MUSE LOG: Coffee in the Backyard - Chapter 3    
 Coffee in the Backyard - Chapter 342 comments
picture30 Oct 2003 @ 17:15, by John Ashbaugh

Into the first hour of darkness after sunset Sunday, October twelfth. A day in the cabin in the woods, or the adobe hut in the dry country, such as they may be as alternatives to the tent. Small flames bring forth spheres of transparent yellow light, galaxies apart, twinkling across the room. A continuous wave of rainfull storms swept across the river valley this week; the ground is full with fresh moisture and the sky is blue and cloudless today. A carpet of tiny green something-or-others is emerging amongst the little stones of the rock garden. Today is a good day to not be driving around on streets and highways. The forest and the campfire are here in this microcosm, and the moon is slightly different from the way it was last night.

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30 Oct 2003 @ 17:17 by koravya : In between
Wednesday into Thursday, October fifteenth into the sixteenth. The moon is descending now from its fullness into its disappearance, with still plenty of light to reflect the late night sky. With barely enough time between the end of a night class and the start of a morning class to think twice about either what has gone on or what is about to go on. From Composition One, through Economics, into Composition One again, a staccato. Then space, diving off the platform into emptiness, and the glide into an identical round of evening, morning, and afternoon classes. Then another leap into another fragment of the unknown. The flames are quiet tonight.  

30 Oct 2003 @ 17:18 by koravya : Pilar
Wednesday into Thursday, October twenty-second into the twenty-third. If there is some place you think you need to be going to, then perhaps you had best be going there and see what happens when you get there. Sunday afternoon into Monday afternoon was in a little section of a moderate crevice of the Rio Grande gorge near Pilar, north of Espanola on the road to Taos. The river is descending from one rocky level to another, at a more leisurely pace than the upper streams at Holy Ghost. The yellows of autumn are shining through the cottonwoods and other streamside vegetation. The moon is late, very late this evening, under the galaxy of stars. The sides of the gorge rise on either side of the meandering river, converging to the northeast and the southwest at their rocky horizon. No fire tonight. There is wood enough to burn brightly for a couple of hours, but tonight the focus is on the turning of the stars. Sometime between very late at night and very early in the morning, the bitten moon emerges from behind the towering rock, and I have a clue about where it is going behind the towering rock to the distant southwest where the setting sun drew the curtain of night across the evening sky. Not too much walking around this time out. Stay within a couple of hundred yards or so up and down the river bank from the campsite. Fire in the morning to warm up some cold coffee left over in the thermos, yesterday’s fresh pot from home, before taking a set of pictures. These are the kinds of things I painted when I was painting. I like to be out here, is what it comes down to, where the only things I have to think about are where exactly, on which specific patch of ground, am I going to pitch my tent, and how many and what kind of sticks am I going to be able to find for burning. And when do the stars come out tonight, and how brightly will the moon shine whenever it emerges.  

30 Oct 2003 @ 17:20 by koravya : Choosing
Through the progression of a Sunday afternoon as the sun arcs through today’s clear blue southwestern sky, this October twenty-sixth. From the garden and trees behind the adobe hut. Three plants need to be brought inside now so they may thrive and give light. All the others are on their own with the elements on the other side of the old wooden door. There are some little trees that have already gone through two winters, so they can be expected to blossom in the spring. Many of the others will be entering their final season of breath. This is the new moon weekend, and first crescent will be appearing in a couple of evenings. Time to keep the homefires burning and watch the evening sunlight paint and travel the walls of these inner rooms. Here is one called Solitary Time. All kinds of thoughts are arising and evaporating. This is the kind of thing I hear from many of the students who write very little or don’t turn in work. Their thoughts are going so fast, they say, that they can’t write them all down. They think they need to be writing as fast as they’re thinking, and they sit there and don’t write anything. Then I focus them into the idea that they need to make some choices. Certainly, you can’t write all your thoughts down, I tell them. You have to make a choice and then listen for the words that describe this choice. The more words you have in your vocabulary and the better you know how to string them together, the more effectively will you be able to communicate the chosen image. The sunlight on the walls is fading as the evening approaches  

30 Oct 2003 @ 17:22 by koravya : Letter
Dear Doctor Ruff,
First of all, I’d like to thank you for laying your hands upon my crooked back and bringing forth a healing. I knew when I saw that flyer fall out of the daily newspaper one day that here was an opportunity for an evaluation of an ailment that had originated in a pattern of activity I had engaged in twenty years before when I was in my later thirties. Ever since that initial twist set in, its aggravation would come and go from time to time, along with it’s attendant sciatica, to hamper my walking, my standing, or my running. I saw a chiropractor several years ago, and he did a couple of adjustments and showed me my X-ray, but did not suggest that I get into a long term care program with him. My impression of what chiropractic is all about was not very elevated by this experience.
By the time I saw your flyer, I was not only noticing a recurrence of the periodic aggravation, I was noticing in my bathroom mirror that my relaxed posture was actually leaning over to one side. When you described what was wrong with my lower back, as well as what was wrong with my severely straightened neck, and explained the nature of your extended adjustment program, I knew that I had found the man who was going to set me straight, if anybody could.
What is it like to be imprisoned in a twisted lower back for twenty years, and what is it like to return, with at least some degree of approximation, to the back that carried me through the world once before, to the back which could carry the energies of life through clear and unobstructed channels? There has been enough of the life force to keep me functionally alive during the last twenty years, but now, during this correction process, I can’t help but reflect upon how many of my life’s decisions during this period may have been influenced by the distortion in my lower back, and in my neck.
And I reflect now a little more on how I might have looked at the world some twenty and one years ago before I began my descent into the world of the twisted back, where I have since wandered for so long. I don’t think we will exactly be putting a thirty-nine year old body back into a fifty-nine year old mind, but something along those lines is what is occurring. As the back straightens, and as the neck curves, so shall the thoughts I generate pass through clear channels, and my crippled thinking shall become like the memory of a dream I once passed through. This is an awakening now into something new and very different. Something from a long time ago is going to come forth into my present. That which was falling over, now carries new light. So that’s what I mean when I say thanks for Everything, in more ways than one. October 29, 2003  

30 Oct 2003 @ 17:23 by koravya : Hi Brother
Wednesday night into Thursday morning, October twenty-ninth into the thirtieth. The doctor asks his patients, after they have been through his process for a few months, to write up a little “success story,” or testimonial, about their experience in his chiropractic care. He collects these stories and puts them in plastic jackets in a white three-ring binder which is available in the waiting area where his never ending flow of patients sit for a few minutes before their scheduled adjustments. This letter was my contribution to his “success story” binder. After an adjustment, each patient sits for several minutes staring at the ceiling with a weight attached to a strap hanging from the upturned forehead, to serve the purpose of backward-bending neck traction. This is an exercise I will need to carry on for the rest of my life, bending and holding my neck backwards. The doctor had a chance to read the letter while I was in traction, so that as I was passing through the reception area on my way to the door, as he was standing behind the counter area with two of this receptionists, as our eyes met, he held my glance, and commented that he really appreciated the letter. He said he was touched, and that I had a real gift for writing. All I could think of to say was to thank him again, and to say that he should be touched. I am secretly happy that I could do so, and yes, here is another person who has told me that I have a gift for writing. Given that as the case, I am left to ponder what exactly I should be doing with this gift.
I have talked about the value of writing for its own sake, for the writer’s own sake. Fine. Then there is the aspect of giving the gift and sharing meaning with others, of creating meaning for and with whoever the reader might be. The vehicle is perhaps a shared aesthetic, or sensibility, for correlations between sound and sense.
Thursday is my brother Robert’s birthday; he’ll be fifty-one now. He has been gifted with a long marriage with Becky, and two bright, healthy children, Jaison at twelve, and Kayla at sixteen. They live in rural Missouri, and they don’t have much in the way of property, but they have the spirit of love and gentleness in their lives together. In so far as I’m writing for anyone at all, I like to feel like I’m writing for my nieces and nephews, all ten of them. All of my children are other people’s children, and I am the friend and the uncle who lives alone with his memories out in the middle of some faraway desert where he scans the horizon for another close friend to come along. Sometimes they’re around and sometimes they’re not. I’ve had a few. If I hang around long enough, maybe I’ll run into a few more of my spirit brothers and sisters. I am given a lot of empty space to work with between times with friends of intimate quality, friends with whom the words shared have deeper personal meaning.  

31 Oct 2003 @ 03:02 by shawa : Hello.

31 Oct 2003 @ 05:23 by spiritseek : Peace and quiet
solitude is good for reflecting on your life and to think new thoughts of your road ahead. When you happen upon another human you embrace the comfort with much relish and enjoyment then if you had been around them the whole time.  

1 Nov 2003 @ 06:16 by swan : Happy Birthday Robert.
Happy anniversary Venus.  

1 Nov 2003 @ 06:23 by swan : I want to sit by that river in the photo
above and drink coffee from a thermos.
Yesterday I sent "Diving for Pearls" and all 25 of the images to the publisher. I was surprised at the emotions that surfaced this week in the process of birthing this baby. Yesterday fear and excitement were so tightly aligned that I couldn't tell which was which. The voice of my "Poerava" (shadow self) was loud in my ear. As I pushed the button and sent the manuscript through cyberspace it grew louder. Wordless feelings of self doubt. Excitement for what could be. I don't know if this is true for other creative people, but I always feel a bit vulnerable and exposed when I make my work public and I am challenged each time I do. That part of me that wants to remain hidden and anonomous has a voice in me too. It is a paradox to want to be seen and want to remain hidden.
Today I can breath is done...and this book, my spirit in words and images, will take on a life of its own. And it all started in my newslog at NCN...I find value in this place, beyond what it appears to be.

And to my friend John..."coffee in your backyard", is a part of it.  

2 Nov 2003 @ 20:13 by koravya : And, Swan
This story is blessed with your participation.  

5 Nov 2003 @ 08:23 by swan : It is my pleasure,

7 Nov 2003 @ 08:46 by koravya : Suitcase
October thirty-first into November first. A solar year ago tonight, our neighbor Venus-Quetzalcoatl passed through a conjunction to begin the first leg of her-his synodic cycle of 584 days. She’s been here as our morning star for some time now, and has recently emerged as our evening star. The circle, the square, and the pyramid of Egypt through the view of a Mayan mask. A rather disturbing dream last night. Rod and I are going to a casino for the buffet, which we have occasionally done. While we’re there, I say, Oh what the heck. I’m going to do a little gambling, just for fun. I go to the counter to get twenty dollars worth of quarters. The lady gives me a big pile of loose change, mostly quarters, but I have to sort it out and count it out to make sure it’s all there. While doing so,
I remember that my suitcase is just around the corner of the angular counter. When I look to check to see if it is still there, it isn’t, and this is a personal disaster because everything that is important to me is in that suitcase. The source of my livelihood. My identity. Irreplaceable memories. Every plan for tomorrow. The casino floor stretches vast and crowded beyond the counter. I ask the lady if she had seen anything and she said no. Rod is no longer a part of the picture. All I can do is start wandering, rather frantically, through the crowd and maze of slot machines and green covered tables, and the search for the missing suitcase seems rather entirely hopeless. Then I go past the buffet dining area, and notice Rod in there at a table eating his meal. He doesn’t notice me and I don’t go over there, and that’s that. But the suitcase is still missing and I have to keep looking for it, and I don’t even know where to begin looking. This is when I wake up and I am not in a particularly elevated mood with this imagery. Fortunately, I have the morning off and can let that all wear down a little before an afternoon and evening session at school. Halloween is fun at school. Some of the students will wear costumes, even if it’s just to put on a witch’s hat. Not a whole lot of the students, maybe just ten or twenty percent, but they add welcome color and atmosphere to the hallways. Faculty and staff are invited to dress up if so inclined, and several of us do, even if it’s to just put on a wide-brimmed Texas cowboy straw hat, and a jacket with a design that looks like a circus. Nice to get a little glimpse with a little twist in perspective on the established patterns of perception. Feels like its taken all day for my head to clear out from my early morning frantic search for my identity.  

7 Nov 2003 @ 08:47 by koravya : Smokes
Friday morning shortly after dawn-Usha brings color to the sky on November seventh. The planetary hologram will pass through an arrangement of celestial objects being referred to as a Harmonic Concordance during these ensuing couple of days while the full moon goes through an eclipse. This recalls the Harmonic Convergence of sixteen years ago. I had at that time been living in Madison for twelve years. I arrived in Madison on April eleventh, 1975 when I was thirty, as winter’s final patches of snow were melting into springtime. Had seventy dollars in my pocket and no place to go. I had heard good things about Madison and was looking for a place to live. It was a time to be friendly and start meeting people. Time to find a room someplace in a house with a shared kitchen. Time to find some kind of employment and get a wage together to pay the rent for the room and something to cook. Hadn’t been carrying very much when I arrived in Madison so the room had a lot of empty space. Part of my wage went into buying stretcher bars, canvas, gesso, pigments and brushes, and keeping myself occupied in this empty space with an ongoing painting. For the kind of thing I was doing at that time, it might take three weeks between the stat of one and the beginning of another. I moved around two or three times from one Madison room to another before finding one to stay in during the first winter.
A big old house of two stories and an attic divided into about ten or twelve independent rooms connected by a stairwell into a clean and roomy kitchen in the basement with a couple of ground level windows for natural light. I remember getting to know the fellow in the attic apartment and smoking a little weed with him near an arched window looking out over the rooftops of old downtown buildings towards the dome of the capitol just a few blocks away. Then there was this quiet man in his forties in the room next to mine who would lock himself up and go on alcoholic binges with tasteful assortments of scotches and bourbons and vodkas and gins, and other sorts of fire-waters. One afternoon when I was home, I smelled smoke, and opened my door to find that smoke filling the hallway and coming from under my neighbor’s door. I banged on his door and he opened it looking very groggy and apologizing for falling asleep in his living room chair with a lighted cigarette. Another time when he came out in the hallway after one of his binges, we got into some passing conversation during which he sat down on the floor and bawled like a baby about how his now grown son didn’t love him. Then there was this wiry and tough-as-leather Native American woman, I guess about in her forties, who lived on the first floor below me, whom I got into long drawn-out conversations with in the kitchen. We would go on and on and on about one subject leading into some other subject leading into some other subject, going through one cigarette after another after another, filling the kitchen up with our smoke. We were pretty much the only two people in the building who used the kitchen anyway, and we both passed a lot of empty time keeping each other company this way. The series of paintings I had started during the summer continued from my second floor room in this house. Seventy-five turned into seventy-six. I took a job with a night janitorial crew for one of the big four story state office buildings just a few blocks away. Stayed with that job for about eight months as I recall. Met Bobby-Joe from Kentucky on the crew, and he gave me a clue about a large well-windowed one room apartment with it’s own separate kitchen and second floor screened-in porch. So I made that move. Good things came out of that room. There was a sequence of rooms and apartments during those years in Madison. That’s the association I make with the Harmonic Convergence of 1987. I moved out of one apartment I had been living in for three years, into a new place.  

9 Nov 2003 @ 18:34 by koravya : Franklin street
Sunday afternoon, November ninth. Afternoon sunlight casting horizontal illumination through wavering leaves and a Venetian blind lattice to the interior walls. In the old wooden house on Franklin street, Bobby-Joe and his wife and their baby girl Trina occupied the first floor at the top of the wide stairway leading up to the porch. Theirs was the right door, and the door to the left opened to a stairway which led to the four apartments on the second floor. One at the front, my own, with three huge double paned windows looking south and over the street, it’s own half-sized and entirely functional kitchen, and leading out from the kitchen, a door to a screened-in porch above the first floor porch, like a third and very special room, reminiscent of other roof-top places I have slept. At the other end of the hall, the rear apartment also had an open area outside its back door overlooking a spacious grassy green yard. There lived a Vietnam Vet in his mid to late twenties. He had served as a battlefield medic, and had held men while they died. He shaped elegant clay pitchers on the potter’s wheel he had access to at the University art department. Perhaps six or eight inches at the base, sloping inward, sloping outward, sloping inward, and beginning to slope outward again where the rim with its pouring notch opened the twelve or eighteen inch tall water container. Glazed a rich tawny earth colored reddish brown over a roughly textured surface. Stable and elegant, akin to the earth, complete with pouring handle rising from the rim and curving back to meld with the wider middle section of the curvilinear cylinder. Whatever else he did with his clay, those are the things I remember the most. In the apartment to the right was a younger fellow, in his early twenties, and his large graceful dog with long white hair, perhaps something like a collie, golden retriever mix, called Layla. The young man, Gary, wore his shoulder length red hair loosely, and hung around in the social atmosphere of the university union, although he wasn’t a student.
In the other apartment on the other side of the hallway was a single man, perhaps my age or a few years older, whom between he and I, not very many words passed. I’d been in Madison a little over a year when I moved into the house on Franklin street and my collection of paintings was growing. The apartment there with its huge southern windows and natural wood floor was a good place for painting. I got a job driving elderly people around the city for an agency which provided this service for those who would otherwise be shut in. Here was through the winter between ’76 and ’77. I recall a blizzard burying parked cars and stopping others in their tracks on this narrow residential street. By the time the summer of ’77 rolled around, I had accumulated a sufficient number of paintings, and had joined the Madison Art Coop on Williamson street, affectionately known by locals as Willy street, and was participating in the non-mainstream art community. It came to be my turn for a show and I had a roomful and it was a big room. I paired up with a fellow who created original musical instruments in the nature of strings and percussion, and as I recall, things which made chiming notes like xylophones and bells. The array of his instruments looked like a collection of instruments from around the world, but they were all of his own original design. He and his wife put on a musical performance for the opening, and the instruments were out on the floor for display for the duration of the show. This was the first time I had ever hung my paintings together in a room like this. I wasn’t trying to sell them. I was just doing what it was that I thought artists are supposed to do: show their stuff.
A curious event occurred during those two or three weeks the show was up in the gallery. I was coming upstairs to the hallway one afternoon and I noticed that my door was slightly ajar. How can this be?, I wondered. I’m sure that I had locked it earlier today when I went out. When I pushed the door completely open, I faced the aftermath of a tornado that had torn through the entire apartment including the kitchen. Chaotic disruption of the entire array of objects overturned and thrown helter-skelter. It was nothing short of absolutely amazing. Little bottles of colored ink had been opened and splashed in multiple droplets across the white living room walls. Curiously enough, as I began wading through the mess, it looked like nothing had been broken. There had simply been a massive and thoroughly complete chaotic upheaval of everything that was in here. As I began to sort through things, I began to notice little relationships between certain things and what was done to them and where they were that I understood, that had meaning for me in terms of the way I categorize and organize the objects in my life. No other person could have done this. This entire event had been carried out by me. What I imagine is that I came home that afternoon, climbed those stairs and went into that apartment and clicked off consciously motivated activity.
I blacked out and whipped through that room like a wild man guided by some subterranean message-carrier who needed to tell me that now that my set of paintings were out and up and safe in the gallery, this place I called home and studio needed a change. However many minutes it would have taken me to do this in my subconscious state, I would have then stepped out into the hallway again, clicked out of my trance and noticed that the door was slightly ajar.  

11 Nov 2003 @ 03:35 by swan : The description
of the trashed room is excellent and it left me wondering about the intricacies of the creative mind and what we do in the stress cracks.  

12 Nov 2003 @ 17:42 by swan : Creative/destructive energy.
I have found in the creative process that there is an equal "destructive" energy to each creative effort put forth. ( because we live in duality) It is a law of nature. I have studied this patterned in myself over the past several years since I discovered it. It would manifest for me in different ways. For example, after I completed a painting I found I would be very judgmental of myself for a few days . Not about what I had painted but about other things. It was as though I needed to discharge the opposite energy. As I paid attention to the pattern I have been able to find ways to release the energy in more conscious ways. I mention this because that is what thought about when I read about when your apartment turned upside down.  

16 Nov 2003 @ 19:45 by koravya : Old friend
Thursday going into Friday in the middle of the night. November thirteenth into the fourteenth. Raining all day, so many clouds, the mountains are invisible. Something above freezing here but there is snow on the eastern side of the mountain. The warmer days are turning into the cooler days as autumn blends into winter. Never forget to humble yourself before the powers of nature. Answered a call from Rod yesterday morning as I was preparing to leave for a day and a half at school. There’s been no talk between us since before I went on this series of camping trips. Now, as it turns out, he has had heart by-pass surgery a few days ago, and just got home from the hospital on Monday. We know he has a bad heart, and wonder how long he’s going to last, all of those of us who are his friends and family. Went over to sit and visit after school. Barbara came over, his friend from school. They look like a good match to me, and she would have him to be hers, while all he can see is her as a friend. She was there for him during his days at the hospital, and is willingly helpful during this time of convalescence and attenuated activity. The three of us are together there in his living room while The Good The Bad and The Ugly plays on his widescreen on the far side of the living room, not that the movie captures a whole lot of our attention, but as a background feature, it certainly affects the conversational dynamic. In any case, Barbara and I are Rod’s closest friends in New Mexico. The dynamic is positive. Rod is in good spirits. He has a will to live. There is another painting that needs to be painted. During the course of conversation between we three, Rod mentioned a dream he had sometime during the past few days in which he was at a wonderful buffet such as some of those that he and I have occasionally gone to. He doesn’t remember anything in particular about what may have gone on before or after the buffet. I didn’t mention anything about the dream I had a few nights ago of watching him eating in a buffet dining room. I didn’t go over to his table in the dream, and I didn’t say anything about the dream tonight.  

16 Nov 2003 @ 19:46 by koravya : Hours
The theme of the evening is the transition between Friday and Saturday, November fourteenth into the fifteenth. The Aztecs had a twenty-two hour day-night cycle, and each hour of the day was named for a particular deity, one of the thirteen Lords of Day or the nine Lords of Night. This week is the last class before next week’s last class for all of my courses. Every student has to decide how much effort he or she wants to generate towards whatever a sense of achievement necessitates. Various levels of significance ride upon that one point line between letter grades. A twenty-two hour day translates into 65.454545. . . of our minutes per hour. Economics has been a tough course for a lot of these people. The quizzes have challenged them, and those who have stayed with it have exposed themselves to a new array of lexical concepts. Many of them redeem themselves through their research project presentations. Next week, I am going to be buried in final research papers and project reports. Meanwhile, the evening air is cool enough in the middle thirties, and that little adobe corner is still out there, while the moon wanes bright in a lightly clouded sky. The cloud enveloping the mountain is clear, and the entire length from north to south of the highest ridges and peaks are frosted in the sunlight this afternoon.  

16 Nov 2003 @ 19:47 by koravya : Visitor
Saturday night the fifteenth into Sunday morning the sixteenth of November. The adobe corner is still out there in the back yard. During this summer of seventy-seven, Arnie, the vagabond writer of children’s stories, whom I had known from those last couple of years in Champaign-Urbana, turned up on the streets of Madison. He lived out of his car and with whoever would put him up for a day or two every once in a while. He wrote and illustrated and self-published a few hundred copies of several imaginative stories, animating the inanimate into adventures reminiscent of B’rer Rabbit and Chicken Little. Not much of a market, but they were his stock in trade for his avenue into the world of the rest of us. He was making his rounds from town to town and city to city, visiting the people he knew in all of these places, keeping his books moving, in trade or for cash, getting his stories out into the world. During his time of a couple or so weeks in Madison, he meets Gail, a twenty-one year old college senior, and they come over for a visit one summer afternoon. All just friends, who find each other interesting for some reason or another; Gail with her smiling face, enthusiastic and thoughtful for the world which might lie beyond her final year in school. Arnie went on his way to whatever city he needed to go to next, and then another afternoon, Gail came knocking on my door just to visit on a whim. There was enough between us to draw us into each other’s beds that fall and winter. I had my job and my art and she had her school, and the rest of our time was for each other. The art was trying something a little bit different this time. I had been reading the Aztec culture to the point of saturation, and my academic training told me that I needed to put everything I had learned into a document. The idea of writing something down about the Aztec culture seemed rather ludicrous. There are already a plethora of scholarly works on the subject. I have nothing new to say. What I will then do is begin a series of drawings, having no idea where this series will go, only knowing where I am beginning, at the outermost circle of the calendar stone.  

23 Nov 2003 @ 08:47 by swan : Lady on the Cliff, with antlers in
her hair, releasing the eagle into flight, I feel like her these days. Much has dropped away in my life, in my thinking and beliefs and I feel like I am standing on the precipice with the eagle leaving my hands. I can breathe now as I wait for the next movement in my universe to occur. I wonder...what is next?  

26 Nov 2003 @ 17:39 by koravya : Winter drawing
Sunday night into Monday morning, November sixteenth into the seventeenth.
Walking the sidewalk across the street from the Franklin street house, looking up through the three large double-paned windows of that second floor apartment. No shades and no curtains, and on the high part of the wall visible from the street, children’s art decorates the background. Those rooms are no longer my home; someone else lives there now, and that is their childrens’ art hanging on that wall. Down the hall from my apartment lives Rob, the Vietnam War Vet Medic become master of clay pottery with an ambition to set up an art gallery for the newly emerging voices of Madison. He eventually did, a few years down the road. Meanwhile there was good repore between Bobby-Joe and Kathy and Trina and Gail and I and Rob and Gary and even the loner to some extent on his side of the hall. Gail is a freckled and red-haired tipi woman, whose wish is to live in a lonely cabin in the forest with her goats and horses and dogs and cats, finding herself in the natural world far from urban civilization. She has a heart for the Native American cultures, and within a few years will have her own full size professionally made tipi, raised on ground outside the rural whiteframe she was then renting. That was later. Meanwhile, during this winter season, she had some schoolwork to attend to, while I searched for a set of drawings derived from a journey through a visual study of the Aztec calendar.  

26 Nov 2003 @ 17:40 by koravya : Canyon visit
Wednesday’s cool evening into Thursday’s cool morning. November nineteenth into the twentieth. Here I am in Madison during the winter of ’77 into ’78, working my way through a set of drawings of the Aztec calendar, geometrically deconstructing it, reading about that culture and whatever else I wanted to read about in the University stacks, driving elderly people around the city from their homes to grocery stores and daily community center gatherings designed just for them. Many good hours there listening to the voices of the grandmothers and the grandfathers, learning something of the dimensions of life in this world. On top of all this is Gail to brighten this world of my explorations. For how long and how far shall her explorations and mine travel the same path? We took a drive during that spring break to Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, in her Volkswagen, no small drive and it went like silk. By this time, I had completed a set of drawings, and was preparing to get them printed up. There is a sense of completion and a sense of direction. She is graduating with a degree in Animal Science. She has strong affection for a deep repore with animals, of just about every species that I have seen her interact with. She is city bred, but deeply drawn to the natural world. She feels like she needs to go to Colorado somewhere to find something out about who she is, and I need to stay in Madison to find out something more about who I am. We will not be lost from one another for a few more years, though we will never be as close as we were during that fall, winter, and spring.  

26 Nov 2003 @ 17:42 by koravya : Old friends
The moon has disappeared from my horizon at this evening hour between Thursday and Friday, November twentieth and the twenty-first. Susan turned up sometime there during the summer of seventy-eight. She was a familiar face from my years between seventy-one and seventy-four at Champaign-Urbana
from a close group of friends during that time in that place. She had just gone through a divorce and had a five-year-old girl, and we had all kinds of old friends to talk about, several of whom she was still in contact with, and it was very easy to spend time together. There was a hint of a romance there for a while, and we gave ourselves to each other. Then I drew away for I could not see myself with her into the future. She returned to Champaign-Urbana, and there married one of our closest friends, who had been divorced a couple of years before from another of our dearest friends. All of these are very close people from my not so distant past, and it feels very right to me that Susan should be getting together with Stefan, whose ex-wife Marilyn had in turn married Steve, another of our circle of friends. I had left that circle, which included several others in like-minded community, when I went off to seek an uncharted path through other places leading to Madison. Susan was my link, and indeed, my last link, with that brotherhood and sisterhood. There were a few visits back and forth during those three or four years after I moved, including a visit from Stefan and Susan and their newborn boy. Then everybody disappeared, until a few years later when Susan turned up in Madison again with her five-year-old boy in the process of going through a divorce from Stefan. Meanwhile, back towards the end of the summer of seventy-eight, as the interlude between John and Susan faded, John went and got a job as a city bus driver. Time to make a change from driving the old people around, and make a few extra bucks driving the city’s population from one corner of the city to another and everyplace in between, with a sense of adventure and exploration. Instead of, everybody disappeared, maybe I disappeared.  

26 Nov 2003 @ 17:42 by koravya : Flores
Friday evening’s final Economics class into Saturday morning’s final Comp One class and Saturday afternoon’s final Comp Two class. November twenty-first into the twenty-second. The move was from the Franklin street apartment to something a little larger on another street in another corner of the Isthmus within walking distance of the Capitol square, in one direction, and the University complex, in another. Kind of an equilateral triangle between my immediate neighborhood and those two centers of academic and political awareness, political in the broadest sense of the term. Around the capitol square is the economic and social center of the metropolitan area, and this is where all of the city bus routes converged from round to round. Now I had discovered a geometrical configuration in the heart of the design of the calendar stone. Is there any symbolic significance that can be attributed to this quadrilateral figure of two intersecting, two by one, rectangles? Painting continued in this fresh, first floor apartment on one side of another old large wooden frame house. Hardwood floors and a set of large wonderful windows for lighting the living room. This was the studio, virtually barren of furniture, although I recall a sofa and enough chairs to accommodate visitors. Bedroom in the middle and kitchen in the back. Reminds me of an apartment I had for a year in Champaign-Urbana in ’72 and ’73. The painting continued and the drawing continued, and during the summer of ’80, I took my two weeks off from the city bus, and flew to Belize. From there, I took a bus across the border into Guatemala to Flores, the city on an island in the lake. It isn’t a very big island, and the city is built up, ancient stonework upon ancient stonework, into today’s variation on the theme, and one can walk completely around the island in half a day. Then there was a twenty mile walk I elected to take around the lake. Overnight halfway around at a conveniently placed hostel. I couldn’t have much conversation with the several people I met along the road those days, since my Spanish is barely a joke into the elementary levels, but we do get along, for what signs we can understand from one another.
It was hot under the sun on the road and there was a couple of villages along the way of this path which circled the lake. Twenty miles along an incredibly muddy road through the jungle on a crowded bus goes to Tikal. There’s a little community there, off to one side and away from the ancient city, with a couple of hostels amongst the overarching foliage. Give myself three days amongst the ancient pyramids and structures and the visitors and residents around the hostel I’ve taken a small spartan room at. Up the steps and down the steps from one pyramid to another in the central square, walking pathways through jungle foliage from one configuration of structures to another. Candlelight burns long into the night on outside tables on the hostel grounds. Travelers on the way, listening to what each other has to say, just because we are here, now.  

26 Nov 2003 @ 17:44 by koravya : Roadtrip
The chill is dipping into the seventeens tonight I heard someone say today, Saturday, passing through the darkness into Sunday the twenty-third of November. Straighten up the back in your mother’s kitchen. That is a good place to return to. Straighten up the back in your grandmother’s kitchen. There were two grandmothers, and their kitchens were quite different from one another. I came to that time when I had to leave my teacher. Having spent two years in India, my translation between that culture and mine was incomplete. Stefan was a Sanskrit, Tibetan, and South Asian scholar who with his wife Marilyn had recently returned from a year in India, and it seemed most fortuitous that they and I should meet when we did. They had a five month old baby girl, Tara, when we met, shortly after I had returned from India and entered the University of Illinois Anthropology department. He was a new assistant professor of Buddhist and South Asian studies, and our friendship developed immediately. Through his insight and observations, between all that had gone before and what was emerging, my translation between one cultural experience and another became more deeply rooted. Those were three good years in the neighborhoods around the Champaign-Urbana campus. Then I had to leave, and travel around for a few months to Seattle and San Francisco and Berkeley, before turning-up one day in Madison for a long stay, to walk the streets and meet enough people to last for a lifetime of memories. I took this walk away from my teacher, and the last tie between us was Susan. Now, all of them have disappeared, and I am driving a city bus through the streets of nowhere. Friends come and friends go, and some friends last forever, for as long as you can remember who they are.  

26 Nov 2003 @ 17:45 by koravya : Sycamore Lady
Late Sunday morning, November twenty-third. Clear skies with a chill in the air. The front yard tree dropped all of its pale yellowish-green leaves, or is it greenish-yellow?, all at once sometime during the night. The branches are suddenly bare, and the ground is carpeted in mosaic configurations scattered amongst the rocks. This is the fourth November I have seen this tree in front of my window drop its foliage and open my blinds to the clear blue sky over the western horizon. I have a monumental stack of student papers to read these next two days, so I will need to keep my eyes away from printed pages today. The painting and drawing went well during those two years. That is where the Egyptian Lady of the Sycamore gave me the globe of our planet to draw from various points of view and set me on my search for alignments of prehistoric structures and continental arrangements. Gail came back to Madison and we took a large first floor apartment together on Johnson street that summer.
Then she moved far out into the countryside while I rented a little white house on East Mifflin. More house than I needed spacewise. Although I should not forget the little backyard apartment in the East Isthmus neighborhood that I went to when Gail went to the country. I was there at least a few months; it was small but comfortable and the back yard was a treasure for its large trees and old concrete block foundation wall enclosing a perfect space for a garden, so I must have been there close to a year. Perhaps I have a penchant for small enclosures to think of as home. Even in those places where I’ve had an abundance of space, I tended to gravitate the locus of my activities to one section of the house. Such as it was in that white house on Mifflin street. That is where I put together and self published 400 copies of the expanded version of my series of drawings, now fifty-seven in number. Perhaps there is a commercial publisher who would be interested in publishing this book, but I don’t know who they are or where they are. In this little white house on Mifflin street, I began putting together some verse to compliment the spirit of the book of drawings. Also went out and bought a nice little well-running Datsun, the first car I’d owned since returning from India in 1971, almost ten years ago. I could go visit Gail, and she could come visit me, but we never quite got it together again like we first had it during our first winter. Meanwhile, the painting came almost to a dead halt on Mifflin street, as my creative interest focused on the drawings and the verse, which did not take up all that much time, timewise, but the whole sense of momentum of the previous few years became mired in some kind of doldrums.  

26 Nov 2003 @ 17:47 by koravya : Verses and Vines
Monday evening into Tuesday morning, November twenty-fourth into the twenty-fifth. First there was the little booklet of fifty-two pages of verse in two chapters in ’82. Then there was another chapter within another year, and by ’84, I had the four-chapter, eighty-eight page version which lasted until the modified version of early, 2001. Got out of the city bus in ’82, after a four-year drivearound, and entered a university program designed to provide a certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language. Sounds like a plan. Went through three living arrangements during the next two years, before enrolling in a degree program at the University in the fall of ’84. For everything that happens after the self-publication of my book of drawings and book of verse, there is a sense of dislocation. My back, let us recall, had been injured by that city bus. Whatever sense of direction that I may have felt I had before then, and that in itself was no clear cut path, the sense of discontinuity fluctuating and overlapping with intuitions of continuity blossomed like vines.  

26 Nov 2003 @ 17:48 by koravya : Seed of Truth
Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning. November twenty-fourth into the twenty-fifth. Knowing what you do now, what do you have to say, while wrapping up the grades from one quarter and divining a clue for next quarter’s classes starting Monday? Only that the contradiction between the forces of life and the forces of death on a planetary scale is widening, and that the resolution is likely to be catastrophic, sorry to say, as far as this simple mind can tell. For those who are left, there will be a new world to create, and hopefully, those of you who are there, will recognize one another as brothers and sisters. The power of life is in the seed of truth that prevails, and if there is any truth, it is the truth that all of us around this globe are meant to live as brothers and sisters. Whence comes recognition of this planet as our mother? Those who do not see her shall disappear, and She will be left to the rest of us.  

27 Nov 2003 @ 08:52 by swan : And the seed
will shoot out of the ground and begin a new journey toward becoming a flower.  

29 Nov 2003 @ 17:59 by swan : John,
I am so enjoying reading your journal and learning through the eye of your memory.  

4 Dec 2003 @ 13:56 by koravya : Transition
Wednesday night into Thursday morning, December third into the fourth.
Younger sister Nancy’s birthday, now she is forty-eight. She’s in a small city in the hills of northern California with her husband Jim and their two younger daughters, Lilly and Rosa. Their elder daughter, Rayna, has graduated from a small college up the river from the big city in New York. Now she is moving to Austin to live with some of her friends there. Nancy teaches small children and Jim is a political scientist now working in partnership at creating an independent newspaper. Nancy and I don’t talk very often, but we have good repore. I am the eldest and she is the youngest of five. Family ties go all the way back to the kitchen, where I remember my father in his old age would sit late at night reading his favorite form of entertainment, novels of the old American west. He and my mother would go to the library every couple of weeks and he would return one stack of novels and pick out another stack and over the course of several years likely read every western novel in the library. So I like to look for stories to keep myself entertained in the kitchen late at night. Found Hanta Yo by Ruth Beebe Hill on the Goodwill used book shelf not too long ago. I remember starting this thousand page novel back around 1980 not long after it came out, but I only got about a quarter of the way through it. Whatever took me away from it at that time, I don’t know, but I knew I wanted to finish it someday. So that was the story I followed from first page to last from October fourth through November sixteenth. The story of a band of Lakota as they lived two hundred years ago. Between the end of reading one story and the beginning of reading another story, there needs to be some time with no story besides the one I walk through from day to day. Some compelling story will need to spark my interest and whet my appetite for more. Meanwhile, the hiatus itself is compelling enough.  

6 Dec 2003 @ 17:23 by swan : Moving
Moving whether it is from one house to another or from one room to another is a huge job. In my case it is moving my studio from the third floor to the second floor into a room of its own. I am into week two of the process. Yesterday I got my first battle scars as I sliced the tips of my first and second fingers on my right hand on a piece of razor sharp metal. I blessed the space with my dripping blood. I tape the cuts closed and they stopped bleeding but I decided I had worked long enough for that day.

Today I move from the old studio down to the new studio carefulling organizing things in the new one and leaving a disaster in the old one as I go. I have read old journals, revisited old paintings from years ago and remembered things I had forgotten. I have shredded a lot of paper, into bits of my life to throw away and make room for new to come in. And the furniture. Someone suggested I let gravity help me as I brought furniture from the third floor to the second floor. Yes gravity worked as I was pushed down the stairs by a heavy peice of furniture which was chasing me!

It is a lot of work and exciting at the same time as I dismantle one phase of my life and create a new one. I can feel the creative juices beginning to flow already. It is a moving experience.  

8 Dec 2003 @ 07:18 by swan : Day twelve of the move
You don't realize how much unneed things you have until you start moving them around. My new studio is taking shape and I still wade through piles of stuff on the third floor. I only have two pieces of furniture left to move. One of them is my computer desk. It may not fit the stairway going down. I am saving that for last because it is such a big project, moving the desk, computer, printer, scanner and everything.

The piles of stuff that the artist in me can justify keeping because I might be able to create something out of it someday. The sorting process has to be more discriminating than that or nothing would get thrown away. I have given myself a month to make this move and I have been working everyday for twelve days somedays more than others. It feels good and it feels important that this is happening now. Making space for something new always has that feel to it.  

9 Dec 2003 @ 09:30 by koravya : Recovery
Sunday evening into Monday morning, December seventh into the eighth. Start coming down with a sore throat and mild headache with a light fever Friday afternoon, which makes that Friday evening class drag out a little, so the weekend is essentially recovery weekend from this visiting malady. After driving down to the neighborhood Seven-Eleven a half mile away to buy the paper and say good morning to the lady behind the counter, it’s home on the range all day Saturday. Can’t read anything, don’t want to watch any kind of TV, and don’t want to go out anywhere, even to driving down to the forest by the river.
It’s just sitting and wandering about this internal maze I have constructed within my walls. After a basic rest, I have no inclination to spend an inordinate amount of time in bed. It’s just cup after cup after cup of hot herbal tea of one flavor or another, pretty much leaving most of everything in here alone. Even in picking up a book and opening it up like some kind of engrained habit, I cannot stay with it for more than a couple of pages, and at least for today, my own movie is a little more relevant to my immediate concerns than anything I could push into the VCR. I am thoroughly familiar with all of my characters and they can tell me whatever they think I need to know, and I pay attention. These are the people I will be carrying with me into tomorrow and I will speak with a voice I have learned from them. There is not much improvement in the sore throat, headache, and fever department through Saturday night, and I take that drive down to that Seven-Eleven Sunday morning to buy another newspaper and say good morning to the lady behind the counter. Sometime late in the morning close to noon, there is a hint of a turnaround, having crested the mountain that this headache has been climbing, the path returning to a clear mind is visible. It will still take some time, but there is a sense of marginal functionality emerging. Still can’t do any reading, but manage to watch a couple of quarters of afternoon professional football. Mindfully minding a mindless pursuit as if it is the most important thing in the world. What an amazing source of energy those stadiums full of people would be to inspire with truly constructive direction. Then I have a movie titled MAX, the story of Max Rothman, an art dealer in post world war one Germany, and the young artist Adolf Hitler, recently returned from the war. The movie is from Lions Gate Entertainment (2003). The movie may be a partial fictionalization, but nevertheless addresses well, I think, one of those little known sets of events which serve to turn the directions of history. Then tonight is the employee Christmas party at the banquet room of a downtown hotel, from six till past nine-thirty, and close to a hundred people there play an entertaining gift giving exchange game designed to generate laughter and interaction. Not quite completely out of the woods with this malady, though sufficiently so, I feel, to navigate tomorrow’s maze.  

11 Dec 2003 @ 20:09 by koravya : Little windows
Late Wednesday evening, December tenth. Now that the malady has been exhumed, and the insides have become outside, having feather-brushed a taste of my brothersister, death, the air is fresh. She returns me to my womb, where the healing place is, down in that place, that other place besides one’s own heart, where the first spark of life emerges. The stories unfold across the table every day, short story after short story of two or three or four pages each. There are places that I have never been to and as well may never go, and they are conceptual masterpieces, some of them, and I am grading them for grammar and other rhetorical functions, and handing them back to their authors. A window into the daylight through another set of eyes and another set of written words. I can tell these writers that I liked their story, and it is unlikely that anyone else will ever read it, one or two others in exceptional cases, family members or such, for these are not writers who are pursuing the art, most of them. They just happen to be able to engage a reader with captivating imagery and motion. Like people who know how to draw the human figure, naturally and perfectly well, free handed and accurate to the hairline. Others, like myself, can practice till I am blue in the face, but the finest lines are never found. It is refreshing to read these elegant little masterpieces that cross my table every day. For all of the zillions of things they could be writing about, I give them the choice, and windows I never even would have imagined asking about are opened. Little highlights during the day.  

12 Dec 2003 @ 14:41 by swan : Space transforms
empty space becomes something new, old space moves from clutter to simplicity. The move is nearing completion. I feel lighter as the space becomes lighter. My studio is taking on a form of beauty and function. I now have a space to sit at the window and drink tea alone or with a friend and talk story to one another.  

15 Dec 2003 @ 09:56 by koravya : Pictures
Sunday night, December fourteenth. Discover a new cluster of petroglyphs etched into the tumble-down black lava boulders at the escarpment. The last hour of evening as the sun descends to the horizon. Yesterday morning was the Art Museum with Rod for the special exhibition of French painting from 1830 to 1930, from Corot and Millet to Matisse and Derain; with three Monets, a Renoir, a Van Gogh portrait, a Cassatt , a Gauguin, an Emile Bernard, a Vlaminck, and one of Braque’s curvilinear bowls of fruit. Some eighty pieces with many names not often heard side by side with others more well known. One or two or three each from a wide spectrum of artists from the Barbizon painters to the Fauves.
A roomful of pages torn from the story of painting in France for this hundred year period. It has been quite some time since I last walked through a show of paintings I truly enjoyed. That was a visit from Orazio and Artemesia Gentileschi to the St. Louis Art Museum about two years ago. Looking into each canvas, what the whole thing looks like, and how it was put together out of a myriad flecks of color arranged harmonically of a flat plane in space. A familiar language but one I’ve not often used in recent years with the immersion into the life of a writing instructor at a technical school. I could feel my head dizzying as the linguistic side of my brain is thrown into the vortex of a century’s worth of interpretations of color and light translated into pigment and line. This a rather emphatic reminder that there are some things I know that may fade from time to time when certain other things are emphasized. It’s up to me to decide how much I wish to keep that and make it a part of my life, and what it would take to implement the necessary realignment. Looking for the place where the paintings come from, when I’m no sooner done with one and the next one’s ready to go. When the brush is restless. Etchings in the Rock as the Sun sets. Whoever put them there, whenever it was done, I sit amongst these rocks sharing this glyphic space with their creators. I listen to the ancestors here.  

17 Dec 2003 @ 16:15 by swan : Releasing
On Monday my son helped me move the last piece of furniture down to the new studio space. It was also the largest piece, my computer desk and computer. I was concerned about it making it down the stairs. Nathan said to me " is that doubt I here in your voice Ma?" I told him it was. He said " how did you get it up here, it has to go back down." I smiled and said " I built it up here.

We each took a side of the desk and started down the stairs. On the fourth step it got stuck, Nathan on the side the goes down the stairs and me at the top. It was obvious it would have to be taken appart. So I held the desk while Nathan tried to find the little tiny allen wretch that came with the desk that I thought I had saved. I could hear him rustling through drawers in the new studio. He brought up a couple of things that we thought might work and I got under the desk on one of the stairs to see if I could turn the one screw that was keeping it from coming appart. Nothing worked. He went down to the studio again to look, while I held the desk. My cat, Destiny jumped on to the slanted top of the desk and slide down the slippery surface. Kitten followed him to the desk top but she was able to walked over the surface without slipping, to the very edge, where she looked over to see where Destiny had fallen to. It became a chase as they ran up and down the stairs, jumped on the desk and slid down after one another while I stood holding the desk and laughing. Nathan came back empty handed and I said "lets break it!" So we twisted the top of the desk until is snapped in a clean break and came off. When we got the two piece into my studio we put them together, with a little glue and you would never know they had come apart.

Now all that remains in the space upstairs is a shrinking pile of stuff. The debris of 5 years of creating. I have recycled and thrown out and embarrassing amount of stuff. Soon I will start the process of transforming the new space lefted by the move. A little coffee in the backyard would be nice right now.  

20 Dec 2003 @ 12:29 by koravya : Black, or Cream, or Sugar?
Wednesday night into Thursday morning, December seventeenth into the eighteenth. Having grown up under the electric light bulb, it becomes easy to fall into the place where the transition between day and night is at the flick of a switch. Doesn’t hurt to spend a little time in transition through candlelight. Occasional dreams during the last few months, every couple or few weeks or so between them, of returning to the University of Illinois campus, where I spent seven years between ’64 and ’74. There were four years for a bachelor’s degree in Economics in that transition year of ’68. Then three years in other countries, two years with the Peace Corps in South India, and several months visiting various south and southeast Asian countries. Then the return to Champaign-Urbana for two years as a graduate student in Anthropology, and another year transforming my self-concept into a writer and painter, independent from the academic institutional framework. All in all, between ’64 and ’74, spanning my decade of discovery between twenty and twenty-nine. I am walking across that campus looking for some building I need to get to, or walking some of the vast distances between one side of this extensive campus and another, looking for various rooms in various buildings, going through a labyrinthine cafeteria line and dining area, never quite exactly sure what I’m looking for there, but understanding that this is an important visit to an important decade of my memory. I even occasionally go back to some of my high school and grade school hallways. And it doesn’t seem to matter much who or if anyone else is around, so much as that I have to navigate these old familiar hallways to I don’t know where. Visiting a place one hasn’t been to in thirty years is visiting an ancient familiarity from the other side of the mirror. Then, that campus was a vehicle of discovery. Now, the visitor knows where that path was going. Not that there is anything new on this old campus for me to discover, except perhaps a rediscovery of some inspirational element that carried me along those pathways  

20 Dec 2003 @ 12:30 by koravya : Working Together
Thursday into Friday, December eighteenth into the nineteenth. There are two classes in Group Dynamics this quarter, one on Wednesday morning, and the next on Thursday evening, back to back with a little space in between. The first is a class of nineteen, and the second is a class of six. The group of six has coalesced rapidly, and in these three weeks have become a functioning unit. The group of nineteen is a little more complicated and the process seems a little slower. The overall direction is positive and fundamentally cohesive, although there are some rough edges. Of the six, Nicole, Ryan, and Ira are familiar as three of my most intelligently responsive students from last quarter’s Comp Two class, while Ben, Robert, and Larry are new to me and as equally intelligently responsive as my familiars. The group of nineteen is just a larger round table to have to deal with. I am previously familiar with about a dozen of these to some greater or lesser degree, and I have to keep breaking the entire class up into sub groups to facilitate their mutually developing acquaintances. There is a reasonable amount of academic content to these courses, but most of it is about working together in problem solving groups, and refining one’s own sense of self and relationship in challenging, active, mutual environments.  

20 Dec 2003 @ 15:58 by swan : Cream and Sugar, both
The studio is all together now and I am beginning to be inspired to paint again. I haven't painted since April. Eight months is a long time for me to go without painting a single image. I have done a lot of collage which could be seen as painting with paper but it is not painting. Images are flowing again. I can see what I want to paint floating around in my spiritual mind.

My personal space is not yet free of clutter but the mountain of things has turned into a couple of small hills. It feels free and open and so much bigger. I have been working on this labor of love for 25 days now. In a week I will have transformed that space too. I now have a place to sit and have coffee with a friend and lively conversation at the top of my house with a view of the trees.  

24 Dec 2003 @ 14:44 by swan : It is Christmas Eve 2003
I think this has been the best holiday season I have ever had. I am sitting in my new, open and clean space next to the window having coffee and looking out at the snow covered ground below. I am up here with the trees and the birds. It is 35 degrees outside which is warm for Minnesota. On the solstice I celebrated with a large group of people, in the Nordic way, using Yggdrasil as a backdrop for the ritual. There was dancing, singing and chanting to celebrate the longest night and the return of the light.
My daughter, Carrie arrived two days ago for a week. She and I and my son, Nathan spent the day together. We made breakfast in the morning and then we went shopping. Nathan and I people watched in the mall while Carrie purchased new contacts. He has been studying Zen Buddhism for about a year and is very much into it. He was teasing me because I was watching some mindless show on TV. I told him I have been a spiritual purist for so long I decided to add a bit of real life for balance. It made sense to him. We did people watching in the same vein. Last night the house was filled with 23+ year olds and it brought back memories of when Carrie lived at home and the house was always filled with young people. Many of them lived here at various times. My house was the place to go if you were fighting with your parents and needed a break for a few days. One time I returned from a trip to find I had inherited a new son for a few weeks. He called me mom the whole time he stayed with us.
Now I am along for a few hours before going to my sisters for dinner. I finished cleaning my third floor and now I am listening to Christmas carols. Tomorrow the kids and I are going to have a quiet day at home, making a meal together and just hanging out.

This is how the holidays should be. Filled with peace and love.

Merry Christmas to you.  

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