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

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Whose head on a platter?

Since I'm having trouble posting photos to Blogger lately, this is a test (and I'm getting to the place where I want somebody's head on a platter for all the hassle!)

Heads; reminds me of the Talking Heads who took their name from what TV producers called head and shoulder shots of people who were talking. Experts of this or that expounding on their opinion. As Tina Weymouth put it: "all talk, no action."

But how about those election results? Some "heads rolled" on this go-round! YES!
Except in Idaho...

An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise -- Victor Hugo

But then, as Rumi says:

We can't know
what the divine intelligence
has in mind!

Who am I,
standing in the midst of this

PS: I got the photo problem figured out--this time, at least...

Bowling for meaning

Bowl: A concave, nearly hemispherical vessel; a bowl-shaped receptacle; a natural geological formation shaped like a bowl; a ball used in lawn bowling; to participate in a game of bowling.

--The Chinese concept of the rice bowl is a metaphor for the basic elements required to live.

--Bowls (also known as Lawn Bowls or Lawn Bowling) is a precision sport. You may knock your opponent's bowls out of play, and he may do the same to you.

--Stainless Steel mixing bowls; Waterford crystal bowls; a variety of bowls made from coconut shells

--The Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl, Super Bowl.

--Babylonian demon bowls may have been demon traps, meant to lure, trap, and disable any malevolent demons, preventing them from hurting humans or causing damage to property.

--Great dust storms spread from the Dust Bowl area. The drought is the worst ever in U.S. history, covering more than 75 percent of the country.

--Singing bowls made with amethyst, rose quartz, and precious metals.

--The four Water Bowls, by Victoria Vesna, revisit common metaphorical associations of water, such as the reflection of the moon, a drop of water, the sound of water, and oil and water. When visitors touch the water in the Moon bowl, sounds are created, picked up by an underwater microphone and amplified.

--With Rice Bowls your church can raise money to help alleviate world hunger.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

To stand on one's own convictions

Here is the stalwart poll watcher, making sure no hanky-panky is going on at the polls after such a nasty campaign season. Notice how calm he looks, how resigned--or maybe that's just relief that it's finally over.

Of course, he'll have to endure the commentary of various political pundits for the next few weeks as they analyze and re-analyze what "really" happened during today's election. Even so, he knows where he stands--and what he stands for.

The hallmark of courage in our age of conformity is the capacity to stand on one's own convictions.
-- Rollo May

The harmonies of dreams

Ladysmith Black Mambazo performed here tonight, filling our souls with deep resonance, joyful dance, stories, laughter. Joseph Shabalala, the founder, taught the group harmonies he learned from his dreams.

The group rose out of oppression of South Africa, and continue to take the "long walk to freedom," now as ambassadors for their country.

Raise your gifts, offer them to the world, and dance--dance on the rim of the bowl until it runs over.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A big campaign

Hello, we’re campaigning for Frank N. Stein, who is running for governor. Let us tell you why Frank should be your next governor:

He’s big. One of the biggest men we know; certainly one of the tallest.

He’s got big ideas. Ideas for bigger schools, bigger jails, bigger shopping centers, and bigger SUVs. Being a movie star has given him vast experience in decisively acting for his constituents. You can be assured he will get the biggest jobs done!

He’s got big charisma. Just think of how he single-handedly roused a whole Transylvanian town into action! You’ve never seen such enthusiasm! Think what he could achieve as a political leader!

He wears a big suit. And you know how effective big suits are in the State House, as well as in the rest of the world. David Byrne wouldn’t have gotten far in his career without wearing a big suit.

He’s got big hands (and arms and legs and…) which makes him very effective at conflict resolution. This is especially helpful in dealing with special interest groups, partisan politics and rogue politicians.

He’s got big feet—and knows how to dance. He has promised to treat us to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” during his election night party. And Frank always keeps his word--in a big way.

So, on Tuesday, we urge you to join us in voting for Frank N. Stein for governor.
(It would be in your best interest to do so...)

Paid for by Frank N. Stein for Governor, Frau Blooker, Secretary.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Silent knowing

You’re song,
a wished-for song.

Go through the ear to the center
where sky is, where wind,
where silent knowing.

Put seeds and cover them.
Blades will sprout
where you do your work.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Aiming for the sky

A whirling wheeling itself into the river of sky. Twirling like a dervish conjured by a morning raga. A dancer’s energy spinning into the blue.

A photograph is a secret about a secret. – Diane Arbus

Exploring a story of a river boat trip down the Mississippi. Watching over Jo’s (the main character) shoulder, seeing through her camera lens, discovering as she discovers. Will she take up with Peter? Or will he do her wrong? And what about Rene? Is she just being friendly, or does she have other motives? And what are the strange shadows she keeps picking up in her photographs? Are there “river spirits,” as Rene says? Is the riverboat really “haunted”, or is it just a story for tourists?

My effort at National Novel Writing Month and the quest to write 50,000 words before December 1st. [] I may not make it to 50,000 in that time frame, but it’s an interesting exercise in moving quickly, spontaneously; aiming for the sky.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Wisdom of Shoes

“The time has come," the walrus said, "to talk of many things: Of shoes and ships - and sealing wax - of cabbages and kings”—Lewis Carroll

“Creativity often consists of merely turning up what is already there. Did you know that right and left shoes were thought up only a little more than a century ago?” --Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”—Mark Twain

“Three quarters of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world would finish if people were to put on the shoes of their adversaries and understood their points of view”—Mahatma Gandhi

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go.”—Dr. Seuss

“If I have learned one thing in this life, it is that God will not tie my shoes without me”—Doug Boyd

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”—Jack Handey

“If you want to forget all your other troubles, wear shoes that are too tight.”--unknown