Monday, June 30, 2014

allow people to be as you allow trees to be

playing real good for free

Once, I was flying out of Midway, in Chicago, and my flight was delayed. I noticed that many of the other people waiting near the gate were carrying cases that looked like they held musical instruments. I blurted out "Hey, looks like the musicians are here."  This was a few days before the 4th of July, 2007.

It was The Family Stone, with Sly not with them. They had performed at a casino in WI and were flying to San Jose, on low cost Southwest to do a 4th of July concert on the beach off Santa Cruz.  After we had hung out awhile, some of the band guys said if I came to their Santa Cruz free beach concert, they'd have me up on stage and dedicate 'Everybody is a Star' to me, one of the band's songs from my high school era, which was 1967 to 1971.  I loved all their songs. Dance tunes with lyrics you wanted to sing.

I had remarked that I had especially loved the song "Everybody is a Star" and one of the guys, some too young to have been in the band back in the sixties, pointed over to a woman and said "She sang it, and the woman standing next to her sang the background vocals." The women noticed the guys point over to them, heard I had loved 'everybody is a star' and they sang it, a capella, at that departure gate.

Those two female singers sang a couple songs, a capella. I thought some of the guys were itching to pull out their instruments but they didn't. Everyone at the departure gate seemed to enjoy it.

I sthink it interesting that they were carrying their instruments, but no other carry-on luggage, on the plane. No drums, no big bass guitars. Those likely had to be checked in hard cases.  It was heartwarming to see that musicians treasure their instruments, kept them with them.

The guy who co-founded the band with Sly was there. Some of the musicians were too young to have been with the band early on. They told me they no longer performed with Sly.  Since first writing this, however, I have read the Wikipedia entry on Sly Stone. He still works and calls his band The Family Stone. There are likely background stories to explain why the band I met at Midway Airport said they no longer perform with Sly.

I tried to get to the Santa Cruz gig, but couldn't.

THEN,  a couple years ago, riding a bus in Berkeley, a guy rolled a huge music case onto the bus. I asked him if it was a large guitar or a bass cello kind of instrument. He looked a bit askance, as if he thought it obvious he played the guitar. Then he told me it was a very big guitar, a special instrument. He was proud of his instrument, proud he was a musician. And cool. Sunglasses on after dark and on the bus. All black clothing. Black leather jacket.

He and I chatted the whole, longish bus ride. Most on the bus listened with fascination. I told him that Steiner had said people who get music are more evolved, that musicians understand the supersensible, or spiritual, realm better  than the rest of us.  The dude kept nodding as I said that and when I was done he said "That's right, that's right, it's all about the vibration and God is vibration and it's all about the vibration."

"My first paid gigs were with my cousin Sylvester Stone. I was very young, maybe fourteen. You heard of Sly and the Family Stone?"  Of course, after hearing that,  I segued into telling him about meeting the band at Midway Airport.

He went on to say "music has given me everything, fed me and my kids, given me a house, music gives me everything. God gave me this gift to give me everything."

He was heading to busk at a BART station that day. He said whenever he performs and brings CD's, he always sells out because music is God's way of providing for him.

Then he got off at the BART station. I had a strong urge to follow him so I could hear him play. I bet he played real good for free. Or, hopefully, tips.

I rode on home, wishing I had heard him play, wishing I had made it to that long ago Santa Cruz beach concert on July 4, 2007. 

The first album I ever bought was a Bonnie Raitt album. The second album I ever bought was Sly and the Family Stone.  I really had loved 'Everybody Is A Star" as a teenager.  I played the Family Stone album over and over, dancing alone in my bedroom with abandon. That music made me want to move. And move happily.  I'm feeling it as I write.  Dance to the music. Everybody get up and dance now.

feel what you feel

let there be light

In 1998, I bought a natural light desk lamp at a big box office supply store in Amherst, MA where I lived while in a graduate program.  That light cost about $40. I had to replace the original lightbulb soon after buying it. I have noticed lamps tend to come with cheap burn out quickly. I came to this conclusion because once I bought a replacement halogen bulb, also in 1998, it lasted me until 2014.

The reason, I think, that the lamp finally died, and not just the bulb which I did try to replace, is because I spilled some water on it.

To make do until I could afford a good reading lamp -- prices are higher in 2014 than they were in 1998 -- I used a very cheap desk lamp I bought my daughter when she started college, a lamp she abandoned along with a lot of her other stuff, like she was very intentionally leaving her whole lie behind.

She didn't even want her handmade Waldorf textbooks.  I tried to communicate with her, unable to believe she didn't want her beautiful textbooks. Her textbooks were so good that her teacher asked me for copies to use as a reflection of his teaching work. He said she was the only student in the class who finished all the pages in her handmade books.

Aside:  I love her, I am proud of her.

This cheap desk lamp was from Target and cost ten bucks. It didn't have a great light but at least I had a light next to my bed, where I do most of my reading.

I soon splashed water on that one and it sizzled out for good.

I decided I would buy a floor lamp so the base of the lamp would not be on the shelf where I keep drinks within reach.

The lamp I chose costs $150 plus tax. I have had to save up for it.

When "I" is replaced by "WE"

a small happiness, edited

I am having company this evening. I have spent the day housecleaning, trying to get my home up to the standard I used to call my 'mother-in-law coming over' standard. A married girlfriend from long ago, when I was married, and I, often joked about the mother-in-law-coming-over standard. Once she asked me "Can you tell me why I feel like I have to do all the laundry if my mother-in-law is coming over?  It's okay to have some unwashed clothes in the laundry but I make sure every single item of clothing and bedding is washed and put away if my mother-in-law is coming over." And we both laughed.

Once, in my brief married life, another young mother married friend stopped by unannounced.  I loved it that she did that, dropping by unannounced. I felt it signaled we were real friends, not just wives of men who had gone to prep school together.

When she came in, I offered her some refreshment. The whole time she visited, she kept exclaiming how incredibly clean my house was that day. I kept modestly assuring her that my house was only sparkling, perfectly clean because my mother-in-law was coming to dinner that day.  Not one single thing was out of place, everything was dusted, cleaned or polished.  I had everything immaculate and had been about to begin preparing dinner when my friend dropped by.

Today's cleaning fails the mother-in-law-coming standard. I need to organize my belongings. I have a lot of stuff I could throw out. It takes time to go through several boxes of papers. There can't be much of importance in boxes I have not opened in the five and a half years since I packed them to move where I live now. There might, just might, be a few things I wish to keep. So I can't just open my storage closet and chuck it all out. I have to look at each thing in each box. And then, more than likely, chuck it.

I have stacks of things I have no place for. I don't own much furniture. I own no cupboards. My kitchen has cupboards but they are filled with kitchen things and food.  I sometimes fantasize having a wall of shelving along the length of my dining-room-living-room . . . one long wall, with cupboards along the bottom. I could create a very cheap set with studs and particle board, like I created for myself in law school. IKEA sells cheap furniture but my experience with IKEA furniture is that it is really junky. Not to mention I don't have money for even the cheapest project.

My solution, I think, is to just throw out a ton of stuff. Suddenly knowing my clothes are stuffed with things I have not used in five or more years seems to clutter my being.

I had hoped to do a massive clean-out before this evening's visit. The visit isn't all that special, it was just a date to focus me.

Alas, I did nothing until today.  Everything is now clean, except for my carpets.  I have paid to have them cleaned a few times since I moved in but spending money that way is hard for me. It means I'll be tight for food money at the end of the month.

Anyway.  My next door neighbor, a native of Ethiopia with an interesting life* I have no way to find out about, heard me vacuuming with my really sucky vacuum and asked if he could borrow it. Of course I lent it to him, with the caution that it was not a very good vacuum.

*He has a young son, born a year or two ago, so that little boy has a mother. My next-door neighbor spends almost no time here. His son sleeps over infrequently.  I am curious about his choices, to love the mother and son but keep his own place. I learned today that he has virtually no furniture, sleeps on the carpet and has one camping chair and a tray table. He had his door propped open to try and circulate today's hot air. His place is a studio so with one window, there is no cross ventilation.  With his door open, futilely seeking to cool his place off, I saw, as I took out some trash, that he has no furniture. I asked "Are you moving out?" 

No. He said he does not like furniture.

We're all different. It behooves me to remember, eh?

I loved being asked to do a neighbor a favor.

I like that a neighbor asked me for a favor.  A small happiness. People in apartment buildings don't seem as neighborly as when I lived in houses. I wonder why. 

we can count on so few: Adrienne Rich

An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.

Adrienne Rich

Sunday, June 29, 2014

paying love forward on Pride Day

I'm not gay but my best brother is, as are many friends.  I have never seen the SF Pride Parade. When I realized a few days ago that the parade was today, I resolved to go. Then I remembered that several weeks ago, I volunteered to work at Karma Kitchen today. I had volunteered once before and then was a no-show. I felt I had to keep my commitment, with pride, to Karma Kitchen.

What a great day. I worked hard, running around on my feet for six hours. I am unaccustomed to being on my feet for such a long time.

I have never waited tables before.

The leader, in our orientation, told us the theme today was Love.  He invited us to talk to the guests, ask them what love means to them, tell them about ourselves, ask about them.

I am uncomfortable talking to strangers.  I dutifully asked every customer, after reminding them that the day's theme was love, if they would like to tell me what love meant to them.  I couldn't get much traction asking about love.

Then one guy came along and said "Hi Tree, what are we supposed to do?  I've never been here before."

Speaking perfunctorily, feeling bluntly awkward, I said "In our volunteer orientation this morning, we were asked to talk to all the guests, even ones not at our table, about the day's theme. The day's theme is love. So do you want to tell me what love means to you?"

I felt awkward, stilted, clunky. Inept. I felt my delivery had been lunkheaded.

To my happy surprise, the man said "That was a beautiful, seamless segue to your question." And then he talked about what love meant to him for a long time.

Another lovely exchange, among many that I had today:  a male and female couple were assigned to one of my tables. The woman had been to Karma Kitchen before but the man, her husband, I think, had not.  He started out saying he would not eat, just keep the woman company.  I explained their ordering options and left them alone.  When I returned to them, he had decided to order food but he did so with an air of great reluctance. And he never smiled.  He seemed dried out to me.

When it was time for dessert, the woman ordered some Indian rice pudding. I asked the man if he wanted dessert and he dryly said no, waving at the thought of dessert.

I, however, got a strong flash that he wanted the mango sherbert. One of those strong inner hits of knowing.

Intending to only order the woman's rice pudding, I mistakenly told the dessert gal that my customer wanted mango sherbert. When she put one dollop of the mango sherbert on the plate, I asked her to put another large dollop on. I said "I have a feeling the man will eat this."

So I get to the table and the guy lit up to see the sherbert. The woman kindly reminded me she wanted rice pudding. I said "No problem, another customer of mine, at the next table, wants the mango sherbert. I'll just give it to him."

But the tiny, scrawny little man, elderly, said with a perfectly still face but his eyes lit with pleasure as he had begun to anticipate eating that sherbert said "Oh well since it is here, I will eat the sherbert."  It was a huge portion and he ate it fast.

Of course I got the woman's rice pudding.

I brought everyone I waited on whatever they wanted.  I told a few people, when they asked me questions about me, that my daughter has not spoken to me since 2001 without crying. I felt happy even though I have been having a rough few days because Katie's birthday was a few days ago.

And everyone hugged me and I wanted to hug them. Since most who read this blog don't know me, my readers might not know that I resist hugging strangers. Touch is hard for me. And it is not hard for the reasons many wrongly believe.  I don't resist touch because I have been abused, which I have. I don't resist touch because I have been in a few abusive relationships, been struck and/or verbally abused.  I resist touch because I feel things so powerfully. When  I hug someone, my body takes on some of their vibration and that vibration can follow me, affect me, impede my being me.

Every hug requested of me today felt happy, safe and right.

I didn't hug any of my 'customers' but it occurs to me that as the server, I should have asked them as part of receiving them with love and happiness. Next time, hugs for everyone.

I'm tired. I'm happy. I'm proud. I had my own little pride experience.

Karma Kitchen: pay it forward

I am working at Karma Kitchen today. KK is part of ServiceSpace. Volunteers prepare a meal in a restaurant they take over one Sunday a month. There are no prices for the meal. Afterwards, people pay what they want to pay, paying it forward.

I believe this is how human culture should be. I volunteer to heal the human etheric.

If you are in the bay area and reading this, come over to Taste of Himalaya. google the times, cause I gotta jet to get there on time.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

summer solstice in north country, Minnesota

During my law school years, I lived in a beautiful, authentically Art Deco apartment a couple blocks up the hill from the mighty Mississippi River. On the side of my apartment with windows, I had views of the Missippippi River all year, although one could see more when the tree leaves are gone in winter.  That river is so wide, even as it winds through the Twin Cities, that no tree canopy could block the view of it.

When I moved in, the building was owned and managed by an eighty-something woman who lived in the basement 'caretaker' apartment. I moved in about a week before I started law school. I had no furniture, having moved to MN with what I could fit in my VW beetle, Helen.  My VW was named after Helen Hayes, who starred in the Love Bug movies. It might be an obscure reference to many, especially younger people. I never actually saw a Love Bug movie. One of my youngest siblings remarked, when they first saw my 'Helen', "That looks like the Love Bug." And it did.

I had no furniture.

I had learned about the apartment by a friend of a friend who belonged to the Catholic parish in which the apartment was located. The owner had placed a notice of an apartment for rent in the church's Sunday bulletin. The friend of a friend had shown it to me, probably eager to see me in my own place since I was sleeping on her living room floor while I hunted for my home.

I had already rented another apartment, a dingy, boring fifties or sixties box that sat kitty corner from an empty parking lot which was attached to an empty factory.  This place was within an easy walk to my school. I rented it because I felt desparate.

As soon as I saw that charming building, saw the river glistening on my horizon, I decided to forfeit my security deposit on the other place.

I was worried that breaking my agreement to rent the first place, which was dumpy and cost more, might affect my credit rating, as if the old lady could magically tap a pre-internet database and learn that I had already signed a lease.

When I asked her if she wanted references, she told me she didn't usually rent to students. The apartment was very close to what is now the University of St. Thomas. It used to be the College of St. Thomas.  She said maybe a law student would be well behaved. She nudged my shoulder with hers, smiling warmly, and said she had a good feeling about me and I could have the place, no deposit, no lease. The rent, she informed me, was $112.50.  I still get a kick out of that fifty cents. I asked her right away where she got the $2.50, why now $115? She said that the building had 20 apartments, plus her manager unit where she lived. With everyone paying $112.50, it worked out to an even number and she liked even numbers.

That woman was not income driven.

She accurately sized me up as having no furniture and told me she had some things former tenants had left behind, stored in the basement. Follow her and she would let me have them. She gave me a bed and a tiny, two-chair dinette set that fit my tiny new kitchen, my old new-to-me kitchen, perfectly.
Instantly, I had enough furniture to live there.  I went to a few garage sales and bought what turned out to be a Drexel Heritage dining room table, with brass claw feet, leaves to expand it.  It's finished was awful. I think the person who sold it to me for seven dollars did not know it was a Drexel Heritage. I didn't know when I bought it.

My great aunt Effie, my grandmother's baby sister, who I had looked up when I moved to MN because my grandmother asked me to, had me over for lunch once a week.  As soon as I saw her dining room table, after buying my great score, I realized I had just bought a table identical to hers.  I used it as a desk. I basically became a lawyer at that table.

Then I bought one wooden dining chair cheap.

I decided I needed at least one comfortable, cosy place to sit. Used sofas were beyond my budget so I focussed on an arm chair. I bought a used armed chair with stuffing coming out in a used furniture store for $35. That was my big expenditure to furnish my first apartment. I also bought a cheap throw to cover the stuffing hole.

And a friend's handy brother built an entire wall of bookshelves with cheap pine studs and particle board shelves. He even knew to put braces on the back so the shelves would not wallow. I imagine pine studs and particle board cost much more in 2014 than they did in 1976.  I think I spend $30 on wood and bought beer for the help.

My landlady once told me, in one of our occasional conversations, that her relatives were urging her to move into a nursing home. In these talks, she would say her relatives just wanted her apartment building. That building was a jewel. 

She did move into a nursing home before I moved out. Her family installed one of her great-nephews, for she had had no children of her own, as resident manager and raised the rent to $135. 

Even at $135, I believe I paid less rent than any renting law student I knew. And everyone I knew envied my location. It was not convenient to my law school. It was not convenient for grocery shopping. It was an almost purely residential neighborhood, with large homes. The University of Minnesota's presidential mansion was on the river just below my building, a block away. I was living in one of the toniest, wealthiest neighborhoods in St. Paul. Quiet. Old with lots of old trees. Lots of parkway, along the river and throughout the neighborood. That college campus, like most college campuses, was parklike, too.

I rented it because as soon as I drove up to see it the first time, I knew that every single time I came home to that apartment, I would feel fed by the beautiful, parklike setting.  

I bought a bike as soon as I moved to St. Paul. I quickly discovered that St. Paul, with the State Capitol as its downtown centerpiece, sloped gently down to the river. The incline was so slight that a bicyclist did not really notice she was uphill. She noticed on the ride home. I could roll all the way from downtown St. Paul to my home almost without pedaling at all.

On summer nights, I would take long bike rides, meander my way downtown, treat myself to licorice ice cream at Bridgman's, eat my treat and then roll home.

One evening, near the summer solstice, I sat down on the stoop in front of the building, feeling drawn to enjoy that summer evening which clung to daylight that night until almost ten p.m.  The new, young, undergraduate caretaker came outside to enjoy the evening, too.  I remember feeling some attraction to him, then telling myself he was too young for me.  At 23, a 20 year old seemed too young for me. Now I can laugh about it. At the time, I felt vaguely guilty for what I felt, as if there were something wrong with me.  I suspect he felt something also.

For some reason, see above paragraph, we both said we would stay until there was no light left, until it was truly dark. We were both a little surprised that there was daylight until close to ten p.m.

Sometimes, living in Berkeley, CA, I pay attention to when daylight ends at the summer solstice, which is right now as I am writing this.  The sunlight never lasts until 10 p.m. here, not even on the longest day of the year. I paid attention on the longest day this year.

It must have been summer solstice time that long-ago summer evening when I sat half-hoping the resident caretaker cutie would make a move, half-hoping he would not.

Trust: Love does not ignore you



If you can trust, something or other will always happen and will help your growth. You will be provided for. Whatsoever is needed at a particular time will be given to you, never before it. You get it only when you need it, and there is not even a single moment´s delay. When you need it you get it, immediately, instantly! That´s the beauty of trust. By and by you learn the ways of how existence goes on providing for you, how existence goes on caring about you. You are not living in an indifferent existence. It does not ignore you. You are unnecessarily worried; all is provided for. Once you have learnt the knack of trust, all worry disappears.

gender identity: celebrating Pride weekend

I got divorced beginning in Feb 1984, when I left my husband. It took us two years to get divorced because he wanted custody of my baby and so did I.

Pursuant to the custody challenge, both of us hired shrinks to evaluate our family and then be 'expert witnesses' if we ever went to trial. We never had a custody trial. It became clear, in the discovery process leading up to our scheduled, five-day trial that never happened, that not only would I get custody, but some of the testimony about my now-ex was very negative.

My ex somewhat unconsciously assumed that since I was in therapy, with our marriage counselor who he had also sought for therapy, the fact I was in therapy proved he was unfit. He had his lawyer subponea our marriage counselors files on me but the entire file related to me included our marriage counseling sessions. My ex was spitting nickels at one of our many hearings before a judge, outraged that his private thoughts and feelings were photocopied and handed out to both lawyers and both of us.  He seemed to think only my records would come out. Truth be told, if our psychologist had not turned over my ex's records, I could have, and most definitely would have, subponead them. The doc was being efficient, plus the records from our joint therapy sessions were part of my therapy record, which is what the ex subponaed.

Boring legal stuff, eh?

The Love Gyroscope: our GPS system

©I think this is a good essay. Rereading it just now, I was uplifted, felt more loving for having read it. It is not copyrighted so I feel comfortable sharing it on my blog.

Here's the essay . . . .

The Love Gyroscope Essay

I find it useful to gauge the significance of all our emotions relative to one single emotion: love.

My belief is that, because we humans are naturally loving beings, every moment when we sense ourselves feeling something other than love and openness, we are receiving an important signal to pay attention to, a signal that something is out of whack, a signal to reorient ourselves and/or change our circumstances.

There are plenty of incentives in our present-day culture to cultivate other feelings than love, to focus on the negative, to be on the lookout for things suspicious, to breed cynicism and distrust. All the negative feelings are valuable, and I don't think it's a good idea to ignore the negatives when they present themselves. But the cultivation of negative emotion, the adoption of negatives as our benchmark reference points, I believe, is a good route to depression and mental illness, not to mention ineffectiveness, inaction and loneliness.

While the wilfull (sic) manufacture of good feeling is not advisable, yet noticing what makes us feel good, noticing what we love, and cultivating the openness and vulnerability needed to experience joy and to be sensitive to delightful and delicate good feeling is a key, in my belief, to happiness and power. Noticing when we have a choice to regard our glasses as half full rather than half empty, and choosing to appreciate the opportunity latent in whatever reality, is an essential precondition to success.

If in reading this the word "love" for you conjures something like Hollywood romance, you might be wondering what the heck I am talking about. When I talk about love I don't quite mean the Hollywood kind, the heated romantic attraction of two private individuals.

Instead, I have in mind something in line with the thinking of Humberto Maturana, the great Chilean biologist, for whom love is not only the most fundamental human emotion, it is how we feel when our minds and senses are most plastic, agile, aware and alive.
Maturana defines love as feeling we have when we give "legitimacy to the other in co-existence with ourselves." Love is a willingness to appreciate the other in the other's independent being - whether we are talking about a person, a flower or a sunset. If we are not feeling love, we can be sure that we are not engaging the world with our full power, that we have strayed from our true selves.

Emotions provide an important compass to finding our true path, the path that brings us into relations of love and joy with the world, the path on which we realize ourselves as lovers, leaders, citizen-actors -- attractive beings who create love and energy around them.

Looked at in this way, love can be related to as a kind of centering force, keeping us at the maximum of our power. The chief skill to be developed in personal development, then, is the skill of becoming a human gyroscope, with love our orienting gravitational force. Grow up. Learn how to love.

Now, love doesn't simply mean going all soft and cuddly. In fact, in some circumstances, it's quite the reverse. The more we know what we love, the more we are willing to defend what we love and to act on its behalf. We grow courageous (from the word "coeur," heart), and we grow wise. When other emotions than love rule our perceptions, what we are able to perceive is diminished. Love helps us maximize our awareness, and therefore helps us to act in view of the ultimate consequences we wish to achieve.

I'd be interested in distinguishing different experiences, types, or qualities of love that might fall within the definition I am spelling out here. These might run the gamut from a simple feeling of openness to experience, without any particular charge to it, to the feeling one gets from full and active engagement, "being in the flow" (as Csikszentmihalyi calls it), exercising one's full self to the point of total elation and self-forgetfulness.

Not being in the love zone, on the contrary, means feeling agitated in one way or another. We're "hooked," for instance, by a particular emotion. It might be jealousy or anger. Or maybe we feel afraid, or unsure of ourselves. Whatever the circumstance, each of these emotions, reflected upon, will bear some relation to something that we care about, i.e. to some relation of love.

Trying to develop the self's gyroscope is not an easy task. It's probably a lot harder for most of us than learning to be a good sailor, or card player, or video-game player or what have you. In other words (looking at this glass as eternally half-full), the quest to learn the skill of love will provide you with an endless task with endless room for learning and improvement. It's a good idea to start reframing your fear of making mistakes into a love of learning to learn.

One of the difficulties is that the emotions and the mind are so agile, and move so quickly together - more quickly than we can be consciously aware - that they rapidly take us off track, decentering us, as if into a kind of blinded sleep, until we awake and find ourselves again.

In other words, we react to circumstances - based on instantaneous emotions and unconscious assumptions and expectations - and before we know it, we are acting from a lesser place.

I am reminded of an incident, an experience I had that bears on what I'm talking about. It's probably not quite the kind of story you'd expect me to tell. But here goes.

I remember one day some years ago when I was in college. I had a very important paper due the next day, and I had barely even started on it. I'd committed myself (or so I thought) to hunker down and spend the entire day writing it. Early in the morning, determined, I sat down at my desk with a hot pot of tea and pen and paper.

Come one o'clock, I suddenly found myself hanging out of my second-floor apartment washing my windows! It was if I awoke in surprise to find myself somewhere I did not want to be, doing something I did not want to be doing.

I recognized the power of my unconscious to lead me into procrastination and avoidance. Some chain of events -- perhaps I got up from my desk to take a look down at the street, perhaps I noticed a film of dust on the glass -- had led me into a series of activities, far from my original purpose of doing my paper.

When I rediscovered my commitment to do my paper, I focused my attention and got engaged, and I wrote something I loved. A lot of life is like that. We find ourselves doing something, working hard at it, and yet we wonder how we ever got there because we realize that it's not what we want to be doing.

I guess I'm saying it takes discipline and commitment to follow one's heart.

But how do we discover what we want? How do we know our hearts? The emotions hold they (sic) key, or one of several essential keys.

And yet our culture does not support emotional sensitivity. Why is that? Whence our commitment to rationalism and our disparagement or fear of emoting?

Because of our inherited cultural bias against expressing emotion, I think we are by and large in need of special practice if we are going to learn how to be true lovers of people and life.

To develop this sensitivity, we need to create a habit of slowing down, of making space to reflect on the underlying emotional responses, patterns and knee-jerk reactions that give rise to our habitual judgments, interpretations and thoughts, with the goal of gaining new power over ourselves and the choices we habitually make. Larger self-awareness can enlarge the space of choice within which we move day by day.

If you are not feeling love you are not wholly present, not fully open to the other, to experience.

We know the unloving emotions as negatives - fear, anger, dissatisfaction, etc.; negatives by definition don't exist in themselves; they are lessening reactions to something else. Thus to look at them or be gripped by them is to be by definition withdrawn from the positive, to be diminished from fullness of being and presence. Negatives are by definition a pulling away; love is fully turning toward and staying.

Science as we have learned it is a discipline of negation, of exclusion of uncertain, unquantifiable factors, i.e., the non-representational, the non-objective, whatever can't be pointed to. Science is the rigorous discovery of the lowest limit of loving attention. It's observation at its most emotionally minimal. However, it's always emotion that drives the scientist to land in his field of study; it's emotion that motivates him at least up to the point he puts his scientific lenses on.

Learning to see the positivity in relation to which a negative is experienced is to re-own the negation, is to be put back in touch with the power to act, rather than to shrink.

Love is simply finding and staying with what is, the present - and not entertaining the negative gods.

then this happened. . . .

In the past few weeks, I have made several money blunders. Each such blunder was for amounts of money most would consider insignificant. A lot twenty bucks here and there doesn't matter very much, although $20 probably means more to me than to a middle class person. Still, I can slough off a $20 mistake.

For some reason, I have had multiple small dollar amount mistakes. It adds up.  But it's done. I can't fix these mistakes and get my money back.

What I am curious about is that in each instance in which I lost some money, a part of my being knew these losses were going to happen. I had a low grade inner buzz going on that kept warning me that something was off. And I ignored it.

Now I am working to avoid berating myself for failing to listen to my own knowing.

All in all, a valuable lesson. One I have learned before. One I likely will need to learn again. The lesson:  pay attention to myself, to what I feel, to the inchoate messages sent to me from the cosmos.

Rudolf Steiner indicated that all the body's organs receive information from the universe. Many people think only our hearts and brains think and feel but all our organs are part of the global positioning system, or gyroscope, that is both our bodies and our souls dwelling in our bodies.

Listen to yourself, Tree.

If referring to a series of money blunders seems cryptic, well, I have not recounted this series of unfortunate losses because they are so trivial.  The losses don't weigh on me as much as my growing awareness that I ignored myself.

a love poem by "Love Gyroscope" essayist

©Here is a love poem written by this anonymous author who wrote the essay The Love Gyroscope an essay.  This poem was written for his girlfriend, not for me.

"Love is staying with and listening without fright or flight or fight.
Love is openness and soft touch.
Love is tenderness.
In the letting go of what’s hard, love comes up through trembling flesh and heaving sighs,
bubbles through boiling waters.

Love is receptivity. Love is acceptance.

Love is natural. Love is ordinary.
Love is every day.

Love is the way we are, when we aren’t trying, when we’re staying together.
Love is the laughter after pain.
Love arises on its own.

Love is staying with and listening, without fear.
Love is simple.

Love is staying and responding;
Breathing deep and smooth without hitch or hesitation,
The way we are meant to be.
Love is ordinary. Love is natural.

Love is staying. Love is listening.
Love is letting be.
Breathing deep and smooth.

Love is ordinary. Love is natural.
Love is staying. Love is listening.
Without hitch or hesitation.

Love is listening.
Love is responding.
Love is staying.
Love arises on its own.

Like the gull gliding high there
In the air, still stays there
Stays there still
Still in the air
Hovering there
On the air

Love stays there.

clinging to hurt is like a blister

When I feel hurt and it takes me a long time to stop hurting, my fear of letting go of how I feel that clinging to the hurt protects me, giving me time to heal.  Our bodies sometimes get blisters to protect a spot that has become vulnerable. The blister pops up and provides of bubble of protection until the skin underneath heals.

I have been self critical of myself many times, berating myself for feeling hurt, pressuring myself to hide hurt and pressuring myself to ignore my hurt. I know, I really do, that when I feel an emotional hurt, especially one I can't shake for months or, in one or two relationships, years, the hurt I feel is trying to protect me.  Unfortunately I have often ignored my own emotional hurt, which causes me to move through life crippled. I list along, feeling more and more hurt. This destabilizes me.

I need time to heal. Clinging to a hurt is like a blister protecting me while I am vulnerable.

Friday, June 27, 2014

what a concept

blowing out the flame

Annie Lennox sings a song. I prefer to take things in by reading so I won't post a video. I won't even get the full lyrics. I'll just share the lyrics floating in my thoughts, almost as a prayer:

there's a cool breeze blowing
blowing out the flame
that used to burn inside me
at the mention of your name
there's a cool breeze blowing
blowing down the track
that's where i'm going
and I'm never coming back.

My sadness feels unbearable.

a new neighbor and an old one

I went to my building's community council a few weeks ago. The subject of getting a 'police presence' in the building was on the agenda, most of the folks in the meeting, including our social worker, were not here for the last round of trying to get a 'police presence' in the building.

I volunteered to research the issue, find out who in the Berkeley Police we should talk to.  It involved a tiny bit of work but I went above and beyond the call of duty. Our city council rep was having a town hall about the police that very week. So I decided to start there.

I am glad I went to the town hall.

I heard a white woman who lives in a house in our neighborhood say "Oh my, we are always surprised by how fast the Berkeley police respond when we call."

The subject was about a proposal, created by a police consultant from Sunnyvale (geez, they couldn't analyze the patrol personnel issues in-house?), that he proudly touted was data-driven.  I want cushy gigs like that. How much did he get paid to tell us "patrol districts used to look like this and this is how we'd like to change them" and "here is how many police used to be on duty and here is how many will be on duty if you follow our advice."  I could have done the same study almost in my sleep.

Guess what? The consultant recommends that we do what the Berkeley Police Chief wants to do, which is change the number of patrol districts, reduce patrol personnel hours and allocate those hours to special stuff. And guess what?  They are going to do what the Chief wants. They always were. I guess he felt he needed to sugar-coat it with a police consultant pal from Sunnyvale. What a great gig. Retire from Sunnyvale police at full pension, which are usually good for cops and they should be, and then get cushy consultant gigs across the bay.

I quickly saw the issues my building is concerned with would not be discussed but I stayed until the end of the presentation to be polite.

I am glad I stayed, just to hear that white woman gush about how fast the police respond when she calls.

I have already reported to my building community council that a white woman living alone in a house two blocks away gets faster response than 97 apartments inhabited by at least several hundred humans just as deserving as white lady in house.

I got the business card of the police captain at the meeting. When I called him, he was ready for me. He said my building gets quite a lot of calls.

I'm angry. Shouldn't a building that the police know has a high level of problems, such as drug dealing in stairwells that are propped open -- such propped-openness visible to patrol cars driving by if they, um, LOOK. People who don't live here cajoling residents to admit them to the residential floors and then the transients sleep in the stairwells.  I have seen folks sleeping in the halls, not just stairwells. I do not wake them up and ask them to move.  How fast

nobody really knows what is truth

There is a powerful taboo about suicide.

I had a friend, now deceasaed, who was born a deformed dwarf with a very rare genetic disorder. The average lifespan for a dwarf with Morquio Syndrome is 18 years. When this friend was alive, living in MN as I was also at the time, there were something like 15 people in the whole state with Morquio Syndrome.

Someone with this disorder is very small but typically have a 'normal' sized head, so their head is disproportioned to their body. With Morquio Syndrome, the person's bones gradually disintegrate. This is particularly problematic for the bone of the spinal cord which protects a cord of nerves connected to the entire body. As the spinal cord deteriorates, it collapse in on those nerves and causes constant pain.

My friend had several spinal fusions, which were agonizing ordeals in themselves, but they improved, somewhat, her chronic pain and prolonged her life. She died at age 32.

I met her when she can to the transformational intensives a former business partner and I used to do.

She had a 24/7/365 private care attendant. MN was generous in such funding back then. I imagine they have cut back some.

My friend also had arms too short to reach things, so she couldn't do lots of things most of us take for granted, like reach into the fridge, reach to a countertop to prepare food, place food on a stove or in an oven. She could not go to the toilet or shower without help. She could not get in and out of bed without help.

She told me that she believed she had been born in such a challenging body because, she believed, in a past life she had committed suicide.  If one believes in reincarnation, that makes a kind of sense, although it also suggested a punitive Great Spirit, a not all-loving Being behind the mystery of why we are here, why life exists.

What if it all means nothing?

I think it was Karl Marx who said relilgion was the opiate of the masses.

I am reflecting on my own beliefs about the nature of life, the mystery of being. What if it is just one big happenstance, some 'win' happy lives, some don't and all humans, or, at least, most of them, suffer some. Some humans suffer more.

Child sex slavery doesn't seem to be the creation of a loving Creator.

Raping the earth for profit of anonymous nonpersons known as corporations does not seem to reflect a positive Creator's vision.

Why does God, a book once asked, allow bad things to happen to good people?

Children are starving all over the world, including this country, but we have billions for wars, corporate subsidies and protecting the wealthy.

I think this life sucks.

My problem is suicide eludes me. I have made several attempts, including one a few months ago.  I don't want to be alive.  I reject the idea that we are all a part of some kind of magical love connection.

But how to end my life?

Once a doctor pointed out that unless I shoot myself just right, I could end up damaged and not dead. Same with drugs.

Any time I have heard about someone committing suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate who survives, gosh, my heart goes out to that person. I am sure they were sure they would die.

I know what it is like to believe one has taken one's life for sure only to awaken and find one's self alive. It's hellish to be unable to escape this mortal coil.  It is hellish to try. It is hellish to fail.

And yet I long to be dead.

A couple months ago, I completely stopped injecting insulin. As a Type I diabetic, I need insulin to live. I stopped taking it to see if that would be a way out. Before artificial insulin was created, the average life span for a Type I was a year.

I withheld my daily nighttime insulin one day. I was very wick the whole day, barfing and heaving up nothing. I was unable to keep down water. I injected that night but the barfing and inability to keep down water kept up for another day.  I learned that stopping insulin would be a miserable way to go.

I don't want to be alive.  I have no value in this world. Oh yeah, some people care about me. So what? No one spends time with me. My only child cut herself off from me in 2002.

I am lucky. I have several friends who can listen to me voice these thoughts and just let me be, not give me advice, not get weirded out. They let me be and love me as they listen, which is all they can do.

There are probably few ways to take one's life I have not either tried or at least considered. It's not so easy to kill one's self and I envy those who succeed.

Lucky them.

I have no active plan. 

I can't love myself. My only child doesn't love me. I can't love myself knowing that. What the fuck did I do?

It hurts to see people interacting with their adult children, loved and embraced by them.

I love this

Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, a worker-owned co-op that sells milk and cheese but no meat or fish, closes for Gay Pride Parade on Sunday. It will not close for the 4th of July.

I love this approach, respecting holidays directly about living humans.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


In the fall of my sophomore year in college, I went to Mexico with a program offered by my home campus. About fifteen students went but only two of us went to smoke lots of marijuana.  I wasn't all that into marijuana but I allowed peer pressure from a friend M.S. to convince me that getting high was great.

Where do two blonde gringas buy marijuana, while living with a  Mexican family and knowing no other Mexicans except our rug weaving instructor, buy marijuana?  The eldest son of the family we lived with attended university in Mexico City. He rushed home the first weekend we were there to check out the three gringas living with his parents. We asked him.  He came back the next weekend with a wire-bound large-adobe-sized brick of yellow marijuana. Acapulco Gold. When we cut the baling wire, which I knew was bailing wire because I had helped bale hay on an aunt and uncle's farm a few times.

When we cut the wire, the Acapulco Gold exploded to about the size of a large laundry bushel. Then the son said, even though we had paid what he asked and he had already told us he had charged more than he had paid, he took a huge amount of our marijuna saying it was his commission. We never bought from him again. It does not take two blonde, beautiful American college girls long to meet guys, guys eager to provide us with any drug we desired.

All the Mexican college students at the engineering university in the small city we lived in, Guanajuato, believed all American college girls believed in free love, or lots of casual sex. None of them believed us, when we told them, that we were both virgins. Soon we usually had a small pack, and sometimes a larger one, trailing us through town. All the guys dreaming of getting laid. Each of us dreaming of more dope.

We couldn't smoke in the house we lived in. If la señora was not home, her housemaid was. So we would walk to the edge of town, where neither cars nor pedestrians were much in view, and smoked on the streets, trailing that universal smell of marijuana.

I have heard that nowadays, marijuana is much more powerful than the skunk week we might have bought back in Wisconsin, where we went to college. Even in Wisconsin, we had heard about Acapulco Gold. It was said to be wicked strong dope, just one whiff would get you high. I can attest that this was true.

I can also attest that we went through that gigantic amount of golden toned marijuana in about three weeks. We rolled them like cigars, using two papers for girth and two papers for length. It's easy to overlaps cigarette papers because they come conveniently with a light bit of flu on one side, at least the ones we bought did. We smoked those cigars a few times a day. The other Americans were afraid to get high, afraid of getting arrested.

High, free-love gringas?  It was easy to buy drugs.  We developed a circle of guy friends. We then had places to smoke dope. All the guys lived many guys to a house, to save money.  We were able to stop by anytime and smoke even if the guys didn't join us.

It was absurd how much dope we smoked.

Then M.S. began to talk about wanting to try peyote. This caused one household of guys to perk up. They were sure they would get to have sex with us if they gave us some peyote. A couple guys went into the dessert and dug up quite a lot of peyote. Then they cut off the parts we weren't supposed to eat, popped what was left in a blender. Voila! We had a full-sized blender pitcher full of marijuana.

Each of us gringas and each of the guys drank a glass. It tasted like drinking puke, what I imagine drinking puke would taste like. M.S. vomited. When she realized she needed to hurl, she insisted I go into the bathroom with her. I was high, dammit. I did not feel like watching someone puke. She insisted. She was actually a fussy, and bossy, gal. She said "what if I need help?"  I said "Call for me if you need help."  In the end, I sat in the bathroom and listened to her barf.

Then, after talking a bit with the guys, and seeing that they were more determined than ever to have sex, hoping, apparently, that being very high on a large amount of peyote that we would do anything.  I told them no way I was having sex with anyone and asked if I could go into a bedroom and sleep until M.S. was ready to leave.

I don't know what she did. I had my peyote trip laying on a futon on a floor, alone in a room.  I had wanted to leave but M.S. insisted I had to stay with her.

When the sun began to rise, I got up and said I was leaving. She came with me but was angry.  She said "I don't ever want to talk about this again after I say this:  I realized tonight that I am much more mature than you,"  I don't know what it meant.  And I didn't care. I was fed up with her by then. I had been fed up with her long before the peyote night.

So we walked home. La señora was sitting in front of the house, the only time I ever saw her sit in front of the house. She must have heard us coming down her quiet street, windows open on a warm night and early morning. When we walked up the path to the front door, she said "Vas o vienes?"  Coming or going?  We believed she was angry because she thought we'd stayed out having sex. We reasoned that telling her we had been up all night on peyote would not go over much better than if we had had sex and told her.

We have lived with her for about four months, worrying daily about getting caught smoking dope and spending many years in a Mexican jail. But we only got busted by la señora for staying out all night.

She wasn't our mother. We had a business relationship. She couldn't yell at us for staying out late. She had never given us any house rules, she had taken our money and then fed us the cheapest food she could to max out her profit. We ate tongue, without exaggeration, every day. Tongue was the cheapest meat she could buy.  She had always treated us like customers, not friends.

Busted by una señora with no power over us.

When the program was over, I stayed behind because a guy as hot as George Clooney said he liked me. He also said that I had not really experience Mexico, that I had only experienced M.S. He said "Stay awhile and see more of Mexico."

So  I did.  And I did not return to the states a virgin.

Our program was over in a few days.

I need more love, patience and care.

going to the DeYoung today

I miss SFMOMA. It closed last year and will not reopen until 2016.  My primary interest is in very contemporary visual art. SFMOMA does a decent job of presenting changing shows with contemporary art, although their collection is mostly modern art. Still, it was easy to get to.

The DeYoung is a long haul from Berkeley, on public transit or in car. I like my art museums easily accessible to me.   SFMOMA is right off BART.

I am going to see some Sargents, to see how he painted light. They've been calling me for a couple weeks.

I dread the journey there but will feel fed if I go, spiritually fed. So here I go.

need to be kinder to myself

Yesterday, I went to a Safeway. I have not been in a Safeway in a few years. I buy organic, fresh food at my farmer's market.I go to Berkeley Bowl once a week to buy, horror of horrors, non-local, organic cantaloupes.  I have been on a cantaloupe binge lately.  It's very low in calories and its limited carbs don't spike my blood sugar. And I love cantaloupe. 

Yesterday, dealing with a favorite sweater stained by a few strawberries on the bottom of my carry all that I had not noticed, I went to Safeway to buy some white vinegar.

Boring so far, eh?

The Safeway in Berkeley is a block north of the Cheeseboard Collective, which runs a cheese and baked goods shop. Now there is a separate Cheeseboard Pizza collective. They make one kind of pizza daily. It is always vegetarian, but not vegan (cheese!).  They make really great pizza.

I hopped off the bus across from Cheeseboard Pizza, there was no line for pizza and, almost without thinking, there I was, buying, then eating, a delicious slice.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

my history with diabetes

In 2003, in what seemed all of a sudden to me, I became aware of feeling an overall, low-grade burn.

how do you converse with universe?

Be mindful of your self talk. It's a conversation with the universe.

strawberry stain: lemon, then vinegar, then oxy-something worked

Gosh, I have spent most of this day trying to clean a few strawberry stains out of a favorite sweater.

When I came in last night, I should have looked at the sweater more closely, while the stains still wet. They would have rinsed off. Instead, they had the night to set.

First I soaked in water, brushed a bit. Then I added some detergent and soaked. By doing that, I did left the sweater a little rolled up and the stains soaked through so I had more stains.

Then I googled.

First I tried lemon juice, which helped a great deal but did not eraidate.

Then I went to Safeway, a chain store I virtually never shop in. While there, I picked up a small jar of Siracha sauce from an on-sale display shelf alone with the white vinegar the internet told me to try next. I had intended to also buy color-protective bleach but I forgot. Dang.

I came home, soaked my stains in water with a bit of vinegar. They look much improved but not gone. As I noted the  improvement,  I remembered the bleach. So I went out again.

Oxi-something spray said "you will see stains disappear as you spray."  The stains did significantly disappear as I sprayed.

Then I put them in the washing machine. We'll see. The vinegar scheme said to launder as soon as possible. Ten minutes and I'll know if I just ruined a sweater that cost $240 when I bought it in 2009.  I'll be sad to see it go. Most of my sweaters were wool and destroyed by wool moths. I thought I had taken care of them but I had forgotten about a couple rarely worn cashmere sweaters in the far back of my closet. By the time I searched for the source of moths, the sweaters had almost disappeared. That's a whole lot of moths.

Now I store every bit of wool in sealed plastic bags. I store my wool socks in sealed bags.

I only own a couple non-wool sweaters, so I shiver a lot in winter.

And something else happened I won't write about. Something expensive that I cannot, absolutely cannot, fix because it requires money I just don't have.  I have been poor a long time but in the last few days since this thing happened, I have felt broken. And I have felt the horror of poverty. I never felt poor before. Just pinched. I am poor and see no way out. And I have no wehre to turn.

So I want my favorite sweater stain-free. I am running out of middle class clothes. Or middle class appearing clothes. I'm not vain but I like to look presentable.

Five more minutes and the laundry done. Pray.

believe in me, the way I believe in you

Just The Way You Are"

Don't go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you anymore
I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
I'll take you just the way you are

Don't go trying some new fashion
Don't change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

I don't want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take 'till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you.

I said I love you and that's forever
And this I promise from my heart
I couldn't love you any better
I love you just the way you are.

we shld love one another just as we are: we'll experience magic

good news for pro football players

There is no one agreeing to compensate amateur football players, those who play for high schools and colleges.  I wish we'd outlaw football. It is ritualized war game.

Here is an article with some good news The NFL has agreed to give some compensation to players suffering from having played pro football.

NFL will compensate retired players injured as pro players

I need to remember this

I deserve love, affection and attention. I can forget that I do.  I have only chased it in one person, so my average is decent. Still, the one time I chased love, affection and attention from someone lacerated me. Not the other person. Me. I hurt myself.

if you are not comfortable w/in yourself . . .

The purpose economy


The above link takes you to an interesting article about possiblities the our economic realm of culture.  It poses the, to some, radical idea that the economic realm should exist to serve human good.


Rudolf Steiner said, in the early 20th Century that human culture is threefold:  social, artistic and economic. He indicated that all three realms should live in equipoise with one another. Key to his vision for human cultural renewal was his indication that the economic realm exists solely to make the social and artist realms of culture thrive.

This article basically calls for the kind of economic realm steiner called for nearly 100 years ago, an economy grounded in love. Today the Earth has an economic life grounded in human greed.

We can change if the profit-driven greedy capitalists don't snuff out our home, planet Earth, first.

squirrels in my attic

my checkered lilies

I feel a deep call to grow things but I have no where to grow plants. So my mind returns to my last garden.

I spent considerable time and money on my last garden, which had a towering 100+ year-old elm tree that cast almost my entire light in full, deep shade at the peak of growing season. This prodded me to discover the deep pleasure, even joy, of growing things in deep shade. There are lots of things that do okay in deep shade and also lots of things that thrive in deep shade. Nature seems to be able to fill up any spot on the planet with growing things, shade or sun or in between.

The previous owner had brought in many wild plants from the countryside so my tiny yard, which had only tiny growing patches around the house, front and back, had lots of wild shade plants.  My next door neighbor had an unusually large yard for that neighborhood, where all the houses were three stories tall and very close together, which did not allow a lot of light to fall. Alongside Ty's house, however, was an empty lot. A narrow lot, but a house lot. All the houses in this specially zoned, old development in Minneapolis were narrow. Ty and his partner Dave had scored with that yard. They both worked in it but Ty did so most devotedly.

In the winter, as I got to know my yard, I would make early patrols around my house to see if any of my winter bulbs were breaking through the snow crust. On more than one occasion, I found Ty on the same patrol.

Can't heal what we can't talk about

As Ramsay Clarke, Attorney General during the Kennedy Administration, said when he advocated the creation of Sunshine Laws, laws that are supposed to make all public documents open to the public. (We pay for them, they are ours, right?   No so much. . . . )  "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."  Clarke was talking about public access to our publicly funded generation of documents but 'sunlight is the best disinfectant' applies to inner wounds.

We cannot heal things we cannot talk about.

P.S. I met Ramsay Clarke at a reception while in law school. He was very, very thin, as was Ralph Nader who I also met at a law school reception. Something they had in common:  each wore what looked like it had originally been a very good suit, a sincerity suit, a lawyer's suit. And each suit was noticeably frayed at the end of each sleeve, like each man just wouldn't throw out a suit just because it was worn out. Both of them must have been prosperous men. I have read that Nader is flat out rich and I imagine Ramsay Clarke is. But frugal. Or Cheap?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

a true story from my past

I qualify "it's true'.  Memory can be like catching a sunbeam.

In the spring trimester of my freshman year of college, in 1972, a friend, Peggy Sue (not her real name) decided I needed to start smoking marijuana. She wanted me to like getting high so she would have a smoking buddy when we went to Mexico in the fall for a program with our home university. 

She pushed me. I guess I wanted to be pushed. I wasn't opposed to smoking dope. I just never felt it was meaningful. She, in the vernacular of my 1972 world, turned me on.

We parted for the summer, she to Minnesota, me to Chicago. The professor in charge of the program notified everyone that if we all arrived in a certain date, he would rent a shuttle bus to take us all from Mexico City airport to Guanajuato.  Of course

Monday, June 23, 2014

greatest prison people live in

camping in Yosemite: updated

do we go this week or wait until after the 4th of July when it is sure to be mobbed?  We're going weekdays, probably only two nights.

I was all set to go to Yosemite, which I have never visited, in spite of living within 200 miles of it for eight years, when the federal government was shutdown.  By the time the park reopened, it was too cold for me.

Now I have a tent, even a camp chair, a grill and more handy camping things. I always had a sleeping bag, never let that go.

My friend has a nicer tent than me and urges me to stay in it with hum.  We'll see. ;-)  One tent or two?!

UPDATE:  my friend is anxious of crowds in Yosemite in June and July. They have unreserved campsites, especially midweek, but he won't go now or soon. He says October is best time to go.  I'm itching to camp out, cook over an open fire, listen to trees.

a spiritual partnership. . .

Gary Zukav has said: "A spiritual partnership is between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth."

Rudolf Steiner talked about how people have much work to do inwardly, on their own, but at some point in human development, people need to do work in intimate relationship to achieve their spiritual, karmic path.
Sigh.  Waiting. Wishing. Hoping.

Thomas Jefferson objected to copyrights, got outmanuvered

"He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper [(candle)] at mine, receives light without darkening me.

That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation."

The healing social life: Rudolf Steiner

"The healing* social life is found when, in the mirror of each human soul, the community can find its reflection, and when, in the community, the virtue of each one is living."
--Rudolph Steiner

*a mentor whose first langauge is German but whose American English is as fluent as a native with no discernible accent has told me the original German of this saying could be translated to healing or healthy. He preferred healing. So do I.

I think many prefer healthy and I ask anyone reading to reflect on why folks might reject a healing social life compared to a healthy one. A healing social life would be perpetually healing, steadily facilitating realignment each time any human becomes imbalanced.

to feel love is to feel fire

"To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life."
- Pablo Neruda

And Anselm Kiefer said fire is the glue of the cosmos.  Great minds think alike.

only cosmology, not science, will save us

THOMAS BERRY: "It's not easy to describe what cosmology is... It's neither religion nor is it science. It's a mode of knowing. It's the primary human mode of knowing.

Science is not a primary mode of knowing. Justice is related to cosmology, not to science.

All basic thinking and all basic values are cosmological values, not scientific. The only thing that will save the 21st century is cosmology. The only thing that will save anything is cosmology. It's the only thing that will save religion. It's the only thing that will save law; education; economics. None of these four has a cosmology."

--Thomas Berry, interview with Drew Dellinger, 2006. More at: @EssentialBerry

confucius say. . . easy to hate, hard to love

It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.

accessible magic

Katie's 4th grade teacher took the whole class out for a walk every single day, no matter how cold. Katie most loved walking out on frozen lakes. Bundle them up super well and walk on a frozen lake. Katie said, many times, that walking on a frozen lake, out to the middle, was one of the most still and magical experiences of her childhood.

Whenever I think of her comments about walking on a frozen lake in deep midwinter in Minnesota, I feel the stillness and magic she felt.

key to the future: Pete Seeger said

"The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.” Pete Seeger

before you can follow your bliss . . .

"before you can follow your bliss, you must finish your misery".

stop fitting in, feel alive, be you

"Most of us have been taught from an early age to suppress and discount the tenderest, most creative part of ourselves. And while it is certainly possible to survive in this way, underneath the daily armour is an unabating hunger to be seen. The most powerful thing you can do for another is to say Hello to that hunger. To 'hold presence' for that thing which is tired of fitting in, which wants to feel alive, which has something authentic to offer. Giving a proper Hello is to hold subtle, unwavering presence for that thing until it feels safe enough to emerge." - Dreamwork with Toko-pa ©

Bucky Fuller: idea all must work is specious notion

everything is about love

I believe that every single human interaction, however fleeting, including passing someone in a hallway without speaking or even acknowledging the other person, is about love. Every interaction is an extension of one's loving nature or a request to be loved by the other.

It's all about love.

Sometimes, when someone is speaking unkindly to me and I have been doing my personal work, such as meditating and swimming (swimming laps in silence for an hour is the best meditation I know, like qigong in water), I am able to love the person around their unkind voice and words.

Sometimes I get snagged by the unkindness and am unkind in return. So then we have two people seeking love. Being unkind is really saying "please love me even though I am acting like a dick right now".

Being loving can seem like such hard work but it really isn't. In each instant, we are free to choose anew, to choose to be loving.

In this moment, I choose love. A work in progress

I wrote this.  I credit me.

the Love of God(dess)

“The love of God(dess*), the love of the Spirit, is an all-consuming love. Once you have experienced it, it shall lead you on and on in the eternal realms. That love will never be taken away from your heart. It shall burn there, and in its fire you shall find the great magnetism of Spirit that draws others unto you, and attracts whatsoever you truly need or desire.”
words by Paramahansa Yogananda

I try to use the word Goddess wherever and when most use the word God. Who is to say God is not at least as much feminine as masculine?

The beginning of love . . .

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them” ~ Thomas Merton

Sunday, June 22, 2014

the part of us that feels joy

Love this quote from Rachel Naomi Remen: "The part in us that feels suffering is the same part that feels joy."

once my sister wondered

Once my sister wondered why I knew many stories about our family that she did not know. 

My sister is brilliant. I was surprised why she asked "How do you know this stuff?"

I was telling her, when she asked that, about family events that had happened either before she was born, events that happened even before I was born but which I learned about before she was born or when she was too young to remember hearing about them also, and events that happened when she was four or younger.  Our parents divorced when she was four and she moved two states away and grew up in that other state. Of course I knew about stuff that went on when she was not around or too young to grok it.

One stand-out-in-my-memory story:  when my sister was about three, she got left on the front porch. Not by me.  We had a glass window in our storm door. It was dusk, getting dark. She was frightened. When no one responded to her calls to get let in, because she was too little to open the storm door, she hit her head on the glass pane in the storm door. The glass shattered.  I am sure she was not trying  to break the glass. She was frightened. Panicked.

Mom replaced that glass pane with a plastic one. Mom was concerned by how easily the glass had shattered and how easily my toddler sister could have been hurt. Thank goddess she wasn't.

I was not home when this broken glass thing happened but I was in high school. Of course I heard about it.

Other stories:  when my sister was a teenager, but still living in Ohio with our mother, my baby brother got into a car accident while high on marijuana. Police came. My brother was arrested for dealing because of the large amount of marijuana in his car. I believe he likely was dealing, on a small level, just buying lots of dope to sell to his friends. I learned about that story because my dad told me. And my dad told me because to get my brother out of being prosecuted for a felony, dad had borrowed money from his sister and not repaid it. And dad told me about that  because he was in a jam for some cash and I had suggested he ask his sister and he told me about not repaying her for my brother's drug arrest. Dad proudly told me that the cops, when accepting dad's bribe, assured my dad that my brother behaved like a man, took the arrest and booking 'like a man'. He was stoic.  Funny, the things a parent will console themselves with.

god must be a scientist

My daughter and I arrived at church at the the wrong time, having forgotten that the time had changed overnight. We walked to the nearby, small lake to wait for the next service.  It was a private lake and private park, 'belonging' to the small office park down the sloping hill from our church. I thought we'd be okay walking around that private lake because it was early Sunday morning and the office building appeared uninhabited.

So we walked down the steep slope and then along the lake.

Suddenly, a large flock of geese, flying south for the winter I am sure, landed all around us. The geese bumped into us. The geese were tightly packed all around us.

At first, Katie and I stood still, awed by the geese and their fearlessness. We weren't sure if we should, or could, move.

The geese moved unceasingly, undulating, pulsing almost in harmony with one another.  They all ruffled, made sounds, pecked the ground looking to eat the grass at our feet. It still amazes me to recall how the geese had landed upon us, the geese appeared to feel completely at ease near us.

We stood and stared, both Katie and I, getting the closest look I have ever had to geese. Or likely ever will again.

The geese were relatively quiet. The only sounds were from the rustling of their bodies as they moved, the sounds of their breathing.  I don't imagine humans very often hear hundreds of geese breathing nearby.

As we adjusted to being surrounded by a few hundred geese, we began to move, to continue our walk. We had turned around before the geese landed to head back to the church when the whole, huge flock had landed all around us. Geese jostling us. Geese bumping into us. Geese ignoring us.

Neither of us said anything, although we exchange many looks to share our excitement.  I believe both of us were in awe of those birds.

As we began to walk towards the church,  the geese parted before us, as if they sensed where we were headed. They were attuned to our physical movement in a way we were not attuned to theirs, for they parted a path for us. We had begun to glance in the direction we wanted to go. I think the geese 'knew' where we were going because they are more attuned to signals we were putting out unwittingly. It also seemed that they trusted us to be harmless. We were.

Rosie whispered with awe and reverence,  "Mom, God must be a scientist."  I silently nodded.  Even now, twenty five years or so later, I believe I understand what my little girl was expressing.  She didn't know that much about science or her own God Self. She was five years old. She was expressing awe and reverence, citing science because this culture duns us to give science undue power.

I kept silent. It was a silent, reverent, mysterious experience. It felt right to walk in silence, altho Katie's whisper also felt just right.

This happened over twenty five years ago.  I took much of what I was told under the umbrella of science to be right. Now I see science as collective hunches, no more reliable than humans trusting their own living connection to the cosmos we inhabit. Now I believe we are all deeply interconnected, not just with other humans but with all forms of life, the stars, other planets and infinity.  Now I sometimes feel myself inhabiting a perpetually pulsing, interconnected world. Sometimes, if I have spent enough time in nature and at least mostly in silence, I hear the whole earth breathing, all the creatures around me and all the trees and plants.  I hear a telltale heart of universal life. Now science has less power to shape what I think but it is given so much power by so many that science retains great power. And science is used, in my opinion, abusively by greed-driven capitalists to grasp more than a fair share of this world's bounty. A fair share is only enough and no more.

Dante & Leonard Cohen

"Her beauty showers flamelets from her throne,
Enkindled by a spirit nobly born
Through whom arises every thought that's good--
As lightning shatters wood."
--Dante, "Rime" (circa 1295)

This reminds me of a Leonard Cohen lyric that goes something like this:

There is a crack in almost everything
That's how the light gets in.

 I might have the Cohen lyrics wrong but I have conveyed the gist of its sentiment:  we're all flawed, all radiant beings in spite of those flaws.

get a cat or dog

In recent years, I have had two people suggest I get a cat or a dog.

I have lived with cats but only when I lived with other people who owned the cats. And my dad had a dog near the end of his life named Schulz. I spent lots of time around Shulz and valued him, seeing how he enriched my dad's life.

I have a couple neighbors who got medical prescriptions for service dogs, partly to circumvent our landlord's prohibition of pets other than service dogs and partly because having pets does seem to lift some folks out of loneliness.

One neighbor has her dog with her at all times.  I have attended a few gatherings with her, met people who knew her before she got the dog. These friends express their happiness to see how much happier she is now that she has her dog.


Capitalism, which monetizes everything to inure profit to a relatively small elite, is what is wrong with human culture, the environment, our steadily degrading planet and quality of life.

a huge salami

When I was a freshman in college, my dad sent me care packages.  He went to college on the GI Bill as a WWII veteran in the late forties, an older student. He went to St. Ambrose College in Dubuque IA with my uncle Dave, who married dad's sister Mary. My mom was a freshman when dad was a senior. They got married the weekend he graduated, honeymooned in the Black Hills and then lived in Chicago.

I believe that when my parents went to college that care packages from home were common. They were not common when I started college in 1971.

My undergrad university put parents in touch with a business that offered parents the chance for easy care packages. Just give them your credit card, choose your care package.  My dad sent me a few of those care packages before he moved on to sending me ones he packed himself.

My first 'care package' was a full sheet cake during finals my first trimester in college. A sheet cake is a lot of cake.   I got ribbed about that huge cake. What was my dad thinking?

I think the sheet cake might have prodded dad to start choosing his own packages. He never sent me any homemade cookies. I don't think my dad made cookies ever. He sent packages of snacks, but not ordinary potato chips and store-bought cookies. He sent weird things that I had never seen him eat.  One of those odd choices was small pretzel bits filled with dried-out cheese.  Not just junk food but junky junk food.  I never complained about the odd things he sent. It touched me that he went out of his way to send unusual snacks. I was sure he made those strange choices in an effort to please me with unusual treats.

His funniest, weirdest choices was the five-pound salami.

It was hard to give away pieces of that full sheet cake. It was impossible to use up five pounds of salami. I only had a few days at college before I went home for the summer. Who could eat pounds of salami in a few days?  Not me.  He had not sent crackers. Just several pounds of nitrate and grease-laden pork. No knife either. Table knives from the university cafeterias required sawing off hunks, which meant there were no thin slices to slap on a  cracker anyway. Just hunks of salami.

And I liked salami back then.  It's been so long, now, since I ate salami that I don't remember when I did. A few years ago, I discovered one dollar packs of pepperoni in the dollar store that I pass when I walk to my doctor's office.  I only see her a few times a year. I would go in and buy a few bags of dollar pepperoni slices, by Hormel.  If one is eating low-carb, one can eat pepperoni, which has almost no carbs, if one can ignore the cholesterol-laden, artery lining grease. And I would. It was spicy. A change from greens, greens, greens. A dollar bought 3 ounces. It felt harmless, although I see in hindsight that it was probably not good for my cholesterol.  I cringe, now, as I recall eating that junk.

On the upside, my cholesterol is great. Even my triglycerides are within what is considered an optimal range, although allopathic medicine doesn't know as much about cholesterol as most sheeple are told by their doctors.  But that is a comment about our damaged health care system.

When eighteen and a freshman in college, cholesterol in salami never crossed my mind.

I think everyone that learned about my salami laughed about it.  I laughed about it. I also doggedly tried to eat as much of it as I could, and give away whatever sawed off hunks I could unload.

I felt dad's love in every bite but I remember running out of the ability to eat more.

I still love imagining dad deciding to send me another care package, going shopping and choosing  salami. What was he thinking?  I asked him when I got home for the summer. He had reasoned that salami would keep longer in a dorm room. Dorm room refrigerators were unheard of when I was in college. I don't remember anyone having one at my college.  But  pounds?  Dad said he had gone to the butcher and discussed salami. Sending me sliced salami seemed impractical. Uncut, that stick of salami shipped well, not needing refrigeration. 

I miss my dad.