waiting for life to straighten up and let us do it our way.  The ship IS in control, the road IS crooked and we are capable of being happy and lonesome at the same time.  Perhaps we are closer to The Mystery in December as hours of light shorten.  It reminds us we are in the dark much of the time without noticing.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The humble ziplock

So you like to sit around and doodle.  Here's a new possibility.  Permanent marking pens. 

Packaging for small Christmas gifts, holiday mail (as long as they can read an address and you have the correct postage).  Fresh.  Inspiring.  Neat.  Easy.

Source: suziebeezie.tumblr.com via Lisa on

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reason to Believe

The midnight/morning jukebox selection was "Reason to Believe." I thought when I'd played it a few times, I might know what its message was intended to be. Other than the abundantly obvious, there seems no answer. We are all adrift in time and space, trying to shuffle pain into the airlock, hoping for passengers to keep us company and help defray costs.
Details of the much too short life of Tim Hardin, including artists who covered his songs.  Among them, Nico, on her debut album.


Another version, referred to on YouTube under the Tim Hardin video, from the Youngbloods.  And group leader, Jesse Colin Young, whose face still says 1970s to me as almost no other can.  Can't explain it, don't need to.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The pencil

The ever-informative, often surprising CBS Sunday Morning show this weekend paid homage to the #2 pencil.  The segment began with David Rees, author of HOW TO SHARPEN PENCILS with footage of him at work on this arcane (to some of us) art form.  For more, visit here.  Once again, I realize I have been doing IT all wrong.
Ordering information here.
Should you still have questions, Pencil Revolution can likely answer them all.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Melba and the babysitter

Art dolls by Laurie Johnson.
In another of those previous lifetimes to which I refer, I had a business making stocking-faced dolls.  As I was getting started, developing patterns and models, my sister and I sat and sewed together.  She created the pair shown here, gumball-headed Melba and her babysitter.  They have been with me for nearly 40 years and grow more dear with age. Their gowns are made from scraps, the babysitter's hair a doll product from the 1970s, a few inches from a lengthy hank of curly mohair.  Bits of exhausted pantyhose, stuffed with polyester fiberfill, are heads and hands.  Real blush colors the cheeks.  The same doll-making supply house that carried the mohair also sold the narrow double-faced satin ribbon.

I believe passionately in the right we each have to choose our path, no matter how far it may carry us from a rational course.  Who is to define rational?  We are drawn toward that which exerts itself upon us, away from that with the weaker gravitational pull.  Even to try and insinuate our notions of a right trajectory on anyone else is arrogant, demeaning.   We cannot possibly know the terrible price someone has paid just to be where they are, just to be.   Without that wisdom, how can we correct or condemn their actions.  We each reside in the center of a unique universe, bombarded by media-invented images of success and contentment, often questioning why we must take such adaptive, evasive, circuitous steps to approach a version of peace.

My sister has found her comfort level in less frequent communication and while I miss what had once been elevated foolishness along with so much shared DNA, I can only support her choice.   As I think of everything and everyone I have known that no longer fits me any better than those size 8 1/2 Calvin Klein rosy metallic flats, I wrap my imposed estrangement up in a mental flannel blanket, ends tucked around tight to keep the baby from feeling unsafe in life's drafty expanse.  For decades the babysitter has kept watch over the sturdy and cheerful-seeming Melba, knowing at times that bravado and idiocyncrasies are all that keep us tethered.  Whatever it takes.


Peter Rabbit remembers

Sorting through a kitchen cupboard I came upon this,

part of a two-piece set of Beatrix Potter Wedgewood given upon the birth of my son.  The friend from whom he received it has been gone just short of 10 years.  Such a plate is by now, I imagine, considered a collectible. [Mentioning a Thanksgiving table with a Lazy Susan in a recent writing assignment, I was assured that Lazy Susans are now definitely in the collectible category, extinct as hoop skirts.]

If I can weave them together, the pieces that took form as I looked at the dish seem to be about comfort, simple acts of human kindness that make a difference; about what endures - in friendships, in iconic or treasured objects, in memories, in tradition; about the swiftness and brevity of it all.

I see Jane, bestower of Beatrix Potter, helping me paint an iron bedstead on our porch in Sierra Madre Canyon, steps away from her house.  I see and hear her chuckling at Ratso, my vintage rabbit fur coat, one of many hippie-esque remnants that seeped into the 1970s.  She was not one to offer the sip of camomile tea, her comfort took other forms.  Freelance assignments, enticing me away from a state of semi-exile (with low rent and great weather) to a real writing job and the unrealized promise of an assistant back in my hometown, unequaled generosity and fine humor.  She could not have been called sentimental or mushy.

Without checking the date, I would not have realized how long ago Jane died.  With my imperfect memory, I'm not sure if I've written about her in other years.  I do know any mentions would not have included the Peter Rabbit illustration.  I may have missed the mark, trying to find a point in all this.  The closest I can come is to note we are reminded that forward is really the only direction, persevering is the indicated action, holding on, sometimes lightly, but holding on nonetheless may keep up from drifting too far off course, our anchors as fragile as memories or photographs or a child's china plate.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

If Wes Anderson ran the world, with help from BoBo BaBushka

For Rebecca
Characters from four Wes Anderson films, as interpreted by artist BoBo BaBushka.
The very last set of MOONRISE KINGDOM dolls is available, at least for today, at
the Pygmy Hippo Shoppe in Los Angeles.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

View from the side of the road



Can there be an introspection overdose?  It may be too many years of stillness, of seeking - not just for self but for larger truths - of assuming what vexed me were complex situations with complex solutions.  Today I'm not sure.  Today my obstacles seem to be resistance and fear.  Stubborn and frightened, no matter what the cause, there I am.  What DO I know?  That compassion without enabling might be a step toward deflating these hovering airships of inaction.

I really, really hate feeling stuck.  I am not necessarily wise enough to know the difference between stuck and marching in place, waiting for a cue from the bandleader.  I have outside resources, places to turn for a combination of words that could relieve this vapor lock, the balking engine that has me by the side of the road.  It feels as though so much time has been, if not lost then certainly spent stalled.  In another life, a Morgan Plus 4 would suffer vapor lock each autumn on the drive from LA to Yosemite.  The weather was always warm, we were often the last car in the caravan, sometimes able to limp into the rural, time-warp gas station for help, sometimes not. 

Modern cars, I'm guessing, don't have vapor locks.  Whatever new afflictions beset them, that particular problem seems to have been solved.  I, however, am an older model, much older.  Heat, high altitudes, and finicky working parts are elements of the big picture.  We always got under way again, always reached our destination, were cheered by the other drives who were, of course, waiting in the bar.

I have two choices:  find what there is to enjoy about this detour, this delay, or be angry and resistant, worried, fearful.  Aren't there just days when you wish someone would come and fix it, fix it all?  We can all have a good laugh over that.  Onward and upward.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pie, dude. Pie.

Graphic borrowed from Simply Southern Pies

Well of course it does, it's PIE.

Do we outgrow one-time passions or do they leave us behind?  Holidays with quiches lined up for delivery - no more.  Cornish pasties for celebrations, a dozen at least because they make such fine leftovers - I can't imagine that effort.  Yet as I think about pie, as a friend wrote to describe her nieces' Thanksgiving fruit masterpieces, the baker in me seems to draw new breath.  Not for today but as a strong future possibility.  Doors I thought closed, nailed shut, keys lost, continue to open.  There may again be pie with homemade crust.  Words I had not expected to write - or utter - when, as we call them, boughten pies do nicely.  I even looked to see if one of my mother's favorite cookbooks, Simple Cooking for the Epicure, from which I learned to make piroshki with cream cheese dough, was still available.  It is.

What I didn't know when I was younger, when there was energy and seemingly no choice about what got done and what didn't, is that there was a choice.  That some expected me to do it all and I complied was the result of circumstances and conditioning.  I have become not entirely reliable.  I am late and slow and have a full-blown case of simply wandering off.  What matters most is time to be quiet, time to think or not, time to be and allow my mind to float along beside me like a balloon with a string tied to my wrist.  Chores are ignored.  Emails go unanswered, for no other reason than there is not enough of me or time or the combination to be prompt.  I care, I just can't quite get there.  But pie.  I might come out of retirement, apathy, fatigue, distraction, indifference, stubborn refusal and confusion for that.  No answer required now or ever.  Just the allure of delicious maybe.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dance with me in the GASLIGHT

Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman in GASLIGHT
In a morning conversation about the new film version of ANNA KARENINA, what I'd seen and heard about the costuming, segueing to the Met and a cousin who has worked on its costumes, I thought of  (spoiler alert) how costumes contribute to the unfolding mystery in GASLIGHT.  Even as I spoke the title, I had a feeling the movie had popped up to inform me about something else.  Bless those nearly unmappable synaptic leaps that have always carried me.

If you don't know GASLIGHT, you may want to leave now, since pivotal matters may be revealed as I figure out this lesson.  I think what I am being directed toward is the example of how we wake up to the knowledge that we've been looking in the wrong place for what treasure we seek.

Borrowing parallels from the movie's story line, I reflect on times and circumstances when it felt as though so much had been lost, that what was known to be of value somehow vanished, was embezzled or was left behind through carelessness or haste.  I think, too, of involvements in which truth and illusion were stirred into a murky mess, of placing trust in those who could not be trusted, not from an intention to do harm but because steady was an impossible expectation, boundaries too easily erased, compulsions too strong to be held in check by promise or optimism.  Then there is the fact that we are able to confuse ourselves with no outside help, by listening to the fearful inner voices which dredge up old missteps, perhaps in an effort to keep us in what it, the mind, feels is a safer place.  When we attend to its whispers and urgings, we cannot hear the higher and wiser interpretation of events that does not see everything as a tsunami warning flag.

As for the costumes, they may have their own message about disguise or self-delusion, about wishing to be seen as other than I was, lacking belief in the ability to be sufficient in a state of authenticity.  So many years spent wishing to pass for normal, whatever that may be, as though it were (a) an achievable goal and (b) would somehow allow a respite from the chronic, distancing and fatal-seeming sense of otherness for which I had no cure.

I've received comments from people who have known me over some years and wish to save me from my (less harsh than it used to be) self-criticism.  The only way out is through.  I see it as growth to recognize this as a pattern, acknowledge it as perhaps my most determined demon and not sink under its convincing but false rhetoric.  At the imagined birthday party, I will no longer settle for the smallest piece of cake with the fewest frosting roses, or take none at all.  Everything is a process.

The jewels are mostly hidden in plain sight, not layered over but shining so boldly they are mistaken for fakes.  The truth of it is, our lights are hard to hide.  They seep out around the edges, send their rays through holes in the curtain and only fool those who do not trouble themselves to look closely.  We are, though we may forget it, the shaken can of soft drink whose pull-tab is not going to hold for much longer.  That fizzing sound is us escaping, from our own limiting beliefs, from old lessons, from containers much too small.

 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Angelou, Basquiat and fear

Illustration by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
There IS a difference between frighten and befuddle, though when the lights are out and the water is rising, one might be mistaken for the other.  As I shiver in our 40+ degree dawns I think of Long Islanders who are still without electricity, for whom 44 might seem almost balmy.

I want a magic charm to keep up my sleeve.  I want rows of charms, worn bandolier-style like a Girl Scout sash with amulets in place of badges.  I want pockets for my ammunition in case life breaks out in forms too unexpectedly unwelcome.

Blog writers whom I follow as consistently as I can, which could be defined at the present as not very, confront daily events that would leave me shell-shocked, immobilized.  "Don't compare pain" is advice carried from various recovery group sessions.  Still.  Most of us are given circumstances that we are expected to endure, for it is not within our power to change them.  Once the whimpering, in my case, stops, comes time for the winnowing.  How can I see this (or these) differently, what CAN I change, is there peace to be found within discouragement, certainly within multiple imperfections?

Definitions can be adjusted, the word imperfect changed to read ideal.  How much are we handed that is ideal?   Life is a make-do business.  Mostly.  Am I frightened or am I resistant?  They are not the same.  Am I capable of evolving, of becoming the flexible, adaptable creature that survives growing older with optimism and good humor?  Can I believe in myself and my work when connections to the numinous suddenly feel thin and fragile?

Certainty would be a fine thing, certainty of the good outcome,  unfailing trust in resilience and the transcending of all which is irksome or unsettling, guarantees of safety, of wisdom, of ability.  Wish for the moon, then go back and read the contract.  The word guarantee does not appear.

When I feel, because of orbiting planets or undulating chemistry, that I am flimsy and vulnerable, fear starts to wriggle in under the tent or over the transom.  I forget that I am both wave and particle, solid and gas, earth and sky.  I become foggy and forget the only thing we can count on is change.  I lose the grasp on my gifts, that I am one among the great shape shifters, the mind changers, the course adjusters.  I am most frightened when I fail to remember who I am.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

My veterans

Veterans Day immerses me in memory; of songs sung by my grandfather from his rocking chair; of fastidiously scripted plans for "policing the area" before imaginary camping trips hinted at by my father; of my cousin's affection for growing up on military bases; of a brother-in-law's sudden re-deployment to the Gulf War, decades after covert assignments out of Vietnam,  which kicked open the door to sleepless nights for my sister and all of us who love them both.

Because of my father's service in World War II, I grew up watching Victory at Sea, reading Michener's Tales of the South Pacific, knowing that Isa Lei was a Fijian song that took him, for moments, to a part of the war that he wanted to remember, even revisit.  A late remarriage and honeymoon presented an opportunity to see Fiji again.   He had waited so long.


Grandpa came home with the French Croix de guerre and his battlefield nurse bride-to-be, Dad with his Navy pea coat and a fondness for military order, brother Jay with stories he could never tell, and all with hard-won benefits that helped house and educate them, that continue to provide.

If you haven't seen the French movie, A Very Long Engagement, I recommend it: against the horrors of war, very much in support of the heart's wisdom.

Overwhelm seems to be my authentic response to stories of our current returning veterans, how short we have fallen in terms of support to express our gratitude.  On a recent vacation in San Diego, friends Lisa and Jim took the time to search out the grave sites for my veteran grandparents at the stunning Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma, as beautiful a piece of real estate as California has to offer.  They deserve no less.  More than that, I am grateful for the care they received from V.A. hospitals while they were alive.
 All flags fly for you, the brave and the willing.  With thanks almost beyond expressing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election day but no politics

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
Rainer Maria Rilke


I will not pretend that this election day has me light of heart and quiet of mind.  I wish to take nothing for granted.  Which may be why my words refuse to dance smoothly with each other, they seem to be glaring and rolling their eyes as the time comes for them to step out on the floor together and touch.  Why did my mother sign me up for this stupid Cotillion, each wonders.  Why would I ever need to know the waltz or how to be gracious when approached (or not approached) as the music begins?

With that knowledge, I am happy to yield to Rilke, mentioned by other bloggers recently - it may be his season.  It is surely the season of needing answers or perspective I may not always have, and not necessarily related to the election.  These are questioning times.  If asked, I would say that I wish to be understood, yet know that is not within my power.  I gesticulate, sputter, sigh and move on, hoping I left something other than confusion in my wake.

Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away... and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.... be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn't necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust.... and don't expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet 

 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How did I not know about Damien Rice?

It is not that I've been living a troll's existence, burrowed under a rock or covered by fallen leaves among the tree roots. It is just that somehow I've missed learning about things well known to millions of others. One of these is Damien Rice.

The other part of this phenomenon is that I find them in places that, if told, will expose me as one among many, a person of ordinary tastes and preferences (within reason), something I've been aware of for years.  Long ago I abandoned any hope of elitism, soaring sophistication.  If it provided a life-sustaining diet, I might be happy with candy corn and Cheetos. Our orange food groups are so under-rated.

Several weeks ago we began watching ALIAS on Netflix, never having seen even one of its 105 episodes. Being able to rely on a series that would not be cancelled after a single season, as were TERRIERS, RUBICON and AWAKE, nor be limited to a season of 3 BBC episodes like SHERLOCK HOLMES, gave us something to anticipate for the longer haul. That we may not last for all of them still leaves it as our choice. So far, we continue, though the words "Rambaldi artifact" have come to flavor many of our conversations and there is a frequent willing suspension of disbelief. Still. We are now in Season 3 and I finally checked to learn about a song from Epsiode 12, having heard other music I liked and couldn't identify but doing nothing about it until now. In the aftermath of Sandy's destruction and with the fate of the free world hanging in the balance as our election approaches, I am not confused about how trivial this must seem, of what little importance. However, I recognize that my life has a soundtrack, that I return again and again to music that plays in my head and when I am able to expand that library, I know it to be a gift. Thank you, ALIAS, for Damien Rice.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Opening new doors

A morning on which one thing led to another, link to link and now I know of people and things that were outside my scope when I woke up.





With vinyl crackles for nostalgia, Eric Satie from Yusef Lateef.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October 27

Wayne Thiebaud's "Cut Cakes"


To do today:

Celebrate son's birthday, savor and delight in the gift he is, has always been.  Appreciate the way in which his gentle nature, his humanness, his forgiving inclinations, his loyalty to friends, his questing mind remind me of what I value in this world.

Trust that all is well.

Find the joy in this moment, the present conditions.

Begin The Longer Piece, even if just a working title and opening paragraph.  Do not mess about.  This is important.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Let's get over ourselves for 2 minutes and collapse in gratitude to ART

Any feelings of dreariness cannot coexist with the discovery of Joanne Harper's Frida Kahlo In A Garden finger puppet.  At least not at my house.
Original stitched art by Joanne Harper.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Button debut

The Rubbermoon Co., under Kristen Power's new ownership, has just started producing pin-back buttons.  Today she released one of my dolly face designs and said, for a short time, the buttons will be given with a stamp purchase from her etsy shop.  The etsy shop is not the same as the Rubbermoon website, for anyone interested.  Newer and featured items and a button.  There is a contact link at Kristen's etsy page for inquiries.  I've wanted buttons almost forever.  Happy dancing indicated.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Clarity - not as easy as you might think

For all that YouTube offers, could there not be an original album version of Bob Dylan's "Oh Sister?"  Could the covers perhaps be categorized separately?  No disrespect to those musicians, just the sincere yearning to hear, on demand, the song as it plays in my head.

So having said ix-nay to that morning jukebox tune, and wherever it was taking me, I landed instead on a Van Morrison original in which my favorite part, and they are all grand, is the spoken-word segment..."I didn't know you stayed up so late..." and "...gotta play this Muddy Waters..." and more.   The surely not-by-chance encounter he depicts stirs personal memory of a late-night caller in another century, another incarnation.  A Dorian Laux poem, "Antilamentation," posted by Elizabeth a few days ago, begins with the admonishment to "Regret nothing..."  It is some piece of writing, enhanced by her inclusion of a recorded reading.  I saved it as an ideal, the exercise I practice in hope of coming close.  I took as its message that I must pay even more attention, make (and write down) the connections of this to that, not settle for anything less than the perfect word, the searing image, the truth.  I've learned that, even in conversation before it becomes writing, clarity is my most reliable sidekick, a precision about what was, the straight razor cut that leaves nothing befogged.   There is my assignment for today, for the rest of my days.  And before the mail is collected tomorrow, I also have an art commitment to be completed with the same fervent intention.  Not doing things by half-measures take a lot out of a girl.  Let me rest a while in the music.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Say yes to dancing stars

Corita Kent's art, Friedrich Nietzsche's quote
“Our lives unfold in ways that we cannot fathom beforehand. That condition of not knowing produces a sense of wonder and openness to what may come.”  Roger Housden

(The Housden quote is from an audio series called Teaching What We Need to Learn, hosted by Raphael Cushnir.  As of Oct. 16, the programs were still available for listening or downloading here.  The link will take you directly to the recorded talks but there you will find a link to the HOME page which will give you more context.)

As evidence, which I gather on all topics because it seems wise to have as much proof as one can amass, on the morning I began writing this I found a link on FB to a new Pema Chodron title about change and uncertainty, obvious indicators of chaos.


If we are dancing stars born from chaos, then it really IS all physics, which I had begun to suspect.  But in a human and not a celestial body, as sentient beings, comfort and the awareness of chaos make difficult playmates.  Being part of a naturally-occuring process does not quarantee a quiet mind.

However, chaos as an antonym for complacency and not comfort takes on the aspect of quest, seeking/seeker, more of my favorite metaphoric rocket fuel to propel us beyond settling, being stuck.  We all know the water needs to boil to cook the noodles.

We churn, suffer our gastric juices.  We yearn and fidget, dream and try to foresee how we might map our lives as dancing stars, knowing we have not been endowed with such vision.  We reread the contract, looking for the loophole that permits explosive miracles to be born from tranquility, a sure passage to our hopes of greatness without the need for volcanic shenanigans.  Chaos, what an unexpected new best friend.

Monday, October 15, 2012

When it has to be the Supremes or nothing


"You Can't Hurry Love" was the second single from the Supremes' album The Supremes A' Go-Go. It reached the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in the United States, and #3 in the United Kingdom. The Supremes' version of the song is honored by inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's permanent collection of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
The Supremes also released their own Italian cover of the song: L'amore verrà (Love will come).

There is an aspiration: sit down and listen to all 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.  Let the games begin.

Grace follow-up

As I remained at a loss for the appropriate yet less obvious song, my brother suggested "Into White" by Cat Stevens.  The shared idea and the song itself only strengthen my suspicion that each of our definitions of grace is something intimate and unique.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Grace

Because my mind is acting rusty, pretending to be the yard furniture left out all winter so that it no longer adjusts to more comfortable positions, the only song I could think of to speak of grace was Amazing Grace.  Maybe by the time this post is finished, there will be more choices.

To begin, any grace, all grace, is amazing to me.  This week it found me gnawing over an annoyance I no longer remember, feeling ill-used and unheard.  Living in anything close to harmony with another human has tip-toe moments, self-silencing even if it means using duct tape moments, this isn't what I signed on for moments.  One example of grace is the fact that my most control-driven years seem to be in the past.  Since I really can't remember what caused this specific disquiet, I will just call it that, a wide sweeping gesture of my right arm showing you it went from here to here and made me uncomfortable and messed with my optimism.

I started poking my snout into old closets where past disappointments have been folded until they fit in empty Nike boxes.  Everything seemed tainted, even high-altitude sorts of possibilities that were, at most, just a few days old. In antidote mode I sat down to work on the Sunday crossword.  Maybe the clue is there:  cross word.  I rassle just enough with the LA Times puzzle.  I no longer see the NY Times but might have gained skill if I worked it every week.  A crossword focuses me, even more than drawing or coloring, for the way the mind has to play along, has to - help me - remember.  Names, things, Roman numerals, older models of automobiles, rivers, vice presidents, extinct brands of fruit juice.

When absorbed in harmless trivia, my mind can relax, put down the sharp objects and blunt instruments it gathered to defend the realm.  It makes room for grace, which falls over me like a blanket tucked around a sleeping child.  It lifts a weight and replaces it with peace.  It sweeps away annoyance like a crime scene cleaning squad.  Not a trace remains.  It comes without being summoned, as though it is an unknown state.  It staggers me with its precision, its timing.  I know the meaning of awe in being aware it exists and that it comes for me.

This was, in assessing the magnitude of life so far, a tiny matter yet one that caused the wind to rise and the whitecaps to threaten small craft.  Sometimes my long-practiced capacity for stillness is as close as I come to a reliable state.  When it is jostled, I feel lost.  Only grace restores equilibrium without contortion, without the necessity of fixing something beyond my ability to repair.

Still no song except the obvious.  You may sing it to yourselves.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Other voices from other rooms

It has been several days since I've had the luxury to follow links, to discover.  On a twitchy morning, which is how this began but not how it continues, the sight of the extraordinary and labor-intensive prods me to mutter insults like "slacker" to myself.  How mean, how unpleasant.  Who would spend time in the company of someone just like the library supervisor who used to glare from her desk, mouth pinched in disapproval, at too much hilarity.  Clearly, any two people who could find something to laugh about during the typing of catalog file cards were at best to be frowned upon and at worst to be reprimanded.  It is much too early in the day for criticism.  I'll replace it with admiration for soaring imagination and skill and use it, not as a cudgel, but as a springboard for my own elevated thoughts du jour.

Take your fresh and eager young hearts to see this work at Jay Anderson's blog.  A brief, intricate and magic-affirming video awaits.   Books by the featured artist, Rebecca Dautremer, may be found here.
 
Author, artist Rebecca Dautremer, I highly recommend "The Secret Lives of Princesses."


For today's post, Jay interviews Viv Sliwka of Hen's Teeth Art, an example of whose envelope art follows. (The link no longer takes us to the Hen's Teeth story but here is a link to Viv's etsy shop, just in time for, well, whatever you want it to be in time for.)

Art from Hen's Teeth, Viv Sliwka.

My personal bridges over troubled water require color, humor, simple joy, a deft hand and a facile mind.  An envelope from Hens Teeth meets all my needs.  And apropos of a Simon and Garfunkel hit,  last month on her blog 37 Paddington, Angella offered those of us of a certain age the chance to rekindle our collective passion for the pair and the soundtrack they gave us.  A post worth visiting.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

The procession

Life as a Renaissance Faire procession, all fluttering banners, gonfalons, trailing ribbons, flowers and flutes.  It is a scene that recreates, in my imagination, the wake of a land-borne ship: dusty footprints, daisies fallen from garlands, sounds receding, molecules separated and rearranged.  Our own solitary procession leaves its traces as well.  Often, we have no idea what they are or even that they are.
It is not only the scholarly, the devout, the remarkable who influence and change thought, who inspire, who ignite.  We are all touched and altered, even if imperceptibly, by those whose paths we cross.

The message I've received from multiple, diverse sources, is this: burrow within, find what is truest and least tangled, what feels weightless and brings the shining essence of me with knowledge but without baggage.  Wear it, model it, give it, live it - no small tasks - and don't ever ask, "Am I doing okay?"  You know.  You've always known.  Keep moving.  With love,

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Walking in my dreams

Maira Kalman, with her words and paintings, animates the snapshot moments that speak of how our lives exist in stand-alone compartments that may or may not seep from yesterday and into tomorrow.  One of my failings or gifts is looking for and, mostly, finding a Bigger Picture, a context within which there is meaning and portent in anything from (I exaggerate) a toothpick to bending the space/time continuum.  At the same time, I have come to know that some experiences are simply gems, cut unlike any other and residing in solitary perfection on the pedestal of a day, an hour.  They have no history, no expectation, they just are and our only work is to love and savor them as that.

Ms. Kalman walks and tells us why.  My response to this is bittersweet, as walking for me is a challenge mostly beyond my capability, at least for today.  Getting about inside my home and for necessary increments here on our apartment grounds is hard work, done because it is what there is.  In my dreams I am always mobile, agile, ageless.  I move from here to there with ease and I dance and climb lighthouse stairs, stand in lines and in conversation at parties.  I miss walking, which was transportation for many periods of my life.   I miss seeing what one sees when afoot, I miss the freedom of pace, the discoveries of which Kalman speaks.  How do we find that mind-clearing motion when walking is not one of the choices?  When not present to absorb and interpret, first-hand, the neighborhood and the directions in which it expands, how do we release the mind to travel as a passenger, an observer, and not the museum tour guide deconstructing - or enhancing - each object viewed?  There must be a way.  I want to find it.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Etta sings of impossible choices

Still gasping in Pasadena, the heat, the thing, that wouldn't leave.  Etta James with the chilliest blues was the morning jukebox song.  Meaning of this?  At first, I just listened.  The original recorded version - the shortest - seemed the best choice for clarity of sound and its massive lack of ambiguity. 

We all receive great sacks full of what is unrequested and unwanted, bad surprises and situations harder than we ever dreamed we could handle.  Wiser minds than my own discovered, promise,  that each circumstance brings a gift that is greater than its burden.  It is a lesson, in my case, of slow dawning.  We are called again and again to bear what could be called unbearable.  We are not asked if it is convenient or if it fits into our life or our plan.  It arrives, no return address, and redefines inconvenient, the bomb that blows everything apart.

Over time my gratitude list has as a constant the fact that I'm still here.  Many are not and I don't take for granted or trivialize the fact of resilience.  Though I no longer choose to go back to the sites where, for a time, hope disappeared, when I hear Etta James sing of making what seems her better choice, I get it.  How do I unknow, unsee, unexperience THIS?  I don't know how we do it, just that we do.  And I say, "Thank you."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pop music under the full moon

1980s pop on the morning jukebox, breakfast at the homesick restaurant.  Today I wish the present moment did not find me with a self-assessment of worn and scruffy, attributes for an ideal studio assistant (see earlier post: Rosa Mira, etc.), without quite so many incoming messages yet to be decoded and rather less seized up of body than the Tin Man.  Today I wish the present moment held a spot for me as somebody's baby.


Yesterday's Gumby vs. Frozen Charlotte consideration took a literal turn with the word "yoga" appearing in emails and comments.  What I was seeking was poster children for that sealed-in-amber feeling of having stopped saying yes often enough to sources of tearful joy, giddy anticipation, dizzying flashbacks.  My belief in the inseparable nature of mind/body/spirit may at times create a murkiness - what IS she talking about?  But getting unstuck in one realm is a foot pulled out of the tar pits in another.  It is truly all connected. 

Reading today at Cafe Astrology about what any of this may mean or even signify, I found:
"With the Moon full and bright in the sky, symbolic "illumination" occurs in our own lives. However, these new feelings and revelations are emotional ones, as there is a sense of emotions bursting forth into our consciousness. It's time to express ourselves, and to let things out of our systems. Of course, we might want to exercise some care while doing so, knowing that what is coming out of us is new and not particularly rational as yet.

"This Full Moon activates the Uranus-Pluto square, reinforcing the "battle" between the need for companionship and the need for independence. There can be a sense of surprise, shock, or frustration involved with our emotional discoveries. Certainly, there can be a strong urge, or need, to break free from old patterns in our relationships."  (FYI, Cafe Astrology will prepare, for free, a natal chart for you.  It is a generous gift for those interested.)

The "new and not particularly rational" information about the need to break old patterns describes my flailing and teetering here, trying to tell what I seem to know, trying to put words to how it feels.  There are emotions bursting forth and thoughts race past of how I need to draw, draw, draw, not necessarily to illustrate what is being illuminated, floated to the surface.  It is more about drawing - as with writing - whatever comes and trusting that what appears is relative, essential to the process.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bendy, that's a state I want to know better

From Frozen Charlotte

To flexible Gumby
in a mere 67 years, give or take.  If we don't learn to bend, to own, to dive in, to go through (the only way out, by the way), we shatter or seize up.  Word of the day: limber.  If only.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Please, let the grieving begin

Not morning jukebox but dream music, as in, I was singing this and sounding just like Linda.  I know I played the grooves flat on HEART LIKE A WHEEL and went on to abuse the cassette.

What story the song wants me to tell isn't clear.  The dream was fading, the music remained vibrant.  Whether they have anything to do with each other or not, I am being enlightened on how little I know of grieving.  Lucky for me, I don't think there is only one right way to do it.  The operative words, though, are Do It.  Where do I begin when the years and the losses have been so numerous?  I feel like the unintentionally dammed creek, logjams, clogs and impediments, fresh water reduced to a trickle and everything downstream parched and gasping.

Grief unacknowledged is trying to live a full life in smaller and smaller boxes.  It is default adapting just to keep from dwindling to no movement at all.  I've tried to reshape it into a problem with an intellectual solution and it will not cooperate.  Unaddressed, it will never leave.  My best guess is to start writing about it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rosa Mira, Ratty and the studio assistants

Ratty illustration by Penelope Todd.

In August, Penelope Todd and Rosa Mira Books offered an illustration of Ratty, the publishing house's sales manager, with any purchase. One could select from existing art or have a personalized work created. I was happy to choose Ratty aboard a raft of color pencils. Instead, Penelope drew the clever rodent juggling for the amusement of my studio assistants, old toys whose photo I had posted. He is only appearing now as it took me this long to figure out how to reduce him to a blog-friendly size.  Don't even ask.

A visit to the Rosa Mira blog will introduce you to their catalog, outstanding reviews and close views of Ratty, his home and work lives.  Please visit, comment, shop, become a blog follower and tell your friends about this New Zealand-based company.  Ratty's adventure, and they are not timid, have only begun.  Penelope's drawings, even before Ratty's emergence, charmed me and called me back to delight in the depth of personality she can bestow on the most functional household objects.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"More questions are on their way."


If the palm readers are of divided minds on which hand tells the story, how do we begin?




The life line in my left palm has a faint and tentative beginning.  Along its journey it becomes shallow, a washed out road, the sort for which warnings are posted about the force of running water.   As this is taking place, tracks from the north appear, run parallel and then merge to form a more emphatic crease which grows deeper as it nears my wrist.  The corresponding line on my right hand is more uniformly deep.

How is it that neither blares, at least to my untrained vision, the events that became crossroads, the fissures where life broke away from itself?  There are no islands I can find that say this is where the temblors struck, setting portions of the land adrift in a sequence of time best identified by change and loss.  Fewer than six years have produced a transformation I can only liken to entering hibernation as a bear and waking up as a collection of parts from three Volkswagens, uncertain if we have what we need to produce, with tools and skills not provided,  one semi-reliable vehicle.

We have, we are, it is all mystery, seeming as unknowable at the heart as around the perimeter.   We trail the poets and gather clues, artifacts of self that we tie up in our hems or handkerchiefs.  At night, the knots undone, we look for meaning in the potsherds.




Friday, September 21, 2012

Summer and space

"The summer had inhaled and held its breath too long..."


I run from tv news, even local programs for anything other than weather forecasts, having lost trust in their ability to tell wheat from chaff.  While I spent this last full summer morning visiting with a life-long friend on what we call the stoop of our apartment,  actual news was being made as the space shuttle Endeavour took its farewell aerial tour above California landmarks en route to LA International Airport and its eventual home in LA's California Science Center.  I caught up with its flight as it made a final circle above LAX, then  began the six-mile last leg from the Harbor Freeway to touchdown.  I loved every minute of coverage I saw: the jumping, cheering children on school playgrounds; teary space program fans lining roadsides and elbow-to-elbow at Griffith Park Observatory; low-level passes above the Hollywood sign, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Santa Monica Pier; a tour of the 747 which impossibly ferried Endeavour across the country one last time.

There is not enough in the news that gladdens my heart.  Today was another creature altogether.  From my junior high science class and our first successful satellite through today's curtain calls for one incarnation of the U.S. space program, I have been among the awe-struck.  I choose to believe that our most extraordinary advances in space exploration await.   I've heard of a 100-year plan being put into effect, something so bold that the phrase "bending the space-time continuum" has been used in conjunction with it.  Possibly apocryphal or my own wishful thinking, I have no reason to doubt that it could be true.  Already I envy the wide-eyed. leaping students who will be here to cheer that mission's completion.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Follow the music

As long as they visit me and until I change my mind, I'm going to post my morning internal jukebox songs.  If the day's volunteer music doesn't offer an intuitive prompt for an essay, you will just get the music, for which there must be some meaning, else why would it be nudging my brain as I wake up?

 It was Freddie Fender's voice that I heard.   Other worthy versions exist.  Today, this is the one.
 
We look at ourselves and the rest of what we assume is reality through a veil, a scrim, constructed by experience, expectation, the presumed safety of not thinking and disbelief in the vast and pervasive role wonder plays in our lives.  Its opacity is an illusion.  On stage, a back light reveals it as the distraction through which we see what is really going on.

I am occasionally,  mysteriously bruised about the arms and legs.  My doctor says it is part of aging, which I find a bit dismissive and insufficient as an answer.  How would I respond if he said my continual bumping against old beliefs, looking for a way beyond them,  left me spotted with patches as green and purple as any black eye?  I'd sure as hell know we weren't in Kansas anymore.

Finding balance in all things might be the greatest component of peace.  Longing, dreaming, striving, planning; wishing for more or different, in our circumstances, in ourselves.  Where is the sky-hook that will lift me out of here, out of myself and chaos I believe is of my creation and lower me gently into those calmer, greener fields?  Once again, turned back with a smile and a pleasant encouragement to BE HERE NOW.  Eventually the choices narrow until one is left with finding not only the good but the answer in what is.  That's a teaspoon of what I may know today.  Guidance or something like it from the morning jukebox.  


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Morning jukebox

It doesn't matter if anyone else sees it the way you do.  It doesn't matter if nobody gets it or hears you or trusts you to know your own truth.  It will not match anything in the prevailing paradigm and it requires no more than showing up and doing, yes, the next indicated thing.  Well, that and tuning out everything that doesn't support IT.

We each have a calling, a mission.  It may be the funkiest,  most bizarre and unlikely assignment ever conceived and all we want to do is list the reasons why we're sure there's been a mistake.  There is no mistake.  No one dialed the wrong number.  Yes, it's you and yes, it's now.  Grab it up, your heart filled with doubt.  Think - quietly - of everything that seems small and foolish and unimportant about the task you've just been handed and remember, in listening to our own precious truths, there is nothing, ever, that is small or foolish or unimportant.  Go on with your bad and sacred and authentic self and do it.  Tom Petty agrees.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Soul food

The Friday morning cabeza jukebox featured this:

Other tracks of the mind wanted vintage eye candy in the form of Liberty of London prints.
Our hearts, our spirits know what we need.  We know, too, if we listen carefully enough.  It was definitely Neil Young and not a bag of Cheetos, a stack of Liberty prints and not anything else.  Correction:  it could have been a stack of faded vintage floral cotton, washed hundreds of times and somehow reaching back to touch a grandmother's apron, the nearly-flat heart-shaped pillow on her bed, sewn of a cloth so soft its touch brought tears..  The two bedrooms had a different wallpaper pattern on each wall, another on the ceilings.  I wish I'd taken time to count how many separate prints she used in the double wedding ring quilt.  We can't know until it arrives which magic carpet will transport us to our true home on any given day.

In another life there was a husband and recreational/useful, necessary thrift store shopping.  How those French cotton, tailor-made shirts reached Ventura remains on the list of wonders.  As does their price: fifty cents, the same cost as the Liberty of London tie, petite flowers in ecru and yellow with faint leaves in pale olive.  I guarantee no one else in the newsroom then or any other time in his life had one that even came close.  The pleated-yoke fronts of the formal, french-cuffed shirts were transformed with embroidery and paint for days away from the office, pairing with the patched, striped bell-bottoms.  The 70s were a love affair with DMC thread and its many applications.

This week I received a link to, as it turns out, a local astrologer/lecturer whose one video sent me to see if there were others.  Heidi Rose Robbins may be found on Facebook, and suggested YouTube as a better source for her multiple talks.  When I visited her FB page a few days ago, the newest topic was Mars in Scorpio.  In an alarming over-simplification of her description, I understood that we are in the throes of an epic internal struggle between personality and soul and that soul must be the victor.  If we are not that well acquainted with our soul, its needs and its mission, the odds of a good outcome diminish.

She suggested beauty - among other things which I cannot put a name to at the moment - as a vehicle to lift us above the worldly demands of our mind, our considerably less exalted self.  While I could proclaim myself as a daydreamer almost without peer, when the inner DJ is playing "Mr. Soul" and, between songs, talking about the visual, tactile fresh air of old cotton, I listen and obey.  Worldly - earthly - matters work on me like water over stone.  I don't want to end up but a nubbin of my true self, having let the bickering mind congress define my presence, masquerade as my purpose.  What I have to share today is that we must listen, listen deeply.  We need to follow the most odd and "other" urgings that send us off like 1950s teenagers on a scavenger hunt, innocent, no trace of cynicism, breathlessly excited to be racing down sidewalks after dark with new friends in search of a crocheted potholder or an ashtray made in kindergarten.

We really are all weirdos, as the Firesign Theater said, "We're all bozos on this bus."  Ram Dass told us, "We're all just walking each other home."  He also realized, “In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.” Not any more.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Time trio with a soundtrack

Poster by Fred Babb

Ram Dass, BE HERE NOW


Here is the site with the original footage from which the Booker T. video by kiddysoulgirl99 was borrowed, featuring Cab Calloway, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Lena Horne and the Nicholas Brothers.  Which tells me in this exploration of time we are also acknowledging timelessness.

Original art by Pretty Scruffy
I rest my case.