Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Stepping into November

Stepping from colorful October into chilly November. A month that includes All Saints' Day, Dia de los Muertos, Election Day, and Thanksgiving Day [this year giving thanks the elections are finally over].

Around November 17th, the Leonids meteor shower can sometimes be seen, streaming from the constellation Leo. Some say it looks like it's raining stars...
We lived our little drama,
we kissed in a field of white
and stars fell on Alabama last night.
--Mitchell Parrish & Frank Perkins, 1934
For now, it continues to rain leaves; rich, stained-glass brilliant bits catching the sunlight, fluttering on the wind, carpeting the steps that take us into November.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Jokes and folks for Halloween

Q. Why do demons and ghouls hang out together? A. Because demons are a ghoul’s best friend!

Q. What is a mummy's favorite type of music? A. Wrap.

Q. What instrument do skeletons play? A: Trom-bone.

Q. Why can't the boy ghost have babies? A. Because he has a Hallo-weenie.

Q. Where does a ghost go on Saturday night? A. Anywhere where he can boo-gie.

Q. What do ghosts say when something is really neat? A. Ghoul!

Q. Why did the game warden arrest the ghost? A. He didn't have a haunting license.

Q. Why didn't the skeleton dance at the party? A. He had no body to dance with.

Q. What do you call a goblin who gets too close to a bonfire? A. A toasty ghosty.

Q. Why did the vampire read the Wall Street Journal? Q. He heard it had great circulation.

Q. Who are some of the werewolves’ cousins? A. The whatwolves, the whowolves and the whenwolves.

Q. Why did the headless horseman go into business? A. He wanted to get ahead in life.

Q. Who was the most famous French skeleton? A. Napoleon bone-apart

Music of life

Tonight, the music of sitar (Gaurav Mazumdar) and tabla (Kuntal Roy) sweeps us into a greater realm beyond this small desert city. Helps us reach beyond our morning, afternoon, evening; the things we know, the things we do not know.

Their music is a river. A river flowing like clouds across the sky.

And all the voices, all the goals, all the yearnings, all the sorrows, all the pleasures, all the good and evil, all of them together was the world. All of them together was the stream of events, the music of life.
--Hermann Hesse, "Siddhartha"

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Art, life, and the neighbors

Always a good thing to meet the neighbors, yes?

The "6th Street Dude" made these puppets (out of paper mache, tempera, "found" materials). Their eyelids actually blink. Uses his front yard as an art-in-progress space. Today he was working on a dragon puppet that would fit over a bicycle, with a mechanism hooked to the pedals that would raise and lower its tail.

Maybe it's time to join the parade.

Life without art is no life--Unknown


It seems like we're always waiting for something, or someone...

Waiting: A Novel

Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Guffman

Waiting for a cab, for a break, a reply, a plane.
Waiting for a doctor, a lawyer, a friend, a lover.
Waiting for the lights to change, the wind to let up, the rain to stop, the show to begin.
Waiting for the train, for the night; for him to call, for her to finally come back home.

Vladimir: Well, shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let's go.
They do not move.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A skylark singing

Like a bird. Falling leaves. The sea in spring. Through a gentle rain. The secret life of birds. The song of the wind. Rokudan. Shingetsu. Ichijo. * * Exquisite pieces we heard during East Meets West, a concert with koto, (Mitsuki Danzai), shakuhachi (Peter Hill), and flute (Tessa Brinckman).

C and I later talked about how Asian music treats silence differently than Western music. Simplicity of bamboo. An ink brush stroke on rice paper. Plum blossom. Chrysanthemum. Lotus. Orchid. Scholar stone. Qi.

Above the dark corners
of Matsushima,
a skylark singing.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Disillusionment of bootzamon

Scarecrows have been used for thousands of years to scare off crows and other pests in Egypt, Greece, the Roman Empire, Japan, Europe, and America. During the 1800s in Pennsylvania, German farmers built human looking scarecrows called a bootzamon or bogeyman. (So, that's where the fabled bogeyman comes from...)

But these in the picture look quite benign, like they've had a nice big dose of Xanax. I don't think they'll be terrorizing crows, or anything else. :)

Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock
The houses are haunted
by white night-gowns.
None are green,
or purple with green rings,
or green with yellow rings,
or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
with socks of lace
and beaded ceintures.
People are not going
to dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
drunk and asleep in his boots,
catches tigers
in red weather.
--Wallace Stevens

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lion of faith

A guardian of an apartment in our neighborhood. But he's missing his mate and his right foot, which should be resting upon a globe so he can "feel the pulse of the world." Still, he heroically guards this structure, forever chanting"om..."

Who could ask for a more faithful companion?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Apples of gold in settings of silver

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11.

=Apple, the fruit of Eve.
="The apple of your eye."
=A symbol, along with honey, of a sweet New Year.
=Inspiration to Isaac Newton's theory of universal gravitation.
=In Arthurian legend, the mythical isle of Avalon’s name is believed to mean "isle of apples".
=Danish folklore says that apples wither around adulterers.
=Apples are said to increase a woman's chances of conception.
=In Ancient Greece, a man throwing an apple to a woman was a proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted.

From a hill I watched
the apple blossoms breathe the silver
out of the night
like fish eating
the spheres of air
out of the river.
So the illuminated night fed
the sleeping orchards entering
the vault of branches like
a holy procession.
--Gates of Prayer

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I, too, find the flower beautiful in its outward appearance: but a deeper beauty lies concealed within. -- Piet Mondrian

Sunset of marigolds; another weekend too soon over. But what a beautiful weekend it was...

According to Wikipedia, marigold can refer to flowering plants in the family Asteraceae or in the family Ranunculaceae; a short story by Eugenia Collier, Marigolds; or a song by Nirvana, Marigold.

For me, marigolds are a memory of my aunt's garden, a piquant salsa of scents, and sturdy, bright faces of hope.

Beauty is one of the rare things that do not lead to doubt of God. -- Jean Anouilh

The color orange

Orange is so "fall". According to information from a couple of "color wheel" websites:

Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation. Orange increases oxygen supply to the brain, produces an invigorating effect, and stimulates mental activity. Orange is the color of fall and harvest. In heraldry, orange is symbolic of strength and endurance.

But watch out for dark orange:

Dark orange can mean deceit and distrust.

And now the answer to yesterday's question (from Libby's Pumpkin site):

Why are pumpkins orange?
A. The vivid orange color of pumpkin indicates a high content of carotene pigments such as lutein, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene (which turns in to vitamin A in the body).

There you have it. Now, go eat a piece of pumpkin pie...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Red leaves

I love the brilliance of leaves as they cling to branches, as they rain down upon the streets and sidewalks in the wind. October colors too soon to become the naked branches of November.

What makes leaves red? Here's what Peter J.F. Stobie, outreach-program director at the Kalamazoo Nature Center, says (excerpted):

What makes leaves red? Remember the glucose that was produced for plant food [during spring and summer]? At the same time that the chloroplasts shut down [in the fall], a layer of cells forms between leaf stem and tree branch. Like a closed door, this stops the exchange of water and glucose between the leaf and the rest of the tree. Any glucose left over in the leaf will change to a pigment called anthocyanin [which turns the leaf red].

However, this change only occurs if the conditions are right. It requires bright, sunny days and cool but above-freezing temperatures at night. Frost kills leaves, preventing the wonderful change of glucose to anthocyanin.

I am continually amazed by the infinite details found in nature.

I agree, Mr. Stobie.

Our question next time: What makes pumpkins orange?

Addenum: Speaking of red, check out www.joinred.com, which is raising funds to help women and children with HIV/AIDS in Africa. Catch their blog at: http://joinred.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 19, 2006


A story from a dream: She is climbing a rock wall along with many others. The climb is going smoothly, but about 3/4 of the way up, she suddenly realizes how high she's climbed and how risky climbing the wall is. She then decides to go back down, to safety, even though others have made it to the top.

Being aware of the danger makes it harder as she backs down. Chunks of rock break off in her hands; her foot slips--things that did not happen while climbing up, when she was "unaware." At one point, she considers jumping down because the rocks feel so unsteady beneath her. But eventually she makes it to the ground. Once she is safe, however, she feels no relief, just crushing disappointment.

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

Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanations,
so everyone will understand the passage.
We have opened you.

Start walking…your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment
of feeling the wings you’ve grown,

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Through the doorways of lions

Turning this doorknob leads you into a French restaurant in Ketchum, Idaho. A lion's head doorknob in Montmartre, Paris allows you to enter the Sacre Coeur.

The town hall in Gottingen, Germany has a lion's head doorknob dating from the 1300s. And the imagination of C.S. Lewis, who wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, may have been inspired by the lion's head doorknob on the entry of his grandfather's rectory.

Leo, Latin for lion, is a constellation of the zodiac. Leo lies between Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east. This constellation contains many bright stars, such as Regulus, the lion’s heart; Denebola; and Leonis. In astrology, the sign of Leo rules the heart and spine. In the symbolism of alchemy, Leo signified the absorption or assimilation of one substance by another.

Speaking of constellations, this new image came in from the Hubble Telescope -- the Antennae galaxies. These two galaxies appear to have been in a cosmic collision, which astronomers say has birthed millions of stars--perhaps our sun is one of the offspring?

Check it out at http://hubblesite.org/

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Many colors of fall

A scene from our neighborhood.

Here are some colorful folk sayings about the weather of autumn:

**A warm November is a sign of a bad winter.
**If animals have an especially thick coat of fur, it will be a cold winter.
**When squirrels bury their nuts early, it will be a hard winter.
**If fruit trees bloom in the fall, the weather will be severe the following winter.
**If berries or nuts are plentiful, it will be a hard winter.
**If the first snow falls on unfrozen ground, expect a mild winter.
**It will be a bad winter if trees keep their leaves until late in the fall.
**If an owl hoots on the east side of a mountain, it foretells bad weather.
**Hornets’ nests built in the tops of trees point to a mild winter.

And here's one more point of view:

Fall is a colorful time of the year.
The leaves are falling all over here.
Leaves are brown, yellow, and red,
Falling down all over my head.
--By: Pasqual
Mrs. Horton’s 3rd Grade Class
Chapin Elementary School
Columbia, S. C.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Reflections of a day, a moment, a time, an era. This reflection caught during our last afternoon of vacation, coming on twilight.

On the internet, "reflections" can be software, an underground metal label and magazine, daily religious meditations, a gay and lesbian dance club on Sackville Street, a PTA group in California, a service learning and community literacy journal, a photographic archive in England, and a series of presentations on theories of relativity.

Do reflections always mirror back what's already present -- or can they offer a glimpse of the future? Something to reflect on during a Monday evening.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Letters of fall

Letters dropping like the leaves of fall. What words shall we create today? Should we call in a few more of our kin? How about the whole alphabet family?

Letters dropping away like a Sunday tumbling into the ordinary of Monday. Leaves can float a bit on the wind. But letters often fall with a skitter and clunk.

Oh for some fresh letters, fresh words to create this week anew...

Creativity is the marriage humanity makes with eternity.

--Eric Maisel

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Is this image a map? Of what, or where?

How does the world appear from a satellite? Our country? Your town?

We map the stars, the planets, the polar caps, the temperatures of different locations on earth. We map our brains, our bodies, our locales. A human need to categorize, to label, to Know...

How do you map a heart? A soul? A thought? A belief?

And how do you map desire and its deep etchings upon the spirit?

Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.
--Henry David Thoreau

Surrendering to beauty

Let us not be sure of anything,
beside ourselves, and only that, so
miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
we shall be saying finally,
with tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,

we shall be a mighty kindness.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tigers in our lives

One morning you wake up and find a tiger right outside your door. What should you do? Is it safe to go outside? What if he’s hungry? What if you startle him?

So, you open a side window, where he can see you.

Y: Hey, tiger, what are you doing here?

T: I got tired of the zoo, and your yard looked nice enough. And I rather like lying here against your front step.

He scrutinizes you; and it seems like his eyes have a dangerous glint—or is it just your imagination?

T: Say, it’s been a while since dinner. You got any raw meat in there? Like a haunch of beef—or maybe wild buffalo. I haven’t had buffalo in years!

Y: Well, uh, I’ve got some chicken.

T: Chicken? That’s an hors d’oeuvre! But I’ll start with that, thank you.

Y: Okay, and maybe while you’re enjoying that, I’ll just take a trip to the store and see if I can find something--larger.

T: So you’re inviting me for dinner? How kind of you.

Y: Oh, yes, sure, of course. (Damn!) So, if you’d just let me slip by you, so I can go to the store, get you some meat…

T: You sound nervous. What, do you think I’m going to jump you?

Y: Well, tigers have been known to kill people.

He cocks his head. Is he smiling? You can’t tell.

T: You can’t always believe everything you hear, especially about tigers. Now, how about that chicken?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Stormy weather

Storms; the interaction, crashing together of warm and cool air. Blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, wind storms. Lightning, thunder, wind, rain, sleet, snow, hail.

The unsettled nature; sun one moment, rain the next. Fierce wind--then still. The calm before the storm. "The Perfect Storm."

How small we can feel when caught in the midst of a storm--the incredible power of weather. But how resourceful, resilient, courageous we must become.
Imagine this scene from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina swamped the city: Night is falling. People are trapped on their roofs. They've been yelling for help all day. As the sky becomes dark, amid cries for help, another sound rises, becomes stronger and stronger. It's music--people are singing. They are singing gospel hymns from their rooftops. (This story told by a priest who was also trapped on an upper floor of his church.)

Sometimes it's a personal storm we must weather. Hopefully we have someone who cares by our side. And hopefully we can find our music, our art, our faith; that part that keeps us up, courageously singing and drumming as we go into the night.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Puttin' on the Ritz

Come let's mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks
Or "um-ber-ellas" in their mitts
Puttin' on the Ritz

A dash, a get-away for C and I, to Idaho's version of the "Ritz"--
rich with fine art, fine dining, and the glow of aspens.

Ketchum began as a silver mining town, evolved into sheep herding, then, with the construction of the Sun Valley resort in the 1930s, became The Place To Be for movie stars, Olympic athletes, politicians, writers (Ernest Hemingway) and the wealthy.

Fortunately, for those of us who are not rich and famous, the Tyrolean Inn offers a comfortable room, a continental breakfast, and views like this...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Riding a lion

Sometimes it's time to ride a lion.

Maybe you'll circle a few times. But then maybe you'll break free, run wild, find yourself exploring some new savannah together. The curiosity, the chase, the capture. The ghostly moon over the hills.

And your life will not be the same--even if you find yourself circling once again.

I'll be away from my computer for a few days...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


As seen during a walk at dusk...

Photographer Alfred Stieglitz was fascinated by the abstract nature of clouds and took a series of them during the 1920s and 30s. He called them Equivalents, corresponding them to the idea that abstract forms, lines, and colors could represent inner states, emotions and ideas-- "vibrations of the soul." (That last bit from the abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky)

Here's another take on clouds:

I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
from in and out and still somehow,
it's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all...
--Joni Mitchell


Monday, October 02, 2006

A Monday

Some days are just like this, aren't they--the weekend too short, Monday too irritating with its dull gray skies. We won't even go into politics...

But then, during dinner, C talks about musicians seeking the spiritual through their art, and as he tells me that make a joyful noise unto the Lord is repeated in the Psalms, the sun breaks through the clouds, adds sunset colors to our evening walk.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt--marvelous error!--

that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

--Antonio Machado (excerpt from "Last Night as I was Sleeping")

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Komodo dragons and other observations

Watching you on the right is a Komodo dragon, an Indonesian native, currently residing at our local zoo. They are an endangered species, with only about 6,000 left in the world. This lizard is probably around 9 feet long, from snout to tail, and around 150 lbs., and his skin has interesting color variations. He eyed us carefully as we studied him.

According to info at the zoo, komodo dragons are carnivores, and although they often are found eating carrion, they've been observed hunting live prey and can run up to 13 mph, in bursts. Their bite is dangerous; their mouths carry over 50 strains of bacteria. So even if their prey escapes, if it's bitten, it will die later from the bacteria. Then the komodo dragon tracks down the body by its smell--and there's dinner, ready on the table. Carry-out, anyone?

Although they do a good job with the zoo here, it's sad to see previously wild animals confined to pens behind chain link fencing. But as humans continue to take up more land, destroying habitat for many wild animals, sometimes zoos, nature parks, animal reserves are the only way to keep some species from dying out completely.

I think there was a Twilight Zone, or Outer Limits episode where humans ended up being curiosities in a zoo. But then some of us live in cages already...



In the liminal space of Indian Summer, the last flowers of the season take in the sun before Fall shadows steal them away into night.

Echinacea purpurea has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. But modern researchers say its medicinal qualities are highly overrated. So how did it come to be a folk remedy if it really didn't work? Maybe it, too, lives in a liminal space.

C and I saw a film today, Blindsided, about a young teenager whose eyesight is gradually stolen by a rare genetic disease. The situation throws his family into chaos, desperation, during which they must each come to grips with his disability and all the changes it brings to their lives. But in this frightening liminal space, they eventually find the courage, the strength to re-shape their lives, and end up forming a company that develops a new way to teach music to those who are sight-impaired.

Maybe the Stones are right: You can't always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just might find, you get what you need...