Sunday, December 31, 2006

10, 9, 8, 7, 6...

The clock is ticking down, 2006 quickly fading into sunset. Here’s my photographic tribute to the New Year’s Eve ball dropping in Times Square. We’ll be watching the countdown later as it nears midnight here in le ville du pomme de terre.

Happy New Year to all!

* ! * ! * ! * ! * ! * ! * ! * ! * ! * ! *

Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Sing we joyous, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la!

The web we weave...

Today, we saw "Stranger than Fiction," a humorous, quirky, and thoughtful movie about Harold Crick, an IRS auditor, who, through his wristwatch, discovers he is the main character of a novel—and that the author, Karen, plans to kill him at the end. Because he’s been living a colorless, dissociated life, continually counting and calculating everything around him, this twist of fate gives him an opportunity to learn what ‘living life’ can really mean. So, Harold seeks out Karen, hoping to convince her to let him live.

And what will Karen do? What happens when fiction not only imitates life, but becomes life? What is a life worth? What is an artistic masterpiece worth? What sacrifices should be made, and by whom?
And then there are the questions about destiny, fate, and choices we make…

* * *
Interestingly enough, this movie got mixed reviews. Most critics gave it a "high five." Then there were a few reviews—not just negative, but scathing and insulting drek, by pretentious-sounding ‘post-mods’ who were looking for a Charlie Kaufman "Adaptation" clone. Or they were upset that Will Ferrell, who played Crick, wasn’t doing his usual comedic shtick.

Well, I give it a "high five." And I’ll let Harold Crick have the last word:

You don't understand that this isn't a story to me, it's my life! I want to live!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.
~ Chief Seattle

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lists, value, and life

Here it is, the beginning of the end of 2006. Everybody’s recapping the year, listing their favorites or least favorites; the high points, the low points. Spotlights on the rising stars; benedictions for those who passed into the beyond.

As is fitting for the end of these holidays, let’s return to A Christmas Carol as Scrooge entreats the Ghost of the Future after seeing his own wretched death:

"Spirit!" he cried, tight clutching at its robe. "hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope?"

And later:

"Scrooge was better than his word. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew…"

As nasty and contemptuous as Scrooge was at the story’s beginning, even he was worth saving…

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
-- Gospel of Matthew

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shadows and snowflake dancers

The sun returned today, casting shadows of snowflake dancers, and bringing with it a piercing icy wind. Much like the frigid cold of Scrooge’s London on Christmas Eve as he travels with the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Perhaps amid the cheery shopkeepers, the miners, the mariners, the Cratchits, the church-goers, Scrooge also saw, out of the corner of his eye, a snowflake dancer. All of them, every one, keeping Christmas in their own way.

Then the bell struck 12.
And Scrooge beheld a draped and hooded phantom coming, like a mist along the ground, toward him…

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

You are being watched...

A cat lying long on a window sill gazes out, darting her head to and fro, following the flight of a bird. She "chatters" – that "kill bite" sound – with her teeth when the bird lands on a bush nearby, as if to remind me cats are indeed mighty hunters.

To observe the world like a cat; slipping into the shadows or watching from on high, seeing each and every thing. Wise ones; knowing when to hiss, growl, or run away. Knowing when to come out and greet us. She smells my hand, rubs her scent on my fingers, my legs; marking me as one she has claimed.

No tame animal has lost less of its native dignity or maintained more of its ancient reserve. The domestic cat might rebel tomorrow.
– William Conway

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The power of expression

Come rain or shine, the Hollywood Market always has a few words to say. Thoughts really can change lead into gold...

But nothing can help eggplant casserole...

[Here's to Bill Watterson--and Calvin & Hobbes...]

The next visitation, resounding

Christmas Day is over for another year; farewell to the day itself, but not to the love, generosity and caring about each other... May those continue to resonate, like the ringing of bells, all year through.

And now to continue with "A Christmas Carol," by Charles Dickens. We are just beginning Stave Three, where he is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present.

"Come in and know me better, man!" shouts the Spirit.
And, timidly, Scrooge enters the bright, colorful room...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

To light and love

A day of reflection, some sunlight after yesterday’s gray skies. A Sunday, a phone call from my sister, a new baby--the start of another generation. A lit candle, eve of a holiday, family traditions, childhood memories. Herbed chicken, stuffing, wine, chocolate, favorite things--and a toast to light and love.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
~ Hamilton Wright Mabi

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Each of us touches one place
and understands the whole in that way

The palm and the fingers feeling in the dark are
how the senses explore the reality...

If each of us held a candle there,
and if we went in together,
we could see it.
~ Rumi

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Magic of light

Looks like in the holiday rush and the snow, I missed Winter Solstice on December 21st.

Since ancient times, numerous cultures over the world have performed solstice ceremonies as a way of ensuring light and warmth would again return; hope for better things to come. The Mesopotamians were among the first people to celebrate the solstice with a 12-day festival of renewal. And we still have celebrations of light--and hope--today. Think of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas, among others.

As a young child, I loved the lights on our Christmas tree. After we’d put up the tree, I’d bring my school clothes downstairs each morning, plug in the lights, and dress while watching the sparkling colors. Sometimes, late at night, I’d sneak into the living room, turn on the tree lights, and sit, enthralled by their multicolored glory. Light, especially colored light, was magic to me then—and still is now…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Light again, and the one who brings light!
Change the way you live!

Sunlight washes a dark face.
The flower of what’s true opens in the face.
Meadowgrass and garden ground grow damp again.
A strong light like fingers massages our heads.
No dividing these fingers from those.

Draw back the lock bolt.
One level flows into another.
Heat seeps into everything.
The passionate pots boil.
Clothing tears into the air.
Poets fume shreds of steam,
never so happy as out in the light!
~ Rumi

Music of snow

Awoke to the sound of shovels scraping along the sidewalk; neighbors clearing off last night’s snowfall. Soft, cottony snow of about 3 inches or so. The drive to work took longer, but the snow on the trees, yards, rooftops was quite beautiful. The skiers are excited to have fresh snow just in time for holiday break.

The snow and upcoming holidays remind me of an old movie, "Holiday Inn," starring Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Marjorie Reynolds. It takes place at an old-fashioned country resort in Vermont, which Bing has bought, with plans to open it to guests only on major holidays. Of course, stage shows are the main attraction of the inn, and the three of them, plus a host of extras perform numerous song and dance routines. And, of course, Bing and Fred vye for the same girl (Marjorie Reynolds). The song, "White Christmas," originally comes from this movie, sung by Bing as he tries to win Marjorie back from Fred.

The couple featured on this poster look like they could break into song, don’t you think? But probably not any songs by Eric T. and the Skis…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event -- Unknown

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly,
Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams go,
Life is a barren field,
Frozen with snow.

-- Langston Hughes

Sunshine cannot bleach the snow,
Nor time unmake what poets know.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Snowmen and other creations

Snow this afternoon; we’re all slipping and sliding on the roads as big snowflakes sprinkle down over everything. Tonight, the sky is the "city glow" shade of lights reflected off the snow. Perhaps some people will get their wish of having a "white Christmas." Of course, that may not fly for those stuck in Denver…

I looked up info about snowmen. Did you know that in the U.S. we usually make snowmen using three balls of snow, whereas in the U.K. and Japan, they use two? And, according to Wikipedia, in Lithuania, a snowman is called "a man without brains." As a sign of protest against their government, in the winter of 2005, Lithuanians made 141 snowmen near their parliament—one for each member of Parliament. I wonder if any of them made "creative snowmen," ala Calvin of "Calvin and Hobbes"?

Every exit is an entry somewhere else. --Tom Stoppard

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Penguin dreams

Been cold here lately, in the teens at night and barely 30 during the day. Typical winter inversion weather. And tomorrow we may have some snow. Perfect weather for penguins.

Found lots of websites about penguins: The Pittsburgh Penguins; Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, for hockey fans. "March of the Penguins" movie. Linux 2.0 Penguins (Tux). Penguin caffeinated peppermints. Monty Python ("There’s a penguin on the telly…"). And, of course, many educational and nature websites.

Did you know…

--To attract females, the male stretches out his wings, "calls" to draw attention to himself, then struts his stuff. When two penguins connect, they nuzzle neck to neck, give each other "love slaps" with their flippers, and "sing" to each other. Once mated, penguins often stay together for years.

--Some types of penguins bounce up and down steep rocky areas to get to their nests. Some can bounce up to five feet high. And others dig burrows and create huge underground cities.

--Like humans, penguins toboggan across the ice, dive into the ocean from cliffs, and surf the waves.

Other views about penguins:

I have often had the impression that, to penguins, man is just another penguin - different, less predictable, occasionally violent, but tolerable company when he sits still and minds his own business. - Bernard Stonehouse

Of all the things I would like to do during my life, my greatest dream is to go to Antarctica and shake hands with a penguin! - Larry Mester

Go for it, Larry. We all have our dreams…

Conversation and clouds

Lots of traffic lately. Everyone caught in the Holiday Rush. And every year, we stress about the holidays, although every year we do seem to get the truly important things done.

Tonight we had dinner with a friend. His wife and daughters are back in the Midwest for a week, as it may be her mother’s last Christmas. We had good conversation about recent experiences, frustrations, movies, mutual friends, religious beliefs; stories about professors and grandmothers; places where we’ve previously lived. And time seems to change during this kind of sharing; it morphs, much like clouds do when blown by upper atmospheric winds.

Maybe a remedy for Holiday Rush is to go outside and look up, into the sky. Even though rushed by the wind, clouds modulate, adapt, and finally become what they are meant to be. May we be as wise.

You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds. – Henry David Thoreau

Monday, December 18, 2006

Coming home to roost...

Well, the weekend is over, the chickens have come home to roost, ready for another work week. With that in mind, I sought more thoughts about chickens. I learned that Australian writer Henry Lawson wrote a book, "Bill, the Ventriloquial Rooster," and found a massive number of other words about poultry. Here are just a few:

Believe it or not, it is not an easy task to fool the Rooster. His mind is cautious and skeptical, with this perceptive gift. Roosters make excellent trouble shooters, detectives, doctors, nurses and psychiatrists. Roosters are always up, out and doing. You rarely see a relaxed rooster that sits quietly in the living room, doing nothing. They are also multitalented, and can become accomplished in many different ways. -- Chinese Zodiac

Humans don't eat roosters - why? They make eggs with the hens and wake everyone up in the morning. -- Babe

People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately. -- Oscar Wilde

I don't know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens. -- E.B. White

The sky is falling, the sky is falling! -- Chicken Little

Rooster today; feather duster tomorrow – Russian proverb

Q: Why did the chicken run across the road when a car was coming?
A: To play "chicken".
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road halfway?
A: She wanted to lay it on the line.
Q: Why did the rubber chicken cross the road?
A: She wanted to stretch her legs.
Q: Why did the Roman chicken cross the road?
A: She was afraid someone would caesar!
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To prove to the possum it could actually be done!

Happy Monday to all…

Friday, December 15, 2006

Holidays and hope

Had our holiday work party today, complete with dancing snowmen, singing Santas, good food and lots of laughs. All good-natured fun. The party revolves around the food (of course) and the gift exchange game, where a gift is opened, and then can be "taken" from someone up to three times; the third taker gets to keep it. Gifts included holiday bowls, candles, decorations, Moose Munch, gift cards, and a "Basket of Sin," which included Jim Beam, a bottle of hot sauce, a chocolate bar, and several little bottles of liqueres in a red bowl. I ended up with a silver picture frame decorated with kitty paw prints.

And tonight, C and I lit the first candle for Hanukka, celebrating miracles and light. Grateful for the blessings we have, the love we share, and for hope---

...the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,
and sings the tune—without the words,
and never stops at all…

--Emily Dickinson

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fish and other metaphors

With all the rain we’ve had lately, water and fish come to mind.
Humans have quite a relationship with fish. Mostly dietary, although some, like Koi, tropical fish, and Goldfish swim peacefully in aquariums and backyard ponds.

Then there are metaphors: what are we fishing for—besides fish? Compliments? Suggestions? Clues? Information? We "troll the waters" of a situation to "see what comes up." We "cast a net" for new opportunities. We try to "catch the big one."

My father used to love to fish when he was a young man. However later, when he moved away, he left all the fishing rods and a large tackle box behind. I guess he’d "fished out" that pond.

Now, I fish the neighborhood with my camera, hoping for a good catch.

Here are a few other thoughts about fish:

When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain - Mark Twain

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after - Henry David Thoreau

One man's fish is another man's "poisson" - Unknown

No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise - Lewis Carroll

Luck affects everything; let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish - Ovid


This evening you can see the Geminid meteor shower, which peaks tonight and into the pre-dawn. The article from says: "For skywatchers with dark, clear skies, this dazzling display should produce up to 120 meteors per hour. The Geminids are bits of debris cast off by 3200 Phaeton, a strange asteroid-like object that scientists think might be a burned-out comet."

Yes, others may be able to see them, but here in the desert climate of Boise, it’s raining. So, no show for us. Maybe next year.

And the name, "Phaeton"? The son of the sun-god Helios, who almost accidentally destroyed the earth until Zeus struck him down with a lightning bolt. Phaeton is also: A sporty horse-drawn carriage, a vintage car body, the name of several ships in the British Navy, a hypothetical planet in our solar system (per certain sci-fi writers), and a symphonic poem by Camille Saint-Saens.

We may not see the Geminids tonight. But I can still dream of a pearlescent moon…

There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life - Federico Fellini

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Questions and more

A day of rain, rain, rain. Gray skies. Earth, soft and moist. Like a dark fruitcake you might receive in the mail this time of the year.

They’ve been rebuilding the curbs on our street and covering the trenches they’ve dug with a thick black cover to keep out the rainwater. Picked a hell of a time to do this kind of work. You’d think summer or fall would be better. But what do I know?

As I was walking to my car this morning, one of the workmen hopped out of a huge yellow industrial truck. He wore a Day-Glo orange rain slicker and was singing: "Rain, rain, out in the rain…" I didn’t join him in the chorus as I had to get to work.

Curious, the word "urban." Could they still use that barricade here if is said "suburban" instead? Is there a difference between urban and suburban barricades? Are the urban ones smaller? The suburban ones large and sprawling, like a ranch house? All these questions; where’s Jeeves when you need him?

And for those who need more questions…

The Official SAT Question of the Day™
The following sentence contains either a single error or no error at all. If the sentence contains an error, select the one bold part that must be changed to make the sentence correct. If the sentence contains no error, select choice E.

Long been (A) isolated from (B) the outside world and
perched high in (C) the Tibetan Himalayas, Lhasa
is the capital of Tibet, an autonomous region (D)
of the People’s Republic of China. No error (E)

Good luck on the test.

Sometimes questions are more important than answers. – Nancy Willard

Flying spirit

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown, of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown…

This is neither holly nor ivy, but it reminds me of the strands you string around Christmas trees, shiny ornaments, tiny lights that glow in the dusk.

We sang "The Holly and the Ivy" for a Christmas program when I was in 4th grade. I wasn’t used to singing songs from Olde England, and the chorus was always curious to me:

The rising of the sun and the running of the deer, the playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir…

I imagined sunrise, and hunters, and a herd of deer running through the church, leaping over pews, crashing out of stained glass windows to be free again. And the organist and choir diligently performing Handel’s Messiah, oblivious to what’s going on around them.

And then a child walks in, picks up pieces of the colored glass, holds them up to her eyes and sees the world in a whole new way…through crimson, cobalt, green, yellow ochre…

Rather paint the flying spirit of the bird than its feathers - Robert Henri

Sunday, December 10, 2006


This weekend brought rain. An excellent performance of "A Child’s Christmas in Wales", with original musical accompaniment. New people to meet. It brought Mars, Jupiter and Mercury "nestling together" like jewels in the dawn sky. An afternoon walk in the slant of sun rays. A book about alchemy. Spectacular sunset. Aroma of C’s homemade brownies. Questions of identity.

"Who am I?" Is this a question too often asked, or not often enough? Who am I in the blaze of a sunset? In the drenching rain? In a workday office? Playing a drum or guitar? Taking a photograph? In the midst of a nightmare? Walking the creaking floors of dawn?
Who am I in the arms of a lover? Screaming in rage? Comforting a crying child? Dancing in ecstasy? Holding the hand of a frail grandmother? Weeping in joy?

What is the fluidity of clouds, the solidity of earth? And who are we?

I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun,
Keep moving.

I am morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.

I am wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark of a stone, a flickering

in metal. Both candle,
and the moth crazy around it.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,

and the falling away. What is,
and what isn’t…


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sitting on top of the world

Who is this? A Mesoamerican god? Note how he’s sitting in the sun and smiling as we rush around in a holiday flurry. In fact, sitting on another man; a servant? Someone he has defeated in battle or contest? No wonder he’s grinning; it’s great to be ‘top dog.’ He’s a muscular fellow; look at those biceps! The ‘man’ he’s sitting on reminds me of illustrations I’ve seen of Captain John Smith, the man who eventually married Pocahontas. But that’s another story.

Friday after a hectic week. Brain fried. Sat and read tonight, and daydreamed of art I could make. Plus I still have the novel I started during Nanowrimo. Will their boat ever leave St. Louis and make it to Cape Girardeau? Is there a thief on board, or is it someone from the outside? And what has upset Rene so much?

And will a storm push through this weekend? Will it finally clean out the nasty inversion (air alert – orange)? Will it snow? Will I actually finish holiday shopping this weekend?

All these questions—and more. And he still sits there grinning—sitting on top of the world.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Yin and Yang

Consciousness of neighborhood. Meditation of trees. Clanging of the wake-up bell. Sheer weight of paper. Rough edge to my desk. Papercuts bleeding. Drilling in the street during lunch. Messages on voice mail; demands of email. More paper. Calculating percentages. But what makes sense? Chasing a sunset home. Consciousness of neighborhood. Twilight. A rose on the table. A single crimson-edged rose of sweet, from sweet C. A day.

Artists knock on silence for answering music. They pursue meaninglessness until they can force it to mean.
--Rollo May

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Space-time drama

Drama in the universe. A star orbits too close to a black hole. The gravity within a black hole is so powerful even light cannot escape, and this gravity destabilizes the star’s own gravity. The force, the pull, and the star is ripped apart by the power of the black hole. Sends out strong ultraviolet flares as it disintegrates. This news from NASA scientists, who have been observing this scenario for about two years. What happens to the star's energy? Does it accumulate within the black hole, add to its gravity? Or does its energy spray across the universe as it’s deconstructing? Brings to mind episodes of Star Trek where some of the ships used worm holes to zip to other parts of the universe.

But what if they got too close to a black hole?

Scotty: "Captain, her engines are goin’! I don’t know how long before she’s gonna blow!"
Jim: "Set ship to overdrive and accelerate immediately—around the edge of the black hole. Follow the edge; the counter force will throw us back out again, like a boomerang. Or ‘like a Rhinestone Cowboy…’"
Spock: "It is not logical to sing at this time."
Scotty: "I kinna hold her any more!"
Jim: "Lucy in the sky with diamonds, Lucy in the sky with diamonds…"
Spock: "Captain, I believe your singing is causing the ship to disintegrate. The vibrations from your voice, coupled with the pressure of the gravitational pull of the black hole. I’m sorry to have to do this, Captain, but I have no choice."
Jim: "I’m not the man you think I am at all, oh no, I’m a rocket man, rock—arggggggg.

In other celestial news, NASA has just released preliminary plans to set up a permanent human settlement on the moon by 2024. This is the first part of a plan to send (hu)manned expeditions to Mars and beyond.

According to some theories of physics, people who travel in space do not age as much as people who stay on Earth (although only by a few seconds).

I can see the ads now: Look younger, feel younger! Spend your next vacation on Mars! Lavish your body at the Saleté Rouge Spa and reclaim that youthful glow, then in the evening, enjoy dining under the stars at Chef Xenon’s Meteor Dome. Reserve your space today!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Shape shifting

Too many things whirling at once today. Later, we walked across icy sidewalks in the cold as darkness deepened. C listening to the blues, raw blues, most of the evening. An article on his desk about shape shifting. How often do I shape shift solely to accommodate others? Do I become a dog? A sofa? A windmill with all blades whirling?

Sipping hot chocolate as the temps drop into the low 20s. Reboot the computer to dump the cache; too many old files for too long. At lunch, E tells me she’s ridding herself of old clothing, old photos, yearbooks. Purging the past, room by room, closet by cupboard.

Tomorrow I go to SC to repair printers in the computer lab—where someone has slipped in and performed minor acts of vandalism. Shutting down the server. Electrons shape shifting into vanishing point.

The very freedom and expressiveness we find missing in life we find present in art - Nicholas Wolterstorff

Monday, December 04, 2006


On edge of Monday, caught on a
slant, precipitous, a crusted sea
crystal upon crystal
we see ourselves
a million times

Life is a series of collisions with the futureJose Ortega Y Gasset

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A good question

What is desire?

A few definitions:
-To long for; to wish for earnestly; to covet.
-To express a wish for;
-Anything which is desired; an object of longing
-Excessive or morbid longing; lust; appetite

Desire: the name of songs, albums, movies; a programming language; the name of a professional wrestler, and of a ship carrying explorers in the 1600s.

Other comments about desire:

-Out of need springs desire, and out of desire springs the energy and the will to win - Denis Waitley

-Be careful what you set your heart upon - for it will surely be yours - James Baldwin

-To desire is to obtain; to aspire is to achieve - James Allen

-We always long for the forbidden things, and desire what is denied us - Francois Rabelais

-Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything - Napoleon Hill

-We may become but a shadow if we lose our desire - anonymous

What is desire?

A good question is never answered – John Ciardi

Through the veils

A house that was once a home, snow melting in the sun; a shop filled with items from Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Indonesia; a moon that rises this December at dusk. A Saturday now edged over into Sunday.

Tonight we dine on pork chops braised with rosemary and new potatoes in olive oil and herbs. We listen to Jamaican mento, Ben Webster, bits of Ellington and other jazz masters.
We nestle in freshly washed bedding, quilts to keep out the cold.

The moon is now in the western sky, hiding behind houses and trees. She once traveled solely by moonlight, sensing the glow of the road beneath her feet, yet here she is now, wary of the darkness.

When you look in a mirror,
you see yourself, not the state of the mirror.
The flute player puts breath into a flute,
and who makes the music? Not the flute.
The flute player!

When you eventually see
through the veils to how things really are,
you will keep saying again
and again,
"This is certainly not like
we thought it was!"


Saturday, December 02, 2006

In progress

A house in progress that C and I happened across during a walk on Thanksgiving Day. Creators/builders are a young couple, both artists, who led us through their greatest work of art yet—one to live in and live with. Wonderful spaces they are creating…

While browsing in Architectural Record, came across an article about La Biennale Di Venezia, a showcase of art and culture from all over the world, held in Venice. How amazing it would be to attend! Multiple art and architecture exhibitions; film festivals; music, dance and theater performances.

The Alluvial Sponge Comb was one of the exhibits featured. Created by an American architectural firm as an experimental solution to contain flood water, it looks like a series of long, large green fingers. They are made of lightweight, porous material (similar to disposable diapers), and can act as a water barrier during storm surges. Check out Architectural Record’s website for pics,

There were also photos in the magazine of an exhibit of 3-D graphic "sculptures" illustrating the population density of 16 of the world’s largest cities. The sculptures are huge, eerily beautiful. The exhibit is meant to spur debate about the exploding growth of cities, and the lack of infrastructure and affordable housing.

And after spending all day at the exhibits, you could take a gondola and glide through the city, awash in everything…

The visible world only becomes the real world through operation of thought
– Jean Metzinger

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Impressions and beauty

Several impressions from today:

--Drove home from work in a flurry of white tonight; the season’s first snowfall. Holiday lights from houses along the way sparkle in the growing dusk.

--An article sent to me by a friend about the Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the world's first computer. About 100 years ago, according to an article by John Noble Wilford, "pieces of a strange mechanism with bronze gears and dials were recovered from an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Greece. Historians of science concluded that this was an instrument that calculated and illustrated astronomical information, particularly phases of the Moon and planetary motions, in the second century B.C."

--An article on MSNBC: "Déjà vu is commonly described as the feeling of having seen something before. In fact, some scientists have long thought that one type of the phenomenon occurs when the image of a scene through one eye arrives at the brain before the image from the other eye. But researchers have now found a blind man who experiences déjà vu through smell, hearing and touch."

--C writes a poem to a friend that carries the image of a luminescent painting by Samuel Palmer, and the phrase, Truth I could almost live without, but not Beauty... (Tom Meyer)

And I scan through my photos, write this blog, and continue the search…

Leopards and interior design

Last night, dreamed that a small leopard came into the back yard where there were little children playing. I ran out, concerned the cat might attack the children, but it didn't. It was hungry and looking for food, and when I put some out, it ate as if it had not had eaten for days.

C's search into architecture has led to an exploration of interior design, which is NOT the same as interior decorating, according to the American Society of Interior Designers. Interior design is concerned with how the whole space functions rather than just the visual or decorative aspects. It sounds like interesting work, using creativity and imagination as well as analysis and organizational skills. Wish I would have known more about it when I was younger...

What would we have done differently in the past if we'd had known what we now know ? As Jeremiah said: Can the leopard change his spots?

All we are given are possibilities--to make ourselves one thing or another
--Jose Ortega Y Gasset

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Variations on a day

--Awoke this morning feeling very alone after having a dream of being shut out by a clique of "dream people." But during the lunch hour, I was surrounded by others as I managed our agency information booth during a fair at a local hospital.

--We had snow this morning, but blue skies with sunshine this afternoon (still wintry cold, though).

--Thinking earlier how some of us strive so hard to escape the culture and habits we learned as children. And then to come home to Fred Hersch’s amazing musical interpretation of Walt Whitman’s "Leaves of Grass:"

I celebrate myself, and sing myself
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good
belongs to you.

I exist as I am, that is enough.
If no other in the world be aware
I sit content.
And if each and all be aware
I sit content.

Check it out:

Monday and Opportunity

Yes, it's the Monday after a nice, long Thanksgiving weekend off...

And it's turned very cold and wintery. All the pumpkins around the neighborhood are collapsing into themselves, and cranky about it, too. Snow in the foothills, which is a good thing given that we live in a desert and will need that moisture come summer.

And today has been a work day of paper, white paper, colored paper, paperwork. But not newspaper since we didn't get one at the office this morning. So I looked up the local paper online to find these important news updates:

Sxxxx Mxxxx Pizza to reopen Meridian restaurant, add restaurants elsewhere

Mxxx Txxx to hold its annual meeting

Wxxx Gxxx Ixxx to buy back more stock

Which of the Seven Wonders of Idaho is your favorite?

Well... I'll have to think on that for a while...

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity -- Oprah Winfrey

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Laughter and Love

After a nice long holiday weekend, it's back to work tomorrow. Work, with many things going on at once (like this ecstatic porch scene from our neighborhood). And that will continue until January for most of us. But action is better than boredom, most of the time...

C and I saw "For Your Consideration," a new movie by Christopher Guest and crew. Clever script, first-rate acting, excellent comedy. Rave thumbs-up! Check out the movie website at

Keith Jarrett on tonight; "The Melody at Night, With You." Heart music; perfect for nestling in with your love on a cold, rainy Sunday night. Ecstatic, yet quiet love...

And now abides faith, hope, and love -- these three; but the greatest of these is love.
-- 1 Corinthians 13:13

In the cat's eye

As I stop at the edge of the lawn, Ms. Cat glances up, checks me out. As I move in for a closer shot, she watches me con anima, to see what I'm going to do next. Perhaps come onto the porch? Open the door of the house (to let her in, of course)? Offer her a treat? Or, reach out to pet her?

Been writing on the novel most of this cold November day. Riding in a motorboat with Jo and Adam as they sneak away from the others and take a motorboat up the Mississippi, as they stop to check out a deserted sandbar island... Overhearing Rene's angry phone conversation with someone. And somebody is stealing valuables aboard the rivercruiser. Is it one of the staff? One of the guests? Or is there a light-fingered stowaway aboard?

Maybe they need a sleuth as silent, as observant, as intelligent as Ms. Cat.

Cats are a mysterious kind of folk. There is more passing in their minds than we are aware of.-- Sir Walter Scott

Friday, November 24, 2006

Figuring the angles

Still working on the novel I started at the beginning of November for National Novel Writing Month. No, I'm not going to hit 50,000 words by month's end, but I'm having a good time. I've written four chapters. In the stage of figuring out the angles of the characters: What they want, what is keeping them from getting what they want, how they combat that, what they are willing to risk to get what they want, what choices they will each have to make. All while they're on a riverboat trip on the Mississippi, a river that during Twain's time had many curves to navigate.

C and I had a splendid feast yesterday, and today visited with friends over C's homemade Kaluha pecan pie (a chocoholic's dream). Tomorrow we are planning to go see "For Your Consideration," directed by Christopher Guest, which features many of the same crew as "Best in Show," "Waiting for Guffman," and "A Mighty Wind." It's time for some good laughs.

C has Jane Bunnett on the stereo, improvising on "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair" in a way it's never been played before. Such a fat, rich sound from her soprano sax; riding melodic lines and curves into great music. Check it out: "Red Dragonfly (AKA Tombo)";

Thursday, November 23, 2006


The one who brings wine
pours again, no need to ask.

Do you ask the moon to rise
and give its light?

When ranks of soldiers dissolve,
dismissed for a holiday,

when a lost hand reaches to touch
the rescuing hand,

when a candle next to a mirrored
sconce gets lit,

your prescence enters my soul.

Something for lagniappe

Lagniappe: Something extra given gratuitiously, a bonus, such as a "Baker's dozen."

Came across this while reading Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi." He writes:

We picked up one excellent word — a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word — "lagniappe." They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure. When a child or a servant buys something in a shop — or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I know — he finishes the operation by saying — "Give me something for lagniappe."

The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root, gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the governor — I don't know what he gives the governor; support, likely.

So, it's lagniappe (for some of us) to have the Friday after Thanksgiving off.

Lagniappe is popular as the name of businesses or organizations. Some uses I found on the web include a restaurant in St. Louis, a poetry magazine, a Louisiana company that sells outdoor cooking supplies--including turkey fryers "for your holiday feast," and an internet broadcast network out of Louisiana. The name is also used for a church, a dulcimer society, a group of weavers, and an artist who does mosaics, among others.

A word of generosity, good will. A word well worth using...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Something in the air

Okay, ready? Fill 'er up. It's time to go 'over the river and through the woods' and the store and the mall in your SUV.

I know; pretty lame. But the air quality has not been the best this week. Some people think it's becoming like California...

Maybe I'll retreat to the Mississippi (from "The Mystery on the Mississippi"):

From the river came enticing smells of wet sand, dry sand, blossoming shrubs, dark marshes, and the sweet fragrance of willows. Occasionally a long-legged heron fluttered its wings, stolidly watching the tow slide by. The channel narrowed, and the limestone cliffs rose in ever-ascending heights from both banks. Hawks, disturbed by the noise of the diesel engines, spread their broad wings and screamed.

Just can't quite escape those combustion engines. But still...

The sun dropped lower in the cloudless sky. On shore, birds fluttered, seeking their nests in the rocky ledges. A cool wind came up out of the east, and a whistle's sharp blast announced that dinner was waiting.

Yes. Dinner with family, friends. And the wonderful aroma of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Globe of soul fruit

Deliberation is born of joy,
like a bird from an egg.

Birds don't resemble eggs!
Think how different the hatching out is.

A white leathery snake egg, a sparrow's egg;
a quince seed, an apple seed: very different things
look similar at one stage.

These leaves, our bodily personalities, seem identical,
but the globe of soul fruit
we make,
each is elaborately


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Singing red

Singing in red; the last refrain before the ostinato of brown and gray begins.

Song of Red (a powerful painting by C. Raymond) has entered our lives. It greets us, morning, noon, evening; glowing, changing with the light. Twist of red cloud, tug of restlessness, passion, of spirit ongoing...

The red doesn't end at the frame, but grows into purple majesty of song with a red ripple accent, grace note, arpeggio to the sun.

Red, the color of risk. We crave risk, yet cling to safety until it crumbles within our grip. Then we're left to wonder, what is safe?

Maybe it's the law of opposites...

Risk fear. Fear risks. Which one?

Risk fear? Risk uncertainty, risk discomfort, risk feeling?

Music creates order out of chaos -- Yehudi Menuhin

Whatever circles comes from the center

Walk to the well.
Turn as the earth and the moon turn,
circling what they love.
Whatever circles comes from the center.

Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.
Don't try to see through the distances.
That's not for human beings. Move within,
but don't move the way fear makes you move.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Writing wood and water

Meant to type "Boise, ID" in the Yahoo! weather search, but somehow received the weather report for Amurang, Indonesia instead, where it's 87 degrees with scattered thunderstorms, feels like 93 with 63% humidity.

Results of cyber-traveling around Amurang, North Sulawesi:

What on earth are you doing staying in Amurang anyway? There's nothing to do here!! However, if you must, this is your only choice of hotel. The room was large and comfortable enough, but not great value for money. The staff spoke no English, so make sure you can speak Indonesian. They are clearly not used to having Western travellers staying. There are a couple of pleasant little warungs and cafes in the vicinity for meals, though most things are closed on Sundays. -- from a traveler's blog

The Amurang fishermen of North Sulawesi, Indonesia, believe that the blood of childbirth will attract the much-feared Pontianak, the spirit of a woman who ...

North Sulawesi or Sulawesi Utara is a province of Indonesia. It is on the island of Sulawesi. The region is predominantly Christian (95%) with a Hindu minority, which is an exception in this largely Muslim country.

Sulawesi has been plagued by Muslim-Christian violence in recent years. The most serious violence occurred between 1998 and 2001 on the once peaceful island.

Sulawesi sprawls in the centre of the Indonesian archipelago, its bizarre outline resembling a 1000–kilometre letter "K". Nowhere in Sulawesi is much more than 100km from the sea...

Indonesia is almost unimaginably vast. There are 18,110 Islands, 108,000 Km of beaches, and more than 400 volcanoes in Indonesia. Devastating earthquake in May 2006...

Sulawesi is renowned for the intriguing culture of the Torajans. Torajan indigenous belief is polytheistic animism, called aluk, or the law. In Torajan myth, the ancestors of Torajan people came down from heaven by using a stair.

The Torajan language is only spoken; no writing system exists. To express social and religious concepts, Torajans carve wood, calling it Pa'ssura (or The Writing). The carvings' motifs are usually taken from animals and plants. For example, water plants and animals, such as crabs, tadpoles and water weeds, symbolize fertility.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Uncle Walter's escape

According to the news, bears in Siberia are not going into hibernation this winter as they usually do. The reason? The weather is too warm. There is little snow, and some trees are budding for the second time this year.

Global warming? Glitch in the weather? Or perhaps something else?

* * * * * * * * * * * *
I went upstairs in the middle of the night,
I tiptoed in and I turned on the light,
And to my surprise, there was no one in sight,
My Uncle Walter goes waltzing at night!


He goes wa-wa-wa-wa, wa-waltzing with bears,
Raggy bears, shaggy bears, baggy bears too.
There's nothing on earth Uncle Walter won't do,
So he can go waltzing, wa-wa-wa-waltzing,
So he can go waltzing, waltzing with bears!

I gave Uncle Walter a new coat to wear,
When he came home he was covered with hair,
And lately I've noticed several new tears,
I'm sure Uncle Walter goes waltzing with bears!


We told Uncle Walter that he should be good,
And do all the things that we said he should,
But I know that he'd rather be out in the wood,
I'm afraid we might lose Uncle Walter for good!


We begged and we pleaded, Oh please won't you stay!"
We managed to keep him at home for a day,
But the bears all barged in, and they took him away!
Now he's waltzing with pandas, and he can't understand us,
And the bears all demand at least one dance a day!
--Dr. Theodore Seuss

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Threads of desire

A scene in a storefront window. A roadway of grosgrain ribbon into a freeway of fabric, upholstered.

We need little trucks sometimes to take us on those byways, on a graveled road that leads past farms, over a small iron bridge that's over a creek, now freezing in the November night. Fish and frogs silent in their cloth of winter sleep.

We all huddle in, crave warmth during winter's chill. Some take a highway south, the further south, the better. Buttons of cars, zipping along the freeway. Here's Phoenix, here's Mexico. Annual migration of Snowbirds.

But regardless of come or go, we still gaze into storefront windows, our eyes wheeling along the ribbons of highway, chasing threads of desire.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Another country

"Moonlight had changed the water to liquid silver. River lights indicating each point and bend in the river twinkled in the bottomland like fireflies. From time to time small fish leaped out of the water in groups, flashed white in the searchlight, and disappeared.

It’s wonderful out here, Trixie thought. The stars! The mist! We could be in another country…"

A passage from a book from my childhood, The Mystery on the Mississippi, featuring Trixie Belden and the Bob-Whites (sounds like a rock band...)

When I was seven, we stayed in a cabin on the banks of the Mississippi. We watched barges and other boats pass by, heard the boat whistles echo across the water in the night.
The next day my father took us to a sandbar island in a small fishing boat. It wasn't long after we arrived that the sandbar suddenly sank, and there we were, my brother and I, floating in the river with our orange life jackets ballooned around our heads.
My father caught crawdads and we fried fresh bass for dinner. That night a light fog rolled in across the river, but we could still make out the lights of the boats as they passed in the night.

We were, indeed, in another country...


Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you're bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you've been wanting to see

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting
and expanding,

the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.

In memory of Ruth

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sub rosa

Today I came across the term, sub rosa, which literally means "under the rose." It’s also a code for secret meetings, or to keep something private, confidential, secret.

Where I came across sub rosa was in a book about an architect, Samuel Mockbee, who started the Rural Studio in rural Alabama in the 1990s. His students built houses out of 'found' and recycled materials for the poorest of the poor who had been living in shacks and burnt-out trailers. And Mockbee's last architectural drawing before he died was titled sub rosa. It appears to be a meditation space, a thinking space that was to be on the grounds of the Rural Studio. His daughter is now carrying the project to completion. And that got me thinking about sub rosa, meditation, and thinking spaces.

Part of my meditation is reflecting on Veterans Day, particularly of my grandfather, who fought in the trenches in World War I, and who later spoke of the horrors of war, and why our country should exercise great caution before becoming involved in any kind of military action. He was a wise and caring man.

Everyone, rich or poor, deserves a shelter for the soul -- Samuel Mockbee

Friday, November 10, 2006


At this point they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that are on that plain.

"Fortune," said Don Quixote to his squire, as soon as he had seen them, "is arranging matters for us better than we could have hoped. Look there, friend Sancho Panza, where thirty or more monstrous giants rise up, all of whom I mean to engage in battle and slay, and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes. For this is righteous warfare, and it is God's good service to sweep so evil a breed from off the face of the earth."

"What giants?" said Sancho Panza.

"Those you see there," answered his master, "with the long arms, and some have them nearly two leagues long."

"Look, your worship,'' said Sancho. "What we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the vanes that turned by the wind make the millstone go."

"It is easy to see," replied Don Quixote, "that you are not used to this business of adventures. Those are giants, and if you are afraid, away with you out of here and betake yourself to prayer, while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat."

--Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes

* * * * * * * * * *

In a world of energy turmoil and global warming, personal windmills are becoming fashionable -- Newsweek, 2006