Friday, October 19, 2018

Annual Clock Tinkering

Daylight saving time 2018 in Rhode Island began at 2:00 AM on Sunday, March 11 and ends at 2:00 AM on
Sunday, November 4. All times are in Eastern Time.

Thinking

Thinking about the death of my parents. Is that all there was?

Oat Season

This summer we bought a 50 pound bag of steel cut oats for bread-baking and for winter porridge. We keep it stored in the freezer. Last night I cooked a big batch in the electric pressure cooker before bed so I could refrigerate it and heat it up in the morning for breakfast.

House

We brought our house plants indoors last night to avoid the frost including the two basil plants which counted as my garden. If I could keep the basil alive all winter that would be amazing but my house doesn't get enough sun and warmth. If it did I'd be like that lady who plucks leaves from her kitchen rosemary and sage plants on her cooking show. She isn't a chef she's just selling expensive equipment. My husband and I laughed at her gigantic commercial pizza oven as if that was a normal household appliance necessary to bake a cabbage stew. Lately I have been thinking, everybody has a narrative, everybody is putting on their own little puppet show. The more resources they have the more elaborate their theater props and narrative. Who is their audience? I said as we drove by the string of mcmansions on the way to the apple orchard.

Something

“She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her.”
― Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

She

“She didn't read books so she didn't know that she was the world and the heavens boiled down to a drop.”
― Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Coward's Revenge

“Bitterness is the coward's revenge on the world for having been hurt.”
― Zora Neale Hurston

In the Mind

“There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.”
― Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

The Sea

“Love is like the sea. It's a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it's different with every shore.”
― Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Mud Puddle

“Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships.”
― Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Love

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
― Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
― Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

After a few weeks of reading recipes I decided to dive in without one.

I preheated the oven to 350 and stemmed the crimini mushrooms.

I poured a generous amount of olive oil in my 12 inch cast iron skillet and heated it up. Meanwhile I chopped a bunch of fresh garlic cloves and a dash of red chili flakes. I added a pound bag of chopped frozen spinach and helped it defrost in the pan by breaking it up. I added the chopped mushroom stems. I crushed a sleeve of (generic Ritz) crackers and added them and then I added grated Romano cheese and Adobo and freshly ground black pepper. I added a bit of kosher salt.

I filled the mushrooms and baked them in a skillet for 20 minutes. I only had 9 mushrooms so I baked the leftover filling in another skillet at the same time to eat with rice.

I made brown rice in my electric pressure cooker and it was ready in 19 minutes.

A fabulous dinner with a glass of sauvignon blanc.

Vita Sackville-West

Authority has every reason to fear the skeptic, for authority can rarely survive in the face of doubt.
-Vita Sackville-West

Dream

I dreamed I married a colorful plastic frog. The lawyer said "We'll need prints to distinguish him from the other plastic frogs." I woke up feeling hopeful that my subconscious was still working.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Get Out of the Way

“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”
― Ray Bradbury

I Believe in Libraries

“I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
― Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury

Change Something

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.

It doesn't matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Tip Ourselves Over

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
― Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”
― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

For the Psyche

“The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of room, not try to be or do anything whatever.”
― May Sarton

May Sarton

“Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember nothing stays the same for long, not even pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.”
― May Sarton

In Books

“It had come about ex­act­ly in the way things hap­pened in books.”
― Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None

Tea

“Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea!”
― Agatha Christie

Dogs

“Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more.”
― Agatha Christe, The Moving Finger

Completely Unimportant

“It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting.”
― Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Agatha Christie's Autobiography

“There was a moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you're writing, and aren't writing particularly well.”
― Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

Truth

“The truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to seekers after it.”
― Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Sham

“Why shouldn't I hate her? She did the worst thing to me that anyone can do to anyone else. Let them believe that they're loved and wanted and then show them that it's all a sham.”
― Agatha Christie, The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

Time

“Time is the best killer.”
― Agatha Christie

A Grand Thing

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
― Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

“The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.”
― Agatha Christie

Günter Grass

“To feel myself. Light as a feather free as a bird, though long since fit to be shot down. Unleash the dog with no sense of shame. Become this or that. Awaken the dead. Wear my pal Baldander's rags for a change. Lose my way on a single-minded quest.”
― Günter Grass, Vonne Endlichkait

Muse Ulla

“I wept when the muse Ulla bent over me. Blinded by tears I could not prevent her from kissing me, I could not prevent the Muse from giving me that terrible kiss. All of you who have ever been kissed by the Muse will surely understand that Oskar, once branded by that kiss, was condemned to take back the drum he had rejected years before, the drum he had buried in the sand of Sapse Cemetery.”
― Günter Grass, The Tin Drum

Clocks

“… there is something very strange and childish in the way grown-ups feel about their clocks—in that respect, I was never a child. I am willing to agree that the clock is probably the most remarkable thing that grown-ups ever produced. Grown-ups have it in them to be creative, and sometimes, with the help of ambition, hard work, and a bit of luck they actually are, but being grown-ups, they have no sooner created some epoch-making invention than they become a slave to it.”
― Günter Grass

Parallel Lines

“Suppose you're teaching math. You assume that parallel lines meet at infinity. You'll admit that adds up to something like transcendence.”
― Günter Grass, Cat and Mouse

Books

“Even bad books are books and therefore sacred.”
― Günter Grass, The Tin Drum

The Fairy Tales

“Because men
are killing the forests
the fairy tales are running away.
The spindle doesn't know
whom to prick,
the little girl's hands
that her father has chopped off,
haven't a single tree to catch hold of,
the third wish remains unspoken.
King Thrushbeard no longer owns one thing.
Children can no longer get lost.
The number seven means no more than exactly seven.
Because men have killed the forests,
the fairy tales are trotting off to the cities
and end badly.”
― Günter Grass, Rat

Granted

“Granted: I AM an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peep-hole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.”
― Gunther Grass, The Tin Drum

Mouth

“The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.”
― Günter Grass

After the Collapse

“After the collapse of socialism, capitalism remained without a rival. This unusual situation unleashed its greedy and - above all - its suicidal power. The belief is now that everything - and everyone - is fair game.”
― Günter Grass

Satan

“When Satan's not in the mood, virtue triumphs. Hasn't even Satan a right not to be in the mood once in a while?”
― Günter Grass, The Tin Drum

Günter Grass

“What more shall I say: born under light bulbs, deliberately stopped growing at age of three, given drum, sang glass to pieces, smelled vanilla, coughed in churches, observed ants, decided to grow, buried drum, emigrated to the West, lost the East, learned stonecutter's trade, worked as model, started drumming again, visited concrete, made money, kept finger, gave finger away, fled laughing, rode up escalator, arrested, convicted, sent to mental hospital, soon to be acquitted, celebrating this day my thirtieth birthday and still afraid of the Black Witch.”
― Günter Grass

Win a Little

“Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.”
― Louis L'Amour

One Day

“One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter - who was a child at the time - asked me, "Daddy, why are you writing so fast?" And I replied, "Because I want to see how the story turns out!”
― Louis L'Amour

Devote

“Do not let yourself be bothered by the inconsequential. One has only so much time in this world, so devote it to the work and the people most important to you, to those you love and things that matter. One can waste half a lifetime with people one doesn't really like, or doing things when one would be better off somewhere else.”
― Louis L'Amour, Ride the River

No Limit

“For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.”
― Louis L'Amour

A Book

“Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.”
― Louis L'Amour, Matagorda/The First Fast Draw

A Time

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning. ”
― Louis L'Amour

The Trail

“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast,
and you miss all you are traveling for.”
― Louis L'Amour

Louis L'Amour

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.
- Louis L'Amour

Soul Cake

Soul Cake
The 1891 version contains a chorus and three verses:[14]

[Chorus]
A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missis, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul
Three for Him who made us all.

[Verse 1]
God bless the master of this house,
The mistress also,
And all the little children
That round your table grow.
Likewise young men and maidens,
Your cattle and your store ;
And all that dwells within your gates,
We wish you ten times more.

[Verse 2]
Down into the cellar,
And see what you can find,
If the barrels are not empty,
We hope you will prove kind.
We hope you will prove kind,
With your apples and strong beer,
And we'll come no more a-souling
Till this time next year.

[Verse 3]
The lanes are very dirty,
My shoes are very thin,
I've got a little pocket
To put a penny in.
If you haven't got a penny,
A ha'penny will do ;
If you haven't get a ha'penny,
It's God bless you

Soul instead of Gold

“Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.”
― Hermann Hesse

What Isn't Part of Ourselves

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.”
― Hermann Hesse, Demian. Die Geschichte von Emil Sinclairs Jugend

Hermann Hesse

“Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.”
― Herman Hesse

Metropolitan Diary

Love

Dream

I dreamed I was in my old studio in Providence and I hadn't paid my rent since last December. The space was filled with candy displays. There were chocolate covered macaroons stacked up. I ate one.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tempted

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
― H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: First Series

H.L. Mencken

On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
― H.L. Mencken, On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe

Books

“I know some who are constantly drunk on books as other men are drunk on whiskey.”
― H.L. Mencken

Echo

“Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance.”
― Carl Sandburg

Not Afraid

“Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln never saw a movie, heard a radio or looked at television. They had 'Loneliness' and knew what to do with it. They were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work.”
― Carl Sandburg

Life is Like an Onion

“Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.”
― Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg

“A man must find time for himself. Time is what we spend our lives with. If we are not careful we find others spending it for us. . . . It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, 'Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?' . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one's time—the stuff of life.”
― Carl Sandburg

What's Happening Here

...We’re now ruled by people who are willing to endanger civilization for the sake of political expediency, not to mention increased profits for their fossil-fuel friends.

One way to think about what’s happening here is that it’s the ultimate example of Trumpian corruption. We have good reason to believe that Trump and his associates are selling out America for the sake of personal gain. When it comes to climate, however, they aren’t just selling out America; they’re selling out the whole world.


- Paul Krugman

Chiune Sugihara Teaches Us

On Friday, I told the students that one day in each of their lives there would be a moment when they would have to decide whether to close the door or open their hearts. When that moment arrives, I implored them, remember that they came from the same school as a great man who when the birds flew to him for refuge, did not turn them away.

- David Wolpe (@RabbiWolpe) is the rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and the author of “David: The Divided Heart.”

Article

White Butterfly

“There was a small public library on Ninety-third and Hooper. Mrs. Stella Keaton was the librarian. We’d known each other for years. She was a white lady from Wisconsin. Her husband had a fatal heart attack in ’34 and her two children died in a fire the year after that. Her only living relative had been an older brother who was stationed in San Diego with the navy for ten years. After his discharge he moved to L.A. When Mrs. Keaton had her tragedies he invited her to live with him. One year after that her brother, Horton, took ill, and after three months he died spitting up blood, in her arms. All Mrs. Keaton had was the Ninety-third Street branch. She treated the people who came in there like her siblings and she treated the children like her own. If you were a regular at the library she’d bake you a cake on your birthday and save the books you loved under the front desk. We were on a first-name basis, Stella and I, but I was unhappy that she held that job. I was unhappy because even though Stella was nice, she was still a white woman. A white woman from a place where there were only white Christians. To her Shakespeare was a god. I didn’t mind that, but what did she know about the folk tales and riddles and stories colored folks had been telling for centuries? What did she know about the language we spoke? I always heard her correcting children’s speech. “Not ‘I is,’ she’d say. “It’s ‘I am.’” And, of course, she was right. It’s just that little colored children listening to that proper white woman would never hear their own cadence in her words. They’d come to believe that they would have to abandon their own language and stories to become a part of her educated world. They would have to forfeit Waller for Mozart and Remus for Puck. They would enter a world where only white people spoke. And no matter how articulate Dickens and Voltaire were, those children wouldn’t have their own examples in the house of learning—the library.”
― Walter Mosley, White Butterfly

Bigger Than My Head

“The most important lesson I’ve learned as a writer is that practice of the art is something I must exercise every day. The reason for this constant training is that any idea worth discovering is bigger than my head. The twists and turns, story and plot, characters and character development of a novel cannot be held in a single thought or even in a train of thought. This novel takes up a lot of space and needs room to breathe and evolve.”
― Walter Mosley, Twelve Steps Toward Political Revelation

Librarians

“Librarians are wonderful people, partly because they are, on the whole, unaware of how dangerous knowledge is. Karl Marx upended the political landscape of the twentieth century sitting at a library table. Still, modern librarians are more afraid of ignorance than they are of the potential devastation that knowledge can bring.”
― Walter Mosley, The Long Fall

Taking a Journey

“The process of writing a novel is like taking a journey by boat. You have to continually set yourself on course. If you get distracted or allow yourself to drift, you will never make it to the destination. It's not like highly defined train tracks or a highway; this is a path that you are creating discovering. The journey is your narrative. Keep to it and there will be a tale told.”
― Walter Mosley, This Year You Write Your Novel

When They're Gone

“It hurts when they're gone. And it doesn't matter if it's slow or fast, whether it's a long drawn-out disease or an unexpected accident. When they're gone the world turns upside down and you're left holding on, trying not to fall off.”
― Walter Mosley, Debbie Doesn't Do It Anymore

Connecting

“The first thing you have to know about writing is that it is something you must do everyday. There are two reasons for this rule: Getting the work done and connecting with your unconscious mind.”
― Walter Mosley

The Job

“The job of the writer is to take a close and uncomfortable look at the world they inhabit, the world we all inhabit, and the job of the novel is to make the corpse stink.”
― Walter Mosley

A Peasant that Reads

“A man's bookcase will tell you everything you'll ever need to know about him," my father had told me more than once. "A businessman has business books and a dream has novels and books of poetry. Most women like reading about love, and a true revolutionary will have books about the minutiae of overthrowing the oppressor. A person with no books is inconsequential in a modern setting, but a peasant that reads is a prince in waiting.”
― Walter Mosley, The Long Fall

“A peasant that reads is a prince in waiting.”
― Walter Mosley, The Long Fall

Free to Change

“We are not trapped or locked up in these bones. No, no. We are free to change. And love changes us. And if we can love one another, we can break open the sky.”
― Walter Mosley, Blue Light

Walter Mosley: Heart and Mind Open

It doesn't matter what time of day you work, but you have to work every day because creation, like life, is always slipping away from you. You must write every day, but there's no time limit on how long you have to write.

One day you might read over what you've done and think about it. You pick up the pencil or turn on the computer, but no new words come. That's fine. Sometimes you can't go further. Correct a misspelling, reread a perplexing paragraph, and then let it go. You have re-entered the dream of the work, and that's enough to keep the story alive for another 24 hours.

The next day you might write for hours; there's no way to tell. The goal is not a number of words or hours spent writing. All you need to do is to keep your heart and mind open to the work.

- Walter Mosley

Anne Bernays

There's a sureness to good writing even when what's being written about doesn't make all that much sense. It's the sureness of the so-called seat of an accomplished horseback rider or a sailor coming about in a strong wind. The words have both muscle and grace, familiarity and surprise.
- Anne Bernays

Ram Dass

How can you bring a contemplative quality into academics and the environment?

by Ram Dass

It requires inner work for you to cultivate a perspective within yourself that sees your intellect as a servant, not as your identity.

To the extent you are capable of doing that, you can then play the game of academia, do the work that only can be done in that analytic fashion without being trapped in it, and have your interaction with other people through the game.

It’s like Monopoly in which you’re the top hat and I’m the thimble, but behind it you’re here, I’m here, and you’ve gotta be there. The predicament in academia is many people identify with their thoughts so much that they think they are an academic, instead of being a being who’s doing academics.

For me, the fun is meeting people through all the roles we meet in and playing each one as impeccably as I can without getting trapped in any of them, so that my consciousness is always an environment that’s open to meeting somebody behind the game. At the same time, there’s nothing in me that says, “This game is bad and shouldn’t be played,” or anything like that, cause it’s a beautiful game.

I think a lot of the predicament in our society, as you probably all appreciate with me, is the way in which we side with the power of the prefrontal lobes, the power of the conceptual mind. We have become so enamored with it. We have lost perspective about the fact that it has to be tempered by wisdom; that knowledge and technology as its offshoot isn’t inherently good. It’s not inherently evil, it just is, but it requires tremendously more wisdom than most of us have, especially when we reject all the wisdom carriers in our society as being irrelevant because of the way we treat aging.

In a technological society where things are changing so fast, you don’t ask somebody who uses a typewriter about the latest computer program. That’s a generation issue. That isn’t the wisdom part.

There is a wisdom that tempers the way actions are done, and we just don’t value it very much in our society.

When somebody asks, “Where are we and what’s going to happen?” I will answer very honestly. I can feel into the imminence of disruptive environmental stuff than we have seen in a reasonably short time span. The seeds of social shifts of family structure, of all the stuff you’re familiar with… when I hear it all, I really do hear and increasing presence of uncertainty and feeling of chaos in the situation.

The shifting environment we’re living in, in terms of our air, our water, our fish, our animals, our bodies, our psychological spaces. We haven’t even begun to realize the profound impact of the information dance that changes the meaning of time on all of our social institutions.

This is all up for grabs at the moment, and the question is, what part do we play in all of that? What is a conscious person to do? My feeling is that our ability to work on the part of our being that is able to be in the presence of change and uncertainty and chaos, and respond to that, not retract to it but respond to it in a reflective way to turn that and help that move into a deep, deeper, and new harmony…

And you can’t hold anymore. You can’t hold anywhere. I think that the assignment for us is very clear in terms of the game on earth. I think it is to be instruments that allow the whole process to move and change in a way that ends up celebrating life rather than ultimately destroying it, and it has to come out of non-attachment.

-Ram Dass

In Cambodia

“In Cambodia people don’t outright compliment a child. They don’t want to call attention to the child. It is believed that evil spirits easily get jealous when they hear a child being complimented, and they may come and take away the child to the other world.”
― Loung Ung, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

Loung Ung

“Why are they doing this, Pa?” Kim asks. “Because they are destroyers of things.”
― Loung Ung, First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

Elder Role Models

by Ram Dass

During the fall of 1995, I spent four days at the Gorbachev World Forum, where I met some remarkable elder role models who were taking part in that program, among them Barbara Weidner, a Catholic woman in her 80s who heads an organization called “Grandmothers for Peace.” When I asked her why she’d gotten involved with the peace movement, she said, “I just started to think: ‘What kind of world am I leaving for my grandchildren?’ And I wasn’t very happy with what I saw. So I decided I’d better speak up and do something about it.”

“So,” she said, “I made a sign. It read ‘A Grandmother for Peace.’ And I went and stood places with it, just making my statement. And then one day, I found myself kneeling with others as part of a human barrier on the road in front of a munitions truck during a protest at a weapons facility. I was arrested, I was taken to prison, I was strip-searched, and I was left in a cell. And at that moment,” she said, “something happened to me. I realized they couldn’t do anything more to me. I was free.”

Since then, Barbara has been all over the world, aligning herself with grandmothers everywhere, bringing her message of peace. She’s been with the Zapatistas in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico. She’s been in the war zones in Nicaragua and Chechnya. She was at the Women’s Conference in Beijing. To the grandmothers she says, “Our power is just the force of our love for our children and grandchildren.” What I saw represented in her were precisely the qualities of elder wisdom that our world needs, the unique gifts that only an older person, in this case a grandmother, can contribute, a compassion that comes not out of righteousness, but out of the maturity of her connectedness with the rhythms of the universe. Barbara’s work demonstrates as well the power of the heart, as opposed to the Ego, that worldly retirement does nothing to diminish.

Getting old isn’t easy for a lot of us. Neither is living, neither is dying. We struggle against the inevitable and we all suffer because of it. We have to find another way to look at the whole process of being born, growing old, changing, and dying, some kind of perspective that might allow us to deal with what we perceive as big obstacles without having to be dragged through the drama. It really helps to understand that we are something — which is unchangeable, beautiful, completely aware, and continues no matter what. . . .

Recently a friend said to me, “You’re more human since the stroke than you were before.” This touched me profoundly. What a gift the stroke has given me, to finally learn that I don’t have to renounce my humanity in order to be spiritual — that I can be both witness and participant, both eternal spirit and aging body. . . . The stroke has given me a new perspective to share about aging, a perspective that says, “Don’t be a wise elder, be an incarnation of wisdom.” That changes the whole nature of the game. That’s not just a new role, it’s a new state of being. It’s the real thing. At nearly seventy, surrounded by people who care for and love me, I’m still learning to be here now.



– Ram Dass, 1999

Monday, October 15, 2018

James Baldwin

If you are going to be a writer there is nothing I can say to stop you; if you're not going to be a writer nothing I can say will help you. What you really need at the beginning is somebody to let you know that the effort is real.

-James Baldwin

Maya Angelou

There is, I hope, a thesis in my work: we may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. That sounds goody-two-shoes, I know, but I believe that a diamond is the result of extreme pressure and time. Less time is crystal. Less than that is coal. Less than that is fossilized leaves. Less than that it’s just plain dirt. In all my work, in the movies I write, the lyrics, the poetry, the prose, the essays, I am saying that we may encounter many defeats—maybe it’s imperative that we encounter the defeats—but we are much stronger than we appear to be and maybe much better than we allow ourselves to be.
-Maya Angelou

A Walk

Last night I took a long walk to the pond. I passed a house that had a full sized white plastic Christmas tree lit up with red balls on their porch. On my way home Romeo spotted a small red ball in the gutter. He nabbed it before I could intercept him. I sat him down and lifted his upper and lower lips to look. I could see a little bit of red foam rubber poking out from between his clenched teeth. He chewed it like gum and then swallowed it. "Romeo ate a clown's nose, and we saw our first Christmas tree of October," I said to my husband when I returned.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Vulnerable Side

“Look it - you start out as an artist, I started out when I was nineteen, and you’re full of defenses. You have all of this stuff to prove. You have all of these shields in front of you. All your weapons are out. It’s like you’re going into battle. You can accomplish a certain amount that way. But then you get to a point where you say, “But there’s this whole other territory I’m leaving out.” And that territory becomes more important as you grow older. You begin to see that you leave out so much when you go to battle with the shield and all the rest of it. You have to start including that other side or die a horrible death as an artist with your shield stuck on the front of your face forever. You can’t grow that way. And I don’t think you can grow as a person that way, either. There just comes a point when you have to relinquish some of that and risk becoming more open to the vulnerable side, which I think is the female side. It’s much more courageous than the male side.”
― Sam Shepard

True West

“When you consider all the writers who never even had a machine. Who would have given an eyeball for a good typewriter. Any typewriter. All the ones who wrote on a matchbook covers. Paper bags. Toilet paper. Who had their writing destroyed by their jailers. Who persisted beyond all odds.”
― Sam Shepard, True West

Sam Shepard

All good writing comes out of aloneness. You have to do it on an open highway. You wouldn’t want to do it in New York City. But on Highway 40 West or some of those big open highways, you can hold the wheel with one hand and write with the other. It’s a good discipline, because sometimes you can only write two or three words at a time before you have to look back at the road, so those three words have to count. The problem is whether you can read the damn thing by the time you reach your destination.

-Sam Shepard

Johnson Street

Just now, stepping out my back door with my dog, I saw an unfamiliar chubby man wearing a bright yellow sweatshirt. He was walking up my driveway. He had on bright yellow sneakers too. He was obviously looking for someone and was holding out his phone. I decided to stall slowly buttoning my jacket, and get my empty trash barrel on the curb so I could catch what was going on. A pale blue Buick came up Johnson Street facing west and a male driver signaled by lifting his finger to indicate he was the one. The man in yellow crossed the street and got into the back seat and they drove off.

Hoping

Now that the cool weather is here
I can hear my neighbor yelling into his phone as he stands on his balcony
My fan ran all summer and blew out the daily string of curses
The church bells sound and his dog barks at the canine in the yard below
and I am hoping for more sounds to drown out my neighbor

Broom by Connie Wanek

Here

Dream

I dreamed of green slate paired with red brick. When I woke up I had to find out is there such thing as green slate? Yes, there is.

Friday, October 12, 2018

DUBLIN by Stephen James Smith

Listen

Good Teachers

“The only good teachers for you are those friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny; whose attitude is:
"Tell me more. Tell me all you can. I want to understand more about everything you feel and know and all the changes inside and out of you. Let more come out."

And if you have no such friend,--and you want to write,--well, then you must imagine one.”
― Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another. ”
― Brenda Ueland

“Everybody is original, if he tells the truth, if he speaks from himself. But it must be from his *true* self and not from the self he thinks he *should* be. ”
― Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

“No writing is a waste of time – no creative work where the feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work. With every sentence you write, you have learned something. It has done you good.”
― Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit

Brenda Ueland

If you write, good ideas must come welling up into you so that you have something to write. If good ideas do not come at once, or for a long time, do not be troubled at all. Wait for them. Put down little ideas no matter how insignificant they are. But do not feel, any more, guilty about idleness and solitude.

“The imagination needs moodling,--long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering. ”
― Brenda Ueland

“I learned...that inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.”
― Brenda Ueland

John Edgar Wideman

Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up. But the writing is a way of not allowing those things to destroy you.
-John Edgar Wideman

I’m very lucky. Because we have an extraordinary group of writers at U Mass. And I am in fact inspired by some of their work. Inspired that this whole activity of writing is still alive. Some people are still hooked into it, hooked on it, and willing to take the chances and willing to push themselves. And willing to go a little crazy and willing to confront demons. And I see that activity as absolutely rare and crucial because what it does is sustain the whole notion of imagination in the culture. If there is any threat to our humanity, it’s the threat that somehow our imaginations will be squashed, will become obsolete. It will become redundant, useless. And writing is one way to keep that idea of imagination alive. In my best days I see that as the primary enterprise I’m involved in. Stimulating the imagination. Foregrounding it, saying that it counts. Saying that whatever is in your head has some meaning. And I think most of the messages in the culture are saying that it doesn’t have meaning, that it doesn’t matter what’s inside your head. Fuck you, ya know. Get in line. So I welcome people who are on a different track. We’re on our little boat, ship of fools, and there we are. It’s nice to have company.
-John Edgar Wideman

On a Tip

Jen loved reading license plates. As she walked her dog she would scan the oncoming traffic and try to capture and recite the plates at a glance. She also practiced identifying car logos as they zoomed by. It was a game she played with herself to sharpen her skills. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler, Buick, Pontiac, Volkswagen, Cadillac, Acura, Saab, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Peugeot. Two- door, four-door, SUV, box truck, pickup-truck, semi, passenger van, cargo van. Whenever there was a crazy driver on the highway she'd say their plate number out loud as if to capture them in advance. "Just in case we might need it," she'd say to Maggie, her gray standard poodle riding in the back seat. One time there was an accident right in front of her. She slammed on the breaks. Maggie fell onto the floor of the car. Through the downpour she read, "AI-4QW, Georgia plate red Lexus sedan," and the Lexus zoomed away. Her heart was pounding with adrenaline. She spoke it aloud over and over until she was able to jot it down on the memo pad in her glove compartment. "Officer, I wrote down the license plate of that crazy red Lexus," she said trembling, holding up her memo pad, the thin blue lines dissolving in the rain. Her green manicured nails appeared black from the flashing red and blue lights. "It was a Georgia plate, AI-4QW."
"Thank you, Ma'am, he said, repeating it into his shoulder mic."
"I have this crazy habit of nabbing license plates, since I was a kid," she blurted out.
"Can I have your name and address please?"
"Estelle Rogers, 84 Northbridge Road, but everyone calls me Jen."
"Thank you, Ms. Rogers."
"Jen is fine," she said driving off.
The next day she opened her local newspaper. There it was, Hit and Run Driver Nabbed, it said. Police were able to track down the driver on a tip from a witness. They found the Lexus with front end damage stashed behind Joe's Junkyard on Rubble Street. The driver was wanted in Georgia on several outstanding warrants.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ram Dass: Tools of Transformation

What are some tools we can use for positive transformation?

by Ram Dass

The tools for positive transformation that I’m most aware of are the nature of the human mind, and the nature of the human heart… the quietness of mind and the ability to sit in a place where you’re not in a reactive mode.

In the old days kings used to have elders that didn’t have a line to power, but they would be there, as they were, to keep the space, or keep the vision. There’s just none of that now in the political environment. Talking to my friends in the political world, there’s nobody that’s not reactive, or rather there’s nobody that’s responsive rather than reactive.

Part of what I’ve done is a book on conscious aging, which had to do with the role of elders in a society. This role is known well in Native American cultures. It’s known in many indigenous cultures and other historical cultures. However, because our technology has moved so fast, and we are so focused on knowledge as opposed to wisdom, people become obsolete very quickly. And that obsolescence is throwing out a resource that the society needs. We end up missing the whole model of what to value. It takes an older person to accept the fact that they have a unique curriculum, because our society says that the older person who is valued, is the one that has stayed young. See, because youth is such a focus of the society.

So part of what I see as tools for transformation have to do with honoring what you are as an instrument for transformation – and that has to do with the mind and the heart and the skills.

Hearing what in my business would be called your unique dharma, or your unique manifestation in the game. Also, then learning how to do it as the Bhagavad Gita says by not being identified with being the actor behind what you are doing, and not being attached to the fruits of the actions. Doing it free of those things, where you’re doing it because it’s your part in the dance…

“I’ll do what I can to relieve suffering. I’ll do what I can to preserve the environment, sustainably. I’ll do what I can to bring about justice to the world.”

Whether there is justice or the environment gets sustained, or there is an end to suffering, that is not really my business. It would be chutzpah and presumption for me to think it was. There are just too many variables involved in that. I learned from the East the idea of doing impeccable dharma. That is, doing your thing as well as you can. I mean, when I give lectures or write a book or do whatever I do, or sit with a dying person… the game is to do that as cleanly and as fully consciously, and as equanimous as I can.

The next part of this is how it comes out. This is about identification with yourself as the actor, because if you’re identifying as an actor, like most activists, you burn out immediately because you’re working, and then there’s more to do and you’re working harder and harder. You end up feeling exhausted and burned out.

It’s creating space where you can do the actions without getting trapped in being the actor. Just like your heart is beating – but you’re not beating your heart.

-Ram Dass

Somewhere

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
― Françoise Sagan

Live

“I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.”
― Françoise Sagan

Françoise Sagan

“A Strange melancholy pervades me to which I hesitate to give the grave and beautiful name of sorrow. The idea of sorrow has always appealed to me but now I am almost ashamed of its complete egoism. I have known boredom, regret, and occasionally remorse, but never sorrow. Today it envelops me like a silken web, enervating and soft, and sets me apart from everybody else.”
― Françoise Sagan, Bonjour Tristesse

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Daytime

I'm hearing sounds of a generator, hammers and skill saw with some yelling. There are guys putting a new roof on the house around the corner. I am glad to see neighborhood improvements.

My 55 pound dog is in my lap. This morning he devoured a rib-bone that he found on the sidewalk. On a hot day like today I knew this could make him sick. He just vomited on the floor at the foot of the bed.

Clap the Net

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.”
― Vita Sackville-West

Small Pleasures

“Small pleasures must correct great tragedies, therefore of gardens in the midst of war I bold tell.”
― Vita Sackville-West, The Garden

Wounds

“She wondered which wounds went deeper: the jagged wounds of reality, or the profound invisible bruises of the imagination?”
― Vita Sackville-West

Plants Communicating to Animals

Some plants in Madagascar may have evolved fruit colors so that they can be seen by lemurs that are red-green colorblind.

Over millions of years of natural selection, these plants have developed ways to communicate with animals through their fruits, new research suggests, saying something like “choose me.” With traits evolved to match each animal’s sensory capacities or physical abilities, fruits can signal dinner time in the jungle, and further their plant’s survival as a species.

“When I first learned that plants, in a way, behaved — that they were actually communicating information to animals — my mind exploded,” said Kim Valenta, an evolutionary ecologist at Duke University and co-author of a study published recently in Biology Letters investigating the relationship between fruit color and animal vision.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/09/science/fruit-color-evolution.html

Change Your Mind

“One often hears of suicide pacts. It seems to me a wonderful solution, like going on a long holiday. We could sit and talk one night perhaps, and sip our glasses of milk, and maybe we should wake up in a trouble-free world. I’d propose it this very minute if I were sure you would keep the pact, but I fear that I may go ahead and you may change your mind at the last second.
‘And have the responsibility of disposing of your body?’ I said, which was the worst thing I could have said.”
― R.K. Narayan, The Guide

Graham Greene

“Hate is a lack of imagination.”
― Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory

Monday

“It was Monday morning. Swaminathan was reluctant to open his eyes. he considered Monday specially unpleasant in the calendar. After the delicious freedom of Saturday and Sunday, it was difficult to get into the Monday mood of work and discipline. He shuddered at the very thought of school: the dismal yellow building; the fire-eyed Vedanayagam, his class teacher, and headmaster with his thin long cane...”
― R.K. Narayan, Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts, The Dark Room, The English Teacher

Train

“All the jarring, rattling and clanking, spurting and hissing of the moving train of the train dissolved in the distance into something that was half a sob and half a sigh.”
― R K Narayan, Swami and Friends, The Bachelor of Arts, The Dark Room, The English Teacher

Strangers

“This education has reduced us to a nation of morons; we were strangers to our own culture and camp followers of another culture, feeding on leavings and garbage . . . What about our own roots? . . . I am up against the system, the whole method and approach of a system of education which makes us morons, cultural morons, but efficient clerks for all your business and administration offices.”
― R.K. Narayan, The English Teacher

The Most Beautiful Sight

“The faint aroma of gum and calico that hangs about a library is as the fragrance of incense to me. I think the most beautiful sight is the gilt-edged backs of a row of books on a shelf. The alley between two well-stocked shelves in a hall fills me with the same delight as passing through a silent avenue of trees. The colour of a binding-cloth and its smooth texture gives me the same pleasure as touching a flower on its stalk. A good library hall has an atmosphere which elates. I have seen one or two University Libraries that have the same atmosphere as a chapel, with large windows, great trees outside, and glass doors sliding on noiseless hinges.”
― R. K. Narayan

The English Teacher

“I returned from the village. The house seemed unbearably dull. But I bore it. "There is no escape from loneliness and separation...." I told myself often. "Wife, child, brothers, parents, friends.... We come together only to go apart again. It is one continuous movement. They move away from us as we move away from them. The law of life can't be avoided. The law comes into operation the moment we detach ourselves from our mother's womb. All struggle and misery in life is due to our attempt to arrest this law or get away from it or in allowing ourselves to be hurt by it. The fact must be recognized. A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life. All else is false. My mother got away from her parents, my sisters from our house, I and my brother away from each other, my wife was torn away from me, my daughter is going away with my mother, my father has gone away from his father, my earliest friends - where are they? They scatter apart like the droplets of a waterspray. The law of life. No sense in battling against it...." Thus I reconciled myself to this separation with less struggle than before.”
― R.K. Narayan, The English Teacher

ByWriting

“You become [a] writer by writing. It is a yoga.”
― R. K. Narayan

R.K. Narayan

“Friendship was another illusion like love, though it did not reach the same mad heights. People pretended that they were friends, when the fact was they were brought together by force of circumstances.”
― R.K. Narayan, The Bachelor of Arts

Biology and Chemistry

Cheese fungus!Article

Soul Pod

Going Home, by Ram Dass & Mirabai Bush
July 28, 2018 By Mirabai Bush
Article

FLOW

https://www.ramdass.org/the-totality-of-the-moment/

Spacious Awareness

Just as I’m aware of my body aging and decaying, I’m aware of my awareness getting lighter and less attached to forms, and I’m aware of personality processes. I’m aware that when somebody awakens an impulse within me a reaction will also awaken, but I can see it almost in slow motion as just these processes going on. All I end up being is just these processes: there isn’t somebody there. All the form of me ends up being just these processes, and behind it all there is not somebody being aware, there is just the awareness; which is even subtler.

We keep projecting our own solidity into everybody else. So it’s very hard for me to convey to you the kind of nothingness that’s going on in here, and to say to you that you just keep delicately approaching and just playing with watching the way in which you need that reassurance of being somebody. Watch that need, and see that need as a phenomenon that exists in the universe, lawfully existing, then keep quieting the mind and deepening the connection to just that part of you that is just with it all, just this spacious kind of awareness.

It's called spacious awareness. It’s the sky, just the sky.

-Ram Dass

A Spiral Process

I’m really a great advocate of the spiral process, of the spiral path. . .

There’s a quality of learning how to trust your own inner guide.
Article by Ram Dass

Cultural Mythology

How does the function of mythology affect our culture?

by Ram Dass

I think when you encounter a moment of rapid transformation you’ll find a lot of dysfunctional mythology. There’s plenty of mythology in our culture. There’s no absence of myth. I mean, when I look at aging people there’s tremendous mythology about who you’re supposed to be when you’re old. However, I’m training people how to escape from the current mythology so they can create a new one. Basically, a more creative and more useful mythology to themselves and the society.

There are myths like the “American Dream” for example. It is now no longer a functional myth because it can’t be realized. I mean, most people’s children are living less well than they did, and that’s not the American Dream myth anymore. The idea that you can just use up the universe any way you want to, that more is better, and all of these kinds of parts of it… it just doesn’t pan out.

When a myth is no longer functional, yet people maintain a strong identification with it’s mythology, when the myth stops working it doesn’t feel good. Like in the middle class, a lot of the cocaine usage is because of the dysfunctionality of the mythology and trying to cope with that, because they worked very hard and they won by the game, but then it doesn’t feel good. None of it is actually functional.

So there’s all kinds of pathology that happens when people are holding on to a dysfunctional myth that’s not working. Before they are ready to entertain the idea of creating a new myth, what happens when they hold on is that they contract. They contract when it isn’t working out and they get more prejudices. They have to blame others.

When you look at divorce rates and serial monogamy in California and all these shifts in values, you’ve gotta recognize that a lot of the myths that we are – family values and things, just aren’t who we are anymore. It’s like when you’ve made an investment into all of that, believing it’s a certain thing, and then it’s not.

It causes contraction and then prejudices, then bigotry, and eventually violence.

And so what I’ve seen as part of our role is to respond to the transformative period when there’s dysfunctional mythology by examining it and ourselves. By cleaning the mind enough so that you’re not clinging to something that is no longer present – no longer relevant. I don’t think that at any moment there is less mythology than at any other moment, it’s just the question of how functional the myths are, rather than whether they’re there or not.

Our patriotism is really something that is just in this culture, which is a really very young America and our mythology is awfully thin for the moment.

I mean, it used to be Mom and apple pie and the American flag, and it’s not. It hasn’t evolved much further than that, on the whole, because of our reluctance to recognize the depth of our fellow human beings. Because of political landscapes and the social communications, we trivialize the issues – we soundbite them, we turn them into things we do not have to respect.

When I go into other cultures where they’re dialoguing, where they’re really reflecting each other and doing it together, I realize I don’t feel that here very much. I don’t feel it.

-Ram Dass

Ocean of Devotion

What the Beloved, your guru, reveals to you is your own soul. Even so you may choose like Hanuman, to remain in a kind of duality to serve and remain immersed in the ocean of devotion.
-Ram Dass

What Part Would you Like to Play?

I would like to play the part of someone who has worked on my consciousness sufficiently so that if things get tough, in terms of environment, social structures, oppression, minority groups, whatever the thing is – I would like to be able to be in the scene without getting caught in my own reactivity to it, without getting so caught in my own fear that I become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

-Ram Dass, Article

The Inner Journey

Ram Dass Article

Meditation

Meditation affects your life and your life shapes your meditation.
Article by Ram Dass

A Reminder

Death is a Reminder to Live Life Fully
Article by Ram Dass

Reminisces

I’ve given up preparing because I decided I prepare for a “them,” but I talk with an “us.” and I think this ritual, whatever it is has to be more of “us.” and don’t expect too much linearity, cause I don’t think linearly. It all comes out in the wash though.

-Ram Dass, Naropa Lecture Series, 1994

Ram Dass

How does consciousness affect the direction of our daily lives?
Read

Trust Your Experience

“You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity. Wherever you have turned, James, in your short time on this earth, you have been told where you could go and what you could do (and how you could do it) and where you could live and whom you could marry. I know your countrymen do not agree with me about this, and I hear them saying "You exaggerate." They do not know Harlem, and I do. So do you. Take no one's word for anything, including mine- but trust your experience. Know whence you came.”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin

“Allegiance, after all, has to work two ways; and one can grow weary of an allegiance which is not reciprocal.”
― James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name

Sentimentality

“Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty...the wet eyes of the sentimentalist betray his aversion to experience, his fear of life, his arid heart; and it is always, therefore, the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mark of cruelty.”
― James Baldwin

James Baldwin

“But, when the chips are down, its better to be furious with someone you love, or frightened for someone you love, than be put through the merciless horror of being ashamed of someone you love.”
― James Baldwin

Literature

“Literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks at reality, then you can change it.”
― James Baldwin

The Earth is Always Shifting

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”
― James Baldwin

To Discover

“It comes as a great shock…to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance…has not pledged allegiance to you. It comes as a great shock to see Gary Cooper killing off the Indians, and although you are rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians are you.”
― James Baldwin