July 23rd, 2006

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Good Morning!

I am staying at my brother's place in CT. in my mother's home.   He has now made it his office, and yet, he has kept so much of her here, I am surprised.  The dishes are hers.   A pitcher that filled our childhood,  one with the words, "Don't cry over spilled milk," stands in the cupboard.  The mugs and glasses are hers.  I touch each one.   The soap dish is hers, and even the soap looks like it might be hers.  I use her towels.  I am immersed.   They found more jewelry as they went through her things, so I sort through my gifts to her over the years.  There is a necklace I may wear.   I feel so loved in this space.  My brother created it for my mother, and, now, I am here.   After my father died in an accident, and I returned from Mexico, we all slept in one room for a time.  I feel that care now.   There was a Cardinal couple in our yard in Nantucket that comforted me.  The butterflies and dragonflies were huge, and all around me was life, enveloped in the tides.  I feel great healing and more understanding of life and death.

On the ferry ride back, the waters were rough and turbulent.  I kept looking for the center of the sea that Pablo Neruda wrote of.  Where do the waves begin?  I see there is no beginning.   They just are, arising and sinking, sometimes disturbed by the passage of a boat, or whale.  Life is like that.  It just is, and waves may arise, and again, I see it is how we float over or with them.

I feel, too, how clearly our ancestors are with us.  I see why native peoples are so caring of them, and honoring.  I think our ancestors learn  through us, and we through them.  They guide us through the lessons they now see, and see the learning carried out through us on earth. 

I dreamed I was walking into the ocean.  The hugest wave was about to break on me.   I lay down flat on the sand, and waited for it to pound over me, but there was no pound.   In my surrender to what was to come, there was nothing there, but air.  I picked myself up and looked around and continued with my day.   In the dream, I, then,  began preparing for Christmas.  I love the magic and sharing of Christmas.  May that be with each of us today, Christmas spirit, the innocent clause of joy.

Between my junior and senior year of high school, I attended a summer program at UCSB.   We had a Christmas in July party and exchanged gifts.   One student's father had died in an accident, so that put a damper on the celebration.  I could not know then, that three years later, the same thing would happen to me.  Perhaps, it helped prepare me though, as I shared her grief.  Perhaps, it was a little wave, and then, the big one came.   Today, I am the sea.  

I see how I have learned to better float with and absorb the waves.   Perhaps, now, I even ride some of them, and, other times, I sink under.  May our day be soft with waves.  It is gray here.  There was heavy thunder yesterday.  The weather is still unsettled.  I'll ride without judgment what comes.  I am the jellyfish, for today, a float in the sea, that is me.  
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My Mother Speaks to Me!!

My mother owned an art gallery at one time, and selected some paintings that spoke to her.  They are here with me, artfully arranged by my brother. 

I look over at one now, and what I see from here brings tears.  I see it differently than before.  I see a woman,  lying on her back in the sea.  What I thought was a wave is her finger, holding a cloud of yellow,  amidst a deep calm of violet and gray. 

That yellow cloud, looks like a bird to me now, a Meadowlark, a bird that sings, "so happy to see you."  

The woman's head rests on a pillow of yellow in the sea.  Rocks, washed by waves, support.  Two gulls pull the cords, opening and closing the blinds,  of air.  

I feel, when I am in this space where my mother died, that she speaks to me in all sorts of ways.   She wants me to know she is well, and I do.

And, when I am outside - well, then, Mother Nature holds me in her hands likes a small bird.  She holds my chirps to her lips, like God.  I am a prayer, a whisper, a shout, as are you.   

A beautiful Sunday to All!!   And may the heat of California abate.  I read that it is the warming sea that is keeping our fog from cooling the land.  I feel concern for the plants and the trees, and the lungs that are yours.   I send the wish for cooling breezes your way.    May the fog find a way to pull itself from the warm sea, and return.  
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Morning Poem!

I haven't written a morning poem for awhile.  I'm not sure why, unless it is a forgetting to wisely particle time.  One comes today.  I think sand may peak and peek, but I chose peak, and then, you can peek for more ways that sand might love to be.


I am


a light, guided by ancestry,

a jellyfish in the sea.

Tentacles may sting in a stance of defense,

but, mainly, I float,

a diaphragm of peace

counting the waves

 and the beads of sand

as they peak   


I am translucent.

My organs reside

as my ancestors mount

the learning that widens

the bell

ringing the swell

    that is me,






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Bathroom Entertainment!!

I have always kept books in my bathroom.   I used to line the bathtub with them, because we so rarely took baths.  It was a great storage space for the the haiku of books.  I chose those that could be nibbled.  I realize now there is only one book stationed there, a book on wabi-sabi, something that is very important to me, that little bit of un-used space, allowed to find and fill its own way, like the workings of the heart. 

Now, I read this essay in the NY Times by Henry Alford called "Chamber Plots."   He begins:

    "In the mid-18th century, Lord Chesterfield wrote that he knew  "a gentleman who was so good a manager of his time that he would not even lose that small portion of it which the call of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets, in those moments."  Today, many of us still read and keep books in the necessary house, even if our reading material is sometimes less Ovid and more Gary Larsen.  When I redecorated my guest bathroom recently, I put 42 books on top of the toilet tank, arranging them so as to highlight the more brightly colored ones.  Decoration was my motive - I had just painted the ceiling with gold leaf, aiming to create a destination bathroom.  But what prompts others to place books in the loo?  Are the books we keep there a reflection of our deepest selves?  Many people read in the bathroom to escape family life; Freudians say we read there to distract ourselves from shame (the shame that arises from wanting to spite our parents by playing with our ordure).  But what other motives are out there, and what do our motives say about us?"

    I pause here, to say I don't feel any motive in my placement of books in the bathroom.  I see them as comforting, as friends.  Of course, I want them there.  I will say my favorite elimination places are out-of-doors.  I loved those moments in the mountains of Nepal.  I would go out early, as did others, and find the perfect place, and squat with a view.  The mountains were my books, holding the clouds, like pages.  I was read, as I read.  We shared a finite stage.  

    Henry Alford gives us some information on reading while eliminating.

    "Most scholars contend that bathroom reading is largely a modern pursuit: the chamber pots and outhouses prior to the 1920's and 30's were not ideal for perusing texts.  Yet Roman baths contained libraries wherein one could pore over scrolls, and "The Life of St. Gregory" (1296-1359) recommends the isolated retreat of the medieval fortress toilet - located high up in towers, close to heaven, so as to offset the perceived baseness of the act being committed - as a place for uninterrupted reading.  "The Old Farmer's Almanac" whose pages were often ripped out by people in outhouses and put to practical use, has always come with a hole in its upper left-hand corner for easy hanging."

    I, again, return.  In the mountains of the Everest region of Nepal, if there is an outhouse, it is often built over the river, so everything just drops discreetly, or openly away.  Of course, that means you have to boil and disinfect the drinking water.  It happens that way.

    In some societies, eating is done with one hand, and "wiping" with another.  In makes sense in those places where disinfectants don't abound.  It seems that each time I use a public bathroom now, there is someone concerned about touching the exiting bathroom door, after they have just washed their hands.  I think somewhere we have to trust, just as we trust when driving on the freeway that most people are paying a great deal of attention.

    I remember now a dream this week where I did miss a huge amount of driving time, and yet, all was well.   Hmmmm!    Perhaps, my automatic pilot system is just fine.   We learned on this trip that a GPS navigation system has some trouble on a small island, or near the sea.  She would so proudly announce that we had reached our destination, when, clearly, our idea of destination and hers had not yet met on the same plane.

Henry Alford continues:

    "A collection of summaries of literary works published in 1991 as "Compact Classics" fared poorly in the marketplace until it was renamed "The Great American Bathroom Book," whereupon its first volume sold a million copies.  Indeed, so profitable is this publishing niche that you can now buy waterproof books and books shaped like toilets.  And, as George Costanza said on "Seinfeld" when he was forced to buy a book he had taken into a bookstore bathroom, "I got news for you - it it wasn't for the toilet, there would be no books."

    Well, now, we know that is not true.  I was reading today of the creative ways independent bookstores are renewing their existence.  One way is to ask readers to become a member of the local bookstore.  That way you support your favorite bookstore as you would the symphony or ballet.  We live in creative times, and we always have, or we would not be where we are.  I mean that positively.   : )

    Paint richness, variety, and color in your world today, or, just sit, like one simple Zen line in the circle of yourself, that includes and excludes all.   Here is to the fullness of emptiness, and the richness of the hole, the whole, and the constant filling and emptying that renews and gratifies us all.  
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Weddings -

Wedding information now catches my eyes, since Jeff and Jan will be married on September 10th.  All is in place.   They are careful with their budget, as this is Jeff's gift to their uniting.

In an article in the NY Times today by Francine Parnes, she stresses that money does not a good wedding make.

A wedding planner tells her of a woman who insisted that $10,000 worth of butterflies be released at her wedding.  When they were released, they flew into the massive light installations that had been ordered, burned to a crisp, and fell on the guests.

Another woman insisted everything be color-coordinated and had a professional video made of herself and her husband as they grew up.  It was projected on an enormous screen in the garden of her historic villa during the wedding.   She forgot the focus was the marriage.  She is now divorced.

A suggestion I love from this article is for those on a budget.  It is created by a couple from San Rafael, CA.   Hooray for HOME!!

"The tables will have crossword puzzles and other word games instead of favors."   The questions are about the couple, so guests will need to talk to each other to figure out the answers.  Does that sound fun, or what?   I am waiting for West coasters to awaken, so I can call Jeff and Jan with that idea.   I remember making a Trivial Pursuit game for a birthday party when Jeff was young.   The game had just come out, and was a hit.  We rode horses at Miwok Stables in Tennessee Valley, and then, ate pizza under the trees on the picnic tables there.  I made the Trivial Pursuit questions what eight year old boys would know.  It was fun to create, and fun to play.  Hip Hip Hooray!!

Perhaps, today, write your own puzzle!

Walk your own maze!

Answer your own questions, and don't melt in the heat if you are in CA!!

If you are in Newtown, CT, snuggle inside!!    The shell is just right.  It's tortoise time!!
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memory -

I sit outside in the yard, on my mother's bench.  I am next to a two foot high, gentlemanly, green frog.   A butterfly flutters around my head.  Three dogs sit with me, Tanner, Woody, and Max.  Max and Woody share Woody's gift from Nantucket, an "I Pawed."   It fits their mouth perfectly, and seems to be the hit of the toys.  Each pet here received a gift, so let's also remember Milo, the cat, and Reba, the rabbit.   The hermit crab, who made it across the country, and lived for years, is now gone.  He was quite the crab, crawling out of his tank, and wandering around the house.

My mother's food is still in the freezer.  Some of it I bought on my visit before her death.  I so wanted to fatten her up,  to see her eat.  I felt like a broken record, "You must eat," but she was already leaving, and I knew it in some way.  I cried in my bed at night.  I reverence now my last hug.  She was so small and tender.  

Her personal items are here, too, her brush, comb, moisturizer, wallet, photos.  They mean so much and I am not the one who can let them go.   Will they be here next time I come?   We imbue our objects with love.  Part of me wants to use her moisturizer, and another part feels it is too sacred.  I am not sad, just noticing reverence.

I think of the Catholic church, where upon entering, the fingers dip into holy water, to dab upon ourselves, "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."  I feel I am dipped in Holy Water here.  I could be bathing in the Ganges, or singing in the trees, or just honoring the temple that I am, the sacred seed and seat.
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from sea to shining sea -

    Tomorrow morning at 7:15 AM, I will fly out of JFK.   Perhaps, that is why these words of John Hay from the book, In the Company of Light, have such meaning for me.

    "Sitting out during the noon hour, under the wide skies of Maine, we have often watched the vapor trails of passenger jets as they come in from Europe.  As the planes move west or south, on time, heading on straight trajectories for their destinations, these trails, broad white woolly bands, begin to fray, to curl at the edges and disappear as the planes pass over.  The passage across the Atlantic once took months, instead of hours, over monotonous or turbulent seas; it was hazardous, never "convenient," and the sea often took its toll of lives.  At the same time, the world ocean was the major confluence of all travel and exploration.  We can now cross all time zones and navigate the globe, thirty thousand feet or more in the sky, while being abstracted from our surroundings.  The passengers sit in their cramped seats waiting for the landing, the passive spectators of our age.  We soon land back home again, with its speeding machines, having cross the globe with impunity.  Distance and time have almost fused together."

    "Our age, measuring time in milliseconds or millions of years, can reverse it, or change it to match our needs.  The Hubble telescope can now peer into space far beyond what any previous telescope has been able to do.  Behind our own galaxy are trillions of stars, always out of reach.  The astronomers can peer off, millions of light years into space, toward the big bang, and the presumed origin of the universe.  It must be where Nowhere begins, and one might wonder what we will know, or do, when we get there.  The human race has never progressed so far wtihout imagining that it would be possible to return.  We exist, after all, within an inheritance of light, and our co-inheritors are endlessly resourceful in their use of it.  The conquest of time and space is only an empty phrase without the inclusion of life itself, the real fire in our small corner of the universe."

    My brother and I discuss the changes we have seen in our lifetime.  Is any other as interesting?  Fascinating?   Challenging?   Adapting?

    Children on the ferry sit with computers on their laps, playing games, watching movies, typing.   My son Jeff loves to play a game on-line with his friends around the world.  What is "real?"   Does it matter?   

    I do think we need, at times and in spaces, to sense and feel what is around us, but maybe the walk through our brains re-arranges the marshes and reeds.   I do not know.  I only know what I need, and nature seems to be where I most easily breathe, where I feel the wind, and the tides, flying mightily through butterflies,  and bees, magnifying what I see to seed.

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seeding in cool light -

Bioluminescence is with me as I consider my need to seed.  I suppose we emit warm light, unlike luminous bacteria, glow--worms, and lightning- bugs.  Now, I learn there is a fungi that, also,  emits light. 

This is from the Encyclopedia of Mushrooms, published in 1983.  I read of it in John Hay's In the Company of Light.

    "We can, at present, only guess at the biological significance, if any, of luminosity.  It has been suggested that luminous fruiting bodies attract insects which aid in spore dispersal by carrying spores on their wings and bodies.  However, in many fungi luminosity is especially well developed in young colonies and it is difficult to see what advantages this may have for dispersal, or indeed any other process.  Furthermore, there is still some doubt as to how fungi emit light, though it is assumed that the same mechanism operates as occurs in the luminous bacteria, the glow-worms and the fire-flies.

    In these a chemical called, appropriately, luciferin reacts with an enzyme, luciferase, which alters the form of this phosphate-rich compound and in the process light is emitted.  The light produced by fungi behaves similarly to other light waves, in that it will not penetrate cardboard or other opaque materials.  This is of interest in the that Stinkhorn (Phallis impundicus) also produces radiations, which though non-luminous, will penetrate through a cardboard box and activate a photographic plate contained inside."

Hmmm!   I think of Milton's Lucifer in Paradise Lost.   What light was he playing with?   Cool light?   Warm?  Penetrating?  Not?

Notice your response to light today.  Are you like the flower following the passage of sun across the day, or do you sit in the shade, a violet, softly lilting in the luxury and necessity of play?

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quote -

Here is a quote by John Hay to wrap yourself in, and roll.

"I wave watched the waves a thousand times over.  They roll in, one after another, like musical notes across the surface of the globe, while the tides breathe in and out rising and falling as if they were part of a vast diaphragm."