Thursday, August 10, 2017

Poetry Thursday, Remembering Ben

Your heart 
my heart 
are very, very 
old friends. 
~ Sufi Saying

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Poetry Thursday - late entry

~Helen Hunt Jackson

Silence again. The glorious symphony
Hath need of pause and interval of peace.
Some subtle signal bids all sweet sounds cease,
Save hum of insects’ aimless industry.
Pathetic summer seeks by blazonry
Of color to conceal her swift decrease.
Weak subterfuge! Each mocking day doth fleece
A blossom, and lay bare her poverty.
Poor middle-agèd summer! Vain this show!
Whole fields of golden-rod cannot offset
One meadow with a single violet;
And well the singing thrush and lily know,
Spite of all artifice which her regret
Can deck in splendid guise, their time to go!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Poetry Thursday

All the awakened ones, 
like trusted midwives, 
are saying, 
welcome this pain, 
it opens the dark passage 
of Grace. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Poetry Thursday

In the Street
 ~Mary Jo Bang
Here we are, on top of the utopian arc. The water is shallow. An oil spill shimmers on the surface like a lens catches light and folds it in front of a mirror. If someone stands next to you, they are there, even when outside the picture. Which makes total obscurity relative to luck and such. Unlike the law, architecture lasts. A façade, like an ideal, can be oppressive unless balanced by a balcony on which you can stand and call down to those in the street, Come over here and look up at us. Aren’t we exactly what you wanted to believe in?

Monday, July 17, 2017

US Travel goals

These those places in grey -- those are the states I still need to visit.
Create Your Own Visited States Map

Life goals

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Getting back into it ... Poetry Thursday

Remember you are braver than you believe
Stronger than you seem
Smarter than you think
And twice as beautiful as you'd ever imagined.
~ Rumi

Thursday, June 29, 2017

so...this is late, but Poetry Thursday

Sonnet V
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I lift my heavy heart up solemnly,
As once Electra her sepulchral urn,
And, looking in thine eyes, I overturn
The ashes at thy feet. Behold and see
What a great heap of grief lay hid in me,
And how the red wild sparkles dimly burn
Through the ashen greyness. If thy foot in scorn
Could tread them out to darkness utterly,
It might be well perhaps. But if instead
Thou wait beside me for the wind to blow
The grey dust up….—those laurels on thine head
O my belovèd, will not shield thee so.
That none of all the fires shall scorch and shred
The hair beneath. Stand further off then! go.

Friday, June 23, 2017

end of an era

I have been holding on to some news. I am not sure if it is because I was in a bit of denial or because I was worried that if I said something, it might not work out.

I got a job.

It's in New Jersey.

So I have been packing up my life.

And, as my car decided to keep to the timeline I imagined, even though I stepped away from the PhD program.

That is to say, in January it started falling apart, slowly, and painfully (for me).

There was no way to take the car with me. I couldn't even get it south so I could give it to my father's friend. Though I think I have successfully convinced my dad that it wasn't a good idea to give it to the friend who couldn't possibly have the money to sink into making it really drive-able again.

So, I had to make a decision of what to do with the car, the little green machine that has been my constant companion for the past 16 years.

It drove me cross country, away from my ex-husband, into my new life in Oakland.  It drove me to the next new life in New Mexico.

It served as my phone booth on those long drives between Oakland and Oxnard ... and sometimes, when I couldn't bring myself to talk to others, as the safe space where I could sing or cry or both.

It was faithful and dependable and constant.

I agonized about the decision, truth be told, though I might not have shown it. In the end, I decided to donate it to KQED in lieu of all the donations I have not been able to make in the past few years. Even as I was sure it was the right thing, it was so painful to let go.  I drove it down to the big avenue below my house so that the flatbed truck could more easily hook it up.
As I walked back up the hill to my apartment... to that messier before completely packed state, downcast and tears in my eyes, I spotted a car just like mine parked just where mine had been not twenty minutes earlier.
I am not sure what it means except that I thought, oh, you came back... may my little green car be happy either in someone else's home or as the parts that make other little green cars go...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

oops... poetry Thursday a day late

~Ariana Reines
               Je suis belle, ô mortels! comme un rêve de pierre
These poisoned sensations have to be
Accepted if they’re to be
Overcome. Looking
Up calories on my phone

Not that I’m counting
Don’t even like numbers
It’s something vestigial
It comes in bad minutes

To teach my body something's in control
Something little & unholy, wrong idea
Of information, chiseling a transparent minute
Into myself with the afterimage of a form

If I did this kind of thing
On the bigger machine it’d be
Worse. Worse
Things than this are bombing

The world. A terrible
Fate is coming to power tomorrow. I’m reading
The early poems of Sherman Alexie. Desolation
Of secular life. I remember the luxury of speculating

All mystical traditions grew up
In the souls of a disciplined few
Turned in on themselves while under
Occupation by tyrants. That was then. This

Morning I could see one comfort: to become rock
Hard. Could imagine one comfort:
To have become rock. I had no
Imagination. I had his. I had theirs. “Formalism

& grammar are ways to be thin...” masochism
Merely thought of, the idea of a calorie
Most boring way to feel womanly doing itself to me
This morning I was panicking, burning, I was desperate

Scanning the body of my bedfellow
Its beautiful cheeks & chin
& long smooth abdomen
My silence growing fat like an old fruit

Still making me sick
It makes me sick I longed
For the wrong thing
I longed for death. I dreamed of stone
sent by hand
19 January 2017

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Poetry Thursday - back posting

What comes, will go.
What is found, will be lost again.
But what you are is beyond coming and going
And beyond description.
~ Rumi

Monday, June 12, 2017


My sister loved animals. On more than one occasion she told me they understood her better than people. So, it is easy for me to see signs of her in the animals that I meet.

She was the one who loved animals, but I was the one that animals always wanted to talk to or be near.

I have come to understand that animals appreciate my alpha vibe.  They are so happy to have someone else be in charge, and naturally wired to be drawn to the herd.  It works on cats, too, but in a slightly different way than dogs.  For some reason when I talk to the cats, they stop and listen.  It's a thing.  I have no control over it.  It just is.  The thing is, it used to really bug my sister, and all others that are animal lovers, that the animals would come to me for comfort and safety.

Now it makes sense that when my sister wants to communicate with me, or others, that she does it through animals.  My brother comes to me in dreams. And more than once he has actually reached out and touched me.  But my sister is less direct.  She shows up in possums and birds and butterflies.

Here are some from my long walk last week:
In these bushes is a moth (I think) black with a white stripe along the wings who followed me around on my long hike the other day.
I tried to get a picture of the large, yellow butterfly that was also hanging around, one of these landed on my head briefly.
Here was the black/white stripe one ... I just missed the open wings by a second.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Poetry Thursday

My Mama moved among the days
~Lucille Clifton

My Mama moved among the days
like a dreamwalker in a field;
seemed like what she touched was hers
seemed like what touched her couldn’t hold,
she got us almost through the high grass
then seemed like she turned around and ran
right back in
right back on in

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Poetry Thursday

Heart to Heart

Rita Dove
It’s neither red
nor sweet.
It doesn’t melt
or turn over,
break or harden,
so it can’t feel
It doesn’t have
a tip to spin on,
it isn’t even
just a thick clutch
of muscle,
mute. Still,
I feel it inside
its cage sounding
a dull tattoo:
I want, I want—
but I can’t open it:
there’s no key.
I can’t wear it
on my sleeve,
or tell you from
the bottom of it
how I feel. Here,
it’s all yours, now—
but you’ll have
to take me,

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Poetry Thursdsay

~Charles Baudelaire translated by David Yezzi

Take it easy, Sadness. Settle down.
You asked for evening. Now, it’s come. It’s here.
A choking fog has blanketed the town,
infecting some with calm, the rest with fear.

While the squalid throng of mortals feels the sting
of heartless pleasure swinging its barbed knout
and finds remorse in slavish partying,
take my hand, Sorrow. I will lead you out,

away from them. Look as the dead years lurch,
in tattered clothes, from heaven’s balconies.
From the depths, regret emerges with a grin.

The spent sun passes out beneath an arch,
and, shroudlike, stretched from the antipodes,
—hear it, O hear, love!—soft night marches in.


Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.
Tu réclamais le Soir; il descend; le voici:
Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville,
Aux uns portant la paix, aux autres le souci.

Pendant que des mortels la multitude vile,
Sous le fouet du Plaisir, ce bourreau sans merci,
Va cueillir des remords dans la fête servile,
Ma Douleur, donne-moi la main; viens par ici,

Loin d'eux. Vois se pencher les défuntes Années,
Sur les balcons du ciel, en robes surannées;
Surgir du fond des eaux le Regret souriant;

Le soleil moribond s'endormir sous une arche,
Et, comme un long linceul traînant à l'Orient,
Entends, ma chère, entends la douce Nuit qui marche.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Equanimity Practice or Practice Pleasant/Neutral

I am not completely sure that these titles are equivalent or just both apt.

Here is my equanimity practice... the one I reach for most often:
No matter how much I wish things be otherwise, things are as they are.

My practice pleasant or neutral practice: for me, it started as #findbeauty on instagram.  And it morphed into being able to walk in quiet, listening to everything that is going on around me.

It means I can hear the birds singing or the bugs buzzing.

On Sunday, it meant watching the busy bees go from flower to flower checking for nectar.  And it meant watching Raleigh (neighbor tuxedo cat) as he stalked and tried to pounce on something and then celebrating his chase with him.

I was sitting on the stairs, listening to the birds, enjoying the sunny day from a shady spot somewhat out of view.  Raleigh happened by, when I spoke to him, he started, but then went back to stalking.  When he was out of view, I decided to follow him.  I crouched with him, slowly and quietly padding behind him, letting him know that I was there so he wouldn't start.  He was watching, carefully... mindfully something in the bushes. I couldn't see it.  He was still as a statue, intent on his prey.  I was talking quietly to him, encouraging him to go ahead and pounce.  He did, and didn't catch anything, but came over to celebrate with me anyway.  He brushed up against my legs and looked up at me for encouragement. I pet him and chatted him up.  Then he went back to the bushes to look for his prey again.

In the moment, there is tremendous activity... and it can be pleasant, or neutral or unpleasant. Raleigh's insistence on being in the moment was a gift... pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, it didn't matter to him, just the moment.

For me, forcing myself to stay in the moment is the gift.  I have been wound so tight the past few months, and let's be honest, the last four years, that I have given myself precious little room to be in the moment or otherwise.

I am trying to unwind in a way that won't leave me in a puddle in the middle of the floor when next Friday hits and my schedule becomes a little lighter.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Poetry Thursday, friendship

This is the kind of Friend
You are -
Without making me realize
My soul's anguished history,
You slip into my house at night,
And while I am sleeping,
You silently carry off
All my suffering and sordid past
In your beautiful
-- Hafiz

Friday, May 12, 2017

Visiting Chila

This was the first time I hiked up to Chila's resting place by myself.  I was truly alone after this sign because my phone turned itself off in dramatic fashion.
I had to focus... on the sights and sounds and smells and temperature. It was lovely. Apparently, it was the day a million moths were born. They were swarming every where.

I was so focused on sounds, I kept hearing this little click, click, click. Finally, I spied a grasshopper, looked like still in baby stage, and I watched and listened to it move its body and make the click click click. 

There were so many beautiful wildflowers blooming ... hence the swarming moths.  As I approached Chila's place, I noticed these gorgeous flowers, like a morning glory but with a dark center. 

Turns out they are called catalina mariposa lilies.  I gathered a bunch and made a bouquet for Chila.

I went up to the rock and I had planned to sit there for a bit, but the plants around the rock were super overgrown and all in bloom.  

I stood there, listening to the wind and birds and bugs, and watching the landscape. 

I thought, where is she? Is she here?

Just as I was feeling sorry for myself and thinking she wasn't here with me, a hummingbird came up to me, she was about six inches from my face. She hovered there, and I acknowledged her and eventually she flew off. 

But then as I walked down the mountain, she buzzed me.  Then she sat on a tree and looked at me. I stood two feet from her and memorized her features so I could look it up in the bird book. 

As I kept walking, she moved to the next tree, this time, she positioned herself so that she could look right at me.  Finally she flew off. 

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I noticed a hummingbird again by my car.  She followed me down, half way to Uncle Louie's house.  

She was there... and she let me know. 

When I got home where my bird book was, I looked up the hummingbird and it was a female Anna's hummingbird...[or immature male, but I am preferring to think it was a female!]  You can see some photos here and here and here.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Quote Thursday

Nothing makes the earth 
seem so spacious as 
to have friends at a distance; 
they make the latitudes and longitudes. 
— Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Poetry Thursday, Pops

Our greatest strength 
lies in the gentleness 
and tenderness 
of our heart.
 ~ Rumi

 I always considered myself lucky -- to have hit the jackpot in the dad lottery.  He is one of the most generous people I know, curious and interested in the world, willing to wonder and delve into questions and problems, and though he doesn't always show it, incredibly sensitive, especially to those who have less than he does.  And my dad always seemed to think that he had more than enough.

I like to tell the story of how he brought home the homeless guy because I was away for a year, so there was a whole empty room in the house! 

But I am also fond of telling the story how after I expressed an interest in morse code, that he bought three transmitters, mounted each on a board and then carved in the codes for the alphabet.  After we had all (my youngers and I) learned the codes, we'd sit around the dining room table (which we didn't use to eat from) and dit dah dit dah each other. Our transmitters were not actually connected to anything, so our messages just went out to the room, but we were happy.

As an adult, especially since my siblings passed, I have seen other sides of my pops, maybe seen some quirky aspects of his personality with the volume turned up.  I get frustrated with his penchant for the conspiracy theory and the negative outlook.  But I have learned to see that age can make folks feel vulnerable and powerless.  Growing old gracefully requires one to release our complete competency, and this is hard for my dad.  

I refuse to believe that his grumpy old man routine he gets caught up in sometimes is not his true nature.

Being an adult with my dad is not all bad.  He shares more with me than he used to.  And though it isn't always rainbows and puppies, more frequently it is fear and insecurity, I still appreciate these glimpses into his personality.

This past weekend, he was complaining because my mom didn't invite him to a garage sale she was going to with a girlfriend.  It is funny because she never wants to go with him to the thrift store or garage sale, but she still wants to be invited.  I reminded him that he often didn't want to go whenever she invited him places.  He was salty, grumpy old man style.

A bit later, mom arrived and apparently handed him a bag of goodies ... a gift from the garage sale. I was still working in the other room. My dad came over pleased as pie with his gift.  Look what your mom brought me! He beamed.  And he giggled, good thing she didn't know he had been complaining.

That is my dad... he might be feeling entitled to complain more than when I was younger, but he still is able to appreciate more than most.  

Happy birthday, Pops... love you very much. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

views from the road

I was in the train, briefly, and this was as close as I got to the beach on my short trip south.
Still it was lovely! I spent as much of the hour as possible checking for whale spouts. I didn't see any, but it was fun to be able to try.
I wish I had gotten at least one long walk by the water... next time.
Instead, the only forays into the world beyond my computer were the rest stop near Gaviota.
It had the best signage I had seen in a long while.
And this view of the mountains.
Frolicking dogs need to be careful of rattler snakes... just saying.

I also took a hike to see Chila... but I will save that for another post.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Poetry Thursday

If I knew that today would be 
the last time I’d see you sleep, 
I would hug you tight and 
pray the Lord be the keeper of your soul. 
If I knew that this would be the last time 
you pass through this door, 
I’d embrace you, kiss you, and 
call you back for one more. 
If I knew that this would be the last time 
I would hear your voice, 
I’d record each word 
to be able to hear it over and over again. 
If I knew this is the last time I see you, 
I’d tell you I love you, and would not 
just assume foolishly you know it already. 
-Johny Welch
From La marioneta de trapo

versión original:
Si supiera que hoy es última vez que te voy a ver dormir, te abrazaría fuertemente y rezaría al Señor para poder ser el guardián de tu alma. Si supiera que esta fuera la última vez que te vea salir por la puerta, te daría un abrazo, un beso y te llamaría de nuevo para darte más. Si supiera que ésta fuera la última vez que voy a oír tu voz, grabaría cada una de tus palabras para poder oírlas una y otra vez indefinidamente. Si supiera que estos son los últimos momentos que te veo, diría TE QUIERO y no asumiría tontamente que ya lo sabes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


The deep pain that is felt 
at the death of every friendly soul 
arises from the feeling that 
there is in every individual 
something which is inexpressible, 
peculiar to him alone, 
 and is, therefore, absolutely 
and irretrievably lost. 
~Arthur Schopenhauer
  God take my soul to that place, 
Where I can speak without words.
Unable are the loved to die
For love is immortality
~Emily Dickinson

There is no vocabulary for this,
the no-language of grief.
I can reveal what my brain thinks
but where are the words for 
this vague pain I feel?
-Irene Earis
The Baffling Dead

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Boy

Life is eternal, 
and love is immortal, 
and death is only a horizon; 
and a horizon is nothing 
save the limit of our sight. 
~R.W. Raymond

I love this picture of The Boy.  Sometimes I think it is because I love this couple so much and their connection is palpable here.

When I used to see this picture on his mom's desk, I would think, they are soulmates.

I was sure they would get back together, have beautiful babies and be happy.

But then again, I was sure of so very many things that we will never see.

He has been close in mind lately, not just in the past few days, but especially this month.

Now when I look at this picture, it is the eyes, that look.  It tells you so much about this old soul.  There is a knowing about the trials and tribulations, the power of love, and the importance of connection.  There is compassion and world weariness and strength.  He was steady and wobbly at the same time, fearful and hopeful, ready to take on the world despite his reservations about well everything.

I see this picture and I think there is no way he is gone.  There he is, right there, forever that sweet, smart, relentlessly idealistic and pragmatic young man, my future governor or president. 

Some days I weep for the world because we lost that light, the one we so desperately needed.

Some days I weep for his mother who is trying so hard to learn how to be in a world without him.

Some days I weep for the children who don't get to grow up with father; he would have been the absolute best father in the world.

Some days I even weep for myself because there were so many more stories to tell, issues to discuss and adventures to have... and I try to be brave remembering his last text, the one he sent when he found out I was dealing with yet another loss, before he knew I would have to deal with his as well. 

Stay up.


Rest well, sweet boy, but let your mom know you are okay.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Princeton postcard

This has been sitting in my draft folder for a while ... thinking I would figure out how to debrief my trip back to Old Nassau.  But April is a cruel month and these memories and feelings can't be processed so easily.  So here is a little photolog of the trip.

We took an early flight out of San Jose. We left the house before the sun was awake.  But it rose just as we took off, giving this spectacular good morning to all those tired travelers.
We landed in Newark, as it is still the easiest airport to get to/from Princeton.  And this was the first sight of New York in the distance.  It is still remarkable to me how close and yet how far NYC is from Princeton.

Also, I noticed, for the first time, how alike Oakland and Newark are... see the port and those machines that were Lucas' inspiration for those walking monstrosities in Star Wars?
This was my residential college... first steps off the new Dinky stop you see good old Forbes (or PIC if you are older).  The sun was so bright, I was trying to see what I was aiming at, but instead caught my fingers.

It must mean something to see like this, but I will leave it up to you, dear reader.
People love to remark on the beauty of the campus.

I have to say since my time there was so fraught, I never noticed beauty.

But there is beauty that I can now appreciate... especially in the details.

These small creatures some scary and others whimsical that guard arches and doorways are some of my favorites.
Here's another that struck me on this trip.

I spent many hours in this building as it housed my department.  I also happen to think it is one of the most beautiful.  I am sure that others have fond memories or like the looks of others better.

It started raining after this and I forgot to take a lot of pictures.  But I have a few more, especially of the conference that I will share later.