December 13th, 2006

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My Musings!!


 

License to Choose

 

Driving in rain, first gear driving,

stop and start, I follow a Prius,

with the license plate, “Go Gntl.”

Go Gentle!

I am calm the whole way.

 

 

I Am a Match for the Dark

 

I don’t ask for summer

I like being tucked inside with lights asking their way through the dark 

I see within this way

learn to touch, untuck, strike and spark -

 

 

Elaine, who had brain surgery a year ago, sends me the following email this morning.  

 
   
I made this amazing piece in ceramics this week.  It is a vase that got cracked.  Then I decided to just make each piece separately, carving it and glazing it.  Then when they came out of the kiln I didn't like them separately and decided to glue them together.  So now I have this broken vase that is glued together.  My teacher said one part looks like a breast.  And the part that broke off is kind of like where my head was carved open.  So it is a combination of breast and head.  You will have to see it.  The wound made visible.


That leads to this for me. 

 


        The Wound Made Visible

 

In ceramics, Elaine makes a vase that cracks.

          She carves and glazes each piece.

          When the pieces emerge from the kiln,

                   they ask to re-attach. 

              She glues them together.

                       One part looks like a breast.

                   The part that broke off looks like where her head was carved,                                                        
                                    opened
                                    for brain surgery.


                   She and I share this year - breast cancer,  a tumor.

                                               

                              As Mizuta Masahide wrote,

                                                “My house burned down.

                                                          I can now see better

                                                                   the rising moon.”

 

I google Masahide.  His house truly did burn down, though some say it was a barn.  Either way, it is good to see the rising moon.   I am enjoying being tucked inside today, looking out at foggy skies and dripping leaves, and I will venture out, in time.

 Each Christmas, I pull out my many Christmas books and place them on the table.  Today, I open National Wildlife’s December Treasury.  It is full of gifts.  I realize many years I don’t take the time to open them.  Today, I do.  I realize that whether or not snow is on the ground where we live, there is some place where we all crackle in the diamonds and delight in the light of the fire.   Happy Holidays to YOU!

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December -


Though it is now the 13th day of December, I post these words from Hal Borland as though it has just begun, because, for me the beginning continues to touch.  I wrap in cedar boughs.


DECEMBER

    The arrival of December means the definite end to autumn.  Even the leaf-rustle of the November wind whisking October's brilliance along the country road is muted as the leaves settle down.  The early clamor of crows no longer starts the day, and the jays go about their business for the most part in blue silence.  The chickadee is the most vocal bird in the dooryard, and his brief song is interrupted by the tap-tap-tap of his beak as he cracks a sunflower seed.  In the country house, the fly-buzz and wasp-flutter in the attic have quieted down, the insects dead or dormant. 

    The barred owl hoots in the night, and from time to time the fine-spun yapping of a red fox is heard. But their voices only punctuate the silence, which lies deep in the rural valley where frogs, only a few weeks ago, thumped the darkness.  Brooks are quiet, their shallow waters beginning to clog with ice.  The woodchuck sleeps.  Chipmunks drowse in their fluff-lined nests, and squirrels go chatterless in the treetops.

    December comes, a time of earth sounds, the moan of the chilling wind, the swish of driven snow.  Sometimes the countryman wakens in the night and thinks he hears the faint groan of rocks restless in their age-old beds, nudged by the slow expansion of silent frost.  Sometimes he hears the slow crunch of ice on the pond.  December comes, and winter.

          - Hal Borland, 1979


Even if you are in Mexico, Hawaii, or "down-under," I think you can resonate to these words.  There is this wintery place within, where rocks groan "restless in their age-old beds."   It is hibernation time, and excitement time, as we welcome the movement of the earth to  the sun.



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The 13th day of December!


THE ANCIENTS by Hal Borland in 1979.

    One need not go into history to find the reasons for veneration of the evergreen tree or bough as part of the Christmas season.  They are of the enduring things of this earth, and man has known them as long as man has been here.  The pine, the spruce, the hemlock, the fir - all those conifers that know no leafless season - have been held in special favor when man would have symbols of life that outlast all winters.  And even more enduring, in geologic time, are the ground pine, the ground cedar, and the club mosses, most venerable of all the evergreens. 

    We gather them now, even as the ancients gathered them reaching for the reassurance of enduring green life at the time of the winter solstice.  For the pines and their whole family were old when the first man saw them.  Millions of years old, even, even at a time when millions of years had no meaning.  When we gather them we are reaching back, back into the deep recesses of time.   But, even as the ancients, we are reaching for reassurance, for the beauty of the living green but also for that green itself, the green of life that outlasts the gray winds, the white frosts, and the glittering snow of winter.

    So we bring in the pine, the spruce, the hemlock - and now, because of the cultivation of Christmas trees on a wide scale, we do so without desecrating the natural forest.  We bring the festoons of ground pine and partridgeberry, feeling a kinship with enduring things.  They help us to catch, if only briefly, that needed sense of hope and understandable eternity.

                - Hal Borland, 1979

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Good Will!



I FEEL THAT the dormant goodwill in people needs to be stirred. People need to hear that it makes sense to behave decently or to help others, to place common interests above their own, to respect the elementary rules of human coexistence. They want to be told about this publicly....Goodwill longs to be recognized and cultivated. For it to develop and have an impact it must hear that the world does not redicule it.....I never try to give people practical advice about how to deal with the evil around them, nor could I even if I wanted to -- and yet people want to hear that decency and courage make sense, that something must be risked in the struggle against dirty tricks. They want to know that they are not alone, forgotten, written off.

Vaclav Havel, President of Czechoslovakia, from his book Summer Meditations

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Good Will!


This one seems to want to be posted twice, so here it is again.   Happy stirring the pot of goodwill.  


I FEEL THAT the dormant goodwill in people needs to be stirred. People need to hear that it makes sense to behave decently or to help others, to place common interests above their own, to respect the elementary rules of human coexistence. They want to be told about this publicly....Goodwill longs to be recognized and cultivated. For it to develop and have an impact it must hear that the world does not redicule it.....I never try to give people practical advice about how to deal with the evil around them, nor could I even if I wanted to -- and yet people want to hear that decency and courage make sense, that something must be risked in the struggle against dirty tricks. They want to know that they are not alone, forgotten, written off.



Vaclav Havel, President of Czechoslovakia, from his book Summer Meditations


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Food -

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday on "Beyond Trans Fats:  What You Need To Know About Restaurant Dining."  It is by Tara Parker-Pope.

I often walk down to the junction and reward myself with a latte and a "goodie" at Starbucks.   I wonder why I haven't been losing weight or even maintaining.  I read here that "snacks and drinks often add up to almost a full day's worth of calories."  "A Grand Latte (260 calories) and slice of crumb cake (670 calories) from Starbucks may sound like a quick snack, but it's loaded with 930 calories.  Snack on it once a week and you'll pack on nearly 14 pounds in a year."

That seems unfathomable to me, and yet, I see how the numbers definitely add up.   Wow!!    I guess walking is its own reward, and that is obviously so!!

Happy walking, though today, it may be in rain.   Actually, yesterday I savored walking in the mist, and scurrying through the gobbling torrent of rain.   True delight!
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Butter -

There is an article in the Chronicle today on butter, specifically European butters which have suddenly burst into our midst.   There is a taste and baking testing, and it seems one butter may taste good, but not work well in baking, and vice versa.  Now, we need to know our butters, like our vinegars and oils.   I think my mother used Crisco oil and the one kind of butter that was available at the time.  There wasn't even unsalted butter in those days.  It certainly is more complex today, and I suppose that is a good thing, or maybe the good thing is to keep our sense of humor about it all.   I was in a fancy deli in Berkeley yesterday and stood there debating a $28.00 bottle of olive oil from Italy, the latest crop just in.  I couldn't quite bring myself to go there, though I did succumb to some chocolate, that probably ounce for ounce was similar in price, and it is Christmas, and the packaging is so cute!  It is interesting to see where the wagging tail of temptation gives in.   Of course, I am giving the chocolate away.  It is not for me!   :)

It is for gifts!!
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A repeat from last year - ritual!



Since this posting is about the magic of ritual, it seems okay to repeat.  I posted it last December 28th.   This seems to be a day of repeat.  I wonder what the message is, perhaps, it is about the recycling of the years.


WAITING FOR THE WATER TO BOIL



Standing at the kitchen stove early in the morning, looking past it through an open window, I feel sleepy, unfocused, fragmented, waiting for the coffee water to boil. An impulse to pray arises in me, but the thought of God remains as vague and unfocused as I feel myself to be at that moment. I am not in the mood for words. A few months ago I was in
India, and now, without consciously thinking what to do, I find myself raising my hands in front of my face and putting palms together, the way Indians do in their gesture of respect. Quickly, my emotions change. I become aware of a stir of energy throughout my body. My hands, palms still together, move downward until they are in front of my navel. I feel centered for the first time since arising, and the tree leaves outside the window begin to sparkle. During this little rite, which I have never performed before, no words pass through my consciousness. Theologically, there is either nothing or everything to say about it. Some, including myself, will call it prayer, others not. In any case, it was a short and subtle ritual of transformation.



--TOM F. DRIVER

from The Magic of Ritual
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Hmmmmm!


THE WHOLE PROBLEM with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

Bertrand Russell

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Wendell Berry -

             

                  “To Know the Dark”

    To go to the dark with a light is to know the light.
    To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
    and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
    and is traveled by dark feet and darkwings. 

                      - Wendell Berry