Thursday, January 31, 2013


I think I am finally settled in and looking forward to more time in my new art space. This is quite a different view than I had at the ranch, but I can leave the door open without worrying about visitors. You know, mice, lizards and of course rattlesnakes. A bit hazy today but that gray area is the powerful Pacific which feeds my soul just as the mountains fed me for the last 14 years.

My "old" writers group friends helped me christen this space shortly after we moved in and last week my new painting pals added more mojo by joining me here for a day of Art Journal making. It feels good to be finding "my people". Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver, the other gold." My mother taught me that.

I wish I had taken photos of everyone's work. Some great books went out of here. This is the one I made with its crooked frog. These are large old wooden printing blocks from India originally used for fabric making. I always forget that the handles on top are a bit wonky.

It just didn't feel finished and later that night when I was sorting through the linens I brought with me I came across this old, old, old crocheted table cloth that belonged to my great aunt and had graced my table for many wonderful feasts. It is, heartbreakingly, falling apart. And I said to myself, hmmmmmm.

Now, I think the book is finished. I like the way it looks and it feels divine. All texturey and bumpy. And of course, there are threads and beads and things dangling out.

I can never wait, even though I have several yet unfilled journals, I always HAVE to do something in a new book to make it mine.

This is the inside back cover. See the great stamp my daughter, Laura Bray, gave me last year?

Did any of you feel the earth move last week? It wasn't an earthquake or some sort of Cosmic Shift. I COOKED! Made the chili that earned me a trophy two different times at Chili Cook Off events, back when I used to cook.

Last week I put up a photo on Facebook of this old guy all cozy on the couch. His idea of change is apparently moving from the couch to bed and back to the couch. He is the master of relaxing, when he's not terrifying visitors.

Then there is the kind of change that is the bedrock of life on this planet. See that little girl? Boy has she changed in the last 60+ years. And those two crazy kids who are her parents? One has made the BIG change and the other is 83 and waiting to catch up with him again. I wonder what has become of that car.

Here's what I'm thinking: Maybe change isn't real. Maybe we just move along, every year, every month, week, day, hour, minute, second through what is actually one continuous event. Maybe we have invented the concept of change to explain the magic of new friends becoming old friends, new places becoming familiar places, new adventures becoming old habits. Maybe my Dad is all settled in his "new" place thinking it feels like he's always lived there. Maybe there is only here and only now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A random post

Cleaning up some files on my computer today and I came upon the following, a piece I wrote awhile back. It could benefit from a rewrite, but that's for another day. What are some things that you know?

Here are some things that I know
Can’t tell me different
These are just so.

1. Baked beans and chocolate cake taste better the second day.
2. Marriage is too hard if it is mistaken for life.
3. Nothing in the world can hurt you like your child.
4. Nothing in the world can warm you like your child.
5. Children always tell the truth.
6. Nothing exists outside of the chemicals and electrical impulses that I call mind.
7. Always use real butter in baked goods.
8. Pain is the experience.  Suffering is the option.
9. You will never succeed at something that doesn’t feed your soul.
10. Happy or sad, this will pass.
11. Consistent efforts do not produce consistent results because true consistency is impossible.
12. No person, place or thing makes you happy.  You can choose to feel happy.
13. Numb is a feeling.
14. The dance becomes different as soon as one partner changes their steps.
15. My dog Rudy had been with me in another time and place.
16. There is something out there that is so simple I cannot grasp it.
17. Expectations are fine as long as I remember that they are my expectations and may not be yours.
18. At this very moment, great and good things are coming my way.
19. Humility is understanding and embracing my greatness.
20. Others know things about me that I do not know myself.
21. The only limit is that there is no limit.
22. I have whatever I believe I can have.
23. Time alone doing nothing is essential to my well being.
24. No one is ever going to clean my house just the way I like.
25. Only dogs can love unconditionally. 
26. There is no place where I end and you begin.
27. There is no cosmic truth, only the truth as I see it today.
28. Grass grows best in spots where it is considered a weed.
29. God is much bigger than I thought. 
30. Parents are simply the portals for their children to enter the world.
31. I get in trouble when I start thinking always and never.
32. I can live anywhere.
33. There are no corners in a revolving door.
34. I can think that I know what I am doing, but I have no idea what it is that I am actually  doing.
35. I don’t have to know what I am doing.
36. Depression is a great vacation.
37. Breathing, digestion, circulation  are, at some level, conscious acts.
38. Almost positive is hard to endure, but completely  unsure feels secure.
39. I lack whatever I fear I lack.
40. Fish drown if they don’t keep moving.
41. I exert influence whether or not I am conscious of my power.
42. The planet is round. There is no up or down, only out.
43. Just as East traveled too far eventually becomes West, Right taken too far becomes Wrong.
44. Most of what lives on the earth does so with no input from me.
45. I experience something mysterious every day.
46. I don’t so much wear out as I wear in.
47. Nothing bad happens if you wear white before the end of May.
48. The fact that I speak of the miraculous is evidence that I do not understand the nature of existence.
49. Everyone isn’t going to like me.
50. I am not going to like everyone.
51. To be respected is as much a choice as to be respectful.
52. I will never be able to see my own face.
53. It is the exercise of planning, not the plan, that guarantees results.
54. Everything I want to do is not going to be fun, but everything that ends up being fun is something I wanted to do.
55. Unsweetened cocoa is the secret ingredient in spectacular chili.
56. We should listen to children. They possess the secrets of the ancients.
57. Regardless of the situation, action on my part is never required.  Things will change whether I act or not.
58. The only thing I can control is my response to stimulus.
59. Whenever my friends lose weight, I gain it.
60. Katie Miller was right when she said that there are no good or bad decisions.  Once the decision is made, there is only THE decision. 
61. My one-year-old granddaughter is the wisest being I have ever met.
62. I am interested in everything.
63. I have absolutely no interest in sports, finances or mechanical things.
64. You can never own too many books.
65. The Divine speaks to me when I let It get a word in edgewise.
66. This is a place of abundance.
67. Dead rats in the attic smell  gross.
68. The fact that smell is the result of actually breathing in small particles of a substance is a piece of information I could have lived without.
69. There are no failures.  Only unexpected outcomes.
70. Things come in threes because I stop looking after three.
71. I have no idea what it is like to be you.
72. What I say may not be what you hear.
73. I’m tired of pizza and Chinese food.
74. 8 A.M. is the only civilized  time  to wake up.
75. I am spirit trying to live in a physical body.
76. I am unique in all the Universe.  In other words, just like everyone else.
77. It’s not so much that I’m pro-life.  Life is pro-me.
78. There is no such thing as time.  There are only clocks.
79. As David Lintner says, with God nothing is also possible.
80. The only people you can be certain are paying attention, are the ones who disagree with you.
81. When the dog asks to go out in the middle of the night you’d best take him.
82. People have experienced my actions as cruel in spite of my good intentions.
83. I am capable of intentional cruelty.
84. My parents did exactly what they should have to nurture what I must be.
85. There is only here and only now.
86. The person who talks money first loses.
87. True friends are hard to find, easy to keep.
88. I like cats and love avocados.  
89. I am allergic  to cats and avocados.
90. Existence is a simultaneous event.
91. My Dad did me a favor when he taught me that there is no free lunch.
92. I don’t have to.
93. Lemons in iced tea make me sick.
94. It’s a good thing I listened when my husband said that you don’t have to know how to do the jobs to be an effective  manager.
95. I can only be what I am and that is whatever I am compelled to be.
96. Whatever happens, I’ll be OK.
97. The only rules I am capable of following are the ones I make for myself.
98. The Universe is an address on a short street in a small town in an obscure state in a third world country on the tiny moon of an insignificant planet in an unremarkable universe, which is an address on a short street. I get my mail at the first address but sometimes it is delivered to the second by mistake.
99. Ninety-nine is a good number of items for a list.

Laura Miller

Here's what I'm thinking:
I have changed a great deal since 2001. My circumstances have altered dramatically. We never wake up where we went to sleep. And yet, I still think that one day I will understand what the heck is going on. And, I still like this list.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Grist for the mill

The War Prayer

by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fulttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory with stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.
It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.
Sunday morning came — next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams — visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!
Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation:

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, 
Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!
Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory —
An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, “Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord and God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”
The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside — which the startled minister did — and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:
“I come from the Throne — bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import — that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of — except he pause and think. “God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two — one uttered, and the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this — keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon your neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain on your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse on some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
“You have heard your servant’s prayer — the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it — that part which the pastor — and also you in your hearts — fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard the words ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory — must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!
“Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it —
For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!
We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
(After a pause.) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits.”
It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.