Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Taos, New Mexico

Taos energy is like no other I have experienced. It is a town mostly composed of artists, spiritual seekers, odd ducks and visionaries. the red adobe walls glow in the late sun and provide a perfect backdrop for the many mountain flowers that grow everywhere. Here, you see purple sage; there, a collection of red pots; up the road, an old gate that has creeked back and forth for generations.
Today I am helping my friend Ginto Naujokas, a Taos potter, load an outdoor, woodfire kiln. I am documenting all of this for my students. I have told Ginto that his face will grace a bulletin board this fall: "GINTO THE POTTER."
There is so much I have to tell you and I am busily writing notes and taking pictures. It is hard to properly express beauty and life like this. Until then, have a beautiful day wherever your life is taking you.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"wild geese" by mary oliver

took off on a road trip this morning, and will be checking in with you via this blog along the way. this poem by mary oliver captures so much for me tonight:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

© Mary Oliver.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

sacred spaces

I just got back from a long visit with my dad. This picture was taken in New Harmony, before he, Deborah and I went out to dinner and a play there. We stopped at this memorial garden and wandered around first, admiring the way the tree branches seemed to join together to form a rooftop over this quiet, sacred space. It was hotter than hell, as it had been all week, in the 90's, but it felt comfortable here, and it was a feast for the senses. A fountain gave us the gift of the sound of softly falling water; the hostas burst forth lusciously; little benches with feminine curves invited us to sit.
I turned around, camera in hand, and saw my dad standing there, with is arms crossed, standing straight and tall and handsome, and took this picture. In it, I see his essence shining through. I thought, this is him, the eternal him. I see the same man I looked up at when dancing with him, my feet on his, when I was little. The invincible one. The next day I photographed many views of his basement, where he has multiple working spaces where he works on his trains and practices his trumpet. Again, I was struck by it: there he was, the same man. It could be that the spaces in which we do the work we were intended to do, the work that makes our hearts sing with gratitude, show at least as much about us as our faces do, especially when we get older, and we weat time as well as passion on them.

things i don't remember

o I don’t remember most of my kindergarten through fourth grade years. I am particularly blank on kinder and first grades beyond a few brief flashes of images…. kinder rugs and naptime and saying something stupid to the teacher and having her look at me with one of those disgusted looks I dreaded. First grade, cleaning out the fishbowl-come to think of it, why the hell did they make that a job for a first grader? -And dumping the damned fish down the drain in the process. I have no idea who my first grade teacher was. I have no idea who my second grade teacher was. I also don’t remember what the classrooms looked like. I remember the hallway because I was there for six years. I also remember the playground.

o I don’t’ remember what my first three houses looked like. The first one is understandable; after all, I was barely past infancy when we left it. But Forrest Avenue=the stairway, the front porch, the rhubarb plants in the back yard, the alley.
o Lewis Avenue-long curtains that were shiny and I thought quite ugly. The bedrooms are a blank. I probably shared them both with my little sister but I don’t remember.

o I don’t remember what my mother smelled like, or what her voice sounded like. The home movies I have of her do not have sound. Her voice is on a demo record for Kego the Eskimo, a story my dad was trying to sell that included a song. My mom played the voice of Mrs. Santa. I haven’t heard it since the kids were little and we played it for them during a visit to Grampy’s house.

o I don’t remember what I saw in Dave Treul. I remember a great deal about what happened during the two –plus years that we were together-places gone, events attended, snippets from particularly hideous fights, but not what I actually saw in him. I don’t’ remember actually loving him.

o I don’t remember most of the days between listing the farmhouse and actually moving out of it and I certainly and maybe thankfully don’t remember moving day. I am sure that it was hell, but mercifully, I don’t have much in my file on that one.

o I don’t remember what Annie Lane looked like, except that I remember thinking that she looked a lot like Jon, which was a relief, because someone at the hospital, I don’t remember who, told me that she heard that there was a facial deformity. I am glad that I saw for myself that it was not true. I wish I had a picture of my tiny daughter who never drew breath in this world.

o I don’t remember how bad it felt when I was at my worst, those many dark days and nights when demons flew through my head and I was unable to find solace, to rest, to feel safely held.

o I don’t remember being drunk feels like, or being stoned-but especially drunk. I haven’t had an experience that mimics drunkenness that would even be reminiscent, a time when I could say, “ wow, I feel drunk.” I have twice had anesthesia during my seventeen years of sobriety, and both times, I was just OUT, that fast. When I was on heavy pain meds after the enucleation surgery, I just felt sleepy.

o I don’t remember what hamburgers taste like, or chicken or steak, or bacon—you get the idea. I haven’t eaten meat for almost as long as I haven’t had a drink. I don’t miss meat. I don’t like the smell of it. I imagine the molecules traveling through the air, microscopic meat specks, and I don’t want them to get in my nose.

o I don’t remember what PMS feels like. How great is that.

o I don’t remember what is in all of those boxes down under the basement stairs and taking up space on the shelf in the garage. I filled them up before I moved here and I don’t know what I put in them. I have considered just having them all hauled away without opening them.

o I don’t remember what it is like to live without cell phones, cable TV, and computers. In fact, it is fascinating to me to sit and think about that. Hell, I hardly remember what it was like to be chained to a phone or computer by chords.everything is wireless now, and I talk on the phone in the car and pay my bills laying in bed with my laptop propped on my knees.

o I don’t remember to take my vitamins and other pills on a regular basis.

o I don’t remember how to do most math calculations. It has been too long and, as I suspected, I never did have to use any of them in real life, as my lying teachers contended.