Saturday, July 29, 2006

from Thoreau

We can only live healthily the life the gods assign us. I must receive my life as passively as the willow leaf that flutters over the brook. I must not be for myself, but God's work, and that is always good. I will wait the breezes patiently, and grow as they shall determine. My fate cannot but be grand so. We may live the life of a plant or animal without living an animal life. This constant and universal content of the animal comes of resting quietly in God's palm. I feel as if I could at any time resign my life and the responsibility into God's hands and become as innocent and free from care as a plant or a stone.

The great God is very calm withal. How superfluous is any excitement in His creatures! He listens equally to the prayers of the believer and unbeliever. The moods of man should unfold and alternate as gradually as those of nature. The sun shines for aye! The sudden revolution of these times and this generation have acquired a very exaggerated importance. They do not interest me much, for they are not in harmony with the longer periods of nature. The present, in any aspect in which it can be presented to the smallest audience, is always mean. God does not sympathize with the popular movements.

I delight to come to my bearings-not walk in procession with pomp and parade, in a conspicuous place, but to walk even with the Builder of the universe, if I may-not to live in this restless, nervous, bustling, trivial Nineteenth Century, but stand or sit thoughtfully while it goes by.

Next to us the grandest laws are being enacted and administered. Neext to us in not the workman whom we have hired, but ever the workman whose work we are. He is at work, not in my backyward, but inconceivably nearer than that. We are the subjects of an experiment how singular? Can we not dispense with the society of our gossips a little while under these circumstances?

My desire for knowledge is intermittent; but my desire to commune with the spirit of the universe, to be intoxicated with the fumes, call it, of the divine nectar, to bear my head through atmospheres and over heights unknown to my feet, is perennial and constant.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

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The world is hot and I wax colder, and the lines continue, boring and full of childishness and folly and terror, and I wonder just what things might come to in the interim, and the length of days and nights.
The typical old people are here, and the smattering of students and the extreme lengths that people go to in their sleep, in the heat of the moment and the wonder of each sincere night and moment and necessary puzzle, which one might realize as we all stumble from one thing to another.
It is nice and cool in here, the ceiling fan blows endlessly, and the world of ideas and psyches combine in major sense and declines, and the length of each penstroke and baroque queue defined by each major idea. The wonder of things are what they seem, or can become what they might.
There's god above and night by night one looks down on his gorgeous roof, full of all the rantings and tired bellowings that came to bear on what we can see or do in the idea or memory of trees or shadows and full memories of placemats, and each circle comes back on itself to make itself known.
Each major accomplishment gives to itself that which each man can take from the lot, and finds itself in line with what it can see. The world is full of timely detours, remorseless wanderings, and temples and schools, of edgeless thoughts and mindful denials and strong mannerisms and unknown changes.
The way of each curtain denial and the meanderings of thought, and exorcism and exercise and of the source, and the tangent realms, seen and meant to be,
coffee cups on the edge
and each prescient work,
finding itself dislodged
makes a demonic waste
set round on the edge
ticking of the clocks
we make up our minds
and find our sister stations

I find that what I can see is never as good as I might try to make it be, as one comes into his true idea and relation, relating to the coast and the ragged Point Joe crags, and the grass laid out and the dews that silently remain, the exit from the fight and the sense of sneakiness.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

new kitty cat we named Jasmine. She is in love with life and loves to bat at things and run around. Posted by Picasa

Does anybody want to buy this drawing and pay me lots of money so that I can get a big apartment in Manhattan with a doorman and picassos by van gogh on the wall and not have to wash dishes any more? No? Okay.

Newsflash: I did some laundry today: four t-shirts, a lot of shorts, and a lot of socks. Just thought I would share.

Friday, July 21, 2006

free verse w/ drawing Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 20, 2006

coffee memories

I remember sitting at the campus Beanery in 1994 or so, in the summer, having just got out of some class, and drinking a coffee, which was a new thing for me to do. Something about the taste of the coffee got to me, and the caffeine starting kicking in, and I was hooked. Later when I moved to Portland I would stroll across southeast Portland listening to Robert Hunter, admiring the nice houses and the twilight, and wind up at Coffee People on Hawthorne, which at that time had some nice old thick wooden counters, and the coffee cups were heavy and gave you that viscerally pleasing thunk when they hit the bar. Coffee People had some good locations and pastries, but I guess they expanded too fast, got too greedy or something. Their slogan was "good coffee, no backtalk" and I remember going in there once and the guy asked me "what's happening?" and I said "nothing" and he said "why not?". I didn't reply, but I should having pointed out their slogan to them, that "backtalk" wasn't allowed. Maybe that wasn't in his contract or something.
There were a few people at class the other night, and it is nice to have a skill that somebody is interested in learning. You can sit around on the couch all the time, but if you don't get out and get some exercise, sooner or later you won't be able to get off the couch. I have a bad habit of eating large numbers of chocolate chip cookies, but on the other hand, I usually get out and exercise every day, either riding the bike around or walking or karate, so I burn through a lot of calories too.
I might go ahead and make some pasta at some point. There is something about the processes of cooking that is relaxing. Maybe I should be into table saws or hammers or something more stereotypically guy type interest, but cooking is kind of fun, and doesn't require much more than I have already. Actually, there are many things that are needed, but not a lot that I don't have.
It would be nice to get the heck out of town to avoid this heat, but there is not a lot of money to work with.
Second street is my favorite street. Perhaps I'm biased because I live in this town and seldom leave, but with the Beanery, Grass Roots, etc, what more do you really need?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

random ranting

Why is it that people write out checks when you are standing there hoping the line will quickly progress? Those people laboriously write out the check, and then they write the amount in the log. What is the deal with these people? Couldn't they at least have the courtesy to write out the rest of the check so that all they have to do is write in the amount? Or couldn't they just pay with a card like everybody else? It isn't the seventies any more, and though you think you deserve a long face to face chatty interaction with the clerk, the rest of us might just want to buy our stuff and get out of there without listening to a long discussion about the church social or whatever it is you are talking about.

I find that I go around getting irritated about quite small things, and I have to admit that I need to find something else to think about. You don't think St. Francis was going around fuming about the guy that just passed him on the right, do you? There is only a finite amount of time in this life, and there are always positive things to think about, like the flowers in the grass or the blue sky, or whatever the heck you can think about that is positive. I often forget this. This is a great town, a very beautiful town, and yet it is so easy to get caught up in negativity. I'm only starting to learn this.

I had been hungry, all the Years-
My Noon had Come-to dine-
I trembling drew the Table near-
And touched the curious Wine-

'Twas this on Tables I had seen-
When turning, hungry, Home
I looked in Windows, for the Wealth
I could not hope-for Mine-

I did not know the ample Bread-
'Twas so unlike the Crumb
The Birds and I, had often shared
In nature's-Dining Room-

The Plenty hurt me-'twas so new-
Myself felt ill-and odd--
As Berry-of a mountain Bush-
Transplanted-to the Road-

Nor was I hungry-so I found
That Hunger-was a way
Of Persons outside Windows-
The Entering-takes away-

-e. dickinson

George Bush is evil. There, I've said it, and the world if full of confusion. People are out there on the street waving flags and exhorting us to support the troops, like it is all that simple. Sure we can support the troops, but Iraq is falling apart in a civil war that doesn't have much to do with our troops, other than we created the whole situation. What a mess. People need to take a chill pill and live and let live, relax a little, and live in harmony.
It was a mistake for Israel to even have been created at all. However, it is there now. They aren't all going to say, "ok, we'll go back to Europe or Russia" or wherever, so it would be nice if the radical Islamic element would recognize Israel's right to exist. Without recognizing that, it's like trying to negotiate with someone that's trying to kill you: kind of hard to do.
The government seems to be completely broken down and dysfunctional. The number one most important domestic issue is health care, and they aren't even talking about it.

Johannes Agricola in Meditation

There's heaven above, and night by night
I look right through its gorgeous roof;
No suns and moons though e'er so bright
Avail to stop me; splendour-proof
I keep the broods of stars aloof:
For I intend to get to God,
For 't is to God I speed so fast,
For in God's breast, my own abode,
Those shoals of dazzling glory, passed
I lay my spirit down at last.
I lie where I have always lain,
God smiles as he has always smiled;
Ere suns and moons could wax and wane,
Ere stars were thundergirt, or piled
The heavens, God though on me his child
Ordained a life for me, arrayed
Its circumstances every one
To the minutest; ay, God said
This head this had should rest upon
Thus, ere he fashioned star or sun.
And having thus created me,
Thus rooted me, he bade me grow,
Guiltless for ever, like a tree
That buds and blooms, nor seeks to know
The law by which it prospers so:
But sure that thought and word and deed
All go to swell his love for me,
Me, made because that love had need
Of something irreversibly
Pleadged soley its content to be.
Yes, yes, a tree which much ascend,
No poison-gourd foredoomed to stoop!
I have God's warrant, could I blend
All hideous sins, as in a cup,
To drink the mingled venoms up;
Secure my nature will convert
The draught to blossoming gladness fast:
While sweet dews turn to the gourd's hurt,
And bloat, and while they bloat it, blast,
As from the first its lot was cast.
For as I lie, smiled on, full-fed
By unexhausted power to bless,
I gaze below on hell's fiercest bed,
And those its waves of flame oppress,
Swarming in ghastly wretchedness;
Whose life on earth aspired to be
One altar-smoke, so pure!-to win
If not love like God's love for me,
At least to keep his anger in;
And all their striving turned to sin.
Priest, doctor, hermit, monk grown white
With prayer, the broken-hearted nun,
The martyr, the wan acolyte,
The incense-swinging child,-undone
Before God fashion star or sun!
God, whom I praise; how could I praise,
If such as I might understand,
Make out and reckon on his ways,
And bargain for his love, and stand,
Paying a price at his right hand?
-Robert Browning

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

defrosted freezer.

I left the door open on the freezer accidentally, so the stuff got all half melted, and one bag of raspberries had a leak, so when I closed the door, the raspberrie juice froze everything together in a big lump in the bottom of the freezer, so I finally dragged it (it is half-size) out to the driveway and let it defrost. The meat had to go, but the raspberries may still be okay.

Friday, July 07, 2006


I rode out Oak Creek drive today and was impressed with the beautiful gardens and nice empty fields and rolling hills out in that area. There are some big gardens out there that almost look like mini-farms. One place has a bunch of goats too in addition to a large garden. It is a nice area, but unfortunately Oak Creek drive dead ends after a while, so without a mountain bike you can't connect to any other roads. Possibly you could follow the gravel road to connect with Sulphur Springs road, but you would need a bike that can ride on gravel. I was impressed with this area.

Speak, Memory
Back in the olden days, light years ago, when I was in college, things were different. I remember hearing about something called "e-mail" from my mom, and how I really should sign up for it. She had it because she was a professor and someone had set it up for her. So I went down into the basement of some science building on the north side of the berkeley campus, a place that was known as the geek lab. Everyone seemed to be doing things on extremely large screens, and the laser printers were working at full speed. I asked someone how to sign up for "e-mail" and he dismissively told me to go read a book on unix. That's the way it was in 1990. Basically back then we had computers that basically just functioned as word processors and that was it. Internet connectivity wasn't a factor at all. I think I learned what a modem was back in high school and used it to connect to "bulletin boards", which I think don't exist any more. That was based on some other kind of technology.
Anyway, Berkeley was a beautiful campus back then, and still is, I'm sure. I lived in a huge building that was part of the cooperative student association, basically the same as the dorms except it also had workshifts and stuff like that. I signed up to work in the vegetarian kitchen even though I really knew nothing at all about cooking at that time. Back then we had a kind of person known as a "vegetarian". My friend said she was trying to be a "vegan" and I asked what that was and that was the first I knew about veganism.
The place I lived in was kind of artistic and oriented towards music and creative types of things, as well as drugs, though mostly marijuana and psychedelics, as far as I knew. I knew that heroin had been pretty big there in years prior to that, but I never was around any heroin addicts as far as I knew. People were kind of crazed and on their own head trips, doing art, creating music, taking drugs, having the mistaken impression that the drugs were going to get them high and not hurt them in the long run. I remember my friend Sol, a kind of intense guy who also sold pot, invited me to go see Jerry Garcia, and so we headed over to San Francisco. Prior to leaving, though, we headed somewhere on a bus, with him carrying a backpack full of something that he left with some girl. I later found out in was full of marijuana, and hanging out with him was a big risk that I shouldn't have been taking, not because marijuana is bad, but because I could have got in some serious trouble. Anyway, we headed over to the Warfield on Market street and saw the Jerry Garcia Band, with John Kahn and Melvin Seals and some cool backup singers. It was an absolutely phenomenal concert, without a doubt the best concert I will ever see. I saw Jerry a couple other times, and the Dead a few times, but he was kind of hit-or-miss, but back then he definitely put out some good music.
Guitar playing was a lot of fun in that co-op. You could just wander down the hall and start up an impromptu jam session with whatever guitarist you happened to run into.
The weather in Berkeley was warm and mild. The winter got a little cold for a couple of months, but that was it.
My senior year was not the greatest. I remember watching a lot of TV and getting interested in the whole David Koresh thing, and then the bombing of the trade towers. I would wander out of my apartment half a block up to Cody's books, on of the greatest bookstores around, right on Telegraph avenue, and spend hours there reading the New Yorker. I remember reading about some guy who had headed out for Alaska to experience nature and find himself, not realizing the dangers of it all, and he ended up starving to death in some abandoned bus in the middle of the tundra. Pretty brutal.
Telegraph was kind of cool, but kind of rough in a big-city kind of way. If you came out and tried to walk around at like three in the morning, there would be nobody on the street but prowling crack addicts, looking for something to steal. It was kind of hairy.
Then there was "People's Park". Some people loved that place my freshman year because it was easy to go over there and score some pot. On the other hand, I see now that many people did not want that kind of activity, but anyway, they cracked down on all that at some point. There was one dude, Anthony, that we would see around, who would occasionally set up his amp on the street and play really great Hendrix-like music, but he was a crack addict, and would come in the bathroom at the house at Ward street to smoke his pipe. Some many colorful characters....
Most of the students going to Berkeley were totally serious about their studies. I was a little preoccupied, but I did manage to graduate. I took some great courses in classical Japanese poetry, Japanese literature, Classical Chinese, etc, and studied my ass off intermittently, but somehow, although on the one hand I was intrigued with the subject, I really didn't know where I was headed with it all, so I never did more than the B.A. I took some serious writing classes, where we were forced to read heavy stuff like the Iliad, etc, but I guess I really didn't get any kind of direction from the whole thing. I took a poetry class from Robert Hass- he was a great teacher and a great appreciator. I learned of Hopkins, Yeats, and many others from him, and later went on to discover Dickinson, Whitman, Rilke, and Jeffers, but I got a lot out of his class. But was it difficult? Not really.
I took a class in "Comparative Religions" way back in 1987, was before Islam was really reviled the way it is today, but I remember than a woman came in who had converted to Islam, and many people were hostile to her because of the attitudes towards women that tend to come up in that culture. We also took a field trip to a Dominican monastery that was located in the middle of Berkeley. The monks wanted us to know that they did it for God and not for any other reason.
I did a bit of karate down there at a few different schools, but it was never a high priority. Sensei Sharifi, a high-ranking instructorr, was just opening a school in Oakland at that time, but his dues were high, and it was in kind of a rough area, so it could get a little risky riding down there. The dues were also kind of high, for what money I had anyway. Later on I did end up training there quite a bit. It was quite challenging, there were many black belts, and I could have gotten a lot more into it if I hadn't been distracted by so many other things.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

karate done right

Kanazawa doing Jitte is truely a beautiful sight. This guy is a star of Shotokan karate, and he does what to me is the way a kata should be done in this style of karate. He doesn't make it flowery or anything, or do anything to attract attention to himself other than doing the kata in a very skillful manner, utilizing the proper form, speed, etc.

Here's me playing tears of rage by Bob Dylan.