Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It helps relieve the burden!

This is a revealing explanation for why I write. Thank you Iraqi artist Abdel-Karim Khalil for expressing what I have felt in my fingers for so long.

"That's why we need to make art, Khalil says. Even if it gets you in trouble, or doesn't sell, it helps relieve the burden."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Identity Thieves


Are you closer for the tears? Or has the weight of all the years made you hollow?

Ray Lamontagne, Like Rock & Roll and Radio

Identity is on my mind tonight in ALL CAPS like that repetitive kindergarten song about a farmer’s dog.

Bingo was his name-o.

Hollow-void-vacant-worthless-empty… abstract blue

B-I-N-G-O was a five-lettered creature, identity broken apart, each sound articulated individually, and then formed into an entire living being. Children sing and sculpt the dog’s presence into sound and fury because that was his name-o!

Who am I? Who are you? I know my name, just like that damn dog, but did Bingo have any clue what he was doing on planet earth? Why was he puppy number one (birth order) in litter two billion and seven since when (the beginning of time)? Did that purebred want-to-be come when he was called like so many humans I know? Or did he really consider the origin of his existence eventually driving himself to doggy insanity?

I asked myself what my purpose was in the scheme of things while raking leaves in the backyard today. And does it matter? Be careful with those particular questions I told myself because they spur me to consider if it’s better to feel nothing at all or to let the pain massage my limbs and subconscious with its masochistic show-of-force.

Two weeks ago I was a teacher. Today I am a daughter answering every need of a mother who directs me to the kitchen for a glass of green tea with ice of course. I am pulled home by her need for a strong arm and a memory that recalls the name of her favorite family pet- a sleek grey cat we called Sullivan Grey- when she can't. Before washing her blankets, I squirt Spray and Wash on each stain ground into the dark raspberry quilted comforter in the silent cool basement. A basement is a good place to ask yourself: Who am I? I would hop on a plane and spend any amount of money for the airplane ticket to reassure myself that my mother was still breathing, speaking, chain smoking her Salem cancer sticks, and rattling in her lungs.

Leaving her again will be the hard part.

And Bingo was his name-o.

image source: abstract blue

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Restrictive Skin


Did you know a snake grows but the skin does not? When the skin becomes too restrictive, it is because a new skin has developed beneath the surface. This is a condition that can occur several times a year. While in the “double-skinned” state, the snake becomes listless, its eyesight becomes dull, and it loses its ability to accurately assess its surroundings. These conditions also cause the snake to be more aggressive; thus, shedding becomes imperative for survival.

To aid in this process, the snake will find a tight, rough passageway, like the fork of two branches in a tree or a passageway between two rocks. The snake rubs its nose on the rough surface and tears the skin near its head. It then begins the process of crawling through the tight passageway, the old skin hanging on the rough surface as the snake makes its way to a shiny new freedom.

I never cease to marvel at how nature constantly mirrors our own soul growth processes in so many ways. The more our souls expand, the more our old, external environment may feel restrictive. We may even find ourselves a bit snappy and aggressive as a result of the misalignment of inner and out realities. What is needed is a good shedding process. For a snake, that process can take up to 14 days; for us, it can take lifetimes.

Ironically, what is always provided, it seems, is the rough passageway whereby we are helped to shed the old part of us. Even more ironic is the fact the process is initiated by having our noses rubbed in the abrasiveness of a given situation. But the skin cannot be ripped from the snake, as the Buddhists say, nor can authentic change be forced upon us. Only when we are determined to let the old self go and persistently wiggle forward in our environment can the shiny, new inner self emerge. Then we rest and grow some more, until once again, we trigger the shedding process of which we are an eternal part.

Rev. Donna

Unity of Fairfax Chruch
2854 Hunter Mill Road
Oakton, VA 22124

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Understated Love Song by The Low Anthem

Don't Tremble

If your pilot light should die

Do not quake and do not bark

You will find the spark

If your tree should bear no fruit

Do not worry and do not spill

You are beautiful

If your clarinet should break

Do not cry a million lakes

Do not cry a million lakes

When the wind surrounds your house

Do not twist and do not shout

Just wait it out

If your hand should lose its grip

Do not tremble do not sweat

For where then would you get

You have got the looks my dear

To make a mountain shake

Imagine me

You have got the voice my love

To melt a lake of ice

Imagine me

If your heart is unemployed

Do not rush but do not stall

For I am waiting

The Low Anthem

Monday, March 21, 2011

Baobab One

Lake Rose, Senegal - January 2011

"Carbon dating indicates that they may live to be 3,000 years old... One ancient hollow Baobab tree in Zimbabwe is so large that up to 40 people can shelter inside its trunk. Various Baobabs have been used as a shop, a prison, a house, a storage barn and a bus shelter. The tree is certainly very different from any other."

Kruger National Park Baobab Buzz

Baobab Two

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Two Of My Favorite Things

the fragrance of the moment

Wild Love

Is not impermanence the very fragrance of our days?

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness

Give me your hand.

- the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke translated by the philosopher of ecology Joanna Macy

On Being, A Wild Love For The World, March 20, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Into The Wild



On bended knee is no way to be free
Lifting up an empty cup, I ask silently
All my destinations will accept the one that's me
So I can breathe...

Circles they grow and they swallow people whole
Half their lives they say goodnight to wives they'll never know
A mind full of questions, and a teacher in my soul
And so it goes...

Don't come closer or I'll have to go
Holding me like gravity are places that pull
If ever there was someone to keep me at home
It would be you...

Everyone I come across, in cages they bought
They think of me and my wandering, but I'm never what they thought
I've got my indignation, but I'm pure in all my thoughts
I'm alive...

Wind in my hair, I feel part of everywhere
Underneath my being is a road that disappeared
Late at night I hear the trees, they're singing with the dead

Leave it to me as I find a way to be
Consider me a satellite, forever orbiting
I knew all the rules, but the rules did not know me

- Eddie Vedder

Big Yellow Moon

Review of God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise

Harmonicas - The smooth groove from Bob Dylan to Ray LaMontagne: Sends my mind whirling like a steam train hobo riding the rails under a yellow moon.

Listening to Ray singing "Big yellow moon risin' up over them old hills" makes me truly believe the devil's in the jukebox. This is a must have listening experience.

Effort Healing


Healing: The restoration of damaged living tissue, defeated spirit, exhausted soul, and struggling intellect to normal function. Ideally striving to experience joy from everyday living.

- my own definition

I like these thoughts on effort, success, and failure from Warner:

Effort is more important than so-called success because effort is a real thing. What we call “success” is just the manifestation of our mind’s ability to categorize things. This is “success.” That is “failure.” Who says? You says. That’s all. Reality is what it is, beyond all concepts of success and failure.

- Brad Warner, author of Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between

Men Without Ties


Men without ties... it's about time

Men without ties don't dress for dinner
Men without ties don't need a thing
Men without ties is king.

Paul Westerberg

[Men in hiking boots, working on landscaping crews, appreciating the flora and fauna, turn me on!]

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Am The Chosen One

March 17, 2011 In Iowa

Sock monkey got his feet dirty from his spring adventure in the last of Iowa's snow piles.

A little lamb's ear popping through dead leaves is a sign of spring. The pair of robins my mother and I saw this morning who were pulling worms from the ground and preparing a nesting site for their baby blue eggs added to the day's surprises.

Burr, it's a little chilly out here in Iowa on March 17, 2011.

"56 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees Celsius to be exact," said Mr. Troll.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ugly Americans

Choose Your Friends Wisely

Dirty, dirty, dirty from head to toe, especially my feet. I can never get the soles of my feet clean. The dirt penetrates each line and wrinkle and sand settles between ten gritty toes. Trash fumes and smoke ruffle my hair. A blue-grey breeze of toxic plastic on fire: Walking down the crumbling sidewalks of Brazzaville.

I sweat through my clothes for the third time in one-day splotchy and wet. Random spots of perspiration polka dot my blouse. Wearing a bra is unthinkable because the cups fill with moisture and cling to my skin like an unwanted breast sauna. The orange substance building up on my fingernails can’t be avoided because I must wash my dishes with rusty tap water that pours from the kitchen sink.

I’m dirty in Brazzaville. Feeling sexy is a memory from the past reserved for those who own air conditioners and operate 24-hour generators. Those people- so cool and crisp- unaware of how the majority of people live their lives. They are insulated from reality.

Air-conditioned SUVs and privileges galore convince these arrogant inflated chests and bloated brains that the rest of us are for sale, rent, or on the auction block available to the highest bidder.

Disgust, unbelievable outrage... Choose your friends wisely.

Vulgar, crass, gross misuse of power... Ugly Americans in Brazzaville.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Dishwater in Congo

The water flows from the kitchen tap the color you see in the photo.

I wonder. Do you wonder?

The orange substance in the water leaves a coating on my dishes, stains my towels, and builds up on my fingernails. I scrape an orange layer off my fingernails at least once every two weeks.

Is that too much information?

Elusive Pickles: Jar Jam

I have had this jar of pickles occupying my kitchen counter for more than one week, and I can't open it, but I attempt to unscrew the lid at least once each day.

I have tried running the lid under hot water, prying it loose with a knife, and wrapping a towel around it while I use all my strength to twist the lid free so I can enjoy the tart taste of pickles. Help free my pickles from bondage. I will resort to asking my male neighbor to help me if the pickles remain sealed for another week.

(Listening to the Waltz of Sorrow by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. Happy Carnival Everyone! Dreaming of samba on the streets of Rio.)

Afterword: My friend and Superhero pickle jar opener, Julia, did the trick. Woman Power on International Women's Day!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Camouflage and Fighter Planes

You're In The Army Now

Brazzaville is a militarized city. Camouflage, army green and pumped biceps are visible on most city blocks. President Denis Sassou-Nguesso is a former defense minister. The president has stationed soldiers in the Republican Guard- recruited from his village of Oyo- all over the city to ensure his personal safety. They wear purple berets, and I have learned not make eye contact with them and cross to the other side of the street if I see them coming toward me. My Congolese co-worker at the embassy, as well as other friends in the city, told me these loyal yet dense men don’t speak French all that well because of their poor education. They use the gun first and ask questions later.

Soldiers in Brazzaville have a reputation for smoking pot and swilling alcohol. I smelled the unmistakable whiff of weed one night last week when a friend and I passed a group in uniform loitering on the street corner. The smell of marijuana is easy to detect, and this group of soldiers was probably flying high. We scurried past their catcalls with a hurried bonsoir wondering if the streetlights would blink back to life and light our path to the restaurant where we wanted to eat dinner.

President Sassou-Nguesso ordered his Congolese Air Force to conduct maneuvers over the city of Brazzaville on Monday, February 28. The planes were zooming to and fro above our heads loud enough to bring me to my balcony to see if the city was at war again. Sassou-Nguesso’s show of force had everything to do with the failed attack on President Joseph Kabila across the river on Sunday and the protests of the people in North Africa and the Middle East.

His planes were screaming, “Don’t touch this!” and the people in the streets below heard the message and cringed.

[I would post a photo of a member of the Republican Guard, but it is hazardous to my welfare to point a camera at one of the purple beret.]

Spin Me Round

Classic in both lyrics and feeling:
"Here am I in a shadow echoing on."

Spin me round!

About Me

My photo

What do I do? That’s a question with more depth than the deceiving three-word construction would lead us to believe.

I live on planet earth with other folks, and I’m involved in the field of education and learning. I’m a life-long learner with a passion for knowledge and the process of bending bits of ideas into new constructions of beauty.