MUSE LOG: Coffee in the Backyard    
 Coffee in the Backyard65 comments
picture4 May 2003 @ 13:05, by John Ashbaugh

Thinking of my pals in the Embryo.
Foreign language sensitivity kind of on the dim side right now, with Spanish, German, and French being my only acquaintances west of the Nile.
Looking to my daily, such as it is, journal
for raw material. Sitting in the back yard with my buddy
cooling down some hot coffee and planning a day.


April 25 at nine forty-seven after sunset. How about limbering up exercises? Where do we go from here, every time we turn around, Alice? The back door is open and the night air fills the rooms of the house. Pollen lingers in the air, everywhere. Clouds of cottony seedlings twirl in a circular dance of wispy fluff through the whirlwind in the doorway. One in a million will ever grow into a tree, or one in ten million, or. . .? however many it takes to keep the tree alive.
The afternoon is a walk through all kinds of pages filled with all kinds of thoughts, all kinds of stories with all kinds of plots for how to find the words and the phrases that say what is meant. I’m not teaching a creative writing class. It is about typologies of form. Descriptions, Narrations, Comparisons, Illustrations by Example, how to clearly write a Process describing how to do something or how something works, how to write a collaborative proposal, how to summarize an article, how to write a good cover letter and resume, how to write a good basic correct five page research paper, and a few other things such as thoughts on professionalism and out-of-the-box thinking.
My role is to create a sense of direction that sees beyond this course towards a self-motivated desire to develop and improve the range of expressive capabilities. In my own experience, self-motivation has certainly had its crests and its troughs.
How did we decide what we wanted to read when we were learning how to read and we were taken to a library and told we could choose our own books? Dick and Jane graduate into a new universe of categories. From dinosaurs and the shape of the world to Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery stories, the stories, it turns out, are endless in multitude, while every now and then, something exquisite comes along. Simply a turn in thought, spiraling away from the closed loop of history. All of those disparate fragments of thought swirling through the room like pollen on a springtime evening are funneled into the black hole at the center of the whirling galaxy. That’s about as much as anyone knows, as far as I know, about where we are going.
Meanwhile, back in the cubicle, my Kiva. One thing I like about this part of the country is the adobe. This part of New Mexico is in the middle of the Pueblo culture. The Native culture is alive and close in this area. Close, that is, to the spirit of the city, which is Spanish in origin and close to its 300th anniversary.
And then there is this thing called America, and these people who say they are Americans, and woe betide anyone who says they are anti-American.
We are all immersed in America. Why on earth do I need to care about America? I was borne into the earth from my mother’s womb and by my father’s seed and I owe no allegiance to any country. My only allegiance is to the life of the planet. Those who threaten her are threatening me. This monster of all of these political allegiances and all of these financial control mechanisms are strangling the life out of me. Perhaps I should protest.


April 28, at eleven-twenty, Monday night. Recollection of the day begins with Saturday afternoon when I go over to visit Bob, my friend of little more than a year, who, I find out, will be leaving this city to go take a job in Kenosha,
Wisconsin. He knows Kenosha; he’s from there in the first place, and he and I have a definite connection in our familiarities with Chicago, Milwaukee, and other parts of southern Wisconsin. He knows movies too, like no-one I have ever known knows movies. He knows the history, all the way back; he knows who played in what movie, when, and who got which awards for what. Being the coast-to-coast traveler that he has been in his 40 some odd years, he’s been through Hollywood and can probably draw you a map of every significant movie related location in the greater Los Angeles area. He seeks out obscure locations which served as settings, such as that north Texas town where The Last Picture Show was shot. He’s got a library of movies on laser disk, movies on VHS, and movies on DVD that to me is phenomenal. He’s introduced me to quite a few shows that I might not otherwise have seen. His apartment is sparsely furnished to the point of being almost unfurnished. His entertainment center seems skeletal, a nineteen inch TV monitor and the required playing devices, compact and efficient. He likes cats. He’s got two that he calls his own, but there are always easily five or six or seven hanging out, wandering in and out through he front door or the back window. They come to visit, he feeds them, they procreate, he finds homes for the kittens, and sometimes for the larger ones. He’s going to take the two he claims to Wisconsin, and find homes for the others during the next few days while he’s preparing to leave. He’s built a solid wire cage for his cats, about two feet square, by three feet long. He’s making a platform in the cage, and he will carpet the whole thing. He wants them to be comfortable; it’s going to be a long ride. He’s giving me a tall narrow bookshelf and a lightstand and I’ve got a couple of tools over at my place that he can use, and those two carpeting scraps that he can pad the cats’ cage with, so we take the bookshelf over to my home and pick up those tools and go back to his place. We drink a little and smoke a little, and order in a pizza. He picks a movie off of this cable connection to play while our conversation goes on. Mommie Dearest, is on. I’ve never seen t before; he knows all kinds of things about who the movie is about, who is playing in the movie, and enough to fill a couple of review articles easily. So the movie going by is not just peppered with commentary, but saturated with observations that go off in all kinds of directions within the realm of cinema lore.
The conversation is more entertaining than the movie, but I manage to focus in on enough to get the major picture. A young man and his wife and their two kids, a boy and a girl somewheres around 8 or 10 come over to look at the kittens. There are two, and one of them has hidden itself or temporarily disappeared itself thoroughly. This young couple are very discerning about choosing a kitten. They are looking for temperament, and they want to see both before making their choice. So they leave and say they’ll call back. Comes the end of the movie, and we’ve had a pretty good night, Bob and I. Time for me to head back, late Saturday night. All day Sunday, talk to nobody, except for the convenience store clerk I buy the Sunday morning paper from, and my mother in St. Louis at 5 o’clock during our weekly phone visit. Do some rearranging of stuff in my own little apartment, as stuffed to the gills as it is, almost the antithesis of Bob’s apartment in that respect. Shove some useless stuff out in my little back yard, and rearrange enough of what is left to re-create a space that had been lost. Like visiting Bob has given me the ethos of rearranging things and creating a new sense of space and place in my own arrangement of objects. Where he has laser disks and VHS tapes and DVD disks, I’ve got more books that I need, and an inventory of paintings that are collecting dust. The least I can do is dust them off, and think about making another one. That would be a major step. This painter has been very dormant. He needs to find his painting space. Time wise, motivation wise, and inspiration wise. Ah, to capture the spirit of a 1400 mile move to a familiar place where things go well and show promise.

May 2, Friday night, Saturday morning, somewhere in between there. Visiting Bob tonight for a couple of hours after 10:30. He puts in a movie like I’ve never seen before: UHF. We’ve got a couple of beers and a couple of cigarettes to take the edge off. He’s going to the flea market tomorrow to sell his very nice living room coffee table and matching corner-table. He’s got a friend who has some stuff he wants to sell, and they need to get out there early to get a decent spot in this humongous weekly weekend event. Only concern for Bob about this is that this friend invariably runs late for whatever is going on, which would make an annoying experience out of what alternatively could be a fruitful day.
And then there are various appointments that need to be kept for prospective kitten adopters. He needs a break and so do I and I’ve got a 4-pack of 16-ouncers and a pack of Pall Malls, my cigarette of choice since I was 20 or so, and a handful of photographs taken on a day trip to Santa Fe last fall. Bridges and streams and architecture. Last night, we had a visit and he pulled out a stack of photos that he had taken in Santa Fe just recently. It was an overcast day and there were no shadows and the colors of the scenery and the architecture he focused on were vivid and soft. Being an overcast and cool day as it was, very few people were out. The streets were vacant. It was all there for his camera to drink in, void of the everyday, and speaking its spirit through the mist caressing the ageless adobe. Given a camera in the hand, I’d say it’s safe to say that his and my choice of subject matter and the spirit evoked through the attitude taken, are in the same ballpark. Getting to know someone better now. Something that was always there. His approach to photography. I didn’t even know he had a camera. Here is the eye that focuses the scene. I’ve got box fulls or boxes full which is to say a whole bunch of photos accumulated over the past whole bunches of years, significantly disorganized. Bob’s got boxes full of photographs too. That one roll of pictures he showed me told me a whole lot. There is a visionary direction in there, and a very well developed aesthetic sensibility. That’s just my opinion. What can I say? Our choices of photographic direction are very similar. One little kitten has lost its little sister, and its future direction is very uncertain. I pick it up from the rug and let it sleep in my lap. One of the resident mothers who has had all of her kittens recently adopted out is being very protective of this little one, even though it’s not her own. She doesn’t want it to be adopted out. It might wind up going to Wisconsin. Never know what tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, May fourth at ten-forty a.m. Put in a little time with my pal Rod yesterday from about eleven-thirty to about four-thirty. We sat in my back yard over coffee,
then drove over to the Conoco station on San Mateo, then had a sandwich on the patio outside the Blimpie’s and Starbucks on Jefferson. Then we drove over to the Shady Lake fishing hole off the side of the road on the way to Bernalillo.
A very picturesque set of ponds with water lily pads and blossoms and bright yellow long-stalked flowers reflecting into the water along the shoreline.
Giant, old cottonwoods send spreading twisting branches laden with fluttering green and silver leaves towards the sky. An occasional turtle sits out on an occasional log protruding from the water. A frog’s eye emerges from the quiet algae tinted water near one corner of the pond. Rod has his camera and takes a roll of about 36 with his artist’s eye for composition. We visualize painting after painting as we stroll around the perimeter of one of the two principal ponds. The sharply rising grey rocky mountains to the east of the city reflect in the water as in a lightly rippled mirror. On the way back into town, we stop at Wendy’s on San Mateo for a frosty chocolate milk shake, just like we used to back there in Canyon and Amarillo, looking out the window at the traffic and the trees and the people walking by and the flowers growing. Home alone for the evening, time to vacate the mind with the video of Excalibur, a very well done 1981 British movie, a little over two hours long, about the Arthurian legend. The night turns into the morning uneventfully. The day is cloudy and overcast and the Sunday morning paper and coffee and light breakfast are behind me. Some time with Bob is in store for today as I pick up the DVD player and small top quality TV monitor I am buying from him. We’ll bring them over here and he’ll help me set them up. I’ll leave the scheduling up to him. He’s the one who’s got a thousand and one things to think about as he enters his last week in Albuquerque, which has been his home for nine years. His brother will be driving in from Kenosha around the middle of the week with the Dodge caravan that will be the moving vehicle that Bob plans to pack tightly, with essentially, his video library and his cats.
Bob’s brother has never been to the Southwest, so Bob figures they might drive north through the mountains and Taos and northeastern New Mexico.
I remember my first time driving through New Mexico back in the spring of ’78. Gail had a Volkswagen and both of us had a couple of weeks off from whatever we were doing in Madison, Wisconsin, so we got out a map and started tracing our fingers around and landed on the Canyon De Chelly on the Navaho reservation in northeastern Arizona. I remember driving across the northeastern corner of the Texas panhandle and visiting the Taos pueblo. We made it to the Canyon and walked our way down to the floor. We gave a local ride to some Native hitchhikers, and drove on back. Didn’t get back into this neighborhood till the spring and summer of ’95, just following my move in the fall of ’94 from the lakeshore north of Milwaukee to the plains and canyonlands of the panhandle around Amarillo.



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65 comments

5 May 2003 @ 17:11 by swan : Ah this coffee,
I must drink this in and go on the journey where this diary leads me. So real I am right there with you...in the garden, in the backyard.  


6 May 2003 @ 11:30 by swan : John, I just love this piece,
I felt like I was right there with you visiting each of your friends and getting a snap shot of you life. I was waiting for you to take that kitten home!  


8 May 2003 @ 09:43 by koravya : The Kitten
It looks like, will be going to Wisconsin.
It's going through a sickness these days.
It sits on the floor or wherever it's put down as in a semi-conscious stupor.
It's eyes are putting out mucus which Bob continually wipes away.
Not a good idea to put a sickly kitten in with strangers.
It's got Bob's two big cats to help look after it.
Now, if it makes the trip OK,
it will soon be breathing some of that Lakeshore wind blowing in from the East.
.*.*.*
Thanks for joining us in the backyard, Swan.
Any time, day or night.  



8 May 2003 @ 20:26 by koravya : Another thought
In the middle of the night between May fifth and May sixth. There was a time when I wrote some thoughts every night about the day gone by. This was when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in South India when I was 24 and 25. Never been beyond Missouri and Illinois before then, although I betokened an interest in international literature and economics and the varieties of culture inhabiting our planet. So there I was in the seacoast town of Cuddalore, a district capital and port for the export iron ore industry a ways inland. A river which flooded during the monsoon and dried up like a bone during the hot season divided the town of roughly a hundred thousand into Old Town, which included the port, and New Town, where urban population growth was fanning out in a northwesterly direction. The stretch of beachland extending north of the mouth of the river was left essentially to the fishing villagers. These people live in a world of their own apart from the city. They’ve got mud huts with grass roofs and they make their living going out to sea as far as not completely out of sight over the horizon on what they called catamarans which were nothing more than a few logs lashed together with a pole in the middle serving as a mast for the single sail.
That, paddling, and the waves are what made those ocean going vessels move.
I went out a little ways with one of those fishermen one day, just to get the feel of it. There was a little promontory of land in that corner of space north of the mouth, and here was the last surviving building of Fort St. David, built by the Portugese over two hundred years ago, captured by the French, and fought over during the French and English wars. This remaining structure was evidently the headquarters or principal residential area for it had several large rooms and the architecture was commanding in its view. It faced the sea, about a quarter to half mile to the East. There was a very wide beach sprinkled with occasional palm trees. All of this is out there and I get to live out there. My assignment is in New Town, and I bicycle two miles every morning through a patch of rural, pastoral countryside that gradually transforms through increasing clusters of roadside tea shops and accompanying huts into nicer looking houses into the city. There is my day, and every day is different, and I got a whole lot of time to get to know a whole lot of people who quite literally are on the other side of the world from everything I have ever known. I had to write it all down just to remember it. I had to translate what people said to me and how they acted towards me into my own understanding. I wrote about them, as many of them as I could, at night, at the end of the day, in terms of my own emotional and intellectual reality. English and Tamil were our languages of discourse. It’s just a matter of finding the words that say what you mean, and getting a sense of understanding in return. I guess
I had some stories in there. I sure enough had a bundle of memories. But I didn’t want to make up any stories about any of those people, or translate the whole thing into some sort of Peace Corps Novel. I wrote them all down to help myself understand what it was, the whole complex cultural complex, together with the individuals who were co-creating my very personal experience. There were those days back in the early 70s after I returned to Illinois when I started to type those pages out. We didn’t have word processors back then. Regardless, I hadn’t gone more than about twenty pages when I came to a standstill with this project. It was all out of respect to those people I was writing about. I didn’t even want to type out my notebooks, much less work them into a marketable narrative. Nope, it was done in its written form; it served its purpose. It made those people more alive to me than they already had been. I thought about them more, when I wrote about them at night, about what we had done and said during the day, and I took those thoughts into the next day. I kept those notebooks in some shoeboxes for a couple of more years. Then smoked them to the stars.  



9 May 2003 @ 05:35 by swan : Journals are like sacred temples
of our thoughts.
I like this idea:" I had to translate what people said to me and how they acted towards me into my own understanding."

For about 7 or 8 years I kept a daily journal, for the same purpose, understanding the outside world within my inner world. Each time I filled one I bought a new bound journal. It was like writing a book because my thoughts were going into a bound book. It felt important. I reach a point where I felt I had explore and purged and released things that had been swimming in my psyche for so long.
I went camping by myself one week end taking all of the 36 journals with me. Many of them had images and collages interwoven into the writing. I took all of the journals and put them in the fire pit and lit it on fire. I sat for hours as the smoke of my thoughts climbed to the stars and filled the sky. In the morning when I awoke the embers were still burning, many hours later.

Sometimes those thoughts and writings are just sacred rituals that are only for ourselves and the Creator to see.

Save a little spot in the backyard garden, among the plants, close to the earth, for me to sit...  



10 May 2003 @ 16:03 by koravya : Aha.! Swan.
So you are a note burner too!
Your chair is reserved in my backyard,
and perhaps some time
we shall warm our hands
by some flames at night.  



10 May 2003 @ 16:08 by koravya : Untitled
Wednesday at ten-forty at night, May 7. Bob shows up over here at around 2:30 and we sit some time out in my back yard with some coffee and cigarettes. He only lives about a block and a half from here. We drive over to this place to pick up that DVD player and the little TV, and bring them over here and hook them all up with my regular TV and my VHS player. I’ve got more electronic devices in my home now than I have ever had. Kind of strange for someone who’s been living without a TV and accessories for most of his life. Have only had the big TV for about 2 years. It’s been good for watching movies for fun and videos I can show my classes. Don’t have a clue of my own about what’s on channel TV, much less the cable labyrinth. Got some clues from watching TV over at Bob’s. I don’t have time for that when I’m sitting alone. The sounds of silence and my own thought patterns and the natural world generally provide me with all the entertainment I need. An occasional friend to keep me talking every once in a while. The faculty and students at the school. My brothers and sisters and mother.
Will stops over for an unexpected visit. He is twenty and he and his 19 year old wife Raeanna are trying to figure out how to live together now that they have their twin baby girls, now one and a half years old. He’s in his eleventh quarter of a three year program in Computer and Electronics Engineering Technology, at the school where I teach. When Linette and I moved here in September of 2000, we didn’t know anybody in this city. Linette is good at making neighborhood friends. I generally keep to myself and wouldn’t have gotten to know virtually anyone in this neighborhood were it not for Linette. Will and Raeanna had just moved into an apartment a half a block over and a half a block up. They were barely out of high school from Ruidoso, 200 miles from here, and they were both starting the program in Electronics at the school where I was about to get my first job in this city, less than a month after Linette and I moved here from Amarillo, 300 miles away in another direction. Linette and Raeanna became friends, so it wasn’t long before we were all visiting each other. Will and Raeanna weren’t married at the time, but they lived like a couple, and argued like a couple, and stayed together as a couple. Even when one or the other says he or she is going to leave the other one for good, at the bottom of my listening ear, I just don’t hear it happening. Raeanna got pregnant, they got married and she dropped out of school. They both love those baby girls a lot. Raeanna’s been living down in Ruidoso the last several months, getting some college credits and working some job, and her mother is helping with the babies. Will’s been driving down every weekend from Friday night to Monday morning to be with Raeanna and their babies. Will’s been living in a tiny little apartment, and he’s saving money by not paying the electricity bill. He lives in the dark at night. The plan now is to have Raeanna and the babies move back to stay with Will, and they will have to find a bigger apartment and turn on the lights. Next quarter, Will’s final quarter, starts in the middle of June. He’ll be under some academic pressure. Last quarter is final project time and he wants to show good. He’s certainly capable of it, if his sense of distraction is not overwhelmed. Linette and I always encouraged them to find a way to stay together, whenever they were going through their various separations. Linette doesn’t live here anymore. I don’t know where she is, or even if she is alive. I last saw her a year and three months ago, and I last heard from her on the phone six months ago. I haven’t seen Raeanna and the babies for several months. I see Will in the hallways at school, and have even had him in a couple of courses, Art Appreciation, and Humanities, but we mostly maintain the student-teacher relationship there. He’ll come over here occasionally, and we’ll sit in the back yard with some hot tea and a cigarette or two, day or night. His older brother is an actor at an alternative theatre down near the university, and Will and I have seen several of those plays together. Raeanna’s gonna want to know where Linette is, and I’m not going to know.  



10 May 2003 @ 16:09 by koravya : Untitled 2
Saturday, May tenth at about ten-forty in the morning. Saw Bob and his brother off at nine. Two big cats and the little sick one are going with. The Dodge Caravan is full without being packed. Plan is to drive up through Taos and pick up some sage along the way for the sister who lives in Ontario with the Ojibwa.
Bob comes from a big family. His dad, widowed with five, and his mom, widowed with three, married their families together and made two more. Bob was the last. His brother Ray is telling Bob that that little kitty doesn’t look like its going to make it. Bob has got the care regimen down though, and keeps insisting that it will be OK. “I know cats,” are his affirmative words of confirmation. Here’s this 200 pound ex-Marine sniper, 39 years old with a plan. Live cheap in Wisconsin for a year or a year and a half, work this $16 per hour warehouse job for all its worth, save up about $10,000 so he can move to Los Angeles and look for work as a production assistant. Those jobs are come and go depending on who’s making what movies when or where, but it’s clear that with his knowledge of movie history and the industry in general, that that’s where he needs to be.
He’s got some ties in Albuquerque, so he’ll likely be back for a visit in six months, so, “I’ll be back. That’s a warning,” flashes with a cheerful grin through his stubbled face as he heads for the shotgun side of the Caravan. I’m dreaming this morning of leaving my teaching job behind, I mean just not showing up Monday and letting them figure it out. Not only am I leaving my job, I’m leaving this whole apartment full of everything that is in it behind along with that job. I’m with my student Paul R., a rough spoken, good natured, inner city young man and about three of his buddies whom I don’t know, like a little crew of brothers, and Paul is saying, “C’mon, let’s go,’ and otherwise encouraging me to get with them so we can move on, and where we’re going is Los Angeles, for whatever exact reason I’m not exactly sure, except that it is new and different to us, far from where we are, irrevocably so, and laden with unknown possibilities. I am hesitating because I have this responsibility to the school, and in particular to my boss, the Director of Education, who’s in charge of the teaching faculty, the man who hired me, and whom I truly like as an individual. Just leaving cold turkey in the middle of a quarter without notice would really be like a betrayal to him, and I really don’t want to do that. Even leaving this job with notice and honorably, could place me in a very precarious position for providing for my simple lifestyle. Paul and his crew are a little bit too carefree with their laissez-faire come-what-may attitude. They’re a little bit on the younger side from me, and I’ve spent my share of time living close to the streets on razor sharp budgets with no place to go. I’ll be keeping the job for now. It’s an honorable practice, helping people learn how to write better, and passing on a few other bits of information that help develop thinking processes. As for myself, I have learned and continue to learn more than I ever have known before about small group dynamics, both with the faculty and with the students. Can this continue indefinitely, or will there be a change? And if there is to be a change, what would that be?  



10 May 2003 @ 17:00 by swan : Something leaped up inside of me
as I read "leaving my teaching job behind, I mean just not showing up Monday and letting them figure it out. Not only am I leaving my job, I’m leaving this whole apartment full of everything that is in it behind along with that job." That moment when we follow the impulse, take the giant leap, follow some unknown call. For a moment you were moving to Los Angeles, where Carrie my 22 year old daughter lives. That's cool, it think to myself. I stayed on the edge of my seat following your dream back to that place where reality sets back in again. But for a moment the dream was real.......very nice!

And loss...isn't life filled with them. Sometimes loss so hard to bear, our heart breaks open to make room for someone else to come in and fill the void...and we let them in, knowing there will always be loss, because it is that way in life.  



10 May 2003 @ 18:08 by swan : The news from Minnesota
Friday May 9, 7PM. I have an opening of my art in a small town in Southern Minnesota, an hour away from my house. I have to admit that I was driving much faster than I should have, for now particular reason. The opening was nice. I had 12 paintings in the gallery, which is housed in a 1920' s former library. Nice space for a gallery. People came who had seen my work and wanted to meet me. That always surprises me. My friend Aryk played a concert for me and the music was great. After the concert a young girl came up to me and handed me the post card announcing my show and said " can I have your autograph?" A virgin moment, because that was the first time anyone asked for my autograph. AHH, she was cute and it was a special moment.
My mom and my son went to the opening with me. My son was a surprise because when I asked him if he wanted to come with he snapped at me. I told him it was ok and I went out to brush the coating of tree seeds off of my car. As I was brushing the seeds away with my snow brush, Nathan came out in his stocking feet and said " I have to appologize for being and asshole, mom." Than he told me he wanted to go with to the opening. That was nice.
Today I planted all of the seeds the Scotty sent me from her garden into mine. I thought about Scotty and the Island of Guadalope with every seed. I hope this transcontenental experiment bears fruit.
Now it is raining. The seeds should be happy. I love the rain on my roof. My studio-bedroom-library-office is all in the same space on the third floor of my house. 800 square feet of heaven. My roof goes up in the shape of a pyramid to an 18 foot peak. A few angels hang out up here with me, and whisper inspiration into my ear.
So Minnesota is wet right now where I live.  



17 May 2003 @ 11:59 by koravya : Untitled Three
May seventeen at eleven-thirty in the morning. About to embark on a year long journey which could lead to some interesting and definitely unforeseeable changes in the direction of my choices. Under the advice and care of a responsible chiropractor, I am beginning a program of corrective re-structuring. My lower spine is twisted out of alignment, and is surely interfering with my spinal cord and its life regulating extensions in that area. The neck is also out of line. The curve of the spine at the neck is supposed to describe a thirty degree arc, known as the “arc of life.” As the neck straightens and the arc decreases, pressure is put on the cord which connects the brain to the rest of the body. My sorry arc is clocking in at twelve degrees. The doctor has shown me before and after x-rays of some of his previous patients. One of them was down to an arc of six degrees, and that was corrected to twenty-eight. There are all kinds of people all over the place carrying themselves around with distortions in their spine and neck, and the concurrent pressure on their nerves is the source of many ailments and attitudes. In my case, I have known my lower back isn’t right for some years, going all the way back to 1982, my last of four years as a city bus driver in Madison, Wisconsin. That’s when the initial fundamental distortion was established. It bounced me right out of that bus, and I spent a whole summer exercising and running through the fields to work that thing out. So I fixed it up somewhat for the time being, but the deep seated damage had been done, and every once in a while the aggravation would return, and I would have to adjust some fundamental aspect of my life to allow generally for more movement and fewer stationary patterns. I saw a chiropractor back in ’97 when I was having an aggravation, for just a few times. He didn’t tell me anything like what this guy said to me last week. There are temporary relief chiropractors and corrective care chiropractors. The man I’m seeing this time is the man who’s going to set me straight. It will be an intensive three times per week for the first twelve weeks, at which time another x-ray will be taken. Then it will be two times a week for six weeks, and one time per week the last 36 weeks. The damage is deep seated and it’s taken years to develop to its present stage. He reads the whole story right there in the x-ray. The bottom part of my spine looks like a corkscrew. The journey begins on Monday, May 19. When I’m laid out on his cushioned table with its slot for my face and adjustable segments, and he is telling me to lean over this way or roll over that way, the whole procedure takes less than two minutes, maybe even less than one. One two buckle my shoe, three four shut the door, five six pick up sticks, seven eight lay them straight, nine ten big fat hen. All done, see you in a couple of days. How much will all this cost? About the price of a nice coffin. Whatever comes from all this, as the corkscrew is untwisted and the arc of life realigned, the development will be slow, but I think that it should be definitive as far as the choices that present themselves to me are concerned, once this unraveling and redirectioning process begins.  


17 May 2003 @ 15:11 by swan : And how auspicious to have
been visited by a hummingbird, in this very backyard
for they are an omen that you can accomplish what might seem impossible. Hummingbird medicine is powerful medicine and so is the healing power of the body.  



19 May 2003 @ 18:00 by swan : Hi hope the healing journey
began with ease today, my friend.  


21 May 2003 @ 10:44 by swan : "If I see them showing up and trying
I'll give them credit, just so they give me their best." What a profound statement of recieving. If teachers recieved all students from that place what fertile learning environments we might have. To be recieved for doing our best...yes...what a beautiful thing.  


23 May 2003 @ 14:54 by koravya : Untitled five
Thursday night - Friday morning. May 22 – 23. Mailed a birthday card to my brother who lives on the outskirts of Columbia, Missouri with his wife and two little kids. Visited school this afternoon to prepare for my class in group dynamics. Nine should be there and five are, and Gerald the sixth comes during the second hour. These are four-hour classes from six to ten. Gerald’s dad is in the hospital and he and his family are trying to get him into home care. The seriousness of the case is emotionally disturbing, and Gerald is nevertheless doing his best to keep up with h is schoolwork. He’s a quiet one by nature and there are a few very talkative voices in this crew. Things really have to loosen up for the quiet ones to open up. Those who are most actively engaged in the discussion reach some kind of an impasse of back and forth and back and forth going nowhere when the quiet one will just have to weigh in on one side or the other. All of these voices need to be heard from their own volition, while I am at the same time both moderator and participant. We’ve got some real cases to discuss, cases they have brought in from wherever their cases have come from. Problems of ethics at work are the underlying common denominator. Who is getting away with what and who is cheating whom, and what do you do when you have to deal with that kind of behavior, when it comes from those who are in charge of the operation, or from co-workers. What are the boundaries of your ethical considerations? How do you choose a line of action knowing what you do about those who are involved? How do you anticipate repercussions? How do you think creatively when confronted by a dilemma? Do you value and develop your powers of intuition? How about creating a game that seventy people can play? It’s a fun course. It needs to be a fun course. It’s a serious course. That’s part of making it even more fun. Knowing that you’re learning and enjoying it. The work is there, and the work is mainly about keeping it together as a group, in spite of the absences. In that sense, the group as it was designed to be is fragmented. Every class that I have been to has had a different configuration O presences and absences. IO think there’s a couple of times when everybody was there. I’ve been down to four, and we carried it on. The group is the group, whoever’s there, and we always have some material to work with, which all boils down to basically what is this little configuration all about? So we find out.  


25 May 2003 @ 15:12 by swan : another thread....
May 25th, 2:00pm. I got in my car and drove about an hour to Northfield, the town where Jessie James and his gang robbed a bank at the turn of the century, gaining thier 15 minutes of fame and death, I believe. Sometimes I drive just to feel the sense of movement in my life when things feel they are not moving. A driving meditation always works. It is a beautiful day today, sunny 75 degrees, a perfect day. I walked along the Mississippi and ate a white chocolate raspberry chocolate chip ice cream in a sugar cone. They called it a single but I needed a small ladder to reach the top of this delicious stack of icecream. My craving for movement and sugar satisfied in one event!  


27 May 2003 @ 21:56 by koravya : Untitled weaving
May twenty-fifth at one fifty-five in the morning. Happy 53rd birthday to my brother Joe. Don’t see him or talk to him very often, but we have a good spirit together, as I have with all of my brothers and sisters, two of each, three in Missouri and one in California. Our parents bonded their family very well.
Today is a ride through the side roads west of the city, through various small towns, settlements, and pueblos to the El Malpais National Monument just south of Grants. An immense field of lava beds some 25 miles and more across in any direction together with startlingly tall sandstone cliffs in formations of childlike
disarray and grandeur. From the tops of these cliffs which are accessible over a gravel road up one sloping side, one overlooks the ocean of flat, black, jagged, jumbled frozen lava peppered generously with hardy cacti and small green clumps of prairie grass.
Another place down the road is graced with a large natural arch formation.
From the parking lot level here, a rugged trail and rocky climb will take you to the ground beneath the arch, and the window it creates for the sky with the cliff it has emerged from. Geologic time pervades the atmosphere and this afternoon’s moistening showers, which we drove through on the last leg of our drive over here, falling from today’s gray, cool skies, have glistened the ochre and gray sandstone boulders tumbling down the sides of the cliffs like blocks in slow motion with a snow like reflection. On the sides of the cliff from which the arch has emerged and which it now bridges, the cliff faces are expansive unblemished murals waiting to be painted, or, having once been painted, incubating in the collective memory preparing to reappear, perhaps something like those I remember from the cliffs facing the Mississippi north of Alton, Illinois, slightly north of St. Louis. There is enough variation in the colors and the striations and ripples in the rock for Rod to see a tall old man, perhaps a grandfather figure,
in profile, looking towards the arch, as close as a sentinel. As Rod describes what he sees, I clothe the figure in Native American dress, since Rod didn’t specify that quality one way or another.
About thirty miles into the drive on the way back in the late afternoon, we come by the Sky City casino on the Acoma reservation. There is a car show there, and Rod is a classic car enthusiast, and I don’t mind looking around either. Probably a hundred and maybe a few more cars, many from the fifties and sixties, some rare, like a ’52 Kaiser, some older, and quite a few very customized vehicles. We go into the casino to enter a drawing for a ’57 Chevy, to be drawn tomorrow night. The casino is making the theme of this memorial day weekend a return to the fifties and sixties kind of thing, and as it turns out, Mary Wilson, one of the original Supremes, the Diana Ross group, is lined up for a free show at 7:30. All we have to do is stand in a short line and get a reserve seat ticket, and be there at 7:30 and the show was Supreme. This lady is rocking as a grandmother like she rocked when she was a granddaughter. She’s got two tall young ladies singing backup, and otherwise gracefully working the stage as Mary’s assistants. The supporting band is superb, kept in concert by the trumpet playing bandmaster, coordinating keyboards and drums, electric guitar and bass, and saxophone, and a pair of big conga drums played by the tambourine man.
There’s a lot of older people in the audience, and a fairly good number of younger ones. This kind of music, as the lady shows, has bridged generations. Little bit late getting back into town. Kinda like stone soup between Rod and I. When you got nothin’ to do, go out somewhere and pick up a rock, and see what you find.  



28 May 2003 @ 11:34 by swan : As is often the case you said what I
needed to here:
"When you got nothin’ to do, go out somewhere and pick up a rock, and see what you find."
I was feeling particularily down this morning when I came to find your post and the last sentence jumped out at me. It reminded me that I always find what I need when i need it at the river. So I went the the river and asked that a rock show up that would speak to me. For a while it looked like that wasn't going to happen. There were lots of indications of the holiday weekend with broken beer bottles and crushed beer cans strewn about.
The river is very high, over her banks and so where I would walk to find stones was covered over with water.
A ways down the path I found one, a beautiful agate with a large crystal face. I picked it up and closed my hand and it immediately started to speak to me, the way stones can speak. Here was my message:" You must release your dream to manifest your dream. You hold in your hand a beautiful stone, with veins of red agate and a burst of sparkling crystals. Yes it is beautiful but as you hold it tight in your hand you can not see its beauty or experience its radiance. you can only feel the stone in your hand. Now if you were to open your hand and release this stone as if it were your dream, casting it into the river to flow as it will, your dream might instantly appear around the next corner. Try it and see.

I took the stone and filled it with thoughts of my dream and then I threw it out into the river.

I walked up and down the path for about a mile and then walked back. As I was about to leave I saw a yellow monarch butterfly at the base of a tree. I bent and held out my hand and she climbed onto my open palm. I walked for another quarter mile with this lovely creature, riding my OPEN hand until she flew away.   



29 May 2003 @ 12:18 by koravya : Untitled Rocks and Butterflies
May 28 at five-thirty in the afternoon. Yesterday afternoon was the last session for one of my group dynamics classes. Final team presentations. Four teams of three and one of two. Some teams have a real hard time getting together and getting the job done, while others overcome obstacles and make things happen. The task was to choose a problem, any problem with alternative and even controversial solutions, present the alternative solutions, and as a team make a choice and recommendation with supportive reasoning. One team was so together that they were stunningly creative in formatting the style of their presentation. The young lady put on a long black gown from her neck to her ankles, as a judge would wear. The issue was weather or not a major arterial highway should be extended west from the city through a corner of the Petroglyph National Monument. On the one hand, representing the traditional peoples to whom that ground is sacred and other interests opposing seemingly ill-advised plans for the direction of urban growth, is a young man standing before the judge presenting that side of the case; while on the other hand, representing the interests of planned growth and the absolute necessity of relieving already existing traffic congestion on existing facilities, is the other young man, and team member. After the two sides made their arguments, with just a few illustrative slides, the judge retired from the room for a few moments and then returned with her decision. They generated some involvement from the class by having a bit player stand to the side and ask everyone to rise as the judge entered the room both at the beginning and when they judge returned to read her findings, and to declare that the court is now in session. She finds for the necessity that the highway needs to be built, while directing that encroachments must be minimized, small consolation for the traditionalists.
It is beautiful to watch creativity blossom in a classroom, and it is agonizing to have to watch others do so little in their attempts to squeeze through something with as little effort as possible. It’s as if they have it all calculated out as to what combinations of things to do and not do that will get them the lowest possible D, without actually failing. That takes a certain kind of intelligence with a motivation of a different color. Part of what makes it all so endlessly fascinating. All of these ten and twelve week relationships with a diverse group of men and women who have varying degrees of interest in why they are there in this room for some reason, who have varying talents in their means of expression and ability to absorb and internalize, whom I have never seen before and whom I will never see again, except for those whom I have for two or three different courses. With a student body of about 400, all of whom are in two or three year programs, a sense of community develops, especially amongst the students of a class as they go through a program together. There is enough shuffling around to keep a sense of fluidity in the environment.
There was a graduation cookout this afternoon, for 8th and 12th quarter students who will graduate in three weeks. The dean is out on the back patio grilling up hamburgers and hot dogs, and the recruiting ladies, a team of nine, have set up some tables in the student lounge next to the patio. The tables are for chips, plates, buns, and condiments, and of course faculty and staff are invited to the free picnic lunch. Getting nice and sunny warm outside now. Lisa, a young lady in recruiting stops over at the table I’m sitting alone at, and asks me to keep a hush-hush. I am one of two people she is inviting to her birthday party on June 5. Two people, that is, from this school. She’s been here about a year and has a bachelor’s degree in Art, so she and I have an obvious mindful connection in this sea of electronics and computer technicians. She and her husband Paul have invited a few people from here over to her home a few times for some such occasion or another. She’ll be turning around 26 and she adds a welcome touch of the cultural avant garde to this academic community. Then she runs off to have her lunch with Kelly the receptionist at a table far away off the patio on the grass on this side of the building.
Then John R., a recently hired new computer teacher, who has spent a considerable amount of time in Australia and who has visited south Asia, the Middle East and east Africa, sits with me, so we can pick up where we’ve left off. Shortly thereafter, here is Stan, the assistant dean, who spent nine years in Saudi Arabia, and has been married to a Hopi woman for many years. Nice to have some people here you can get off the subject with. Wrapped up my Comp One writing class this morning, for those who want to learn. Now I’ve got a sack full of papers to read, and some evaluations to make, and some medicine to administer, and some praise to hand out, not that those who deserve praise need it or are even looking for it. They just deserve it, because they’re doing things right, and they know it. Nice to think that what I’m trying to say is actually firing up some neurons in another brain, behind another set of eyes.
There was a hummingbird flew through my room in my dream two nights ago.
I woke up, sure it was there, and it vanished. I think it’s still in here somewhere.  



1 Jun 2003 @ 11:35 by koravya : Untitled Bringing Forth
May thirtieth at nine in the evening. Here is a quote from a Native Australian, as given by Robert Lawlor in his book, Voices of the First day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreaming. “If you bring forth all that is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth all that is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” Makes sense, when you think about who this you is that this refers to. Here is this you passing through this daily drama of hopes and desires and searchings, and I have my bit part in a whole slurry of comings and goings. One of the last words of tonight came from Phil S. in the hallway on this quiet Friday evening. Lisa has resigned. This is the first I’ve heard it, and I can say, though I don’t, that I’ve seen it coming for several weeks now. She doesn’t feel the sisterhood amongst her co-workers in the recruiting department. She likes what she was doing but she feels to be a little of an outsider to the kinds of empathic connections that make for a fulfilling experience. I ‘spose I’ll hear more all about it at her birthday party on June 5. Meanwhile, I’ve got papers to read, and grades to figure. How and why do capable people allow themselves to fail a course that with a modicum of effort, they could pass and move on from? Is there an artful way to tell someone that he or she is stuck on stupid? Apart from conducting classes, this job is about reading an endless river of pages of endless lines of words that I am required to interpret. There is no conclusion, and without a conclusion, there is no fulfillment. I can decide when to stop my writing and when my picture is finished, but fulfillment through reading is spurious, no matter how transcendent the image. Bringing forth brings fulfillment, even when what is within you is to the tune of a different drummer. Here is another quote, scribbled in a notebook years ago from I don’t remember where. “There is a very mellow confidence and knowing that the work is the teacher, and that I am within the blessings as I do it.”  


3 Jun 2003 @ 17:52 by koravya : Untitled Rock Climbing
Crossing the meridian between Monday, June second, and Tuesday, June third. Took a hike up into the mountain Saturday between 12:30 and 4:30, round trip from parking lot back to parking lot, with Rod. We left the trail early on, the trail that goes to the top. We made our own trail through the bushes and the rocks, climbing from one picturesque formation to another, looking for that place from which to turn around and find a different way back. Looking for a way down can be as challenging as looking for a way up. From scanning the terrain estimating ridges and crevices, to deciding which foothold to take between variations of alternative rocks, some sort of irreversible path is threaded. No cameras on this little exploratory jaunt. Just rocks and the man, just forging a trail through the designs of nature. Rod likes to see wildlife in his nature, and was thinking we should have seen some deer for quite a while, before two elegant, graceful, grayish with yellow-brown patina coated creatures ambled casually across a gully some fifty yards before us. They slowly walked off, minding their foraging business, and we stood where we were and watched them for as long as they kept in sight.
Back to school on Monday morning for some time as the library monitor. Make up the final Economics quiz for tonight’s final Economics class. Final presentations for nine students, and they all do OK. Two of them are very good, going entirely extemporaneous. There was a three-man team covering ethics in business, focusing on the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Tylenol cyanide poisoning event from 1982. Then there was a report on the economic developments in China during the last twenty years, a report on the social security privatization controversy, and the fourth presentation was on the economics of alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar, and geothermal, as apart from petroleum based and nuclear sources. The textbook theory is not easy for a lot of these individuals, but they are able to get in touch with contemporary issues, and I hope they can see that this is what this course has given them, for they might not otherwise have given these things a second thought.  



4 Jun 2003 @ 18:32 by koravya : Final Grades
Still the third of June, getting closer with every passing minute to the fourth. All the classes for this quarter are finished, and all I have now to do is compute an evaluation for every participant in each of four projects, one each in economics and composition one, and two in group dynamics. Most of the grades are long gone conclusions, whether they are A’s or B’s or C’s or whatever. Then there are those borderline cases, in which someone will come up one or two points shy of the difference between one grade category and the other. I’ve got a little flexibility in this area, and it all depends on what I think about whom I am thinking about.
I am responsible to my own sense of what this evaluation is evaluating. I don’t think I’m all that hard on ‘em, but they need to be deserving of what this evaluation represents.
So maybe this story is about this experience as a school teacher. Have only done this for two and a half years here, and I’ve never been a school teacher before. As an instructor, I need to be fostering insight, while as an evaluator, I am establishing a relationship that carries over into the hallways of successive quarters through the duration of the degree program. The staff at this college are all highly qualified professionals, and the learning experience through the degree program transcends the subject matter of the coursework. The sense of teamwork amongst the faculty and the entire staff is created by the dean of education and the director of the college. Those two make the hiring decisions
for this department, and there are some comings and goings as people leave for whatever reasons and others come in to fill in holes and become an integral part of this parade of masks. Now I am wearing this persona of this teacher at this school. Where on earth I have come from for all of these students is a complete blank, and the same is true both ways, and we are cast by forces beyond our control, as long as we are willing participants, into a discussion regarding a particular subject or field of study. They are required to listen to whatever I have to say if they want the degree at the end of the tunnel, and whatever kind of life they imagine for themselves out there. There’s a couple more days for a couple of these borderline cases to get their last possible late paper in to garnish those few extra points that might make the difference between a high this and a low that, or could even make the difference between passing and failing altogether
by whatever margin. There is only so much, in some cases, that my sense of flexibility is amenable to. That’s when the evidence comes into play. That is when I need to answer the question, “Do you think they got it?”  



6 Jun 2003 @ 00:57 by koravya : Untitled Memory
June fourth at ten-thirty in the evening. The anniversary of the battle of Midway, as I read it recalled in this morning’s newspaper. A navel battle, out in the middle of the bloody ocean, between an outnumbered American fleet, and the tide of Japanese Pacific Imperialism. Say what you might about this being one imperialism versus another imperialism, this was the moment of us versus them.
All four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk and their fleet severely crippled, and another notch in the great wheel of history clicks by. My father was 27 and he and my mother had been married for four years. They were real sweethearts, and their first-born had not yet arrived. As a chemist for American Zinc, my father’s position was considered essential and he was exempt from the draft. He served with the National Guard. At 27, I was watching the Vietnam War go by, and I exempted myself through education and service in the Peace Corps. American Pacific imperialism was going to town, and the distinctions between us and them were not so clearly defined. Who was getting blown to pieces? The poor people, on both sides. Who was cashing in? Need I ask? Patriotism, as long as it’s around, needs a proper reference, and that would be the morality of the organization, as judged by the individual pledging allegiance. Is the organization worth believing in as a representation of moral stature? Questing after world domination is the mental illness infecting civilization as we know it, East and West. When armies become obsolete, the global human brain will have evolved a notch. Not everyone understands this, and those who do not are seriously dangerous to those who do. The paradox is that those who do cannot resort to the means of those who do not without implicitly losing the very nature which they are the vanguard for. There are enough nuclear bombs on this planet right now to blow every man, woman, and child of us up into smithereens twenty times over. The quality of the insanity infecting this planet is of unimaginable proportions. Who on earth is going to dismantle those bombs, and when? That is not even a topic of discussion in this morning’s newspaper. So we live another day under the nuclear umbrella waiting for some idiot, some real goofball, to decide to make his mark on history. Military history. The history of domination and the quest for power and control and acquisitions beyond necessity at the expense of the fellow human who is looked upon as scum. There is this old chant from the street marches of many years ago that keeps ringing in the back of my memory. “The People, United, can never be defeated.” When you think of a couple of blockfulls of people chanting this, out in the middle of middle America in what seems like the middle of nowhere, when you think that this is supposed to be falling on the ears of the Pentagon and all the other power mongers of the world, it seems so sadly, so pathetically inadequate, and yet you know in your heart, that this is where the hope and strength of the planetary movement towards life resides.  



6 Jun 2003 @ 12:06 by swan : Hummingbird dreams and realities
June 6th, 219th day in the Venus Calendar;
"There was a hummingbird flew through my room in my dream two nights ago. I woke up, sure it was there, and it vanished. I think it’s still in here somewhere. " 

Today I went to the river again, my place of magic. All week I had worked on some writing that involved releasing something that no longer served me. I finished the writing this morning and decided to take it to the river and release it. It is raining today in Minnesota, a steady downpour. I arrived at the river and walked the long stairway that takes me to the beach below. The water on the banks was receding so there was more beach available. I went to the place were there is a large cave and went inside. I tore up my writing and lay it on the floor of the cave and put a match to it. In my mind I was saying an affirmation of release. It caught on fire and started to blaze very quickly. I turned to look through the cave entrance out on to the river. I glanced over my shoulder to see my papers ablaze. I turned back toward the river and about 10 feet in front of me was a dead tree. I am feeling myself fill with joy and a sense of freedom. My eyes began to scan the trunk of the tree from the base to about half way up the trunk where there was a branch. As my eyes reached the branch I saw a tiny hummingbird sitting there watching me. I have never seen a hummingbird here before. You rarely see them sitting still. Tears began to flow down my cheeks and mix with the rain water. My heart was wide open, like a flower, as I filled with gratitude to this tiny bird. I said thank you out loud and she went into the air and circle a couple times so that I could see her and then she flew away. How auspicious that the bird so dear to my heart would be with me in that moment.


*******************************
Later.
When I got home I looked at my bird guides to see if I could find the hummingbird in there. The bird that I saw was very dark, no white underbelly or red throat area. It wasn't a Ruby Throat or a Rufus. I couldn't see any hummingbird in any of my books that looked like this one. Was it real?
*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*
From John to Swan:
I would say that it is/was at least as real as the one that flew
through through my dream a few nights ago.
Thank you so much Swan/Hummingbird, for sharing your experiences
in this narrative of my explorations.
I look forward,
by the changing Light of Venus-Quetzalcoatl,
to future correspondences in the discoveries we encounter
along our mysteriously winding pathways.
_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*  



12 Jun 2003 @ 14:43 by koravya : Another Muse
Friday June sixth at 9:30 in the evening. Last day for the quarter is done. Final grades gave been finalized. York, my new webmaster, is promising to send me a link to his version of my new website. Cancelled my site with Galaxymall. Lisa’s birthday party was last night. The moon is a few days into its first crescent, setting through the treetops in the darkness across the street from Lisa and Paul’s house. There’s close to twenty people there, and close to half of those I’ve never seen before. Almost all are in their middle twenties, I’d say, except for Beth, from the school’s recruiting department, Lisa’s only other real friend from that environment she has just resigned from. Then there’s Patty, Lisa’s neighbor across the street, about my age, whom I’ve met before at one of these parties, and then Diane the nurse, our first meeting. There is wine and beer to go around, but I am starting with a few glasses of water. A sumptuous feast of salad, fish and rice on an ad hoc makeshift banquet table. The floor is cleared and the dancing begins. I sit this one out. There’s somebody else new at this party. She is tall and blond and elegant. I can’t tell that she’s with anyone in particular here, for all of those several new people that are here. All I can do is wonder if we will meet somewhere during the course of the evening. Is there something between us that will draw us together, or not? There’s nothing to do but be who I am and see. Then the miracle begins to unfold. One of those magical introductory conversations in which what one says inspires the other to reach deeply for a corresponding thought, in a naturally evolving sequence of affirmation, confirmation, and exploration. Amy, clearly, this could be the beginning of something beautiful for both of us. You are a traveling saleslady from Phoenix who comes by this way every few weeks. You and a friend or two of yours met a friend or two of Lisa’s at some Blues club earlier tonight, and you’re just here out of the blue because you met some people you like in this strange city, and you fit in like you’ve always been a part of this party. It seems that all I will be able to do is admire you from a distance, like one of the Three Graces from Botticelli’s Primavera, Life imitating Art. The thought of a complex, mutually fulfilling conversation seems so remote a possibility that I don’t even entertain it. You are framed in the light of the doorway across the dark room like a portrait in profile hanging on a wall in intergalactic space. Perhaps a few words in passing will carry some random thought to this other another woman whom I will never really reach. Oh, well! But she is curious to know this older man sitting alone in a corner at the edge of the dance floor quietly nursing his beer. There is this question of the fondue stick which she had given me earlier in passing on the back patio. Just a few words about anything at all to test the resonance of our voices, and the direction of thought we take. That was shortly before dinner, and it wasn’t till after dinner and present opening, and clearing the floor, and well into the dancing session that the memory of that baton I had taken from her became the link to the beginning of our exchanging stories. I am a teacher and I teach writing and she likes to write and I like to write. She takes her writing quite seriously and so do I. We both also like to read and we have both been recently reading the same book, The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton. Anything else? She’s from near Chicago and has moved down to Phoenix just about two months ago for this new job. She listens to tapes in her car during her long drives, and she has recently been listening to Natalie Goldberg, who I’ve heard of but not read. “Writing Down the Bones” So I’m borrowing Amy’s tapes, and have today taken that book out from the library. She’s got a boyfriend in Phoenix. She’s makes friends good here. She finds her own people. She found some down at the Blues club, and she’s just found one in this artist-writer-teacher. Hard to say exactly when next we’ll meet. Likely in a few weeks the next time she comes over here. The conversation shall continue, and we shall see what we shall see.  


12 Jun 2003 @ 14:46 by koravya : Untitled Process
Sunday, June 8 at 9:20 in the morning in the back yard at mother’s house in St. Louis. Dear Amy. Read through the first 37 pages of Writing Down the Bones on the plane yesterday evening on the flight at 40,000 feet, seven miles up, over the clouds for the two and a half hour flight from Albuquerque to St. Louis. My sister Rosemary and her son Dan picked me up at the airport at nine and dropped me off at mother’s. Walking into mom’s house is like walking into the place where time stops, I mean like entirely. Dad has been gone for three years now, but of course he’s still there, and it’s just me and mom and dad’s spirit for a few days. As I said, time stops in its tracks here. The rest of the world is gone. Mom watches Mass on TV on this Pentecost Sunday morning. We cook up our bowl of grits to go with our coffee and orange juice. We stroll to the far end of the grassy lawn of the back yard, to break up some bread for the birds, part of mother’s daily routine, taking care of those hungry creatures, the bunnies and the squirrels and the birds, and say a prayer at Mary’s shrine under the graceful bowering tree, and now here I am. Now it’s time to be writing some of those bones down. You have given me this book that is telling to write, and to tell you the truth. Although I have been scribbling sporadically with varying degrees of motivation, enthusiasm, and direction ever since I learned how to write, my inspiration has been in the doldrums for quite sometime, I’m talking about years, now. There was a little shot of a story about a year and a half ago in January and February of 2002 when Linette and I were going through a tumultuous crisis of shattering proportions. I’ll not talk about that now. What few sentences I could allude to that with now would in no way serve those events and that relationship justice. That story from that January gives a clue. I wrote it down as it was going on just to get a grip and handle on the chaotic whirlwind of nonsense spinning us around in a dance of profound misunderstanding. Perhaps I will be able to get to the point where I will be able to begin to put those four years into a volume, if I could even imagine being able to put that whole magical topsy-turvy series of events into some kind of coherent, readable, feeling-infused interpretation. So be that for now. There was an event, and I wrote a fragment down. Everything else from that four year event is coalesced into an amorphous cloud of co-existent memory. What is there left to write?, I say. I have no compelling reason to let anyone else know what I actually think. I’ve given the world a few chosen words, and some pictures, and have garnered some appreciation for the best of it. The vanity factor has long disappeared, along with the various pet cats buried in the back yard under the turf where my mother feeds the birds, the bunnies, and the squirrels. Now you have come along, Amy, and told me to read this book by this lady who tells me I need to write some more, from the bones of those dead cats, from my father’s grave, and from the voices of all of my ancestors. So I will take joy in writing for you, and see if I have a story in here that you might want to read. I’ve got 58 years worth of this, that, and something else to conjure up and plumb the depths with. There is no plot. There is no sequence of events that builds up into a climax and resolution or denouement. It is pure sequence, and if there is anything to be understood from it, that will be a function of the pure curiosity of the reader who wonder’s what might be coming along next. It ends when it ends, just like it began, from out of nowhere and into nowhere. Like a passenger in a plane flying over the billowing, ever-changing clouds, so goes our thoughts, like variations on a theme going nowhere. You are the muse I write through now, having had our single conversation during our single meeting. How many other words we shall ever share, and whenever, is not even a matter of conjecture. I am thankful for the crossing of our paths. For those couple of hours in that little social environment, our thoughts converged in interstitial weaving. What you mean to me and what I mean to you in any prolonged sense, is left entirely to the unpredictable future. Sometimes, somebody comes into your life for a day, or an hour, and says something that can have profound and meaningful implications for the course of your life. Knowing that we can have those kinds of effects on one another, I always recall and practice the word of wisdom from my mother, “Watch what you say.”  


12 Jun 2003 @ 14:48 by koravya : Passing Days
Monday, June ninth at one-thirty in the afternoon in the shade in the back yard again. Little busy between yesterday and now. Rosemary and I took mother shopping early yesterday afternoon. When we came back, Robert and Becky and their two children, Khala and Jaison were here. Becky is returning from a three day Revolutionary war reenactment in Eastern Illinois she went to with 16 year old Khala and ten year old Jaison. Robert is in from Columbia and has brought a new washing machine in to replace mother’s old broken one. So this is the afternoon project for Robert, John, Becky, and Rosemary: drag the old broken washer up out of the basement and ease the new one down into its place. We all really have a good time doing all this, finding all kinds of things to laugh about during the entire process. Also nice seeing Khala and Jaison growing up from a distance, since I only get a glimpse of them every six months or year during these times of their changing from children into young adults. Mother says she’s getting over her grieving period now. It’s been over three years since her husband of 61 years made his journey to the other side. Here I am sitting in this quiet patch of shady grass, and now from the high school parking lot a block away, the marching band is beginning a practice session, not my idea of an engaging acoustic atmosphere for a writing session, so I’m going to find something else to do until that is over.
June ten at 7:10 p.m. I do not feel anger because Rod cannot give me what he is unable to give, for he simply does not understand so much of what I need. I feel anger because I have no other friend who can give me the kind of sharing that my spirit needs. He gives me his sensibility for painting, and I treasure that, but beyond that, there is a vacuum in our friendship, and I am alone as much as I have ever been. The treasure I seek is the person or persons with whom I can share the joys of my spirit as I have come to know them, through those experiences with others who are my spiritual kin.  



12 Jun 2003 @ 14:51 by koravya : Warming Up
Dear Amy. It’s eight-forty Tuesday evening and I’ve just finished listening to the first five tapes of the Natalie Goldberg series. I spent yesterday and today with them, following the book as I listened, taking notes along the way, mostly quotes from what she said or wrote, with a few of my own thoughts or questions interspersed. Spending the day with my mother at her house. We did some cleaning up and rearranging throughout the day. Things around the house, and outside, mostly outside, that have long been needed to be done, that she would never get around to doing by herself. . . . Interruption for a telephone conversation with my brother Joe about current personal events. . .
Perhaps I need to talk to you Amy, about what I saw happening between us last Thursday night at Lisa’s party. On the one hand, I hesitate to try to fix it down on paper, and rather to let what is going on evolve of it’s own accord. Considering that a principal subject of our meeting was our mutual love for writing, and that the medium has turned out to be the inspirational writings of Natalie Goldberg, anything less than full disclosure in ink would be not just counterproductive but antithetical to the spirit of our meeting and whatever friendship we might develop. Why should I say might? We will emphatically develop a friendship. The only question is one of how far and how deep it will go. You have trusted me with this set of tapes that is not even yours, and all you have is a scrap of paper with my telephone number on it. All I know is that you will call me sometime to give me an address that I can mail them back to. I figure to see you again in a few weeks the next time you return to Albuquerque. Do I know that I love you yet? Is that a reasonable thing to say? A reasonable question that I am supposed to be able to answer? A meeting of the minds from out of the blue with spiritually mysterious connotations between a fifty-eight year old teacher-writer-artist, as this persona has presented itself, and a twenty-something year old traveling saleslady who has a passion for the kind of writing dedication and exercises that Natalie Goldberg encourages through her writing. Clearly you feel that you can trust me, and I am honored with your attention. I admired your demeanor from across the room at the party the other night. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people I meet anywhere in the world turn out to be not quite on target, somewhere a little to the left or right or above or below dead center of the target that represents the bull’s eye that is the apple that William Tell shot off his son’s head. Now AI catch this fleeting glimpse of your face in the candlelight, casting shadows across your features as we sit on the front patio under the on-again, off-again movement controlled light. There are visitors to our conversation. Jesse, the friend from the Blues bar who came with you. Then Patty, on the one hand, in her flowery dress, and Storey, with the flower behind her ear in her long blond, flowing tresses, straight out of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and Lisa, our hostess. Throughout this entire social exchange, as far as I am concerned, and I think you too, the conversation is outs, whatever topic is going around, the topic at hand between us is about how much you and I actually have to say to each other. I want to say I can’t wait, but of course I can and I will wait, for I have become a man of remarkable patience and profoundly subdued expectations, for the time when you and I actually sit down and have our own entirely personal conversation. Shall we go to the Blues bar and have an interesting time? Certainly, by all and every means. You are exuberant youth, at once both serious and fun-loving and I am fascinated by the varying qualities of your personal expression. In how many ways are the ways you are compatible with the ways I am, with the things I like and with the direction I am going? Do you and I have a direction that we are going to share? Is this boyfriend you mention, this Jacob, is he your true love, or does he need to find another way to go because there is more between you and I than there is between you and He? Are you and I going to have writing parties together? Are you and I going to have some serious writing parties together? Are you and I going to develop our talents together? I’m a little bit on the unconventional side in the first place, and as you find out more about me, you will find out that my sense for adventure and exploration in the fashioning of my life’s path is pretty wide open. I got no trips to be putting down on anybody anywhere as to how anything ought to be, save for the pursuits of wisdom, compassion, beauty, and understanding, so that whoever you are and however you look at where you want to go and what you want to do with your life is a book full of empty pages colored only with limitless possibilities from my point of view. You have given me more than one jewel of a present already. A set of tapes. Your trust. A look in your eye and a sound in your voice that says, I want to get to know you better. I have a few words of wisdom and insight to share with you. One would hope by this time, if I have been living my life at all right, that that would be the case. Right now, I am looking forward to tomorrow’s set of unplanned activities here at my mother’s house in St. Louis. I’m looking forward to listening to Natalie Goldberg’s final tape, a recent interview from her studio in Taos. There is a secret thought in my heart that has been drawn to Taos for quite a few years. I haven’t been really sure how or when or what is going to be fulfilled there, or even if it will. There have been a few visits during the course of the last few years, but no real solid connections. It seems like it would be fun if you and I could meet Natalie there, wouldn’t it? If not actually, at least metaphorically. Who is to say? You are limited and I am limited only by the boundaries of our imaginations. Sometimes, even the boundaries of our imaginations can be transcended. This is the kind of feeling I have from our meeting at Lisa’s party the other night. Life can be full of some wonderful surprises. There is more going on out there than meets the eye, and the quality of participation depends, in my view, on that delicate balanced between the active and the passive voice.  



12 Jun 2003 @ 16:11 by swan : hummm, delicious writing,
"Sometimes, somebody comes into your life for a day, or an hour, and says something that can have profound and meaningful implications for the course of your life. Knowing that we can have those kinds of effects on one another, I always recall and practice the word of wisdom from my mother, “Watch what you say.”  
------------------------------------------------------------------------

We never know what impact we have on one another. A smile to a passing stranger could be the difference between life and death and we may never know. Your mother is wise, John.

June 12, 2003
I came home from work to find a hand made envelope in my mail. It appeared to be made out of a brown paper bag. It was address to "Mommy Mariah". From my daughter in California. She taped it up well so I had to struggle to get it open. I bet she smile as she put all of that tape on it, with a vision of me trying to peel it all off to find out what the contents of her special envelop was. I finally get it open and inside is a book also made out of a paper bag. It is like a simple little children's book with four pages. Something is not right. I feel like she is saying something in the pages. I think about my daughter, 22 years old, on the other side of the country from me and I worry. What could I do if she needed me right now. I call her at work. She is at the store they tell me. I wait. She calls me back. It tell her I got the book and she can read me like a book. She says " Oh I forgot you are an art therapist." I say "tell me what the book is about", " it was just for fun" she says. I say " are you sure you are not depressed". She laughs and says "I am fine". She sounds fine. Nathan, my son, is on the other phone so he is in the conversation too. I tell her to call me if she needs anything and we hang up. She calls me a lot anyway because we miss each other.
He agrees she sounded fine. I comment on the postmark on the envelop, June 9, 2003. That was the anniversary of my brothers death. He died 35 years ago when he was 18 and I was 17. He drew crazy pictures like the one in Carrie's little book she sent me. He drown in the St. Croix River, which is now my favorite play ground. That hasn't always been so. Over the years I have come to love the river, even though it took my brother away from me way too soon.
Nathan said he thought I was connecting with the anniversary date and the similiarities in the pictures and that is why I was concerned. He might be right. I bless the fact that she has spread her wings, I support her soaring...and the mother in me hopes that my baby will be ok.
Voices from all my ancestors...........  



12 Jun 2003 @ 17:59 by swan : Coffee in the back yard...
The pleasure is mine. I am glad you don't mind my peering over your shoulder, John, and reading the pages of your journal as I enter the landscape of your life that you share. Thank you, swan-hummingbird  


14 Jun 2003 @ 09:40 by koravya : In the Voice
June eleven close to nine p.m. Hi Amy. Have finished listening to the sixth Natalie Goldberg tape tonight. Also returned to Alain de Botton today. Got through the first ninety-four pages. When we were talking about this book at Lisa’s party, I mentioned that I hadn’t been reading it straight through, that I had read and especially remembered the later chapters on Van Gogh and John Ruskin. You earnestly told me that I needed to go back and read the book straight through from the beginning, so I have returned to this delightful sequence of descriptions and observations, which in these early sections refer specifically to two of my favorites, Charles Baudelaire, and Edward Hopper.
My sister Rosemary came over around twelve-thirty this afternoon and she took mother and I to the St. Louis zoo to see the Penguins and Puffins, a new special exhibit that has been set up there. Before we went, mother showed me a 1996 National Geographic article on the Emperor penguins of Antarctica. Mother’s 81 year old younger brother, Victor, drives the 100 miles from Springfield, Illinois to visit his sister for a few days during the last week of every month since dad died. During one of his recent visits, he read this article and decided that penguins are fascinating, so when the zoo announced this opening, mother decided she wanted to see it. The article mentions that when the parents are out to sea gathering food, all of the young chicks get together in a huddle. When the parents return, they find their own chicks in the huddled mass of look-alike babies through the unique and distinctive sound of their voices. “When a chick recognizes its parent’s voice, it comes barreling out to meet it.” That, to me, is one of the more fascinating aspects of their existence, and ours: the magic in the sound of every unique voice that one recognizes in fellow members of one’s species.
I keep thinking that I want to write something down about Linette, to put four years worth of stories down in a nutshell and say this is what that was all about, and this is why all of what occurred occurred. It goes back to our voices. It goes back to our resonance. It goes back to our vibrations, and the way it felt to hold each other, heartbeat to heartbeat. For all of those things that were so different about us, about how we looked at the world, about how we looked at the others in our worlds, about the range of our experiences, and the paths of our wanderings, and the things we enjoyed doing together or not doing together, for all of those events that can fill up a collection of novels, there was this pure magnetic resonance that felt like the complimentarity of elemental forces. In the world in which the rest of the world does not exist and in which all culturally determined structures of human design are evaporated into their cosmic nothingness, Linette and I are bound. It was those structures and patterns that each of us had inherited through our paths of previous interactions in the world that rendered the weavings of our thoughts into a cloth that could not hold. When we first met, and went out for our first drinks together, it was like I hadn’t had so much fun and she hadn’t had so much fun with someone else whom either of us just plain enjoyed being with in the way that we liked to enjoy being with someone since either of us could remember. As the rest of the world began entering the picture, starting with her thirteen year old son and her estranged husband whom she was not yet completely divorced from, and extending to other acquaintances of hers whom I didn’t care for, or of mine that she didn’t care for, and to other functional interpretations of how to live in the world, indeed, of how to choose and create a world that we could live in together, the fabric of the home that we tried to create through all of both of our efforts, continually unraveled before our very faces. Moments when the universe was entirely in harmony with our movements together were interspersed with misunderstandings that defied any language that either of us could use to bridge the chasms. It was like some incredible cosmic joke played by some incredible cosmic trickster who wanted to show me, and her, just how beautiful something could be, while on the other side of that very same coin, there was only unfathomable chaos. The permanent and the impermanent co-existed within the event of this finding of one another and this separating from one another. Here today, gone tomorrow. The longer I held on, the more it came to feel that I was holding on to something that I was not going to be allowed to keep; like grabbing a fistful of water, the essential element of life itself, and finding only the residue of wetness rolling off of the skin of my open palm and evaporating into the clouds of memory. It is now seven months since I last heard her voice on the phone, and seventeen months since I last saw her. We met. We had a world, in this world, on this planet. It couldn’t be more, and it can’t be more, than what it was. Some of it was Blessingway and Beautyway, borrowing from Navaho ritual terminology, while other aspects of it were completely counterintuitive. Every relationship has its own set of dimensions, between the depths of both understanding and misunderstanding. All I have here is some relatively abstract terminology for this little description, and I wrote virtually none of it down as it was happening. I left my writing self for the most part during that time. It wouldn’t have made any difference as far as the outcome is concerned. I am void of sadness. There was a picture of all that could be and all that couldn’t be, and there was no way to make it anything other than what it was. I’ve never been in the military or in any kind of battle, but I think that maybe this is what shellshock might be like, or how people felt who lived through the collapse of the World Trade Center. I’m here. I’m supposed to be dead, I think, but I’m not. So what now?  



14 Jun 2003 @ 09:42 by koravya : Around the Campfire
Thursday June 12th at nine fifty in the evening. The last evening of my visit with mother in St. Louis. We drove over to Rosemary’s at noon to visit for a couple of hours. Rosemary is baby sitting her two granddaughters, Kaitlyn aged seven and Calley aged two. Each of my four brothers and sisters has two or three children varying in age from ten to twenty-something, and Rosemary is already a grandmother for seven years. I’ve had no children and not even a wife in all of my years. I have rather been gifted with the pleasures and tortures of the artistic and the writer’s life. Not very many people know this however, outside of my immediate acquaintances. The way we are brought up in this Euro-American culture, we are given the idea that we need to make a name for ourselves if we wish to be considered successful in the writing or artistic professions. The recognition and recognition and admiration of strangers seems to be the desired goal, embedded of course within the ancillary goal of the pursuit of truth or beauty. Make something beautiful and show it. Express a truth in an original way and share it. Seems simple enough, and joy will surely follow. Writing was first, and picture making followed; sometimes they went on simultaneously and reinforced one another, while at other times, one or another of those avenues was abandoned in favor of the other. I figure the writing to have begun in earnest at 23 during my third year at the University of Illinois as an Economics student. The painting began at 28 following my two years as an Anthropology student at the same institution. Writing is the dominant and painting is the compliment. Go figure! Thirty-five years as a writer and thirty years as a painter, not every year, but between beginning and now. There has been absolutely no financial return for any of that activity although these practices have been incredibly valuable and important to me as a person functioning within the cultural milieu of our civilization. My spiritual foundation is grounded in a Catholic grade school and high school education and the attitudes of my Catholic mother and Protestant Methodist father. Skepticism and doubt informed that direction during my undergraduate years. Then two years in India and the insights of Sanskrit and Tibetan traditions infused my spiritual development with new satisfactions and pursuits. Spiritual development through the wisdom of many cultures has contributed to my life and peace of mind through all of the vicissitudes of my human relationships. The spiritual, the artistic, and the literary: those are my choices for defining the expression of my life’s forces. Whoever comes my way, I have some things to share. I know what I know and do what I do according to my acquired wisdom. I need to be sure that the last quarter or third or whatever fraction of my life is before me is informed and informative a light as it can possibly be for those who share my campfire. I need to sit with those who understand that they may understand more, and with those who do not understand, so that they may begin to understand some little thing. I need to make sure that everyone I meet and know and speak with understands that I am immensely satisfied with the course of my life. I have learned much and need to share it as completely as I can with everyone whom I have yet to do anything, whenever and wherever. I am a bubble on the mountain stream and I am not defined by my riches or poverty in terms of how many emeralds or rubies I have clutched in my fist. I have sought the light that looks beyond those glimmering rocks , and I can make the recommendation to anyone that that experience of our human nature has value beyond comparison to the trinkets of material exchange. Being true to one’s individual self without recourse to the applause and admiration of tarnished values is the only path worth living for. In a nutshell.  


14 Jun 2003 @ 09:44 by koravya : Steps
Thursday June 12th at nine fifty in the evening. The last evening of my visit with mother in St. Louis. We drove over to Rosemary’s at noon to visit for a couple of hours. Rosemary is baby sitting her two granddaughters, Kaitlyn aged seven and Calley aged two. Each of my four brothers and sisters has two or three children varying in age from ten to twenty-something, and Rosemary is already a grandmother for seven years. I’ve had no children and not even a wife in all of my years. I have rather been gifted with the pleasures and tortures of the artistic and the writer’s life. Not very many people know this however, outside of my immediate acquaintances. The way we are brought up in this Euro-American culture, we are given the idea that we need to make a name for ourselves if we wish to be considered successful in the writing or artistic professions. The recognition and recognition and admiration of strangers seems to be the desired goal, embedded of course within the ancillary goal of the pursuit of truth or beauty. Make something beautiful and show it. Express a truth in an original way and share it. Seems simple enough, and joy will surely follow. Writing was first, and picture making followed; sometimes they went on simultaneously and reinforced one another, while at other times, one or another of those avenues was abandoned in favor of the other. I figure the writing to have begun in earnest at 23 during my third year at the University of Illinois as an Economics student. The painting began at 28 following my two years as an Anthropology student at the same institution. Writing is the dominant and painting is the compliment. Go figure! Thirty-five years as a writer and thirty years as a painter, not every year, but between beginning and now. There has been absolutely no financial return for any of that activity although these practices have been incredibly valuable and important to me as a person functioning within the cultural milieu of our civilization. My spiritual foundation is grounded in a Catholic grade school and high school education and the attitudes of my Catholic mother and Protestant Methodist father. Skepticism and doubt informed that direction during my undergraduate years. Then two years in India and the insights of Sanskrit and Tibetan traditions infused my spiritual development with new satisfactions and pursuits. Spiritual development through the wisdom of many cultures has contributed to my life and peace of mind through all of the vicissitudes of my human relationships. The spiritual, the artistic, and the literary: those are my choices for defining the expression of my life’s forces. Whoever comes my way, I have some things to share. I know what I know and do what I do according to my acquired wisdom. I need to be sure that the last quarter or third or whatever fraction of my life is before me is informed and informative a light as it can possibly be for those who share my campfire. I need to sit with those who understand that they may understand more, and with those who do not understand, so that they may begin to understand some little thing. I need to make sure that everyone I meet and know and speak with understands that I am immensely satisfied with the course of my life. I have learned much and need to share it as completely as I can with everyone whom I have yet to do anything, whenever and wherever. I am a bubble on the mountain stream and I am not defined by my riches or poverty in terms of how many emeralds or rubies I have clutched in my fist. I have sought the light that looks beyond those glimmering rocks , and I can make the recommendation to anyone that that experience of our human nature has value beyond comparison to the trinkets of material exchange. Being true to one’s individual self without recourse to the applause and admiration of tarnished values is the only path worth living for. In a nutshell.  


15 Jun 2003 @ 14:03 by swan : Dancing with the muse...
you blossom...
Being true to one's self
without expecting recognition
it the only way to express
the beauty that is our true nature.
So well written, John.
I am honored that you are sharing
this beautiful part of yourself with us.  



16 Jun 2003 @ 10:14 by koravya : Another Note
Sunday evening June fifteen at six. Sunlight falling through Venetian blinds onto a coffee table loaded down with an arrangement of books and papers, a couple of remotes and a watch, a walkman tape player, a cassette and a CD, both of Native American music. Having listened to and read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, I am now 96 pages into her Thunder and Lightning. Have come to a halt at 181 pages of Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel. I have quite a few things lined up here that I would enjoy getting into reading. Can’t be reading all the time. Sometimes seems like this is a disease or an aberration of human development. There is no end to it. I caught it at an early age and haven’t really been able to stop since. Certainly the world of pictures and painting and drawing has helped, although it seems more dormant than ever right now. After spending a very long time in attending to my teaching and overlapping and preceding that, my relationship with Linette, and prior to that my three years in art school at West Texas A&M in the town of Canyon, during which time I wrote the necessary documentation for my MA and my MFA, I can say for sure that it’s been quite a long time since I’ve picked up a pen with some kind of vague creative intention. Online accomplices at the New Civilization website have helped me find a spot where I can publish something as soon as I write it. Quite a novel experience for a directionless journal writer. Making friends with a few individuals in a website, and watching and reading what each other is doing in here, is another novel experience. The whole thing is one vast literary exchange on a variety of topics, and there are a wide variety of subgroups in this network, far more than I would ever have time to encounter. Gravitation manages to sort out the natural affiliations, and I have a nook and cranny where I don’t feel lost.
Not long after I got started along this little path, along comes Amy with her enthusiasm for writing. Haven’t a clue what that might read like, although she says she’s had three children’s books published. She is aiming to write some real books of her own and she’s taking some inspiration from Natalie Goldberg, who in her turn, as I read her, is telling me to write. The idea of writing a novel seems patently ridiculous. I wrote short stories for two creative writing courses some sixteen years ago and also wrote a couple of other little stories on the side back in the early to mid eighties, even back in the mid seventies. There are some nice descriptions in those, and there is a structural development leading to a conclusion, but the conversation is completely wooden. I got around to avoiding it altogether, so that whatever story there might be became a matter of following the thoughts of a protagonist or two, interspersed with rare and cryptic voicing. Kinda like how I am anyway.
The Gathering. . . remains my most important literary exercise. First composed and put together between ‘81 and ‘83. Then edited down somewhat from 88 to 59 pages for the web. I prefer the latest, most concise version. In a sense, the ultimate distillation from the initial go-around. It all came from a period of writing just like right now, keeping a journal of daily events and expanding from those daily events into whatever kinds of observations I felt like making. There was that period from ‘77 and ’78 when I was reading about the Aztec calendar, so I had to explain that and draw it. I had to talk about the crisis of our times, the poisoning of the Earth, which our and every species will live with from now on.
I had to express the wish that the intelligence of the Earth would find a way to reverse this self-destructive process. The title was an afterthought. I found the concept in a story in Heavy Metal magazine from around that time, ’78. In one little square in the corner of a page as part of a much larger story, some Conan the Barbarian types are standing amidst the ruins of some fabulous futuristic city, as ruined to those intelligent inheritors of the Earth as the Egyptian and Harappan civilizations are to us, and one of them is holding a found object, an amulet of some sort. One asks the other what it is, and his companion replies that this object bears the symbol of The Gathering of the Tribes of the Earth, which had occurred some centuries or millennia prior. This event had occurred to deal with some global problem. Whether that event had successfully addressed the problem or not was not told, nor was the symbol shown. This little square of information was incidental to the development of the main story that these two characters were involved in. This square was set in the story to show a location and establish a time frame for the protagonists’ journey.
I had a set of pictures at this time derived from the Aztec calendar, and I had found this symbol of the intersecting rectangles. I was assembling this book of pictures, and it occurred to me that his was the title: The Gathering of the Tribes of the Earth. The symbol is essentially a variation of the Aztec symbol for movement. The dimensions of each rectangle are the elementary two by one. This symbol belongs to the world. I was asked to explain my book of pictures.
I didn’t want to say page one is this, page two is that, and so on. No, the explanation would come through a collection of verse that would parallel the meaning of the book of pictures while standing on its own as a book of verse.
That collection of verse represents some small fraction of less than one percent of things that emerged through a daily journal, as I said, just like this. That little set of books has more meaning than any novel I could ever write or any story that I could ever tell. The world does not need my story. It has plenty of very good stories already and in the making. What the population of the planet does need is to get its head together in a constructive and life-affirming way and if I can make a contribution to that development, I will have served a meaningful purpose. Now, as I look for something to write about, I return to the event of creating those books when I was in my middle thirties. There was an artist and a writer back then, who really did something. He put all he had into it, and he came up with a set of pictures and a statement. He had at that time never been to art school and never taken a creative writing class. As far as a sense of accomplishment is concerned, nothing done since measures up. Everything since has been notes and pictures along the way. That little pair of books is an entity that stands apart from me, the instrument of its creator. Yes, I had to make all the decisions along the way about what to do and how to do it, but in the end, it took on a life of its own. As it’s author, I may have tinkered with some of the details at points since its inception, something on the order of polishing alabaster,
but the essential information and message is intact.
Going back to school tomorrow morning. A week of the first week of classes. I’m going to talk about Group Dynamics; I’m going to talk about Composition; and
I’m going to talk about Economics to four classes of anywhere between fifteen and twenty-five students each. Most of these faces will be first timers with me, and there may be fifteen or so whom I will be seeing for a second or third time from other courses. Some will listen well, and others will have a harder time.  



16 Jun 2003 @ 14:35 by swan : The best book you have ever
written sits next to my computer on the bookshelf. Having read your comments about it, makes it even more meaningful to me. To create something that will touch other people in some way, gives life purpose. To gain from its creation and touch other people, as well, is the ultimate blessing.
Someone told me about a book the other day that I should read, and I thought of you. I had shared with him about my strong connection to the planet Venus. I usually don't say much about it but it came up in conversation and he told me about the book. It is called "Gifts from Eykis" by Wayne Dyer. I am told that it is about a woman who comes to earth from Venus and tries to live here and share what it is like to live on Venus. I haven't read it yet, have you?
*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*
John to Swan: Haven't heard of it, and will be looking for it.
Currently going slowly through Natalie Goldberg's Thunder and
Lightning.
"Good writing begins with some kind of direct connection to ourselves."
"I let the ritual of the book make me feel whole again."
She is talking about the reader's encounter with the author's creation.(which emerged from the writer's ritual.)
"Exactly what writing is: to be able to duplicate our original mind on paper, with all its odd, kinky, turns. Writing is about getting close to our genuine self and the authentic way we see."


******************
To John from Swan,

I thought I had a copy of Writing down to the Bones on my bookshelf but I don't. I think I gave a copy to my son once and so I will check his book shelf and take a look at it. I know it is a great book.  



18 Jun 2003 @ 13:13 by koravya : Opening day
Tuesday morning, June seventeenth, at about twelve forty-five. Some days are long, that’s how it’s described at work, and today was one of those. Some days are good at being what you’d call relatively successful. Driving to work at 8:30 this morning, wondering what direction this life would take if it were not tied to this academic environment, to serve my time as library monitor from nine to one. All these little good mornings, first time I’ve seen you in over a week and how was your vacation kind of thing, nothing heavy handed, or out-of-the-way, or insincere about any of it. From the director to the maintenance man, this staff of about fifty, including the instructors, the finance department, and the recruiting department, and various other ancillary positions, are a tightly knit group, and it is a pleasure to be working with them. Might there however, be another world that I could be living in, one not so far away necessarily in place, as in sense of kinship. Having moved to Canyon, Texas in the fall of ’94 to change my environment from the Great Lakes to the Great Plains to spend some full time practicing painting and so forth, he heard that the Gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light would be in north central New Mexico the coming summer near Tres Piedras. This is a day’s drive and I’ve got a week’s vacation during summer school. Fascinating to see a face from Madison there. Welcome Home is the greeting. Have an opportunity to take a sweat lodge at the Purple Butterfly camp, pretty much on the outskirts it seemed to me of the main camping areas. First time I’ve had a sweat lodge as I recall since the summer of ‘72 at Crow Dog’s on the Rosebud homeland in South Dakota. That was another one of those three-day visits during a week between semesters. Walked around a lot during my three days at the summer gathering in this sweepingly broad and gently sloped valley surrounded by ranges of distant spires. A web of humanity embedded in a broad shallow bowl pointing towards the heavens. So almost twenty years later I get reconnected to this place I’ve been to before. There is no one in my art school environment who has a clue about any of this, and there is no one in my current academic environment who has a clue about any of this. Does it matter?
Tonight between six and ten, the opening was held for this quarter’s group dynamics class. I’ve already had most of these students in an Economics class or a Composition class, and there are a few whom I am meeting for the first time. Nineteen altogether for this evening’s session, with six absences. There are core players and there are peripheral players. There are varying degrees of a priori interest in what this course is about, although essentially, what it will be about is how well I can coordinate what all of these individuals are about with the contents of a book. By all means, what is so nice about this course, as I have been learning through three previous encounters, is that it is not so much about what is in the book, as it is about the activity and discussion in the class itself. For one thing, the playing field needs to be leveled between all of their preconceived notions of hierarchy and participation. The tables and chairs are arranged in a circle. We sit in a circle, noticeably rectangular though it is, face to face all the way around. Everyone needs to make at least a one minute presentation on their best and worst team experiences. Every one of these voices needs to be heard. Quite a range of attitudes and experience, and it is all about making them do better at what they do best. So we had a good session for opening night, I feel, and the day feels like a success, and the wondering about whether I should be doing something else is not so bothersome. I seem to have usually been winding up going to where I need to go when I need to go there, or so my thoughts believe. I remember this story by Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and the one thing I remember is that there was this young woman who suffered through poverty and hardship with a good heart, and in the end, she was happy. There is a thing for me to be doing, wherever I’m at, and that is to use whatever wisdom I have to nurture the light, with whomever I am around. All and every one of us are in this valley of our planet, whose peaks rise to the heavens all around.  



18 Jun 2003 @ 13:15 by koravya : Festival of Lights
Already June eighteenth, Wednesday at twelve-ten in the morning, still connected to the time zone. Every day is a new adventure, and tonight’s
is the introductory class for Composition Two, which emphasizes argumentation as a process which can evolve for an individual from debate and confrontation, through a development into dialogue, and leading into a sense of deliberation and informed analysis capable of recognizing logical fallacies and executing reliable hypotheses. Half a dozen of the sixteen who are here I’ve taken through Composition One. By and large, this looks like a receptive and responsible bunch. I’ve taught this course two or maybe three times before, so my development in this area proceeds at a slower pace than for example, Comp One which I have taught at least one session per quarter since I’ve been here. The subject matter here is a little more complicated and focused, and I need to lead these people into that focus. Comp Two is writing, right? So what are we going to write about? We’re going to write about thinking, and in looking very closely at the words that others use to express their thoughts, we may begin to see our own from another point of view. Every time I give a course, I take it myself.
I begin from the stage of development where I left off, and proceed through another cycle, and the circle of understanding grows. Even in Comp One, I never cease to be fascinated by the stories, in all of their garbled language, that pass through my hands. Better than TV. Now I am encouraging analysis and precision and the task for me is to provide clear explanations. The more times I take this course, the richer my understanding becomes, the more clearly I can interpret the information in the text into usability. The task at hand is to create an essay within an hour and fifteen minutes. Break times during this period are at the individual’s discretion. Now I’ve got my first batch for the quarter. Be looking at those tomorrow afternoon, while beginning to shift into an Economics format for Thursday night. The camaraderie of the staff continues to be outstanding. First week of the quarter is always a trip, for everybody, the teachers as well as the students, and in this small school, everybody, flat out. Every quarter goes in it ‘s inexorable linear direction towards its unforeseeable conclusion, when the mark of attainment is inscribed. All of that is in the past. Now is the beginning, all over again, and beginnings can sometimes be better than Christmas, although I do need to qualify that analogy. I experienced two seasons of DiWali, known as Deepavali in the South where I lived long ago and today. Within the lunar cycle falling within the range of late October and early November is this Festival of Lights. Oil lamps are kept burning throughout the night in all the homes of Hindu India, for this is the night of the great battle when Lord Krishna defeated the great demon of the world. Everyone must have a new set of clothes to wear on the following day. I was working in a cooperative department store in a large town, and we had a large textile department and the best prices in town. The market for textiles in the month before Deepavali is like the market for toys in America during the month before Christmas. As the days progress through the shopping season and the commerative holiday of the year approaches, the emotional electricity of the entire population brightens. To say that something is as good as or better than Christmas or Deepavali is broaching a comparison with the sacred, in which realm, the concept of better is irrelevant. The beginning is the place where Christmas and Deepavali are at, and for the participants, there is a feeling that for this short period of time in our lives, we may suspend our daily concerns, leave them to themselves, and give ourselves to each other, and allow ourselves to have a new beginning.  



19 Jun 2003 @ 13:15 by koravya : UpRiver
Here we are at eleven-thirty in the evening and it’s still Wednesday. Just offhand, and I don’t recollect what the answer was or if there was an answer, I think the Grail is the Cup of Wisdom, and those who pursue her favors will be granted the price of her Quest, the quest for Her. The drink from this Cup is to face yourself before uttering a single word. The cup becomes deeper with every passing year and a day as more of who you are becomes known. She is always there. All you have to do is want Her.
This morning, I was meeting two old friends. For one, I went through grade school and high school with Frank, or shall I say we went through it together? There was a nice gravitation between us, based on the one hand on intellectual ability and desire and on the other a shared interest in social activities through the whole nine yards of all of those classmates through all of those years. He was certainly more socially inclined than I and he led me into a world of others whom I might not otherwise have known. He went into the psychologist’s profession and married and raised two boys into adulthood, and has within the past few years become divorced. I know these things, but I haven’t seen him in thirty years.
So he is at my side this morning, and all of my concentrated attention is on Arjun, named for Arjuna of the Bhagavad Gita. I lived across the one lane asphalt road winding through the rice paddies and goat grazing fields under scattered rows and lacework patterns of tall curving palm trees; I lived across that road from Arjun for two years. I had this old fort, this two hundred year old building left over from two centuries ago by the French and the Portuguese, and he had what amounted to little more than a fisherman’s hut, and this is what he was, a fisherman. He is of the people who live off of the land. The Lutheran Mission church in town which owned this historical piece of property where an entire fort once held sway, gave me permission to live in this last remaining building, with its commanding view of the river and the sea. Arjun was employed by the Church as caretaker for the property. The hut provided for his residence was rather sturdy and spacious, and he got forty rupees a month cash, and he had the freedom to engage in his profession, fishing in the eddies and pools which formed through the lunar cycles as the tides would rise into the usually dry mouth of the river. Arjun was maybe thirty, I don’t know, not old, not young, maybe even close to my middle twenties, maybe in his thirties. He was wiry and spry, just like his old father, who didn’t know how old he was. Then there were Arjun’s younger brother and younger sister, aged around 8 and 12. No woman around though, until Arjun gets married to Rajamba, who is from a village about 20 miles inland. When she goes to visit her relatives, she walks. There are bus services around, and they’re not expensive, but she walks. Sometimes her sister comes over to visit this new side of the family. Nature doesn’t waste any time with Arjun and Rajamba, and along comes this baby girl, and her name will be Indira, after Indira Gandhi. Lots of happiness and pride over in that little hut, and a fair share of misunderstandings between various family members and in-laws during the course of my understanding of who was where and why?
Arjun is speaking to me and I am straining my attention towards his words, for his variation of this language I have been learning is thick with idiosyncrasies that I need to search through for recognizable fragments with which I can piece together an understanding. Like listening to a native of the Ozark mountain backcountry with the ear of a St. Louis urban and grammatically educated street monkey. Only, more pronounced. So Arjun is telling me something and I am straining to listen to his every syllable. I want to know where he’s been, and I am the informant for Frank, for he also wants to know, but he has no familiarity at all with Arjun’s language. Arjun is pointing inland and saying that he’s been up the river doing some fishing. He’s pointing upstream the Missouri river from its confluence with the Mississippi. He’s pointing upriver, and the journey upstream has been a deep seated archetypal image with me for a long time.
Today is easier. Don’t have to teach tonight, just maintain the library through the afternoon and evening.  



20 Jun 2003 @ 08:11 by swan : upriver..oh can I relate to that,
swimming up river, against the current. That is what I feel like I am doing today. I am immersed in a pocket of emotions. Strong emotions. I can usually navigate in this realm but today the river and me are not one. I need a B12 shot because my body no longer absorbs B12 in the normal way due to an operation I had 18 years ago. When I am at the end of my cycle I lose my ability to move gracefully with emotions. My body doesn't support that.
It happens once a month for 4 days. When life is good I don't notice as much. Just some fatique. When life is throwing me a curve the 4 days are very difficult. Today is one of the four days and I am swimming upsteam!
I am going to go to the river and walk along the shore and see if I can change my flow. May be the river will give me a gift.

June 20th 3:00 PM continued..

Before I went to the river I went to the coop and found Sublingual B12 in tablets that you put under your tongue. The only way my body can taking in B12 is directly through my blood stream so it is injected intramuscular. I put a B12 tablet under my tongue and it melted and within 15 minutes I was feeling 75% better.

I arrived at the river and descended the stairs. Some time I should count them to see how many there are. Going down it doesn't matter but coming up, there seems to be more.

I went to the waters edge and began to walk. For a few minutes I watched the swallows flying in and out of there nests that they create out of mud. Once a nest is completed it looks like an organic part of the cliff. The cliffs are peppered with these clay creations.

I walked to the water and took off my shoes and began to walk. I love the feel of the sand on my feet and the water rolling in and running over them. I walked only a few feet when the waves carried in an egg and laid it at my feet. I was stunned. An Egg! Perfectly whole. It reminded me of a pearl coming up from the bottom of the river to greet me. The egg is white and it is 3.75 inches long. I picked it up and it filled the palm of my hand. I thought it might belong to an eagle though I don't know if the size and color is right. Than a pair of blue herons fly by and it seemed they were looking down at me. Maybe they were scouts out looking for an egg that rolled out of a nest in a condo at the heron rookery up stream. Don't know what a heron egg looks like either. May be it fell from a goose as she flew over and it dropped safely into the river. All I know is that I was gifted with an egg. A somewhat smelly egg, but a beautiful specimen anyway.
I stood at the waters edge with an egg filling the palm of my hand and knew that I was holding a metaphor of new life, a time of birthing, a new beginning.

The river knew eggactly what I needed today!

****************************************

From the research I did, looking through my books on raptors the color and size of the egg matches that of the Bald Eagle!

****************July 3
I went to the Raptor Center today to work with the birds. In a case outside of the clinic was an egg that was exactly like the one I found. I asked the clinic director what it was and she said A GOLDEN EAGLE EGG.  



22 Jun 2003 @ 17:25 by swan : June 21, 2003 Summer Solstice.
My friends Linda and Maya and myself drove to Altoona Wisconsin today to spend the day with our friends Raven and Diane. The two-hour drive seemed to fly by as we three friends caught up on our lives. The five of us met about 9 years ago when we belonged to an artists guild that Raven created called The Wild Women Artists guild. It was a group of about 50 women, all of us artists who created a group so we could support one another. The group lasted for about 5 years before it ended. No one really wanted to lead or organize the group we just wanted to get together and be creative. Our "meetings" always looked more like parties as we gathered to create something, have great food and just get wild.

Linda and I formed an instant connection the day we met 9 years ago and we became like sisters. She took over my studio space about 5 years ago when I moved my studio into my home. At one time 5 of us had studios on the same floor in an old warehouse building. There was always community around. One time Linda and I drove to visit Raven and Diane. I drove and we talked about all kinds of things. Conversations often took us deep. When we arrived at Raven and Diane’s, Linda said to me " What time is it?" I looked at my watch and it was only an hour later. We had arrived an hour before we should have. I was driving the speed limit so we couldn't figure out how we had done it. We were all surprised. Yesterday Linda and I laughed again about our two-hour drive only taking an hour. I have heard about time warps and time vortex’ and I think we fell into one that day. Linda and Maya thought I should have drove yesterday because we would have gotten there faster. They called it "Katelyn time".

Raven and Diane have several acres of land that they have turned into a nursery. They have created many lovely gardens and sanctuaries on the land. You can feel the fairy energy. They have built cabins out in the woods where visitor can stay if they want to stay overnight. It was beautiful and peaceful just wandering around on their land.

But what was most fun was catching up. This is a group where you feel like no time has passed when in reality I haven’t seen Raven and Diane in 4 or 5 years. Linda and Maya and myself are in an art show together right now, and they are always at my art openings so we keep in touch with one another. So we talked, talked about past Wild Women adventures, our art, ate great food and created a sculpture out of bowling balls. Yes 32 bowling balls now look like giant, metallic pearls. We had only planned to stay a few hours but we ended up staying until after dark. Eleven hours later 5 friends did a group hug and the three of us waved good bye as we drove down the long driveway, promising to come back soon. A red bowling ball went with us.  



22 Jun 2003 @ 18:19 by koravya : Buoy
Friday at around twelve-twenty in the morning. Getting close to the summer solstice now. The beginning of winter, when the sun begins traveling south, and the days begin to become cooler until they reach the depths of cold and darkness, before the winter solstice, the beginning of summer. Started this afternoon with three hours in the library. Economics goes from six to ten. Thirteen out of sixteen students show up, and there are more of them in here I’ve had in previous classes than there are completely new faces. Overall, an original mix of strangers and friends. Although the grading system is theoretically impersonal, implying an impersonal relationship between student and teacher, the process of transferring knowledge effectively can be dependent on the personal sense of communication that evolves in the classroom. I gotta shut up the loud mouths and get the quiet ones to speak up. I especially have to work on the loud mouth, the person who is insistent on letting everyone know how smart he is. Quiet understanding is preferred, though not too quiet. There is a dialogue that emerges amongst the members of the class as I am leading them from my podium in front of the whiteboard. I’ve got my favorite small room, sixteen seats in two rows. Nobody can hide in the back. One new young lady is extremely attentive and thoughtful and pointedly questioning and confirming her understanding at selected intervals. Others are attentive or seemingly inattentive in all of their individual personal ways, but my attention keeps coming back to her, and by the end of the class, I feel like, if I’ve explained it to her, I’ve explained it. I think of a buoy in the water, creating and making a fixed position in the endless sea of waves. By and large we had a good introductory session.  


25 Jun 2003 @ 16:58 by koravya : Somewhere
June twenty-first at one-twenty in the morning. Went through a graduation ceremony this afternoon, or is that yesterday afternoon now? Out of about fifty or sixty graduates, I’ve had about half of them in one class or two or another. This is the final expression of whatever relationship there was in those classrooms and those hallways, for it is most unlikely that our paths will cross again. Handshakes of congratulations are in order as the final expression of best wishes. There is this process of saying goodbye to Linettte that has its own pace as the reminders of her go into archive, as it becomes increasingly clear that it is most unlikely that we will meet again in this lifetime. There are some unresolved issues, and we will meet again and again until we have arrived at our understanding. There is a great chasm and there is a deep river. We came a long way together from places that each of us wanted to leave. Those were transition points, the ends of things that had gone before, and the search for something new. There we were, locked in each other’s dream of something that had never been before. Those two worlds became one household and those two worlds could not become one world. We had different friends, we made different friends. We lived in different worlds. I couldn’t live in her world and she couldn’t live in my world, and be happy. Sometimes when we were together, we lived in a wonderful world of our own. Those were the moments of deep understanding and the heartfelt wish that the other be happy. This was no fly by night affair. This was recognition between two hearts. This is the wish for life reaching for the wish for life, ensnared in webs of delusion, lost in the sea of samsarra. And so we drift, she and I, on the waves of the great sea, on remnants of the vessel we once sailed together. There is heartbreak and there is recognition in both of us that this is the way it must be. This is the way it is, and maybe some day in some timeless future, you and I can re-kindle the flame and burn away more of our delusions, as we did during our most recent encounter. We know we did good together. All we need to do is create a world that works for both of us. Now I am returning to myself in preparation for whatever comes next. I don’t have to go to any length to put you behind me, so to speak. You will always have a place in my world. One does not forget.
Back to the school after graduation. Second Composition Two class, last new class of the week. Ten students, none of whom I have ever seen before. Two excused absences and six present. A small class on argumentation writing could become very interesting. One fellow is particularly enthusiastic, a real news hound and decidedly left wing and informatively challenging to the other five who are here tonight, generally conservative, or even unopinionated. One objective of the course is to develop a sense for informal, objective opinion constructing procedures.
So now I’ve had my first snapshot of this quarter’s set of classes. The first turn of the wheel.  



25 Jun 2003 @ 17:00 by koravya : Jump and Reach

Saturday the twenty-first at around four-thirty in the afternoon. The sun sets as far north in our hemisphere as it ever will in this eon, so something unusual has to happen today. It just so happens that there is an annual Mudd Volleyball tournament sponsored by some bank for some charity. There are reportedly some ten thousand people there in a lot on the fat southwestern edge of the city, a part of town I hardly ever get to, being a northeast sider. Our school has a team and there are eighty mud pits out there. One of the faculty is the extra curricular sports organizer. Greg holds a volleyball team and a softball team together and he’s had some pool tournaments. This Mudd Volleyball fiesta is a rather special event. I’ve never been to any of the extra curricular volleyball or softball games or pool tournaments. I know I need to be out there this morning, rooting for our team, whoever those teammates are. Turns out to be about a dozen or fifteen or eighteen, a balanced mix of staff and faculty and students. For the staff, besides Greg, there are Phil S., Richard, and Jean as players and Bob and I as sideline supporters. Also Christie and her two little kids. For the students, there’s Jackie and Mike P. and Tony whom I’ve had in a couple of courses, and several others whom I only recognize from the hallways. They’ve got more then enough players. They get five games in this round robin tournament, one every hour at nine, ten, eleven, twelve, and one. I get down there in time to watch their last two games. Gotta admit, it’s kinda hilarious to watch; all of the players are knee deep in water and their feet are stuck in the mud. A few of the players can work through it and jump and know how to hit the ball and aren’t afraid to take a dive in the muddy water. The rest of the members of the various teams I watched, as well as some of our own, act like they’ve never seen a volleyball in their life and seem a bit squeamish about going after the ball. They stand in one place and expect the ball to come to them and it plops down right next to them. Then there are the miraculous plays with multiple set-ups and remarkable saves. Whatever happens, everyone is having a good time. This whole thing is complete malarkey, and we all gotta have a little malarkey in our lives  



25 Jun 2003 @ 17:03 by koravya : Window
Between Monday and Tuesday, the 23rd and the 24th, at around twelve-thirty. There is this question of purpose with regards to writing anything at all down. Natalie suggests that it is a matter of self understanding and self development. It is a window into the depths of how you think. The window needs to be washed every once in a while, and the more frequently the better. One can see far through a clear window. When the painter paints a landscape or a model, there becomes a picture that is the window which speaks through the nature of the artist’s relationship with his or her materials. Here is the representation of how the artist sees what he or she is looking at. So it is with this string of words creating pictures, as it were, with the most mundane elements of reality. Here is a salt shaker, faceted glass with a silver top, alongside its partner, the pepper shaker. Now how is it, historically and culturally speaking, that those two have become juxtaposed? Topic for a research paper?
There is no thinking about school between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning, at which time there is a monumental amount of preparation to be done for this week’s round of classes. This evening is Group Dynamics, round two. Twenty out of a possible twenty-five, and we carry through with an introduction to case studies in small groups. In furthering the knowledge of awareness of self and others in the context of a shared task, I continue my own development through my fourth round with this course. Thing about developing a course is that you try things out to see if they work in the earliest encounters with a course, and proceed to develop a sensitivity thereto, i.e. what works. This is a course in human behavior variables for people who spend most of their academic time thinking about electronic circuits, designing web pages, and constructing computer networks. Almost like an off-the-wall course to some of these people in this environment, and my job is to make it real.  



25 Jun 2003 @ 17:05 by koravya : Blending Colors
During the middle of the night between Tuesday and Wednesday. Here is a globe bespeckled in patches of color representing current political dominions, certain areas of which are contested by ethnic and religious considerations. I’m sure there are all sorts of reasons for dividing the world up into all of these countries. These boundaries are going to blur and they are going to dissolve. There are many who are very attached to these boundaries and will resist the dissolution. There is nevertheless another voice that is growing across the face of the earth. It is hoped that the process of political and economic disintegration will be not excessively catastrophic. One must measure hope against foreseeable probability. As increasingly contentious events emerge, the life that is most grounded will be in a favorable position. The electronic network is a light which brings our thoughts together with all of the good and evil inherent in human nature. The web of light and the web of darkness intersect one another and live backyard to backyard all around the globe. We have all become each other’s neighbors more intimately and more immediately than ever in the history of our awareness. Human intelligence has to pat itself on the back for this one. We have a complex tool now. How are we going to use it? It’s an element in the current equation. The roots of the movement, which is life seeking life, are deeper than any of its tools
My large composition two class is required to write an argumentation essay with reference to the economics of the oil industry, considering both conservative and liberal views. We have a good discussion session between six and eight about critical thinking and the comparison of alternative views of an issue. I am walking them into a mind set that will allow their thoughts to flow clearly during their hour and a half writing session. Here! Solve one of the world’s problems in an hour and a half, with grammatical clarity.  



28 Jun 2003 @ 14:59 by swan : June 28, 2003 Surprise
I woke up this morning and thought it was Sunday. What a pleasant surprise to find out that it was Saturday, which means in the place of timelessness I have had two Saturdays this week. Humm...if we could double all of are days to get two for one, we would have all the time on our hands.
We have had a smorgasbord of weather in Minnesota. It has just begun to rain as I am typing this. We have had flash floods, tornado touchdowns, high winds breaking limbs off of trees and lots of rain. The trees, grass, flowers and vegetables are happy, so are the animals and birds. Each finding a puddle of water to splash and play in.
Yesterday I was on the freeway, and in the center along a concrete center wall walked a family of geese, mother, father and three babies. The babies were as big as the parents. They all walked along the side of the road as if they were hitchhikers waiting for thier next ride to stop and pick them up. All facing forward, waddling in a line going somewhere. A couple of minutes later on the outside of the freeway another family walked. Geese walking down the freeway, cars flying by at 65 or 70 miles an hour and they just walk as if they are alone in meditation. Momentary concern comes over me but I release it because they appear to know what they are doing.

Somewhere, heading west, along the freeway, is a family of geese, walking and embracing the rain as it rolls over them and they march in meditation.  



28 Jun 2003 @ 15:19 by koravya : In the Shop
Wednesday evening at nine-thirty, June twenty-fifth. Thought for the day. My car is in the shop and my day is at home waiting for word on the progress, which as it turns out is slow and extending into tomorrow. The shop is a twenty minute walk through various residential streets that I have often driven through but never walked. I missed a whole day of work which I could afford because this is not one of my class nights. Still, I could have caught up on reading papers, preparing classes, and organizing my classes on the computer for the administration. None of that today. Just waiting through the day for the prognosis on my horse. Something called the heater core. Hard to get to. Lots of labor. Got to keep the economy going. Lots of labor goes into those cars. Just imagine what an oil production shutdown would do to the population of this planet. There would be an awful lot of people out of work real quick, and I would have to walk four point two miles to work. Of course, the streets would be empty and still, and birdsong would return. The school would be gone, or boarded up when I got there. Then I could return to my adobe hut in this mega pueblo, and have a nice empty day. I am there and I am not there. These are the two worlds of school and home. Studio, library, garden, kitchen, entertainment center, gallery, bedroom, forest, closets, patio, rock garden, meditation chamber, office, bathroom and hallway. How many rooms are in this adobe hut? I don’t need any entertainment. I’ve got a hundred and sixty page story written in nineteen sixty-seven by Victor Kolpacoff. The Prisoners of Quai Dong. The story of an interrogation of a Viet Cong prisoner and the five American soldiers and one South Vietnamese soldier who were there in the hut during the interrogation. At whatever level of participation, they were all there, and even to be a witness is to be a part of it. The process of mental deterioration enveloped everyone in the room. I feel like I’ve been playing hooky from school all day, going truant, skipping around the block, getting lost in my own adobe hut, watering the plants and chillin with the butterflies. Let it all go, and see what comes up. All I need is good health and a sound mind and I am free.  


28 Jun 2003 @ 15:22 by koravya : Doorway
Between Thursday and Friday, June 26 and 27. There is nothing to write about and there are too many things to write about. Like entering a variegated canyonlands landscape, every time you blink your eyes and turn your head a notch, there is another painting. Who do I think my readers are? Everyone whom I have ever known in person, and everything we ever talked about and did together, and the authors of everything I have ever read, and the painters of every picture I have looked twice at. I put them all into the language of the voice
I hear and listen to in the envelope of silence. All I can write about is what I think about, what I have seen and heard and read, amalgamated and synthesized into a descriptive voice. So, reader of this, whoever you are, if you have come this far with me through these meanderings, I’m telling you what I have heard, not through the only voice I speak, but certainly through one for which I have a deep seated attachment. I explain a way of looking at the world; what else can anyone say? The car is still in the shop. It is proving to be a formidable repair task for the repairman. When moving into a new city as I did here almost three years ago, there’s always the question of finding a reliable, honest repairman for the major issues that will inevitably come up, with whom there is some quality of personal repore. I feel OK about this shop my car is with now. Take a taxi to school at noon. All I’ve really gotta do is prepare for this evening’s Economics class. The trick is to strike an explanatory balance between those who are right on top of it, and those who are groping through a fog. Got to keep the challenge going on two fronts and everywhere in between. A small, tight classroom with limited seating keeps the focus relatively together. Gerald, right in front of me, can’t resist laying his forehead down on his folded arms on the table for extended periods of time, but when I ask him a question, he raises his bright-eyed head up and says he’s listening. We’ll be seeing who’s getting it since they’ve had their first quiz tonight.
Bill W., a physics and electronics teacher whom I have good repore with, is teaching tonight, and when he hears of my plight with my horse, offers me a ride home after classes tonight. My parking space is still empty. Does anybody live here? Knock, knock. Who’s there? Nobody. Nobody who? Nobody who you know. What is the difference between the man on the inside of the door and the man on the outside, within the context of this city, or any other geographical definition? And through what configurations are these interior and exterior delusional realities entwined? Here is a map unfolding.  



4 Jul 2003 @ 20:13 by koravya : City Bus
Closing in on around midnight between Friday and Saturday. By early this afternoon, the word is that the car has reached and crossed over the threshold of the installation of the transplant, and is now on the journey to reassembly. Whether it will be done by five o’clock is uncertain. Time to try the city bus. Have never ridden on the city bus in this city, or in any city that I’ve been in for quite a long time. The stop for number four is two blocks from home, which will take me to a transfer to number five which will take me to within one block of school. Stepping into those busses is like stepping into somewhere between 1978 and 1982 when I was a city bus driver in Madison, Wisconsin. I have not yet been at this school for as long as I was a city bus driver. I imagine there might be some kind of story in there. I would have to draw some characterizations and translate what I saw in the bus-riding population of Madison.
There was enough time to get to know all the routes day and night. Every three months, the list of routes would go up, and based upon seniority and choice, a realignment of driver relationships was established. There were morning drivers, afternoon drivers, and evening drivers, and split shift drivers and relief drivers. There were some basic city routes, and some express routes for the extreme suburban areas. Everything converged to the downtown square where the majestic white dome of the state capital building rose from the garden on top of the hill on the Isthmus between the two lakes. There were convoys of city buses used to transport school children during those nine months of the year. The newer drivers usually wound up with most of the school routes. Turnover was not excessive, but not all that many drivers stay there for all that many years, so it wasn’t too long before I was able to start choosing some of the regular routes. Tried just about all of them at one time or another, and towards the latter part of this adventure, gravitated to the night runs which went from three to eleven or four to twelve. As I said, there’s a different configuration of drivers for each shift every time the schedule changes. We are all connected through a radio system. We go a little bit out of our way to coordinate, I guess I should say we pace ourselves with one another, to meet at the transfer points. Kind of a customer service kind of thing; and to advise one another about road conditions or traffic problems, for several of our paths would criss-cross from time to time at regular intervals, and we had a road and a population to attend to, as a team.
There was a time once, when I got into stopping off at this bar about a half mile up the street from the bus garage, around the corner and a half mile up that street, on my way home at the end of the night shift. Fellows in their upper twenties to middle thirties, like myself, washing down the night, shooting a couple of sticks, saying hi to the girls if there were any there. John was the friend who told me to come on by one night. That’s where he hung with his buds, including a couple of the other drivers from this shift. The drinking was not rushed but it did have a tendency to go on and on and on, into twelve packs outside in back after the tavern had called its last call. This is OK for a break, but I don’t think I can sustain this as a way of life.
So this goes on, not every night, but not infrequently for a couple of months. Find out who these people are. Visit their homes. Go to their parties. Find out how they look into their futures. Now one of these other young bus drivers was a good pal of John’s, and I don’t remember his name. He had some big kinda motorcycle he was proud of, in fact it was still kinda new to him and he liked to show it off. There came a night when someone said are you coming over to the bar tonight, and I said no, not tonight. I spent some time on the wooden floor in my dark room burning a candle. I lived on the Isthmus, the downtown area and its environs. I like to spend the morning walking the residential streets up to the square and sitting in the corner drugstore, pharmacy, and counter restaurant with a row of booths down one side. Start the morning off with a breakfast in a booth on the corner of the square with the daily newspaper. There’s a short little three or four paragraph item on the side of one of the middle front section pages. There was a motorcycle accident last night on such and such a street, where the road on the rising hill veers to the left. It is not as though John’s buddy was not familiar with that street. It’s on one of the routes. It’s a well traveled minor two lane artery between two larger avenues. Most likely he was taking that hill too fast and lost control. Might have been relatively inebriated. He was already dead. John was in the hospital with serious head injuries, as well as other serious bodily injuries. I understand he maintained consciousness but he didn’t last more than a day or two. It was during that two month period when I was getting to know him in the bar that he started getting it together with one of the young women bus drivers who also had been stopping into the bar after work for a drink. I remember that John was really getting happy about what was happening there between him and her. I remember going over to John’s house that morning before the accident. I had been to a party at that house the night before, and had left a pair of glasses or something there. We found what I lost. I don’t remember who exactly they were, but there was a very old lady and a very young girl outside, and as I recall, one or the other or both knew John, and something like a flower exchanged hands between the old lady and the little girl as the four of us stood there, man across from man, and woman across from woman.  



4 Jul 2003 @ 21:06 by koravya : Tongue is the Knife
June thirtieth into July first. Another day without the car. Took the bus in this morning and walked home tonight. Took a little walk in between for lunch at a Subway. Always something to be catching up to at school, including tonight’s group dynamics class. I am asking my students to review their evening in a journal. They each have ample opportunity to say whatever they want about what is going on in this class. A few little puffs of cloud are floating by in the night sky over the city, evaporating and reforming themselves into reincarnations on their ways across the river valley. No sooner do they become one shape than they begin to become another. I am telling my students that it is their responsibility to themselves to choose their words carefully. These are the tools we use to find our ways through the world and place ourselves in it. You can draw people to you or send them away with the words you choose. There is a voice and words we recognize and listen for. You can take a step into the world of another voice and another set of words, and you can step away, all through the words you choose to speak. There are times to measure words and there are times to let the underlying background generate what needs to be said. The listener provides an opportunity for the speaker to generate an image. The image is of the speaker, telling the story of who he or she is. Everybody in this class has the opportunity to speak in the context of a short presentation, and tonight they have two such opportunities. They are working on helping each other solve problems of their own creation. Each person keeps a log book on what they are getting out of this course, and I read each one every week. These are my charges and they have to keep track of what they’re thinking, as well as what I’m thinking, or what they think I’m thinking, without beating the dead horse.  


4 Jul 2003 @ 21:07 by koravya : Black Top Pit
Between Tuesday, July first and Wednesday, July second. Now again behind the wheel of my car, after six days without. My repairman charged me the book rate of four hours labor, while I know full well that they put in far more than that. There was a time when I lived without a car for a long time. It began when I lived in India as a Peace Corps volunteer. I had a bicycle for local travel, and there was bus service between towns and larger villages, all the way to the metropolis. There was train service for cross country excursions. I translated this living-without-a-car mentality, from two and a half years in India and neighboring countries, into three years in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, including three months in Chicago, and from there, through brief three month sojourns in Seattle and Berkeley, through residence in Madison, Wisconsin, until somewhere around 1980, close to around eleven years altogether. Hard for me to remember where that first car came from, what exactly induced me to get it, and hardly even what it might have been. I remember a deep sky blue Datsun, followed by a pale lemon yellow almost identical Datsun. Whether those were the first or not, I’m not sure, but surely, why?, is what I wonder. I guess I figured I needed to be able to get somewhere farther away, and quicker than I had been used to. I took that step into the black top pit.
Throughout the city, there is the level of the Earth that houses stand on and people walk on, and swathes of asphalt and concrete criss-cross each other in the pit marked by the depression of the depth of the gutter. That is the black top pit and it is a very noisy place. Sit at the bus stop of a major intersection and see what you hear. Not exactly the gentle sound of a roaring waterfall. More like a broken machine thrashing its way discordantly into futility. Living in the black top pit, I am with the delusion that I can take an hour and a half to drive seventy miles to visit a forest in the mountains, get a lung full of fresh air, and return to the city ensnared by the web of the black top pit. The closer I live to the black top pit, the more vulnerable I am to the current round of economic and political shenanigans. The cities are essentially death traps. Don’t mean to be planting any seeds of pessimism or negativity on the urban population. Just by way of saying, I share your pain. The envelope of sound hovering like a perpetual cloud over the major intersection is indeed painful and inelegant. Many of us care, down here in the city. We were born into it, and it changed as we grew, and we followed its metamorphosis from one city into another as our different times of life explored different avenues of growth. The city is bright with enlightened minds, and our paths cross more and more frequently, and our homes are connected through the black top pit.  



5 Jul 2003 @ 07:29 by swan : The Fourth of July
July 4th 2003 From Swan?s diary

Independence Day. A day in America where most people have picnics, watch parades and celebrate our independence as a nation. Freedom seems more illusive than it ever has. Even as an adolescent I questioned the nature of freedom and I wrote poetry about what I thought. In those days it seemed like a myth, just like it does today. The material trap is so insidious and it drives our nation and it?s people and gives us a false sense of security and freedom. I know real freedom only comes from peace within myself and if I have that, it makes no difference what is going on around me. My peace can not be shaken, unless I let it happen.

So for me to celebrate Independence Day is a private matter. I celebrate it all of the time, not just once a year.

My friend, Lee and I were going to have a quiet barbecue in her back yard for The Fourth. When I arrived she was listening to the messages on her answering machine. Her friend Roxy was having a barbecue with friends in her backyard and invited Lee to come over. She called Roxy and asked if she could bring some chicken and her friend, Katelyn. The chicken and I were welcomed and we joined the festivities at Roxy?s.

She lives in a neighborhood where there is a mix of ethnic groups, White, Hispanic, Black and Native American. On an average day these are people who are struggling. Murder, drug dealing and prostitution are a part of the landscape. It is an old neighborhood with many beautiful old houses, some of them, like Roxy?s are loved and cared for and others are rental property that has been neglected. Tonight there was a cloud of sulfur fragrant smoke mixed with the smell of barbecues floating in the air and the sound of firecrackers, loud music, airplanes and police cars filling the neighborhood.

In the center of the neighborhood is a park, called Powderhorn Park. In the middle of the park a man made lake. This is a park that has a May Day parade every year with giant puppets, one weekend each spring there is an art fair, and now there is fire works. They have always launched the fireworks over the lake, this year is no exception. Twenty-five years ago my ex-husband and I had a friend who lived on this park and every 4th of July we went to his house and than to the park for the fireworks. Nathan and Carrie were little kids. They loved the fireworks and so did I.

I don?t think I have been to the fireworks at this park since I left my ex-husband. I am realizing this as I write this. Today I went back to this park to watch fireworks for the first time in eighteen years.

Nothing had really changed. There was a sea of people of all races and backgrounds, lying on blankets that covered all of the hills. We were waiting for the fireworks to begin. There was sounds of children laughing, babies, who should have been asleep, crying, firecrackers popping, and all other kinds of merriment. We were all their as a community waiting for the fireworks. Lying on blankets, looking into the darkened sky. People with a single purpose: to watch fireworks.

When I was a young girl I went with my family to watch the fireworks display. The firecrackers going off around me scared me just like the trumpet players in the 4th of July parade did. Too much noise for my sensitive soul, I would imagine. I didn?t look forward to watching fireworks like the rest of the family did. I went along because I had to and I would cover my ears and watch, trembling inside.

Suddenly there was a whistling whirring sound, a pop and an explosion of color, as twinkling stars fell from the sky. The crowd, of course, OOH?d and AHH?d, over and over, as each beautiful star burst appeared in the sky. I lay on a blanket, arms behind my head, looking up into the sky. I watched with excitement, the man-made shooting stars and comets filling the sky with beautiful color and there was no difference between the little girl, the married woman and who I am today, in that moment.

 



5 Jul 2003 @ 15:06 by koravya : Whoooooossssshhhhh, BOOM, S*p*a*r*k*l*e*
John to Swan,
Thanks for sharing your joys and concerns for this occasion.
The only fireworks I paid any attention to last night were those in the neighborhood, and there were enough to keep the place lit up and sparkley and poppin from dusk until two, easily. Have also just found this new book
"The Matrix and Philosophy' ed. William Irwin (2002) Open Court Publ. Co.,
Chicago and LaSalle, IL. Helps me visualize the entire American economic, political, and technological scenario as little more than a Grand Illusion, of which it may one day be said, My Name is Ozymandius.  



5 Jul 2003 @ 17:53 by koravya : Life's Partner
July fourth. Evening sunlight in the living room. Have spent the last several days paging slowly through the life of Wang Lung in The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.
It starts on his wedding day when he was quite the young man living with his aged father in their small mud and thatch home on their own small piece of land. O-lan was to be Wang Lung’s wife, and she bore him three sons and two daughters. They suffered through a severe famine, and then came upon an unexpected bounty of riches. Wang Lung became a rich man but his heart was always with the land that he had grown up tilling and which he loved with a spirit of devotion. O-lan was a plain woman who hardly ever spoke. She just did everything she was supposed to do and she did it very well. As the children grew older and Wang Lung acceded to a rich man’s idleness, he took a second wife, young and pretty from the rich men’s tea house in the town. Her name is Lotus and she was not for childbearing. She was given her own apartments, and O-lan never so much as either spoke with her or ever wanted to even see her. Wang Lung is careless in feeling for O-lan, while her sorrow at being thus set aside reaches to the depths of her heart. The novel continues to the eve of Wang Lung’s death when he is a very old man. O-lan decides to leave the family during the time of the second son’s wedding. She grew a serious illness, and timed her departure to follow her satisfaction in seeing the second son wed. Occasionally, as the story progressed through the rest of Wang Lung’s life, he would reflect back upon O-lan, with some remorse that he had been so uncaring of her, and he would think upon the good woman she was, despite the plainness and quietness of her nature. “With all her dimness, Olan had seen the truth in him.” (p.239)  



9 Jul 2003 @ 19:00 by koravya : Sandia
Between Monday, July seventh and Tuesday, July eighth. Where is my awareness? A night with twenty students, five are absent, and altogether four women in the class, one missing tonight. I’m telling them they need to write more in their journals. I want them to tell me what they are observing about their various teammates and partners in their various problem-solving configurations. So I need to go figure about my teammates and I figure there’s quite a few of them at the annual North American Gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light. Take a walk along the ridge of the Sandia mountain overlooking Albuquerque from the East. The drive to the top is easy. The rest is at my discretion, and there is plenty to keep me entertained for as far as I choose to walk Time to take a little look into the other side of where most of the visitors exercise their hiking inclinations. Along the crest that I am visiting for the first time, one little landmark after another reveals itself, and from there, a little just beyond, is another one to go for, inviting ledge after inviting ledge, until there comes a one which will be the staging point for further explorations. Through the pinewood forests and across the rocky ledges falling off into oblivion, there are descents and ascents enough, and variations enough in what sometimes appears to be trailways, to get the heart beating a little and challenge one’s sense of direction. Now here I am transferring my sense of direction to four classrooms full of people who are paying big bucks tuition to listen to what I have to say. So I tell them to write, so that they may begin to understand so much more about what they already know. We can bounce our never ending thoughts around in our brains in their unending cycles until they make us literally dizzy with consternation, and we can suspend, for a few moments, the entire galactic configuration, into an engraving. Therein lies a moment of wonder at what our mind might accomplish ___ ultimately, that we may overcome our barbaric nature, at its deepest level of unfeeling for the brothers and sisters of our species. On a global scale, the task is enormous, while on a personal scale,
it is the inevitable direction of the path of truth. The group dynamics students have been grouped into their first major project configurations. They will make these presentations in three weeks, and I have decided who works with whom.
I know quite a few of them from previous classes, and there are also a number of first acquaintances. The educational process at this school has to some significant extent to with the nature of the relationships between learners and teachers. The role model aspect is not irrelevant. The attitude and behavior of professionalism is an underlying premise of this walk through the woods.  



13 Jul 2003 @ 16:15 by koravya : Stars in the Night
Passing through the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, July eighth and July ninth. This is composition two, argumentation. There are two debates tonight, one on gun control and the other on juvenile criminal punishment. There are four women and eleven men in tonight’s class. The assignment is to craft an argument within the arena of the national debate on the abortion issue. There is a class discussion to brainstorm the field of ideas as food and fodder for whatever individual position there might come forth. In this barren landscape of technological indifference, there are occasional stars which shine forth who want not only to excel in the prescribed subject matter, but who are searching further into whatever insight I can provide into their intellectual and personal growth. These are the seekers after knowledge and expression of something a little deeper than just public speaking. Such are Stephanie and Nicole, with whom I sit in the classroom of computer stations for an hour after everyone else has left. It’s like, nothing, it is, sifting through a body of over four hundred students and finding two who really want to talk to you, whoever you are. They want to know what they think I can help them know better. It is learning on a more passionate scale. Now I think maybe I should be striving to learn something as passionately as they. This mind will decay soon enough, and all of its thoughts evaporate, so as long as I am here, I might as well use it. I’ll never know where these young ladies live, one twenty-six and the other nineteen. We meet in the classroom, and they will grow and I will grow through our exchange. Here is what you call the kind of mind I wish to listen to. Here is looking a little beyond the requirements of the situation. Here is putting out that extra effort to acquire something that you want, something more priceless than anything you can hold in your hand. Here are some stars in the night.  


13 Jul 2003 @ 16:17 by koravya : Teamwork
Between Thursday and Friday, July tenth and eleventh. Today has been about tonight’s Economics class. Good turnout: thirteen out of fifteen. Final review before the quiz on last week’s material. Proceed from the theory of the firm to the theory of market models. Have to hand it to Paul R.; he’s trying well enough, but is also quite clear in good naturedly clarifying that he has a real hard time shifting gears from electronics circuitry to economic models. Coordinations between abstractions and known realities. This is the fourth week into the fundamentals of microeconomic theory, and just about everybody in this class has about had it up to their noses in frustration with grappling with this puzzle from another mind set.
So maybe I should be teaching them something like Art History, or the elements of drawing and the theories of color and composition. Meanwhile, back in the theories of diminishing returns and profit maximization, I got some ‘splainin’ to do. Victoria’s bright and attentive face beams from the second row, while T.J. invariably and incessantly chatters forth from the left corner. He is intellectually alert and impulsive in questioning and commentary and confirming of his understanding. His intellectual pursuit is sincere while his persistent vocalizations become annoying, somewhat to me and especially to several of the other students in the class, for he is essentially interfering with their ability to focus on what they are getting from me. To the point where one of them just out and tells him to shut up as they are exiting the room for long break. He’s really offended by this. These people don’t understand his affliction, and until now, I haven’t either, but he hangs back in the room, and in his anger at the others, starts telling me about this medical nervous disorder he has that prompts him into compulsive speaking. For as long as I’ve known him since March through a writing class, and now this quarter through both Comp Two and Economics, I’ve come to think that he has been simply insensitive to the multifaceted learning process that a classroomfull of students is. The various students somehow arrive at an understanding of and adjustment to each other’s learning processes, especially when they have been together through several quarters and various classes. His method of learning is a nuisance to accommodate his process with those of the others. Now I have an understanding of what is driving him. My unvoiced question is, if he knows what it is, and it’s a compulsive disorder, however well directed in intention, and indeed, with relevance to the topic, can he consciously bring it under control?, thereby adjusting his own learning process, while rendering him more compatible with the classroom environment. He’s not without his friends and sympathizers. Stephanie, for one, the same Stephanie who sat with me for an hour after Comp Two class Tuesday night. It’s partners time for the first research and presentation project. Teams of two all around, letting them pick their own partners, for they know who they work well with the best. Victoria and Joe are the mavericks and I’m sure they will make a good team. The whole process goes pretty smoothly, except that the two absentees leave Tina without a partner. I think she can work with Paul F., and Eric N. is the real maverick in this class. I throw his discredited corpse to the wolves of the class, asking which pair would be willing to accommodate his unaccountability into their teamwork process should he decide to proffer a presence. The general consensus is, who cares? Paul R. has endured Eric’s unavailability before. Not a major burden, since he’s not really there, and Paul is a team worker to the extent of accommodating Eric’s essential uselessness. Eric managed to get a D out of my group dynamics class last quarter. I wonder what he figures he thinks he needs to do to get through this Economics course. The crucial question for me is whether I made the right decision in putting Tina with Paul F. I could have tripled Tina up with one of the existing groups, and left the two absentees to catch each other up. I didn’t even think of that. I saw Tina working with Paul, and it looked OK. I’ve also got them both in Comp Two on Tuesday night. Paul has not exactly been a star with attendance in either course, but I have come to believe that he can respond to necessity, while I am growing weary of even having to think about giving consideration to Eric. Right now, I need to sensitize myself to Tina, a mature Native American working mother, a quiet traditional lady whose voice and presence can sometimes get lost during those boisterous periods of team formation. Victoria with Joe was a natural pairing of intelligent, responsible mavericks. Tina, in her own way, is a maverick, even though she’s always there, for as long as I’ve known her, likewise since March, and again in this quarter’s Comp Two. Paul F. needs to be bludgeoned a little more into some responsible classroom attendance, which of course will enhance his participation, and my classroom dynamics.  



13 Jul 2003 @ 16:22 by koravya : The Longest Night
July eleventh through twelfth, Friday into Saturday. The urban population of the planet is now sitting on a bomb, waiting for it to explode. The fuse is lit and the entire scenario is couched in the terms of war. When the fuse detonates the explosive device, the ongoing war will be over. The Earth will turn once through a twenty-four hour period, and be transformed into a stage of devastation and survival for the first act of the New Day, sometimes known as tomorrow becoming today. The entire nuclear arsenal will be detonated and a great cloud will envelope the land and the sea all around. The atmosphere will be significantly altered, and all future life forms are up for grabs. The human population will be decimated and the few that remain in various isolated pockets will conduct subsequent evolutionary choices. The vegetation will accommodate the new atmosphere and the animal population will accommodate the vegetation. There seems to be a contemporary concern about whether or not a nuclear war will occur. The nuclear war is occurring. We are living through the middle of it, and when the explosion occurs, it will be over. There will be no further reorganization of the population into political states. The only people who will matter will be those in each of our immediate vicinities. If you have placed yourself amongst comrades and friends, you are more likely to do well than if you will have placed yourself within the context of strangers and acquaintances. Gravitation amongst the living will hopefully overcome the powers of fear and mistrust. This is, after all, the preferred evolutionary direction. Would that all of this suffering will not have been for nothing. Down on the ground, those who know the good nuts and berries from the inferior nuts and berries shall carry our genetic code through the longest night that the human species has ever known.  


13 Jul 2003 @ 17:12 by swan : I have a good friend
who lives in Sandia Park.  


13 Jul 2003 @ 17:14 by swan : On the Road to Omaha
July 11-12 THE ROAD TRIP
On Thursday I went to Hastings, Minnesota to visit my friend Della. We were sitting in her living room when the phone rang. It was her father telling her that her aunt, who is close to death in a hospital, had gifted her with a car. My friend has not had a car for a year. I was there listening as Della told her father she would have to find a way to get it and may be she could talk a bus there. I asked where the car was and she said " Omaha, Nebraska". I spontaneously replied, " I will drive you there."
She began to cry with the joy of being given a car and for my willingness to take her to get it.
I was surprised and pleased with myself for seizing an opportunity to support my friend knowing that it would mean 16 hours of driving, and 8 of them would be alone.
I drove to Hastings on Saturday, picked Della up and we were on the road. It was great fun as we had much to talk about and it was a beautiful day for a drive. At one point in the middle of Iowa, in the middle of no where, we both needed to use the restroom. We got off of an exit and headed for the visitor’s center. The sign said it was two miles away. The road zigged and zagged and detoured through at town that was surrounded by cornfields. I said, " I have a feeling we are about to have a mystical experience." When we found the visitor’s center it was in a tiny building that looked like it used to be a train depot. As we walked in the door there, in a glass case was a bald eagle. I have been working with the energy of eagle since I found the Golden Eagle egg three weeks ago. This eagle was an immature, bald eagle that had been killed by an electrical wire. There it was in the middle of no where and we would not have found it, nor heard it’s story if we hadn’t been looking for a restroom. A cross the street from this building was an old black smith shop. The man at the door said, " would you like to look around by yourself or have the tour?" Della said " give us the tour, but could you do the condensed version?" The man smiled and said, " I will give it a try." Forty-five minutes later we knew more than we would ever want to know about the art of blacksmithing! He was so proud of the museum and all of the smithing tools.
We arrived at the Motel 6 just after 8:00 PM, and Della’s father was sitting in the seat of her new, royal blue, Buick Skylark waiting for our arrival. The car was in beautiful condition, even though it was 8 years old. We took the car for a drive and went out to dinner with her father.
We came back to the motel room, exhausted. It was your typical motel room, for one person. The bed took up most of the room. There was a dresser with a TV on it and a table by the window. We brought our sleeping bags prepared to sleep on the floor. There was very little sleeping space. Della put her bag at the foot of the bed blocking the path to the bathroom and I put mine by the door, which was the only other open floor space. Her father, who is 81 years old, still works as an over the road salesman. I was amazed when he said he had put on 1800 miles that week meeting with customers! He wanted to sit up and talk all night. At 10:30 I crawled into my sleeping bag and attempted to go to sleep while Della and her dad chatted. I think I had drifted off when suddenly I was awakened by a blaring radio. All-night news station that her father used to help him fall asleep. Della asked if he could turn it down a bit. He did, but it was still loud enough to make falling asleep difficult. Eventually we both fell asleep and dreamed dreams of fishing and Tiger Woods golfing and basketball. I am not sure if we were dreaming or laying awake all night listening to the radio.

This old man makes me think. He is an opinionated, racist old cogger who has spit dripping from his lips as he talks to us. I doubt that he is even aware of it. He lives like a gypsy, from motel room to motel room and the world is his family. He is bitter and happy at the same time. There is something endearing about this old man, and I can't put my finger on what it is, but it has me thinking.  



14 Jul 2003 @ 05:47 by swan : Does T.J have Tourettes?
{http://www.tourettes.com/#whatis} I had a client about 13 years ago that had it. She and I created a play and made puppets to act out the script. During the filming of the play was the only time her tics and involuntary verbalizations stopped completely! It took us almost two hours to do the film and she did her speaking parts perfectly.  


18 Jul 2003 @ 07:23 by swan : A walk around the lake.
I went for a walk around the lake last night with a new friend. We had gone about half way when we came to this area where there was a fence along the path. I noticed a little bird sitting on the fence. It looked at first like a baby robin with a light pink breast. I walked up to the bird and started to talk to it moving very close. She looked at me inquisitively. I reached out my hand and stroked her breast with the tip of my finger. She let me. Then she flew into the air, circled around us and flew away with her friends. I could tell as she flew away that it was a swallow. I was stunned that she had let me touch her.
The man that I was with, who I had just met, was also stunned, but he gave me an understanding that I hadn't had before. When we talked about it later he said, "well it looks to me like you became the essence of the bird and that is why it didn't fly away." Suddenly I understood why I was able to connect with things in the way I have always been able to.

either that or it could see that I was just another unusual bird.

John to Swan: Likely both: An unusual bird who has a way of connecting with things as they are, whoever and wherever;
Birds of an essential feather, flocking essentially together.  



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