Saturday, November 25, 2006


On a quiet morning my mind runs in tributaries through stratified territory, seeping slowly toward the bedrock. Contemplating reality’s true face in a house of mirrors. Holy men morphing into quantum physicists, dropping clues like candy wrappers through the centuries. I want to bite the nougat center myself. I can say I understand… I think. But the mind’s a slippery fish. Is it best to let it go? Navigating the fluid universe is the real trick when I am the fish, the current and the sea in one. Setting course, I imagine my future and she falls into my arms, so trusting. I choose my tine on the epic fork looming in the road ahead. This present is the gift (or booby prize) of yesterday. I lift myself out of my own context to revel in just this and I see the seer seeing. A first step onto a conscious shore.
(Photo by me: Morning light on the drawer pull.)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gratitude and Stuffing

Sunny day. Hot bath. Family. Music. Belly laughs. Beauty. Color. Flavors. Homemade pie. Wine. Food, food, food. Surprise visits. Grandmas, cousins, nephews ,aunts. Crisp night air with a big new moon. So much to be thankful for.

Our Thanksgiving feast was assembled over a period of days by many hands (though my folks did the lion’s share AND hosted). Most everything was made from scratch. Love Food at its best. We were truly fed and filled. The menu was so ridiculously and beautifully decadent that it deserves documentation.

H’or d’oerves:
soft cheeses, water crackers, gourmet olives and homemade sourdough breadsticks

Roasted Turkey, Cornbread Stuffing with Fennel, Pine Nuts and Orange, Handmade Butternut Ravioli, Baked Tofu, Sourdough Stuffing with Mushroom and Artichoke Hearts, Candied Yams with Pecans, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy (vegetarian and bird), Creamed Spinach, Sautéed Green Beans, Waldorf Salad, Green Salad with Mom’s garlicky Green Goddess dressing, Jellied Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Orange Relish, Rolls and Butter, Pinot, Lemonade and L’eau Gazeuse.

Pecan Pie and Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream, Chocolate Cream Pie and Stollen (plus the miniature apple tart Eden made). Strong Coffee (whipped cream optional).

A brisk walk around the neigborhood to round it out. Clean up, nibbling, laughing, then finally home, stuffed and happy.

(Picture: detail from my painting "Mother Tree").

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Poetic Onion

I am enamored of this Pablo Neruda poem: Ode To The Onion. (Not a tribute to the distinguished newspaper of the same name). I’ve excerpted my favorite lines as translated from Spanish by Stephen Mitchell. The picture is a detail of a watercolor by botanical artist Susannah Blaxill.

luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicated the magnolia,
so did the earth
make you,
clear as a planet,
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
the table
of the poor.

you undo
your globe of freshness
in the fervent consummation
of the cooking pot,
and the crystal shred
in the flaming heat of the oil
is transformed into a curled golden feather.

Star of the poor,
fairy godmother
in delicate
paper, you rise from the ground
eternal, whole, pure
like an astral seed,
and when the kitchen knife
cuts you, there arises
the only tear
without sorrow.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This Turns Me On

Early technology?

I have a thing for Ancient Egyptian stone sculpture and bas-relief. Not the painted hieroglyphics but the smooth solidly graceful lines of the carved stuff. I just feel good when I look at it. I find it visually satisfying. I also tend to be intrigued by the “unexplained”. When the pseudoscientific “Chariots of the Gods” material surfaced in the 70's, I was suitably fascinated. Talk of “could it be, perhaps…space coveralls ? ? ” (insert Twilight Zone theme song here) gave me chills and made my eyes water. Laughable but I loved it. So, this week, I’m googling imagery from Egyptian tombs and happen upon the photo above. It’s a picture of one of three stone reliefs in the Dendera Temple complex at Hathor Temple, Egypt. Egyptologists call this a depiction of the mythic lotus flowers each spawning a snake. Huh? Um, those look like enormous light bulbs to me! That armed device looks very much like a simple voltaic pile. (Egyptologists also interpret the upraised arms to mean "power"). Could it be….electricity!

Trying to grok ancient use of electricity and such, I stumbled on the Baghdad Battery. Fist-sized little clay vessels each with a copper-clad iron pin down the center, stoppered with an asphalt plug, unearthed in the 30's near Baghdad, Iraq (250 BC-224 AD?) It is surmised that each little packet, when filled with lemon juice or vinegar, becomes a simple galvanic cell producing a feeble jolt. In an experimental recreation, when ten are linked together they can produce up to 4 volts. Well, pretty weak and used for what? Electrostimulation? Maybe an early model Zapper. Who knows ? Perhaps only those visitors from the stars in their intriguing space coveralls could tell us. All I know is the idea of an ancient battery made out of earth and juice is just so sweet.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Emo Evo

The evolution of emotion turns it around. I’m still riding the waves of my own optimism, wielding the power of “yes” like a magic wand. I am reveling in this fresh air blowing through everything, this exhilaration at slipping free of the demon juggernaut’s grasp. I had to lighten up in the face of darkness to do it and that’s no easy trick. Turning away from the riveting gaze of the monster of hell and lifting my face to a still starry sky of brighter futures, took focus and triple-strength intention. Expanding, releasing, letting myself get really BIG inside with lots of room for possibilities. The key was growing big enough to love it all in its glorious and perfect imperfection. Big enough to embrace it and take it down in a graceful aikido move onto a bed of fluffy pillows where it lay dazed and deflated in the face of acceptance. That which we resist grows stronger. Accept and transform. Is LOVE really all we need? Cheesey, naive and oh so true. Those guys were wise. I could attribute this change to various sensible-sounding factors but it so easily could have gone differently and it didn't. It didn't. I changed my mind about the world and the world changed. I am convinced: Hippie Shit Will Save The World.
Picture: Painted by me. "Spirit"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Day, New Way

How satisfying to wake up to buttery autumn sunshine, fresh breezy air and headlines singing out “Historic Democratic Sweep!”, “Power Shift” and the cherry on the sundae: “Rumsfeld Resigns!’. I literally feel a deep collective exhalation of relief. I see it making the fiery trees outside my window dance with glee. Heck, I’m dancing with glee. Humming and hatching plans. Now let all the hard long held bitterness begin to wick away in the bracing surges of change, change, change. Let the true beauty and real strength of America begin to reveal itself starting today. I dedicate this happiness to the devastated souls of our Soldiers, Iraqis and the forgotten ones of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. May we make amends. May all be mended.

(Pic: Cousins, Daniel and Eden, walking ahead in Crane Creek Park where we got married).

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Make Tomorrow A Happy Day

I voted by absentee last week (paper trail and all that) but I still want to approach today with the right stance. I am actively opting out of election coverage and turning my optimism on high. First thing this morning I tackled the housecleaning. A symbolically potent act that I want to reverberate out into our excellent nation. Let's get our house in order, people (and our senate too). So, I've already scrubbed the toilets, mopped the floors, composted the garbage, shaken the rugs and put the disorderly stuff back where it belongs all while envisioning the same happening on a national scale. There's a way to go yet because it's a pretty big mess but I fully expect this place to shine by this evening.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Trash Can Philosophy

NEW! Valu In A Box! Ultra. Extra. More. Cheap. Buy. Buy. Buy. The slick and slippery language of these Orwellian times. I don't buy it. As the stores change sets to gear up for the Holidays, the surreality of consumer culture hits me hard. Everything is backwards. Plastic shit is exalted while actual shit is reviled. (You know, shit. Nature's refuse. The stuff that makes gardens grow). Glamorous garbage is fondled and coveted while outside the gutters lay full of walnuts and windfalls. Food and compost... forgotten. Who really believes Value comes in a box? Taking the "e" off it doesn’t change the fact that the selling game is old. Oh, it's getting late.

Certainly there are many shades of gray in the territory between basic natural essentials and worthless junk. I mean a lamp is a lamp. It’s a useful illuminating device whether it's pink retro or classic faux marble but when we are bombarded with these “choices”, I can’t help reflecting on all the people on the planet who don’t have even the luxury of electricity. I struggle to stay conscious in the face of it all.

Martin Prechtel (artist, shaman and author of Secrets of the Talking Jaguar) talks about "storied objects". The importance of knowing the unique history of every object in your life. I like this idea of every thing I own holding connotations of particular experiences and remembered faces. Maybe an overwhelming concept for Westerners but a worthy ideal. Simplification. Reawakening beauty and story. Nice.

So, to the best of my ability, I try to avoid stores. I buy groceries, yes. But “shopping”? No. Christmastime at a mall is my idea of a nightmare. I don’t like to think of myself as a consumer but it’s unavoidable. Inevitably I find myself in line at some big box store with my eyes glazed in a quiet horror trance at the shelves burgeoning with arrays of the worst kind of crap. Stuff. Stuff. Stuff. Most of which has no intrinsic value except as physical markers of the energy wasted to make it. It’s like the factories have gone haywire pumping out colorful varieties of multi-shaped petroleum for people to buy, take home, break and throw in a can. Pure landfill. An obscenely lucrative system based on sheen and a ridiculous absence of integrity and substance. I often feel an impulse to pull out my camera and start documenting the tragic absurdity of it all because I know it just can’t last. If this keeps on, we definitely won’t. It sustains us not and is itself utterly unsustainable.

So, yes to storied objects. Yes to glazed pottery bowls that make me think of the friends who made them. Yes, to the willow couch my parents gave us in those early years of marriage as our first piece of real furniture. Yes to wool hats spun and knitted by the hands of dear friends. Yes to carved wooden elephants that conjure the smoky landscape of Thailand. Years ago, I read a book, Paulus Berensohn's "Finding One's Way With Clay" about the relationship between the human being and clay. It describes the simple act of making pinch pots, in particular "beloved bowls" made from the same piece of clay with the intent of sharing. The essense of the book stayed with me: Beauty lies not in what is seen but rather in what is revealed. Truly.

(Photo: Disney directive. This was neatly printed on a trash receptacle in Frontierland. Oh, snap!)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dia de los Meurtos

Day of the Dead. Ancestor Altar. After a good fluffing and reenergizing yesterday, the tableau glows with new candles, bowls of fragrant candies, nuts, fruit, chocolates, wine and fresh flowers. Pictures, poetry and names written in glittering ink, remember the ones who are gone. Even Boofer the cat and Ratty Rat Rat have a place. One of my favorite holidays, this Halloween/Day of the Dead. I am so amazed that in this age of plastic, folks continue to mutilate fat orange gourds and put fire inside them. So deliciously pagan.

Among the rememered is Papa, shown here young and strapping. I was in the room when he died. All present where moved by the grace of his exit. Here are the words his son Rob, my hubbie, wrote the day after he died:


Great booming voice.
Twinkle of mischief in solemn eyes.
Quick to befriend children.
Unafraid of striking up conversation with strangers.
Generous, supportive, a great friend in time of need.
A teaser.

Too hard to express love straight on.
I was proud of him.
Married 47 years.
He hated bureaucracy.
He loved nature.
He worried too much for too long.
Trusted TV news too much.
Was devoted to Nana utterly and blossomed when she died.
A teller of stories, a trickster, master of gallows humor.
He died with integrity, sweetness and dignity.
He taught me not to fear death.
So long.